My traveling co-blogger sister has been carrying the weight of this blog for a while now, as she cruises around Southeast Asia. Meanwhile I have been slacking at home and trying to get back to normal (what’s that?) after the holiday break in routine. Now I feel that not only must I carry my share of the load and post something – but I must post something super domestic in order to balance out all the travel. A little yin to her yang, if you will. So here’s what’s going on at my little house today:It’s a beautiful, sunny, warm day. I did some laundry and folded the clothes outside on the picnic table. And I made my own laundry detergent this morning! It was easy and smells really good (I used Dr. Bronner’s scented soap – one rose and one orange – and added essential oils). The laundry looks clean, right? I used this basic recipe. I was surprised at how much cheaper it is to make my own at home.
My chores completed, I meandered about in the garden. I loved this little camellia flower hanging out all by itself in the shade. It’s the first blossom to bloom on this plant.
Back inside, I messed around with my paper chain garland project. This is a craft project that I have been meaning to get to for, like, ever. And now it is almost completed. Here’s a tiny preview:I also checked in with my cats. They are my stay-at-home version of the wax monks. But a little less creepy.And today I am making chicken stock. When I think about the most homey, cozy, productive, domestic things I can do, making chicken stock might be the golden star at the top of the list. Check out these lovely globules . . .I suppose I feel so strongly about chicken stock because it is one of the building blocks of my cooking. Not only do I use it as an ingredient in many dishes, but often it is the main ingredient, to which I just add whatever we have on hand, especially leftovers, to make a quick, delicious, satisfying and healthy supper. That’s all anybody needs, isn’t it? We are fans of soup around here.
I have a basic formula, which I tweak as I feel like it, for my supper soup. I learned this method from How to Cook Without a Book, by Pam Anderson, certainly one of my most favorite and recommended books, especially for beginners.
For each quart of chicken stock, I saute a diced onion in a pot and add:
1 pound cut-up vegetables, like carrots (leftover roasted ones are yummy here), leeks, celery, kale or collards (thinly sliced), zucchini, or frozen peas. Got half a head of romaine lettuce? Chop it up and throw it in.
1 pound meat (like boneless, skinless chicken (precooked or not), precooked sausages (like kielbasa or pre-cooked chicken Italian).
Some starch, like a pound of diced potatoes or pre-cooked pasta or rice or a can or two of cannellini beans. Pasta or rice gets added at the end. Or you could add a sprinkling of corn meal, like in the polentina alla toscana recipe from One Good Dish, by David Tanis. (I expect that you will be hearing more about this book from me in future posts. I love it.)
And sometimes, a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes. And herbs and salt and pepper of course. Have some rind from a hunk of Parmesan cheese? Throw it in! So yummy.
We have had some very tasty combinations like Italian sausage, collards and tomato or chicken with spinach, rice and lemon (oooh I’m hungry now), or the basic chicken, carrots, celery and peas with pasta. Sometimes I skip the meat and just do beans and vegetables. It’s easy to combine all sorts of things in the soup. Often it ends up being more of a stew than a soup, I load so much stuff in there. But it tastes delicious regardless.
No chicken soup tonight, though. It’s too warm! In January! Instead I will strain this stock and pop it in the fridge to cool. Tonight I’m going out on the town for a quick bite with the boy before his fencing lesson. Domesticity party!!
Tomorrow I will de-fat the stock (mostly) and freeze it for a rainy day (here’s hoping for one of those soon – it’s so dry here.) Then who knows what else I’ll get into . . .
That’s the report from NerdHaven West – staying home in L.A. and doing fine. xo