Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baby you got a stew going.

Memory is a funny thing.  I can remember how to make just about any drink at Starbucks (or, at least the drinks from 3-5 years ago), but I can't remember what presents Steve and I exchanged last Christmas.  I can remember certain test questions that I got wrong over 10 years ago (though at the time of taking the test, I couldn't remember the answer to the question, apparently).   I have the tendency to hold grudges, but once I've made up my mind to forgive, I also am able to forget (at least for petty things....and most things are petty things).
The other day, Steve and his staff spent a day at this farm (I think), learning a lot about how important it is to know where our food comes from.  They also learned how to de-feather and de-head chickens.  It was a hands-on learning experience.  When I saw the pictures from their day, I declared that I would certainly become a vegetarian.  I mean sure, I love bacon, and don't like berries or fish (and whatever else vegetarians must eat), but I'm sure I could become a vegetarian if I put my mind to it.

Steve, holding a chicken's head, prior to cutting it off and spraying blood on his arm.

Fast forward to yesterday/today.  I had just read this blog, which reminded me that a while ago I had read this blog...and of course I got inspired to make my own chicken stock (completely forgetting how just days before I had declared that I would be a vegetarian).
Soon, both Geneva and Trinity will provide a lot of our meals, so grocery shopping is probably going to become nearly obsolete (with the exception of breakfast foods, because we're too lazy to walk to school and eat breakfast, most days).  Sure, we usually cook for ourselves on the weekends, but still.  Grocery shopping is a lot different during the school-year than in the summertime.  So, we are incredibly blessed to be fed.  The chicken stock will come in handy during breaks, when we have to fend for ourselves, food-wise.  It's also during these times when our bodies tend to shut down and we get sick, so things made with chicken stock will come in handy!

Now, maybe you know that I can't just take a recipe for what it says on the page, I have to make it my own (with the exception of baking....I think there is a science to baking that you shouldn't mess with too much).

So, I took some advice from the above two blogs, but I didn't follow it exactly.  I went to the store and bought an already cooked whole chicken (because, for $4.99, you can't beat that).  I took it home, ripped it apart, pulling the meat from the bones and then throwing everything that wasn't edible (in my opinion) into the pot (I almost became a vegetarian 5-6 times during this process.  I don't do meat on the bone well).  I then threw in whatever onion we already had cut up (maybe like 3/4 cup?), a bunch of baby carrots, whatever celery we had in the fridge (maybe...4-5 stalks, leaves and all), a couple handfuls of spinach, and two cloves of garlic.  Then I filled the pot until it was about half full of water (or, so most things were covered...there were still a few chicken bones peaking out), and added two glugs of apple cider vinegar.

After it started boiling, I transferred the whole thing to a crock pot, seasoned it (tons of parsley, a little sage, and a little thyme.  Sorry Simon and Garfunkel, but I just don't like Rosemary all that much), and left it on low for about 4 hours.  It helps in this situation if you have errands to run.  1) so that the time passes faster, and 2) so that your nose doesn't become used to how good the stock smells, and when you get home you will be greeted with deliciousness.

When the 4 hours was nearly up, I realized that I really have no clue what to do with chicken stock once it is done (I mean, yes, put it in the freezer....but should you measure it out?  How much do you measure out?  What does one even use chicken stock for, outside of soup?  And even then, how much do you use?).  Luckily the internet came to my rescue again.  After reading a couple of these recipes, I decided that I would measure out the stock cup by cup, and store it in the freezer in my reused sandwich meat containers (of which we have billions).
A little over 5 cups of chicken stock.

After scooping out the flavored water and putting it into the freezer, I thought the ingredients still looked good.

Well, as good as chicken innards and veggies that have been soaking all day can look.  It certainly smelled good.

I had read here that if you like being frugal (and I do like the idea of being frugal), you can reuse the ingredients that you used in the first batch to make more batches.  So I threw everything back into the crock, added 6 cups of water, and now we're on to round two.  Not sure if I should let this batch sit for longer, or if it won't matter.  Apparently you can make stock until the bones just about dissolve.  I am not sure that I will take it that far.  Our freezer is only so big.
Round 2.  I'm listening to Simon and Garfunkel and just realized that I didn't add any more seasonings to this batch.  Oh well.  Whatever soup I make in the future will probably have more added.

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