‘Dem Bones

turkey carcass So anyway, back to that turkey carcass…

As I’m sure you recall (not) I make it a point to stretch every dang dollar that I spend on organic meat because, uh, it costs a lot of dollars!

If you are not familiar with making a stock from the bones of an animal, you may think it rather primitive–which it may be.  But I assure you that making your own stock is not only a good use of your organically spent dollars, it is healthy and actually quite gourmet.  (and for my vegetarian friends–yes, you can make a soup stock from vegetables as well, but we are going with the turkey scene here.)

Bones.  When I cook meat I pretty much always chose cuts with bones.  Why?  Because there is soooooo much flavor in those little guys.  Even if I cut the meat away from the bones before serving, cooking them on the bone always yields a better flavor.  Plus, then I have something with which to make a stock so it’s a win-win!

To prepare a stock takes a bit of effort, but it’s way worth it.  First step is to remove all the meat you can from the bones.  Then I place what’s left of the carcass in a large pot with whatever I had used to season it (onion, garlic, citrus) as featured above.  Sometimes I add a little salt, maybe a slug of white wine… just depends.

Next add enough water to cover your goodies, place a lid on top, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low boil for about 90 minutes or so.

bones cooking

The longer you cook the bones, the more flavor your broth will have, but there comes a point where you start saving on the organic meat dollars and then spend more on your gas or electric bill.  So I usually go about 90 minutes or so.  At this point, by the way, your kitchen is smelling so good you won’t believe it.

Now you’re going to strain the broth from the bones.  I like my metal strainer because the holes are tiny (no bones get through!) and then I can put it in the dishwasher to clean it.  It will be a bit greasy when done.

This time I had enough broth to fill one large glass bowl:

bones strained

Plus another small one:

bones done

At this point, your carcass has done its duty.   It has nothing left to give and you may now dispose of it knowing that you have taken advantage of every cent that went into it.  Congratulations.

Final step: I chill the broth so the fat will rise to the top.  Even though I don’t cook the skins, there is still some fat in the broth.  This is the kind of gross part but there you go.  I take a spoon and just skim it off the top:

bones fat Just collect this gross stuff and toss in the trash.  I don’t recommend putting it in your sink unless you’ve already called the plumber.

And there you go.  What does one do with a soup stock/broth like this?  Don’t get me started.  Just like you use store bought chicken broth to use for cooking, this stock can be used to cook rice, make soups, sauces, couscous, whatever.  It can be frozen in ice cube trays if you like to use little bits at a time, or in freezer bags or larger containers for later stock-using days.  Or you can just take what you’ve got and make some soup right now!

Absurd side note: my mother and I have been known to fight over a carcass like a pair of jackals if we’re at the same gathering.  “What a delicious meal!  Thanks so much for inviting us–and if you don’t mind me asking… what are you going to do with that carcass!?”

Don’t I hate it when the host notifies me: “Sorry, your mother asked first!” 🙂


Ahh… Kale. I’m Back, Baby!

refrig soup

Refrigerator Soup.  What the heck is “refrigerator soup?” you ask.  It’s whatever you have left in your refrigerator at the end of your shopping cycle which you then chop up and throw into a pot.  With broth.  And wine. 

As promised post-cookie-bar-hangover, today’s post includes kale.  Kale!  Purge my soul (and arteries) my good friend, dark leafy greens!

This is–hands down–my favorite kind of soup to make, in case you’re wondering.  I love to make refrigerator soup for three reasons:

1. It insures I don’t waste.  Anything that grows out of the ground and a few other items that I found in my fridge are in this here bowl.

2. It’s DE-lish and different every time I make it.  Fun!

3. It’s healthy.  But of course.

It’s hard to record a recipe for food items such as this, but I will share what I did yesterday, K?  If you’re a psycho-measurer or to-the-letter-instruction-manual-follower, you are likely to be annoyed very soon…

Ingredients (as I recall…) 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 onion, 2 cloves garlic, two kinds of cauliflower, broccoli, stems and leaves from both as well, carrots, celery, kale (KALE :)!), leftover brown rice, leftover chicken, chicken broth, 1/4 cup white wine, blob of “better than boulion,” salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Chop up and simmer everything from the beginning of the list until you arrive at the rice.  Cook down until veggies get a bit softer.  Add everything else and bring to a boil.  Leave at a good bubbling place until veggies are cooked.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Tips: Quantity on the afore mentioned items…?  Yeah… Uh… How does “whatever you’ve got” sound?  Also, timing on this is also absolutely not key.  I didn’t pay a lick of attention to how long any of this took, I’m sorry to say… I was in domestic mode yesterday, cleaning my floors, folding laundry, dusting, etc, so I just popped by every 20 mins or so to take a gander at what was going on.  But hey, that’s me.

So, you know, with absolutely no details of any kind to follow, this recipe prolly won’t make it into my cookbook someday.  But man did we enjoy it last night.

I Lied… But it’s OK!

avgo soup

Yesterday I was featured on the mega-blog Hometown Pasadena (enough shameless self promotion… geeze Michelle!)  You may not have even realized my terrible deception about which I’m reluctant to speak… but I really must come clean.
My avgolemeno soup recipe has more than 10 ingredients.  There I said it.
On my profile page right here on this very blog I clearly state that I turn a blind eye to any recipe with more than ten ingredients… Sigh… obviously not the whole truth.
BUT–It’s OK!  Honestly.  There are two reasons why: The avgolemeno ingredients are so rudimentary (milk, egg yolks, rice–stuff like that!) that even though, technically, the list exceeds 10 items, it will not require a trip to the exotic spice store or even the grocery store for many folks.  You likely have most of the stuff on hand.  The second reason why my seemingly reprehensible behavior is OK is that this soup is so incredibly delicious that if you make it there’s no way you can’t forgive me.
I considered altering the information on my “about Michelle” page to reflect reality, but I just couldn’t do it.  I mean, I may be a liar, but I’m not dishonest!
I thought you’d like to know that I have been invited to be a regular contributor to Hometown Pasadena’s weekly Mangiamo feature.  You can look forward to a delicious little something from me the last Tuesday of every month!  (and might I add: Wooo-hooo!)

For the recipe for the fabulous bowl of soup you see above, please either click on the Hometown link in this post, along the side of my home page, or tucked into the recipe page under soups.

The Art of Soup

“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.” –Abraham Maslow

I love soup!  I look forward to cooler weather (my Minnesota friends are laughing right now) so that I can make soup, soup, soup!  I actually make soup year round, although my husband does start to complain when the ambient temperature gets above 85 degrees or so.

What’s so great about soup?  Well, it’s delicious of course.  It’s also full of possibilities.  I can’t think of another food item that can be as versatile or played around with more than soup.  I have some great soup recipes, but quite honestly my favorite way to make it is something I call “Refrigerator Soup.”  I love (read: LOVE) to poke around my fridge (or yours if you invite me over…) and chop up whatever I find, simmer it, add a broth and a bunch of other stuff and call it soup.

Click on my recipe page and check out my family’s recipe for lentil soup, which is already pictured there.  This soup is easy and quick to make, and it’s possible to have all the ingredients on hand so you can whip it up whenever. 

One suggestion: the recipe portions are small.  Tiny.  Miniscule.  I never, ever, ever make small portions of anything I cook, especially soup.  Soups more than anything else only get better after they’ve been cooked, frozen and then reheated.  I recommend at least doubling this recipe or, if you’re a nut-job like me, quadruple it or even more.

Oh!  And I almost forgot: if you’d like to make a comment to my posts (please, please, please) just click on the word bubble.  And if you want to get email updates every time I reach out and try to touch the world, please click on the new widget Noeleen set up for me.  We’re hoping it will work!