Robinswood Park.

If you were to tell my 14-year-old-accidentally-signed-up-for-Cross-Country-because-I-thought-it-was-the-same-as-Track-self that I would be spending my weekends at Robinswood Park as an adult, I’d be in disbelief. I realize it sounds impossible to mix up Cross Country and Track because they are entirely different, which I learned the hard way, but hindsight is 20/20. Despite my confusion, I still pushed through the season, somehow skating by with only running two full races. I’m not a natural long distance runner, nor do I think I could be one with proper training, so daily runs around the school and Robinswood Park were on the verge of painful for me. Up until a month ago, I hadn’t stepped foot at this park since 2005. With all the city walking I do, as featured on this blog, the constant caution around crazy drivers and street kids has caught up to me. Now I’m seeking out suburbia’s quiet trails and well-maintained parks (it makes a huge difference!) Bellevue’s Robinswood is on the smaller side, but there’s a darling pond with ducks coupling up for Spring and a dog park. It’s perfect for me. At least the 28-going-on-45-me for right now.






Chicken and rice soup.

I’m a sucker for stews and soups and chowders and porridge, etc. All that warm good stuff. As my mom does, we’ve been using whole rotisserie chicken and not really for the meat, but mainly for the carcass and bones to make a broth. Our go-to has been a winter-inspired Chinese-style broth infused with traditional flavors of rice wine, dark soy sauce and sesame oil. In an effort to do something different for Spring, I used the broth for a chicken and rice soup. After peeking at a few variations on the web (Pioneer Woman’s being my favorite for its simplicity and Ree’s candor), I tried to just make something basic and easy to tweak for next time’s trial. To my surprise, and likely due to the addition of chicken bouillon.. (Ree said it’s okay!), there are absolutely no changes needed and this soup was just delightful.

To make a large pot (yes, that’s my measurement) that makes about 8-10 servings, you’ll need:

  • One frozen or fresh chicken carcass or bones
  • Two chicken breasts (or any part of the chicken you like)
  • 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes or two cups chicken broth
  • One yellow onion
  • Two large carrots
  • 5-7 stalks of celery depending on how much you like it
  • 1.5 cups semi cooked rice (or noodles, I’m flexible)
  • Three tablespoons butter
  • Half cup flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • Two bay leaves
  • Dried or fresh parsley (just about a teaspoon worth if dried)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder (and/or Mrs. Dash)



Making the stock: place the carcass/bones in a large pot and fill it with enough water to cover the carcass by an inch. If you’re using only bones, fill the pot with about 5-6 inches of water and two cups of chicken broth. Bring this to a boil then add bay leaves and one to two chicken bouillon cubes (more if you’re feeling adventurous and like a salty taste). Let the stock simmer on low for about 45 minutes. At the last ten minutes, add in the chicken breasts (or part of your choice) and remove once cooked. At this point, you should have a nice broth with some dollops of oil forming over the top (see above).


Preparing the vegetables: Cut your vegetables into chunky soup size pieces (about one square centimeter or inch) saute with a pinch of parsley, salt and garlic powder (or Mrs. Dash) on med-high until half way cooked. We cooked in two separate rounds to make sure the pieces got an even sear. Pull apart your cooked and cooled chicken meat and saute with the onions to add extra flavor.




Preparing the rice: place the rice in a small pot with 1.5 times the amount of water and let it cook to a simmer then cover and set aside off the heat. The rice should not be cooked all the way, so adjust your heat and timing accordingly (I know that wasn’t very helpful).


Add your vegetables, chicken and rice to a new large pot if available, and drain the broth through a colander into this one. If you don’t have two pots, you’ll just need to drain the broth into a large bowl then combine, or remove the bones directly from the pot (I realize this is common sense and you can likely figure out how to combine your mix with the broth, but I want to make sure to walk you through every possible issue!)


Once everything is combined, simmer on low for about ten minutes, and taste test to see how much salt needs to be added.


Preparing your roux: melt three tablespoons of butter on low heat and once the butter has turned to liquid, combine the flour one tablespoon at a time until the result is a thick, pancake-mix-type of consistency.

Add your roux to the soup around the same time you do your salt-test, then simmer for another 5 minutes, and remove it from the heat.


Let cool (if you can), then enjoy.