I’m not sure if it’s the progesterone drop that comes along at the beginning of each cycle or because my husband is away at a conference for his home inspection business leaving me alone this weekend, but I’m just a teary-eyed mess today. The other reason that persistently begs to be acknowledged and that I hold back from telling anyone except for my husband is that I was supposed to be due any day now–at least according to the pregnancy due date calculator I consulted excitedly and anxiously about 9 months ago. I was over the moon that one of my weird fantasies had come true: that I would be roly-poly pregnant along with my two goats.
But at about 7 weeks, we found out at our first ultrasound appointment that there was no heartbeat. We were to wait two more weeks to confirm that I miscarried. I was robbed and overcome with a grief stronger than I had ever known. The overwhelming sadness seemed to fade away, but continues to revisit me every now and then–actually, more like monthly when I find out that I’m still. not. pregnant. Blood and tears are shed simultaneously, and another cycle of hope begins. With that hope comes a slew of practices that we have adopted to increase our chances: taking supplements like ubiquinol for sperm and egg quality, evening primrose oil (until ovulation only), and cod liver oil along with my prenatal multivitamin; eating mostly organic foods; exercising (not as hard as when I used to powerlift); getting needles poked into us during acupuncture treatments, and eating black chicken soup.
Uh, black chicken soup, you ask? Well, when I started acupuncture treatments, I saw a Chinese lady. She asked me, “How Chinese are you?” I guess I was Chinese enough because making and eating black chicken soup wasn’t that far-fetched to me. I grew up with my father making a chicken soup not made traditionally with mirepoix but with a combination of ingredients like ginger, goji berries, red dates, ginseng, and other Chinese medicinal herbs. The clear broth has a medicinal flavor, but it still has that sweet savoriness of any good broth. Black chicken soup, made similarly with a black chicken, is believed by the Chinese to be potently nourishing, especially for postpartum women, the elderly, the ill, or those low in qi energy.
It is also often prescribed by the more traditional Chinese acupuncturists or doctors of Oriental medicine to women wishing to increase fertility. It is made with a Silkie chicken, which is a breed that has a blueish black skin underneath its really soft, silky white feathers. They are often raised as pets here in America as they are really friendly, pretty little creatures. Interestingly, they are also known to be great at mothering young chicks. The Chinese, however, believe their flavor and medicinal quality to be superior. The chicken is smaller and leaner than your average grocery store chicken. I think its flavor is stronger, maybe more gamey, but in a good way. I purchase mine labeled “Buddhist Style Silkie Chicken” from the freezer bins in the large Asian markets here in San Diego. (“Buddhist style” refers to the way they were slaughtered to leave the neck unbroken and with head and feet intact.) They are about $8-10 a piece, and each will make you broth to last a week.
Part of the therapy, at least for me, is in making the soup. My version is very simple and basic. I put the whole chicken in a large stock pot and cover with filtered water. When it comes to a boil, I turn the heat down to a simmer and skim off the scum that comes to the top. Then I add about 3 in. ginger (peeled and sliced), 1/4 c of dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms, and a tablespoon of salt to it and let it simmer, partially covered, for a total of 3 hours. After 2 hours, though, I will add a handful of goji berries (also known as wolfberries or fructus lycii) and about 8 red dates. With 30 minutes left, I’ll add in 2-inch pieces of 3-4 green onions. I usually serve up a bowl with the shredded chicken, mushroom slices, goji berries, and green onions and adjust the seasoning with salt. The broth is a beautiful golden, clear liquid that is delicious and feels so good to drink.
You also might be interested in
Mama Tong’s Version of Herbal Chicken Soup
Lucid Food’s blog post on Black Silky Chicken Stock
Feeding Hannibal Silkie Soup (We are fans of the show Hannibal and got a kick out of seeing Dr. Lecter feed Will black silkie chicken soup when he was sick!)