Lots to catch up on. Busy week over here.
Monday, I let the kids stay home from school (long story), but they had to accompany me on my trip to 7th Heaven Farm to pick up my “humanely raised, transported and processed grass-fed” chicken, steaks, and eggs that are also “non-GMO and free of antibiotics, fertilizers [and] pesticides.” It was a good 45 minutes away — I think I’d opt for delivery next time. We got there and had ample time to check out the chicken, roosters, goats, and peacocks running around. The kids enjoyed it, and I tried to explain to them why we were buying some food there as opposed to the supermarket. At one point, my younger son said, “So chicken nuggets come from chickens?” Oy. We have a ways to go in our education.
Here are some of the eggs. Pretty neat, the diversity of size and color. Haven’t eaten any yet though because we are still working on a previous dozen.
Tuesday afternoon, I finally roasted the chicken I got for free at Thanksgiving from ShopRite. Snow was falling off and on all day, but not sticking to the roads. Very pleasant to be in a warm house with a roasting chicken and the snow falling.
Thursday morning, I used the carcass to make chicken stock. (Here’s one way to do it, although this time I used a different website.) This time I also tried to really get all the meat off the bones before making the stock. I started out using a fork, but realized (as with so many tasks) it was better to use my hands. I made like I was on Naked and Afraid and this was the last food I was going to see for three weeks, and I stripped that baby clean. Ended up using that chicken in tonight’s dinner: plain for the kids, chicken and cheese enchiladas with green sauce for me. I ended up with close to 8 cups of stock.
Today, I made two loaves of pumpkin bread with this recipe, which was helpful because it differentiated between fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin. I’ve been slowly coming to realize that you can’t just sub fresh pumpkin for canned in a recipe. The fresh stuff has a much higher water content. In fact, today I strained my thawed fresh pumpkin and got quite a bit of water out of it. If you want more details on this (like, lots of detail), you can read this post from For Love of the Table. Basically, the next time I roast a pumpkin I should add one more step: drying the puree out in the oven.
My pumpkin bread came out good. For something like pumpkin pie or that pumpkin gingerbread trifle I made, however, I think getting the fresh pumpkin as close to canned consistency as possible is a good idea.
If you like that pumpkin post and you want to read an even wonkier kitchen post, try this one on how to accurately measure flour. It hurt my brain and made me question everything I’ve ever baked. So I’ve decided to ignore it.
In other baking adventures, I made chocolate chip muffins recently (last week?). They were a big hit with my younger son. He ate most of them. One morning I woke up to his face right in mine, asking without preamble, “Can I have one of those muffins?”
I also made this gem for the Super Bowl. That’s right, Super Bowl L. I don’t dumb it down for the masses!
I’m realizing that the weekend, especially in winter, is really a good time to make more complicated dinners and try out new things. All these years, I would kill myself trying to cook every night Monday-Thursday, so that I could get to the weekend and feel like I had earned the right to take-out. (Sunday I would hope my parents would invite us over.) But that is kind of backwards. Might as well do the take-out during the week when schedules are busier. To that end, I’ve been cooking the past couple Fridays and Saturdays. Last Saturday, I took a couple baked potatoes left over from earlier in the week and made some yummy twice-baked potatoes, as well as some honey-glazed carrots. I also took leftover sweet potatoes and tried to make a soufflé, but that didn’t turn out so well. Still, it was nice to putter around the kitchen and see what I could come up with.
With all this food around, I’ve been pretty good about eating leftovers for lunch. A few lapses this week, but it was a very busy week. The next two weeks look empty on the calendar though.
In the midst of all this I’ve been sick again, head cold this time. The other morning I was laying on the couch after taking the kids to school, feeling sick and totally unmotivated. I got up to do something and checked on my herb seeds in the dining room window:
All the herbs had sprouted! The basil had actually sprouted a few days before, so the exciting part was the cilantro and parsley — I had read that both can be hard to grow. Zing! I felt great after that.
Also this week, my seed order arrived. I can’t wait to get some of those going. It’s going to feel like -20 overnight Saturday and nearly everyone in this house is still coughing and sniffling. (Either because they are sick or because their previous cold left them with a coughing/sniffling tic. Not kidding. Two kids have tics now. It’s driving me crazy.) I need to look forward to spring.