Welcome to my blog! This is a place of information and hope for fellow Canadians who are suffering from Lyme disease. I want to share with you the knowledge I have gained during my fight with this debilitating, frightening, and misunderstood illness. I hope you will be blessed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy in the kitchen

Before Lyme got a hold of me, the kitchen was one of my favourite places.  I do like to cook and have a terrible obsession with cookbooks!  Give me a new recipe to try, and a glass of wine to sip while cooking, and I was in heaven! 

Then along came Lyme.  I hardly stepped foot in the kitchen for many months when I got sick, and relied on family, friends, and our church to keep us fed.  My wonderful sisters-in-law basically moved in and took over my kitchen, each taking her turn.  And I was so grateful for it.  As I laid on the couch, I could hear the clanging of pots and pans, the opening and closing of cupboard doors, and the sizzling of good food.  I remember those days vividly because our family room is right beside our kitchen, and for a time, noise really bothered me.  This is one of the many symptoms of Lyme.  I remember having a hard time with all of those noises I just described, but was still so thankful that my kids were getting fed.

Well, I'm so happy to say that I'm back in the kitchen.  Somehow, the same "love" of cooking hasn't returned...yet.  I think I've been so preoccupied with other things in my life lately -  e.g. staying healthy, getting reaccustomed to working again, balancing my time - that cooking has become a bit of a chore these days, which is sad for me.  Maybe it's because I can no longer have my wine! LOL  Yes, I had to give it up because of all of the meds I was on, and in addition, alcohol and Lyme just don't mix.

Tonight I had the opportunity to make a wonderful French onion soup for my family, and you know what?  I was actually HAPPY in my kitchen.  I put on my music and had a fine time cooking and humming away.  So, I thought I'd share with you the wonderful recipe I used.  Honestly, it's the BEST French onion soup recipe I've made......soooooo delicious!  I hope you will enjoy making it.  And I hope that whatever pastime you enjoy will bring you some pleasure, even if you're not feeling the best.  Meaningful activity is so good for the mind and the soul.

Bon app├ętit!

French Onion Soup
1 pkg (60 g/2 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
5 tbsp. butter
3 sweet onions, sliced (I used 3 medium-sized Vidalias)
¼ cup white wine (I used white cooking wine from Loblaws)
2 leeks, white parts only, cleaned and sliced (Note:  Leeks are sandy inside.  They require a good rinse in between the layers.)
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. each chopped thyme, rosemary (I didn’t have any fresh, so I used about 2 tsp. dried Herbes de Provence)
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups each chicken and beef broth (I used one can low-sodium chicken broth, and one can regular beef broth.  When the water is added, it came to 3 cups each.  So, I just increased the flour above to 4 tbsp.)
salt and black pepper (I skipped the salt)
4 slices crusty bread
4 slices fontina cheese (I used shredded Monterey Jack and Mozzarella)
chopped fresh chives (I skipped this, even though I actually have them on my deck!)


1. Cut dried mushrooms into pieces; place in heat-safe bowl.  Pour boiling water over mushrooms; set aside.

2. In saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp. butter.  Add onions and cook until well browned, stirring regularly, 15 min.  If onions begin to brown too fast, add water.  When onions are browned, add wine and stir to deglaze pan.  Add leeks, shallots, garlic, thyme, rosemary and 2 tbsp. butter.

3. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until leeks tender, 8 mins.  Add flour; stir to coat.  Pour in broths, stir and bring to boil.  Add steeped mushrooms, reduce heat to simmer for 10 mins.  Add salt, pepper.

4. Heat broiler.  (Paula’s addition:  Add some shredded cheese to the BOTTOM of each bowl; then you get a surprise when you dig down!)  Ladle soup into 4 oven-safe crocks.  Top each with slice of bread and cheese.  (I used a crusty French baguette, and my bowls are quite wide, so I put 2 bread slices on top of each bowl.)  Arrange crocks on a rimmed baking sheet, place under broiler and cook until cheese melts and begins to brown, 2 mins.  Serve with chives.

(Paula’s note:  If you can, be MESSY with the cheese so it will melt all down the side of the crock, and get browned and hardened on.  Yum, yum, yum!)

Source:  Metro News, Oct. 3, 2011

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