By Seth Hazlitt, M.D.
"Murder, She Wrote"
(The most recent book is Aloha Betrayed, #42 in the series)
My friend, Jessica Fletcher--you may know her as the mystery writer who insists on stickin' her nose in murder cases--has referred to me a "chicken-soup doctor" in some of her books. And while I do not appreciate being assigned a label, I suppose "chicken-soup doctor" is one of the more palatable names I've been called. (I've heard the term "curmudgeon" being bandied about. "Grumpy" is another one. But I'll take on anyone who says I look like a character from a fairy tale!)
Anyway, we were talking about Jessica, a very nice respectable, reasonable lady on most days, but as stubborn as a mule (I can call names with the best of them) when it comes to murder. I keep tellin' her that her nosiness is going to get her into trouble one day, and it has, not just on one day, but on numerous occasions.
There was that time when a local woman was whacked on the head with a shovel while a group of us were attending a Halloween costume party. I told her that since the murderer hadn't been caught yet, he might take exception to havin' his name unmasked by Jessica Fletcher. But she blithely gathered all the suspects in a cemetery at night, even scared up a local ghost, to point out the guilty soul.
Then there was the time, a famous figure skater died at our town's ice arena. I warned her not to get involved, to leave the investigation to the police,but did she listen? Not a whit. Went so far as to tie on a pair of skates to eavesdrop on the latest rumors. Got a good egg raised on her head for that bit of foolishness.
Of course Sheriff Metzger always thinks he can handle things all by himself. But that poor excuse for a chess player trips over his own feet half the time, so if Jessica didn't help him out occasionally, we might be overrun with killers in Cabot Cove.
I may prescribe folk remedies every now and then--old nostrums are often the most effective--but even if it doesn't cure a thing, good chicken soup soothes the soul. Here for you cooking fans, is my favorite recipe--and I did not get this from Mort Metzger's wife Maureen. I know what's good for my health.
Use whatever non-leafy vegetables are hanging around the crisper drawer in your refrigerator--make sure there's at least one cut-up onion and sliced carrots and celery in there--and dump them into a pot of cold water with a whole chicken. (Make sure the giblets are removed from the cavity!) Cook until the meat falls from the bones. Strain the soup, retaining the meat and veggies. Stir in a bouillon cube or two if the stock isn't flavorful enough. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and fresh herbs to taste. Add back the veggies. Cut up the chicken; return some of it to the soup. Save the rest for chicken salad. (Doctor says: If you like noodles in your soup, cook them separately. If you cook them in the same pot with the soup, they'll absorb some of the broth and release too much starch.)
The two scenes that Seth refers to take place in Trick or Treachery and Skating on Thin Ice. This year is the 25th Anniversary of the "Murder, She Wrote" mystery series.
Have you ever left the giblets inside the chicken? We have. :-(