Monday, January 16, 2012

Making Stock of Things

What a long and wonderful weekend.  Complete with snowmen and sledding, sleeping in (kind of) and doing whatever we want.  As usual, on long, uncommitted weekends, I find myself in the kitchen.  It's just where I end up.  I am constantly behind on dishes and irritated about the clutter on my countertops, but I realized this weekend that it is mostly my own doing.  Remember when I canned all those pickles and the applesauce?  Well, that was on top of cooking dinners, making lunches and at least one other kitchen project... oh yeah, freezer jam that flopped.  Let's all pretend that I meant to make freezer sauce... because that's what it turned out to be.

This weekend, my kitchen project was to make stock.  What sparked the idea was an antiquated vintage cookbook series that Jason just had to buy at Goodwill a few weeks ago.  It had a whole section about how to make stock.  At first I rolled my eyes and mumbled about how I didn't need any more cookbooks, but then I became intrigued.  My sister makes stock all the time.  What would life be like if I didn't have to buy broth or bouillon anymore? Since I had some old veggies around, we bought shank and stock bones and herbs for the boquet garni and I cooked up a couple chickens the week before so that I would have those carcasses too.  Why make just one flavor right? 

Now, stock is actually not very labor intensive... okay, well kind of.  But mostly it just takes forever, so there is a lot of time to fill with other stuff.  I was able to play (outside even) with the kids, watch My Fair Lady (my whole family was dying and I was in heaven... boys don't really get that movie), wash (not fold or put away) laundry, and make pesto and hummus and pancakes and all sorts of other things that made a mess in my kitchen.  I also ran this weekend and watched quite a few episodes of Glee.  We watch that after the kids are sleeping...  

The labor intensive part of stock is the inital skimming off of the gunk and constant vigil to make sure that it doesn't reach full boil.  After that, you throw in the herbs and veggies and the simmer goes on forever.  The second labor intensive part of stock is the straining at the end.  It's all about getting rid of the gunk and straining through just the good stuff.  The flavor stays and the rest goes. 

Now, don't be fooled by my fancy cooking words like bouillon and boquet garni.  I am actually quite the novice when it comes to having everything one needs to complete such a fancy cooking project. I only have two strainers.  An awkward, plastic oval one that I've had forever and a small wire mesh one that I don't even know where it came from.  I don't own cheesecloth or the right kind of ladle.  I also don't have a lot of room in my fridge for various bowls. I now wish I would have taken pictures.  I improvised, and it was kind of funny looking.  Paper towels inside wire mesh makes a mean substitute for cheesecloth.  And who needs bowls when the stock can cool just as well in a plastic pitcher and a large coffee percolator?  Hopefully our next batch of juice or coffee doesn't taste like poultry...

I was very thankful for all of the butter and yogurt and sour cream containers I saved.  I am slowly morphing into my mother and grandmother... but you know what?  They hold the perfect amount of stock broth, and they freeze just as well as any old Rubbermaid. I must have a knick (the opposite of knack, right?) when it comes to things that require a certain amount of gelatin.  My chicken stock is actually chicken broth.  As is the beef... it's broth.  But, oh well.  It still has the flavor.  I must have a knack for flavor, because the blackberry sauce tastes great too. 

Sitting here tonight (finally) blogging again, I am also pretty happy about the flavor we got out of our weekend.  Both Jason and I spent a lot of time just goofing off with the kids.  They were so excited for snow!  And we surprised them and took them all to a movie, complete with popcorn and pop and smuggled candy.  I skimmed our closets and drawers of some clothes that don't fit or are never worn and some toys the kids won't miss.  We also strained our fridge and pantry.  The excess stuff that needed used before it went to waste got made into hummus and pesto and stock.  And we had a leftover dinner night, a la Incredibles.  Now, because of the random things we strained out of the pantry, I have a messy kitchen project ready for next weekend... homemade granola/protein bars! 

This week, I just need to finish cleaning the kitchen to get it ready to make another mess!

8 comments:

  1. I love reading about all of your cooking endeavors! It makes me miss having a kitchen. And My Fair Lady is one of my top favorites too!! It was my Junior year (high school) Spring Musical. Love Love Love!! :)

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    1. It had been so long since I had seen My Fair Lady, but all the songs came right back to me. Yesterday Grady was walking around the house singing, 'wif a little bit o'luck...'!

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  2. Sounds like you had a productive and very enjoyable weekend! I love puttering around in the kitchen. You know what makes a great substitute for cheesecloth besides paper towels? Coffee filters. I've also been known to use a sheetrock hammer in place of a meat mallet. ;)

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    1. I laughed out loud. Sheetrock hammer. Haha!

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  3. What a treat to surprise your children with a movie - - AND popcorn and pop! Not to mention the smuggled candy :) I love those types of weekends!

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    1. This was Leilee's first movie theather experience ever. She liked the Skittles best, I think.

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  4. This post is just delicious on so many levels. I have a small, relatively gadget-free kitchen and your description of improvising made me laugh. Don't we all have a small, mesh strainer that we don't know where it came from?

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    1. Of course! Most of the things in my kitchen are sweet garage sale finds... Unless it was a gift, hardly anything we cook with was purchased new.

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