‘Ode to Saturday

produceMan does this make me smile.  Ear to ear and forehead to chin.  I love this  day.  LOVE it.

Pictured here is the result of my weekly pilgrimage to my PHS favorite farmers market.  LOVE that place.

It never ceases to amaze me how a spread like this dissappears each week–but I don’t question it.  LOVE good produce and so does my family.  Yeah for us!

Today is a gloriously warm late-summer-feeling-but-actually-it’s-fall SoCal day.  This is the kind of day where the cost of living ’round here is warranted.  (As my Midwestern transplant extended family and I have been known to say, “Sure the schools are underfunded, the health care is in shambles, it’s crowded, expensive and overwhelming… but it’s so nice outside!”)  I LOVE California!

This afternoon is the Fall Festival at my kiddos’ school.  We will arrive in costume to set up our fun booth that we created with some friends and will arrive back home several hours later, hair spray-painted, faces decorated, bellies full of popcorn and tacos… and a whole week’s full of this rainbow produce scene to look forward too.  I LOVE rainbow produce!



‘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!” 🙂

I Also Made Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie

Quick shout-out to the Calvary Preschool Peeps who hired me to get everyone “Thinking Outside the Lunchbox” last night.  I enjoyed our time together!

Pumpkin Pie is not my favorite.  In my opinion, if I’m being perfectly honest, pumpkin pie is just, well, OK.  In the opinion of my family and all the guests at the pumpkin palooza party, however, this recipe for pumpkin pie is the bomb.  I seriously saw a few kids licking their plates clean (possibly adults were doing it around the corner or something.)

So, even though I didn’t really dig in to this, chances are you will. 🙂

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients: 2 cups pumpkin, 1 1/2 cup heavy cream or 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp: cardamon, cloves, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, pie crust (and yes, I used a frozen crust.)

Directions: mix, pour into pie crust and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 50 minutes.  Serve with homemade whipped cream for extra yum factor!

Deep Thoughts: I intentionally chose a recipe with kind of a long list of ingredients. I figured that by adding a little more personality I might like this dessert a bit more.  It didn’t work–but like I said, everybody else loved it so I think I’m the exception here.  Just don’t know what it is about pumpkin pie…

Quotes for Today and the New Year

Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature.   Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run that outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.–Helen Keller

So, here’s the plan: Starting on Monday (hi: kids back at school!), Kickin’ it will begin a weekly routine of posts and some updates on upcoming workshops.   If you’ve attended my workshops before, feel free to come visit me again as I’ve made some fun changes to the old format…

One thing I’m focusing on much more than before is, in the smaller groups and in my new private coaching sessions, really listening to what individual needs are, and tailoring my approach to instruction much more than before.  This is why I’m allowing up to 90 minutes for these gatherings.  For whatever reason I get a heckuva kick out of helping problem solve food/family related issues.  

Bring me your tired of cooking, your stuck-in-a-rut masses yearning to be free of frustration in the kitchen and at the table.  We’ll face the adventure together!–Michelle Calva-Despard