Monday, January 17, 2011
I had an onion sandwich and a bowl of turkey soup for lunch. When I cut out enough soup to fill the bowl the hole stayed right where the soup I took was. I remember the chicken soup I made worked the same way - it jells nice and solid, but melts into a nice rich soup. I make thick bean soup, but the noodle soups always have plenty of liquid the way the BW likes them. She always grates some nutmeg because that was the way her mother did chicken soup, and it's good with fresh nutmeg too. Or it's good with whatever spices you prefer.
Monday, January 17, 2011
The sound of thunder woke me a little before seven this morning – it was just showing a little light, but still dark outside. I took the dogs out, and Gracie went but Ralphie just turned around and came back inside. They were only outside a few seconds, and we still got wet. I had let Ralphie out about 3:00 because he barked at me, and he had been out for quite a while, but it’s going on 11 now and the rain has slowed down so I’ll try him again soon.
The rain gauge showed 1.5 inches, and was up over three inches an hour and a half later, so it had been raining at about an inch per hour. I just got a notice that heavy thunderstorms are predicted for Pinellas County, but the rain has slowed down recently. It wasn’t like a tropical storm, where you get a thunderstorm that lasts for six to eight hours, but it was a pretty good rain. I turned the irrigation system off so it won’t run tomorrow.
If you have high blood pressure, or are trying to watch your sodium, commercial broth isn’t a good idea. They add not only salt, but MSG so that you get 890 milligrams in a single cup. That’s more than half a day’s maximum in a single cup of soup – not a good choice. I make my own broth for a chicken, and stock for a turkey. The 1975 edition of the “Joy of Cooking” notes that broths are made on the meat, and broths are made on the bones – on scraps and leftovers that my family used to consider garbage for the hogs. The book also mentions that the distinction is being lot in modern usage as people tend to interchange the words.
For chicken broth I put a chicken in a soup pot (or stock pot) and add a bulb of garlic, cut in half, two medium carrots, washed and cut in large chunks, three ribs of celery, including the tops, cut in large chunks, two large onions, quartered, 1 turnip, halved, two bay leaves, a teaspoon of black pepper berries, and1/4 bunch of thyme. I add only enough cold water to cover the solids (about three quarts) bring it to a boil, and then simmer for a couple of hours. I let it go for two to two and a half hours usually, then fish out the chicken and save the meat. The carcass tends to come apart, and it’s easy to pull the skin off and get the meat off the bones. After I pick out the solids with tongs I strain the broth through a sieve, then through a screen wire strainer. Then I cool the stock pot in a dishpan of water and put it in the refrigerator after it cools.
The next morning I use a large spoon to scrape the fat off the top of the broth. Typically the broth is gelled and pretty stiff, but the chicken fat is a little softer than the broth and lighter, so it’s easy to see what I’m doing. When that’s done I have about a gallon of broth. That’s just enough to make chicken soup. In the case of a turkey, I just make stock with the carcass and the same purchased ingredients, because we don’t raise vegetables or grow spices and herbs. You get a lot of good out of the turkey carcass without much work that way.
It's very rich, and very low sodium. If you shake just a little salt on it, it tastes even better.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
This morning, after I read the paper, I skimmed the fat (not much of it) off the stock, measured out a gallon of it, and bagged up three cups to freeze. Then I peeled five small carrots, split and chopped three stalks of celery, chopped an onion, minced four cloves of garlic, and sautéed the mess with a little olive oil in a soup pot. I added a bay leaf and the thyme leaves from four sprigs at the beginning of the sautéing. While the mess was getting soft I chopped up two bags of turkey, which left five more to go, and got four cups of chopped turkey. When the vegetables were soft, about six or seven minutes, I added the gallon of stock and boiled the whole mess. Once it was boiling I added eight ounces of egg noodles and let them boil for five minutes. Then I added the chopped turkey and boiled it for another five minutes. After that I turned the stove off and let it sit for about 15 minutes before moving the pot to a dishpan with some cold water in it. I dumped the water after about 15 minutes and ran more around the soup so it could cool for another 15 minutes.
There was no salt added anywhere, and the soup is good, but better if you sprinkle a little on your serving. This isn't an French recipe, it's a midwestern American recipe. Normally you would buy a chicken, drop it in the soup pot, and make a broth, which turns out to be about a gallon. I had a cheap turkey, so I made stock with the leftover carcass, which we used to throw away. Doing that, I got turkey noodle soup instead of chicken noodle soup, but either way it's the sort of stuff we made 70 years ago or so. I remember an uncle saying to my dad, "Where's the chicken?" when they were talking about Campbell's chicken noodle soup. I still feel the same way.
The BW wanted to shop today, so I went along with her, and I noticed that they had dormant fruit bushed at the Home Depot. I bought two grape vines, one seedless red and one seedless green, and then went on to Ace Hardware with her, where I had a bag of free popcorn, and she browsed a while before buying a little Lava soap. Then she went to T J Maxx and Home Goods and I stayed in the car and kept the dogs company and read a book. On the way home we passed Home Depot again, and I went in and bought two more grape vines, one of each color. I figure I have room for four vines, and I have a better chance some of them will survive if I start with more. We had Concord grapes in Indianapolis, and I used to get a bushel of grapes off of each vine. Maybe I'll go back into the wine business.
Then I dug up sand burrs this afternoon until I had a full grocery bag. There are dramatically less of them than there were two winters ago when I started this, but they're still coming up.
Tomorrow I'll plant the four vines, flip my had at them, and say "Grow, dammit," which was Bob Woods egging on his plantings.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Coq a Vin is on page 263 of volume 1. You need to make two other recipes to complete this one - onions and mushrooms. I makes a chicken casserole that is probably very good.
In the beginning of the book, Julia comments that French cooking includes small portions and no snacking, as well as wine, and the only universally recognized way to extend lifespan of every species measured in underfeeding. That is, you get a balanced, complete diet, but low in calories. Maybe that had something to do with her longevity.
Today I roasted a 13.5 pound turkey, got 4.5 pounds of meat, and made a pot of stock that is probably more than a gallon. I fished all of the solids out of the pot, strained the stock twice, and set the covered stock pot outside to cool. It's 46 degrees now, and will get cooler tonight. It was 42 degrees at 8:00 this morning, about the same as our refrigerator. I'll skim the fat off tomorrow morning and make a pot of turkey noodle soup. I bout all the missing ingredients this morning.
Friday, January 14, 2011
A few days ago we watched a movie called "Julie and Julia", which is about a young woman who bloged about making every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook in a single year. The BW started it, and quit, the a day or so later finished it, and I watched the last 40 per cent of the movie. I got interested and watched the first part of it, and was interested enough to check out the first volume of her book from the library. I got started on it, and today I bought the set - both volumes from Amazon.com for less than a used book or a new one from the least expensive source would cost.
A long time ago I thought about it and decided that I didn't want to cook like the French chefs do, but would stick with plain food, mostly following the guidelines of Nathan Pritikin. Then I branched out a little and have picked up several recipes from the TOPS magazine. Unfortunately we ate at the little restaurant with the "best" chef in the Tampa Bay area (two million people, but I have no idea how many restaurants), and the linguine with mushrooms sticks in my mind. It wasn't greasy, but it tasted better than any other food I can recall, so maybe in my old age it wouldn't hurt to learn to focus on the taste more than the nutrition for awhile.
Her book is also good because it has an early section that describes the techniques in detail, something that I have read is important for a cook to understand. Certainly it's more detailed than my usual job of adding water to pancake mix at the Kiwanis pancake events. I have never even used a pancake recipe and mixed up ingredients - just bought the prepared mix and added water.
I don't know how far I will mess with this, but I probably won't try to make all 500 plus recipes - whether in a year or in any time at all. I also will try substituting olive oil for butter a few times and see if the result is any good, even if not as good as the original recipe.
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