Recently, our beloved city of Prague was hit with severe flooding. Days and days of heavy rain caused the Vltava river to swell. The city officials were wise to react quickly and set up flood barriers in order to prevent any damage that could happen. Prague had already experienced such misfortune from the flood of 2002.
This past Sunday, as I was putting our daughters to bed, my husband suddenly entered the room. The girls were nearly asleep and I quickly got cross with him for disturbing their slumber. “I know,” he said, ” but someone from the city hall just rang our bell and said that we have to leave the building.”
We were aware of the flood warnings, but somehow didn’t really believe it could harm us. Unprepared for this moment, we quickly began to search for a place to stay and gather the most important items we would need for a few days. It was uncertain how long the streets in our neighborhood would be closed and when it would be possible to return.
Many thoughts and concerns began to race through my mind. They mostly focused on the welfare of our two little toddlers and in particular, what they would be eating over the next few days. Although we quickly found refuge at our dear friends’ home, I knew that living in unfamiliar territory would disrupt some of our tots routines; mainly their meal times. Did we have enough milk? Yogurt?Did I have enough broth?
Home-made broth is an important ingredient in my toddlers’ daily meal plan. They love soup. They especially love a bowl of soup filled with pasta, spinach and tofu. This is a meal that neither of my girls ever refuse. Luckily, when this slight emergency appeared at our front door, I had batches of this broth packed and ready to go. As a staple in our household, I make this simple stock on a weekly basis and store containers of it in my fridge and freezer. Lunch and dinner would not be a problem.
As for the flood, we were able to return to our home two days after we evacuated. In our neighborhood, our part of the river had reached an alarming level, but not enough to pour out into the streets and cause damage to the surrounding buildings. We were very fortunate, as other parts of the city had experienced much worse. The Vltava river reached has since reached its peak and all of Prague has slowly started to get its rhythm back. I am sure I am not alone in hoping that our future forecasts will predict nothing but sunny days ahead.
Chicken Stock (adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen)
4 1/2 to 5 pounds (about 2 kilos) of Chicken parts or bones with some meat on them
4 quarts water
1 large onion
3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 1/2 teaspoons of salt (you can exclude this if making stock for young children)
Rinse and clean the chicken parts.
Get rid of all the loose pieces of fat.
In a large stockpot, place the bones and add the water.
Let it come to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop off the “scum” that sits on the top.
Then add the onion, ginger and salt.
Let it cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
When done, remove from the heat and let it cool down.
When ready, place a sieve over a large saucepan.
Pour or scoop the broth over the sieve.
Discard the bones, etc.
When the stock settles, you can discard the layer of fat that rises to the top.
This can be refrigerated for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months.
Soup with Pasta, Spinach and Tofu
2 cups of Chicken Stock
1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped (frozen spinach can be used too)
1/2 block of fresh tofu
2 handfuls of whole wheat tagliatelle or spaghetti noodles
Bring the stock to a boil.
Then bring it down to medium heat.
Add the tofu and spinach.
Then the pasta and simmer until all the ingredients are cooked through.
Season to taste.