Moving Over From the Dark Side

IMG_8535Charlie Brown is well known for his line, “Good Grief”, but how about these lines from the famous holiday movie, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” Charlie Brown, of course, is not alone. When the world wants all to celebrate what are those who are new to grief or continue to struggle with it to do?

William & Deacon

Personally, navigating grief every day of the week is hard, but surviving the holidays takes a special kind of strength. The real strength is knowing your heart, being honest with yourself and understanding that your grief is unique to you. With an open mind and your loved one in your heart you can choose to grow and heal through the season.

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Move over from the dark side and find comfort in knowing your loved one is still with you. He/she will always be a part of you. Bake those favorite cookies from the past. Trim the tree today with those old ornaments that bring tears and some new ones that bring smiles. It’s ok to treasure the past while starting some new traditions surrounded by those who love and support you….. and bring you wine! Good Grief, always remember as you move into the future you are never alone. Cheers to hope and a more joyful tomorrow.

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When it comes to cooking with chicken I have learned a way to move over from the dark side. For years, all I ever bought was dark meat because I could count on those thighs cooking up juicy and tender. On the other hand, those gigantic (what the heck are they feeding those birds) chicken breasts usually cooked up dry and flavorless no matter what technique I followed. Then Cooks Illustrated mentioned marinating chicken in baking soda. Ah, I love chemistry. Apparently, the alkalinity of baking soda raises the pH on the surface of the meat causing the protein to react in a way that allows the chicken to retain its juices rather than leaching out in the cooking process. The result is succulent white meat that cooks up especially well with stir-fry technique. So go ahead and buy those, on sale all the time, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but don’t forget to marinate them for a little while in a little baking soda. You are welcome!

 

Here is my fresh take on an old favorite including the most flavorful and juicy white chicken ever in a mild all-American chili. In addition to white chicken I am using flavorful Bush’s Best white chili beans. This recipe will be entered in #BushsChiliCookOff.

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Stir-Fry Style White Chicken Chili

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1-teaspoon baking soda

1 large onion, chopped

2-poblano peppers, seeded, diced

1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded, diced

2 cloves, garlic, minced

1 (32 oz.) container low-sodium chicken broth

2 (15.5 oz.) cans Bush’s Best White Chili Beans

1 (4 oz.) can mild diced green chilies, drained

¼ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

Salt, pepper, fresh lime to taste

In large bowl, toss chicken with peanut oil. Sprinkle with cornstarch and baking soda; toss well to coat. Cover and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking. Heat a Dutch oven or large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in remaining 1-tablespoon peanut oil. Add chicken, spreading it out as much as possible over bottom of pan; let cook for 1 minute without stirring. Then, stir-fry chicken for 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add onions, peppers, garlic; stir for 2 minutes. Add half the broth, stirring up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Add half the beans, chilies, cumin and enough of remaining broth to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining beans, cilantro and additional broth, depending how soupy you like it. Season with salt, pepper and squeeze of lime, if desired. Serves 6.

 

18 thoughts on “Moving Over From the Dark Side

  1. Sending you love at one of the most difficult times of the year to deal with losing a child. You are doing such a wonderful thing in sharing your experiences in coping with your grief.

    • Sharing my grief has certainly taught me a lot and maybe others have felt less alone. Love to you as you go through another holiday season, too

  2. Love the red and green theme going on. There are always so many layers to your posts. One thing I remember wrestling with was feeling guilty if I did not think about the person we lost; it was as if being happy without being sad was wrong but I came to realize and accept – it is okay. Keeping you all in my heart at Christmas – and always!

    • Yes-sad and happy at the same time. It is a real mixed bag of emotions, but all completely normal. Happy you noticed my red and green theme….hmmm what will be next?

  3. Thank you for your post. I lost my mother a few months ago and have been working to figure out this holiday season. I came across your post at the absolute perfect time this morning and have been thinking about it all day. THANK YOU. And I am sending good thoughts to your family as well. — Deb

    • Dear Deb

      Welcome to Good Grief Cook. I am so very sorry about the loss of your mom. These are difficult times. I hope you will take care of yourself and think about what your mom would want for you. I am guessing she may like for you to carry on some tradition that keeps her in your heart, but also look forward to new things with your family and friends. Hugs and best wishes for peace in your heart.

      • Lisa, I look forward to reading your thoughts throughout your blog and will take this advice to heart. I am thinking that in 2016 I am going to cook and write about some of her signature recipes as a way to celebrate and carry on those traditions. Her motto was Celebrate Life! and I work to live this every day by expressing gratitude and finding joy in family and friends. Have a lovely holiday and thank you again. — Deb

      • Wonderful thoughts for all of us to take hold of. Your mom sounds like a great lady and look forward to seeing your/her recipes on pantry portfolio

  4. I’m sure that the holidays can be tough, but I know you are a strong woman and you are able to smile along with your grief. I love your recipe and the hint about the baking soda. I’ll be trying that it the near future. Big hugs to you, my friend!

    • Each year gets a little easier to handle. I think about my boy and what might have been on a daily basis, so at this stage one day seems just like another. Mostly, I just wish he was just still here on a physical level, so I could continue to watch him grow and change. SIGH ❤

      Merry Christmas to you and yours

  5. Lisa, your writings are so poignant, so honest, so transparent – so touching. I understand completely your comment that you wish Will were just here on a physical level so you could watch him grow and change; I feel that about my Corey all the time, wonder what he’d look like, what he’d be up to (would he have grown past 6-9?), what his life would be like. You honor Will so beautifully with your cooking and most of all with your writing and sharing of your heart and thoughts. We are left to carry on their legacy even though it should be the other way around. God bless you for how you inspire me and so many others! ~Your Colorado Friend

    • Thanks, Barb. Like you we just do the best we can with what we’ve got. I think our boys would be proud of how far we’ve come without totally losing our minds. I think we inspire each other. Merry Christmas ❤

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