Bone Broth

I’ve never been a bone broth type of person.  I could say more on why, but it turns out every sentence I wrote sounded badly judgmental, so I deleted those.  I had turkey bones from Thanksgiving, gleaned from my relatives’ house, so after making soup yesterday and picking off all the meat off the bones, I thought, hey why not try to make a broth from these bones?  They still look good.  So in they went, into the Instant Pot!  If nothing else, at least I’ll drink it and tell you how it went.

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Shabu Shabu

Went to a shabu-shabu restaurant today.  It was delicious, but kind of expensive!  I love shabu-shabu.  It is perfect comfort food, yet not heavy like most comfort foods.  It’s also perfect for the winter months, and warming oneself up, especially since our gas bill was enormous!

Next time I go to a Japanese market, I know what I’m getting!  Really want to make this someday: this shabu shabu

Sick, yet again.

My hubby and I have both been sick for what seems like an eternity.  Just kidding, it hasn’t been that long, maybe a few weeks.  Anyway, it has been longer than either of us anticipated.  First him, then me.  Interestingly, we have different illnesses.  Today, Hubby asked for soup.  Lucky for him, I was thinking exactly the same thing!  So today, instead of making Home Chef dinner number 2, I’m making Asian chicken soup, yet again.  I don’t have green onions, so the simple chicken drumsticks, ginger, water, and rice wine will have to do.

I’m starting to really like chicken drumsticks.  You know why?  Because I don’t have to touch them at all.  No butterflying, no hacking, no stuffing, nothing.  They either get thrown into the pot for soup, or picked up once to put into a pan to brown.  And that, my friends, for a germaphobe like me, is wonderful.  They have skin, bone, AND meat.  I took them for granted because Mother suggested them to me, and you know if Mom suggests it, how great can it really be?  Sorry Mom.  Turns out Mother is a genius.  I already knew that, but this just reaffirms it once again.

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup

From Tiny Urban Kitchen

This is now a favorite for me to make!  It’s super easy.

Here’s what she has for her instructions

“3 1/2 pounds chicken bones, necks, backs, and/or pieces
9 cups water
1 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
6 slices of fresh ginger (lightly smashed)
Salt and pepper to taste”

Usually, you bring it to a boil and cook it for 1.5 hours.  I want to try it with a pressure cooker today.

This site says with a pressure cooker, you could reduce the time by 1/3 typically, so I’m guessing I probably could do this in about 30 minutes, which interestingly is about the same time Jen’s beef noodle soup recipe takes.  Alright, here we go!

//edit//

OK we are eating yesterday’s leftovers tonight because the cornish hen FAILED to defrost overnight in the fridge.  Like what?  Yes.  I took it out and it was still hard.  What am I supposed to do with that?  I hate using the microwave to defrost because it always ends up that the meat accidentally gets cooked a little.  Gross.  At least I know our fridge is working!  Though it may need some recalibration, folks?

 

//edit again//

OK, I think I managed to defrost the hen enough in water so that I could chop it apart and put it into the soup.  We’ll see how it goes!

How do you defrost your chicken meat?  I dislike handling chicken meat, because I once got salmonella in college, and chicken was definitely suspect.  I still don’t handle it confidently.  How do you handle your chicken meat?

I’m just hoping the pressure cooker doesn’t explode.  They don’t make the exploding kind anymore, do they?

Home, sweet home.

Again!  I’m back and trying to be a good homemaker.  Because when you’ve lived in glistening hotels for two weeks, you realize your own pod isn’t quite so glistening when you come home to it.  All of a sudden the dust that has collected since I won’t tell you when looks so obvious.  Like why didn’t I see that before?  And the baseboards!  I didn’t even know what baseboards were until college.  They’re these cute random ledges on the bottom of your walls that seem only to make themselves noticed when they need to be dusted.

Also, when you’ve eaten glorious New Zealand grass-fed cows and sheep (because that’s what normal cows and sheep eat, apparently, without trying to be fancy), served to you by resident Kiwis, your own semi-edible creations of who knows what seem much less appealing.  But I’ve been inspired to keep learning how to do this thing called cooking.  After all, just what is it that all those restaurant chefs have that I don’t have?  Hours of training?  Impeccable knife skills?  Good creative and artistic sense?  Whatever they have, I hope it’s communicable.  Just two days ago, I made myself black bean soup.  Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to survive.  And beans have protein, guys, protein.  Protein is to girls with ridiculously fast metabolism and quickly returning hunger, as, as, a good fly trap is to a fly.  Sticks to the insides.  Sorry.  So this black bean soup consisted of items that were still edible in my pantry after our trip (whoever invented canning, bless you).

Let me tell you what was in it:

  • Black beans (drained, rinsed.  Why we need to rinse and drain our beans, I’m not sure, but the recipes all say to do it, so I do)
  • Chicken broth (the use within 5-7 days kind, let’s hope I use it within 5-7 days!)
  • Lemon juice (because I found out that practically everything tastes better with a fresh lemon squeezed onto it, so why not my soup?  And acid might brighten up the beans)
  • A generous pinch of SALT (FINALLY, I learned, salt is not to be forgotten folks)

It was interesting, semi-edible as I expected, but not edible enough that I would feed the hubby with it.  So I bought him pho.

Anyway, today, I decided to make a salad, and since I’m tired of store-bought dressings with who knows what natural flavoring or color in there (rumor has it that Raspberry Nestea is flavored with the secretions of beavers but apparently that is “mostly false”), I decided it couldn’t be too hard to make a vinaigrette.  A friend on the phone suggested I add some sesame oil to that vinaigrette, and so I experimented with some rice vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, and salt, in artistic ratios meaning, arbitrary and according to my heart’s desire.

But this helped me, along with some finger licking!  Thanks to that website, I may have gotten the proportions right!

Oops, dumplings been in the pot for too long.. gotta go!

 

There are a couple sizzles

And they mean a few things to me.  Burning, cooking, and spraying oil.

Today in the oven we have two pyrexes of ratatouille.  They were adapted from the ratatouille recipe from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  Apparently, adaptation is what you call it when you change a recipe and make it your own.  I use it loosely in this case to mean that I did not have all the ingredients on hand nor did I measure what I did have.

I figured I’d just pile veggies on in more or less even layers, because I’ve made ratatouille before.  So that’s what I did.  Who knows whether it will turn out.  Also, the recipe only calls for salt on every layer of five veggies, which seemed a little odd.  I just went with it.  I had no fresh herbs save basil, so I used the leftover basil and added some other dried herbs based on what I had.  Oregano, parsley.  Does oregano or parsley go in ratatouille?  Meh!

Right now I’m also adapting a Blue Apron recipe to make a butternut squash bean soup.  It’s sizzling like crazy over in the kitchen so I’m afraid it’s burning.

—- Recipe says two teaspoons of oil for one butternut squash, and to cook it for 6-8 minutes, until tender and slightly browned —–

//

And it burned.  Nice toasty brown spots on the bottom.  Did I not put enough oil?  Was my heat too high?  Was my pre-cut butternut squash not quite equivalent to one butternut squash?

See the toasty bottoms of the butternut squash that I was not going for:

IMG_6240

It’s not too bad, so I’ll keep going.  Once I’ve reached the burning point in cooking, I kind of panic.  So I add the spices in, which right now is another haphazard mixture of cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, because I haven’t got Ras El Hanout.  However, a quick search on Wikipedia says it’s composed of “Commonly used ingredients include cardamomcuminclovecinnamonnutmegmaceallspice, dry gingerchili pepperscoriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprikafenugreek, and dry turmeric.”  So I throw in all of the stuff I have in my cupboard that fits the bill and figure I can do without the rest.  Next, in go the beans and the water.  I have some chicken broth leftover and I don’t want it to go to waste (Does anyone waste copious amounts of chicken broth or is it just me?  Why are the cartons so large and why must they be used within 7 days of opening?), so I substitute that for some water, and add some water for good measure and faithfulness to the original recipe.  Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, as I bring the soup to a boil, knowing that I won’t risk burning anything here.

Phew.  And then my oven sound goes off.  That means the ratatouille is done.  I wish I could just leave it there but I fear it might dry out.  And it’s beeping, again.  Hold on, need to check that.

//

I’ve tasted the soup, and to my relief, it tastes pretty good. It tastes like butternut squash (Who would’ve thought!).

IMG_6296

Okay, okay, I’ll go get the oven.

I wonder if I dislike ovens beeping for the same reason I dislike phones ringing.  The sense of urgency sends me anxiously scrambling, except not scrambling, because I’m trying to finish my blog post, okay?  And neither ovens nor phones seem to bend to blog posting schedules.  They just beep, and beep, and beep.

Alright, before it burns now.

Here’s what the ratatouille looks like.  It doesn’t look like the ones I’ve made in the past. It looks shriveled and sad!  Did I not drizzle enough oil on the top?  Was it in the oven for too long?

IMG_6241

Oh yeah, I’m not vegetarian, by the way, and neither is my husband.  I just happen to dislike touching meat if I can help it.  Let’s just pretend that’s what we were going for.  Will this be a filling enough vegetarian meal?  Time will tell.  And this is what a blog post looks like when it’s done in the middle of cooking.