I spoke with him on the phone. The storm was beginning to pick up and my dad assured me that he had enough water. Enough food. Batteries. A generator. Even a power inverter. And I slowly felt reassured. If anyone could McGuyver his way though a hurricane, it’s my dad. He’s always been Mr. Handy. And he’s a mechanical engineer.
But his one concern were the trees. As he spoke of the large trees in front of my childhood home, I became nostalgic. I remembered each of those trees fondly: the majestic walnut that dropped its nuts, leaving round, treacherous obstacles to those not paying attention when they walked past our house, the dogwood whose leaves had surely turned its brilliant magenta by now, the oak that was home to the squirrels who scampered on our lawn, and the Japanese maple, whose only job, it seemed, was to look pretty. I played amongst those trees, and now I worried that they would fall.
It was hard to be away, to worry from afar. I took solace in knowing that my brother and his fiancee are a relatively short drive away, and that he checked in on him before Sandy.
Relief came this morning, when I heard from family and friends. Everyone was fine. But the images on the news are hard to swallow.
So, today, I cooked from the archives. Something sentimental. Arroz Caldo is the chicken soup that brings warmth and comfort – I cooked it for my dad when he was sick, and I cook it now for my family whenever we need a little extra hug. I hope that wherever you are, you can have a steaming bowlful and feel my warm thoughts with you.
Arroz Caldo (Filipino Chicken and Rice Soup)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pieces of ginger, sliced in thick chunks
2 lbs chicken (a combination of boneless, skinless thighs and breast works well), cut into bite size pieces
1-2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce), to taste. If you don’t have this handy, just use salt!
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1 cup jasmine rice
4 scallions, finely sliced
In a large stock pot, saute the onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat until onion starts to become transparent, about 5-7 minutes. Add chicken, patis/fish sauce and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add chicken stock and rice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover and continue to cook until chicken is very tender and the rice is fluffed and cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and adjust seasoning as necessary. Take out the medallions of ginger (no one really likes biting into chunks of ginger!).
Garnish with scallions and freshly ground black pepper before serving.
This recipe for Arroz Caldo first appeared here on February 23, 2010.