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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Five Stages of Healing and Homemade Chicken Stock

After you've had surgery, you have a lot of time to think. Or, as some might say, over-think. I've thus decided there are five stages of healing -- stages injured people must endure before they make a full and complete recovery. These are mine. Your mileage may vary.

Stage 1: Pain. With surgery, comes pain. A lot of pain. Did I mention a lot? And with pain comes apathy, in that you really don't care much what's happening around you. Sunny and beautiful out? Oh well, the sun will rise again tomorrow. Maybe then I'll care. Your friends are headed out for a fun night on the town? Whatev. It's time for my nap. Thomas Keller wants to make a special tasting menu designed just for me? Eh, I'm really not that hungry anyway.

Stage 2: Frustration. After a while, the pain eases up enough so your mind can focus on other things. The things you like to do, whether it's cooking, running, skydiving or sailing. But here's the catch: you can't do any of it. Nope. No fun for you. You notice that everyone around you actually has a life, in which they partake in enjoyable activities and accomplish things. The world is moving, and, well, you are not. And, because you're literally not moving, you feel achy in all sorts of other places that never ached before, and this is annoying on top of frustrating.

Stage 3: Glee. This is the fun part -- when you start feeling well enough to actually DO something. You can tie your shoes without help. You choose to wear jeans instead of ratty sweats or PJs. You realize you're not planning your day around your pain meds. You shower and apply makeup just because. The mere act of stepping outside your home is a revelation.

Every bit of progress feels like a major victory -- you cheer yourself on the way we applaud for a toddler when she takes her first step or finishes his broccoli. You feel gratitude, satisfaction and a little bit giddy. In other words, you're no longer a complete hot mess. Squee!

Stage 4: Deflation. This stage tends to accompany a setback in your healing. You've overdone it, or suffered a re-injury. Me, I got hit with a horrific chest cold.

Now, I know, for most people, a cold is no big deal. They accept it like adults and move on. But, apparently for me, it involves melodrama and a hit to my pride. You see, in my mind, I have a natural and superior immunity against the rhinovirus. Uh-huh. I've been crumpled up into a grumpy, whiny, pity-partying gal who can out-hack a lifelong smoker.

Stage 5: Who knows? I'm firmly stuck in stage 4. But it'd better be good. : )

Homemade Chicken Stock

They say homemade chicken soup can cure all ills. While I think that's a gross exaggeration, I do know making your own stock will make your cooking infinitely better. If you're really organized, you'll save and freeze the carcasses and bones from your roasted and baked chickens, as well as vegetable scraps. If you're like me, you'll improvise and use what you have on hand. You'll also ask your husband to make this for you, and you'll fail to get a decent photo (see Stage 2). Resist the temptation to use old, wilted veggies -- it's just not respectful, nor will it make for a tasty stock. Freeze the stock in large or small plastic bags, label them, and use it as the base for soups, add a splash to enrich sauces, or ladle a cupful for the drama queen in your life. Trust me, you'll both feel better.


1 whole chicken, 3.5-4 pounds
2 large onions, quartered
4 large carrots, halved
4 stalks celery, halved
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
20 sprigs fresh parsley, with stems
15 sprigs fresh thyme, with stems
5 sprigs fresh basil, with stems
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a large stockpot over high heat. Add enough water to just cover the contents of the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 hours, skimming the scum and froth occasionally. Allow to cool slightly. Strain stock through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl or container. Refrigerate stock overnight, then remove the congealed fat. Use immediately or freeze for about three months.


  1. A perfect step-by-step process of healing--yes, there is a life out there where shoes are put on, jeans fit comfortably, make-up is applied, all as a matter of course. But let us contemplate the upside of being under the weather--potage au poulet! Jewish penicillin! Chicken soup--preferably with tiny mushroom/onion filled "little ears," the Ukrainian version of tortellini, of which I have a dozen frozen which I should soon use. Thanks, Maria, instead of the chili, this Sunday is chicken stock day. Keep on healing!

  2. When you feel grumpy, think of Austin . . .

  3. Ugh take care of yourself please.

  4. Oh Maria, I wish I could bring you some comfort food to make you feel better. I know it's frustrating but you *are* getting there. Hugs...

  5. : ) Writing the post and putting it out there was cathartic. And having the surgery was absolutely the right decision. I love seeing your comments, thank you!

  6. It stinks that you're still stuck in stage 4, but I think you're moving into stage 5 whether you realize it or not. This post seems like that little step into that stage, whatever it entails.

    I'm sending you virtual hugs, but I sure wish I could see you in person to give you a real live hug! And maybe a bottle of hand sanitizer. :)

  7. I had your bug last winter - it's a real stinker...I'm into Mark B. too and am trying his vegan-until-6pm whenever I can. We shall see what results I have when my cholesterol is rechecked in 2 weeks!