Stock

One cannot rush chicken stock.  Two days, two unhurried days are what you need.  On the first day, you simmer the chicken parts—backs and necks and, if you’re courageous enough, chicken feet.  And then, on day two, you separate the fat from the broth.  You strain the broth.  And then, you run the broth through the separator once more, this time adding copious amounts of ice cubes to which the fat clings.

You’re left with a beautiful, clear stock.
And a pile of necks and backs to deal with.



You shuck the skin from the neck and then break the necks in half, pulling the flesh away from each vertebra before tossing them into the bucket with the skin for Outside Cat who paws at the window, meowing in his demanding way.  The dog sits at my feet, waiting for the succulent kidneys tucked inside each backbone.
Squints, helping me, wonders aloud whether he ought to become a vegetarian.  “This is gross,” he says.

And I show him the parts.  Here is the rib cage; here is the neck; here is where the tail feathers were. 
Some people think this is disgusting; this boiling and tearing apart of a skeleton to claim its flesh. 

I disagree.  Making stock is an opportunity to slow down; to connect with your children; to connect with your food.  Making stock puts a face on your food; you learn not to take your food for granted.
And you cannot rush it.

* * *
The daffodils are up.  The dogwoods, pink and white, are in bloom.  And because it’s such a beautiful day; And because V needs twenty more hours of driving before she’s eligible to get her license; And because we’re dreaming of our little farm in the country, we get in the car and head north, grateful to leave the suburbs behind, if only for a few hours.

A farmer works his field.  A man tills his garden.  A family of three generations works outside.  I smell a burn pile and watch helmeted boys skateboard in the park.  A woman sits on her front porch, the newspaper open on her lap.
The forsythia is in full bloom.  Tiny yellow flowers dot the side of the road.  The buds upon the tree are still new enough to be a surprise. We renew our acquaintance with spring.

White moths flutter and alight here and there, perhaps meeting spring for the first time.
The countryside is scattered with stone houses.

But the farm is a disappointment.  We turn around and head home.
Waiting for our farm is like gardening; like making soup stock; like raising children.

We can’t rush it.
Someday, we’ll have that farm.

In the meantime, we drive.
And we make soup stock.


This has been linked to Yeah Write.

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Stock

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stock

One cannot rush chicken stock.  Two days, two unhurried days are what you need.  On the first day, you simmer the chicken parts—backs and necks and, if you’re courageous enough, chicken feet.  And then, on day two, you separate the fat from the broth.  You strain the broth.  And then, you run the broth through the separator once more, this time adding copious amounts of ice cubes to which the fat clings.

You’re left with a beautiful, clear stock.
And a pile of necks and backs to deal with.



You shuck the skin from the neck and then break the necks in half, pulling the flesh away from each vertebra before tossing them into the bucket with the skin for Outside Cat who paws at the window, meowing in his demanding way.  The dog sits at my feet, waiting for the succulent kidneys tucked inside each backbone.
Squints, helping me, wonders aloud whether he ought to become a vegetarian.  “This is gross,” he says.

And I show him the parts.  Here is the rib cage; here is the neck; here is where the tail feathers were. 
Some people think this is disgusting; this boiling and tearing apart of a skeleton to claim its flesh. 

I disagree.  Making stock is an opportunity to slow down; to connect with your children; to connect with your food.  Making stock puts a face on your food; you learn not to take your food for granted.
And you cannot rush it.

* * *
The daffodils are up.  The dogwoods, pink and white, are in bloom.  And because it’s such a beautiful day; And because V needs twenty more hours of driving before she’s eligible to get her license; And because we’re dreaming of our little farm in the country, we get in the car and head north, grateful to leave the suburbs behind, if only for a few hours.

A farmer works his field.  A man tills his garden.  A family of three generations works outside.  I smell a burn pile and watch helmeted boys skateboard in the park.  A woman sits on her front porch, the newspaper open on her lap.
The forsythia is in full bloom.  Tiny yellow flowers dot the side of the road.  The buds upon the tree are still new enough to be a surprise. We renew our acquaintance with spring.

White moths flutter and alight here and there, perhaps meeting spring for the first time.
The countryside is scattered with stone houses.

But the farm is a disappointment.  We turn around and head home.
Waiting for our farm is like gardening; like making soup stock; like raising children.

We can’t rush it.
Someday, we’ll have that farm.

In the meantime, we drive.
And we make soup stock.


This has been linked to Yeah Write.

Labels: ,

28 Comments:

At March 18, 2012 at 9:55 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

This is the same way I make soup stock, except I add carrots, potatoes, parsley root, and onion, peppercorns and a few tablespoons of chicken broth powder. I save the vegetables but get rid of every tiny scrap of everything else. Even the thought it comes from an animal grosses me out, but I am smart enough to know how good it is for us! Tiny Hungarian noodles are great added to the broth, as is rice or egg noodles, cooked separately first. Note to self, I must teach my adult children how to make good soup stock!

 
At March 19, 2012 at 4:45 AM , Anonymous Fiona Phillips said...

Great post. Waiting is a skill that I must perfect. Having said that, getting on with mundane chores (such as making stock or gardening) helps to not only pass the time in between but free my mind for inspiration to knock on my door.

Thanks for sharing.

 
At March 19, 2012 at 5:14 AM , Anonymous TLanceB said...

now I'm hungry and sensory overloaded.

lovely

 
At March 19, 2012 at 6:41 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

Great little story leading to the "Art of Waiting". Loved your discription on your drive. I may go and have some chicken noodle soup at Eliz. Young's place

 
At March 19, 2012 at 10:41 AM , Anonymous Shelton Keys Dunning said...

This post to me was simply amazing. It conjured up so many memories of my youth, my mom's stories of my grandmother, my father's stories of his life on the farm. You have a remarkable ability to speak to my soul the way chicken soup comforts on a rainy day.

 
At March 19, 2012 at 10:48 AM , Anonymous www.healnowandforever.net said...

This is beautiful! Enjoying the present moment of slowness really helps notice all the beauty around. I enjoyed and was inspired to check out my forsythias bushes when I get home and bring some in the house to enjoy them!

 
At March 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Yum - Elizabeth - Depending upon what the stock's intended for, I'll add the vegetables as well - If I'm really organized, I'll keep the veggie scraps until I've got a big pile in the freezer and toss them in - this works really well for beef stock.

 
At March 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

I think so, too - Want to meet me in Canada?

 
At March 20, 2012 at 4:08 AM , Anonymous Ben said...

Very nicely written - the slowness of the stock comes across in the writing.

I really force myself to slow down, to mindfully cook at least a couple of times a month. It's nice to feel a connection to the food, and it's great time to spend with the kiddo.

Nicely done!

 
At March 20, 2012 at 4:55 AM , Anonymous Michelle Longo said...

Waiting... so hard, yet so rewarding!

 
At March 20, 2012 at 5:39 AM , Anonymous SisterhoodOfTheSensibleMoms said...

I appreciate the journey in this piece; how I was set up with the stock analogy to fully absorb the waiting you are living through for your farm. I especially love the crafting of this sentence, "The buds upon the tree are still new enough to be a surprise." Vivid imagery. Ellen

 
At March 20, 2012 at 6:05 AM , Anonymous Heidi said...

The imagery in this is beautiful. I especially liked.."White moths flutter and alight here and there, perhaps meeting spring for the first time."
This post reminded me to be present. It's something I've been working on in my life - to live in the moment. Your writing brought me to that place this morning.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 6:25 AM , Anonymous katieross83 said...

How lovely. And I never thought I'd write that about the process of making chicken stock. But you make me want to do it. You make me want to slow down and take it all in and connect with my food in that very real way. And more than anything? You make me want to have a farm.

Beautiful words and an even more beautiful message.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 8:04 AM , Anonymous Seasidesmores said...

My daughter is horrified every time we get a whole chicken and I pull out the neck and junk they leave in there. I'm sure macing chicken stock would gross her out too, LOL. She says she'll just marry a chek and avoid the kitchen, That said, I might have to try this. Thanks

 
At March 20, 2012 at 8:11 AM , Anonymous christina said...

this is wonderful. the imagery is spot on. i love the Slowing Down point. love it.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 9:17 AM , Anonymous Morgan Dragonwillow said...

Thank you for the nice drive through the country, it was lovely.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM , Anonymous raisingivy said...

I feel so wealthy when I have a big pot of homemade stock in my fridge; thanks for a lovely post.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 11:24 AM , Anonymous Tara_pohlkottepress said...

yes. slowing down. drawing life in by breaths. some of it even includes the shells of which we don't want, to discard. To pick through. To teach our children. Lovely.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 2:23 PM , Anonymous Lifetimetravels said...

I love the connection between the making of stock and the slowing down of life. I am inspired!

 
At March 20, 2012 at 5:24 PM , Anonymous Mayor Gia said...

Very well written! Unfortunately, I've never be able to handle that... (vegetarian) :P

 
At March 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM , Anonymous jentos23 said...

I have to say, I almost clicked away after reading about the chicken parts, but I'm so glad I didn't...the second part was really beautiful and I love how you brought it all together with the soup stock.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM , Anonymous kerstinauer said...

I love this post. Slowing down, taking a deep breath and really feel what it's like to be alive. I love how you described those first signs of spring.

 
At March 20, 2012 at 7:37 PM , Anonymous Susan said...

This is such a breath of fresh air... thanks tor the reminder yo stop rushing through the day!

 
At March 20, 2012 at 7:43 PM , Anonymous StoryDam said...

Ha! At first, I thought "If she's trying to make this stock thing appetizing, she's failing miserably." Though, by the end, ONCE AGAIN, you make me miss the farm and think of my own journey back "home". Thanks. ~Brandon

 
At March 20, 2012 at 11:01 PM , Anonymous Andee Eve said...

Love this! "in the meantime we drive. And we make soup stock."
Love!

 
At March 21, 2012 at 11:22 AM , Anonymous kdwald said...

As a vegetarian, I appreciate this post. I don't find it gross, particularly; it's a part of life. I think too many people don't know (or care) where their food comes from. At the very least, I say make an informed choice!

 
At March 21, 2012 at 4:42 PM , Anonymous Emily said...

Your first sentence took me by the hand and ushered me into your kitchen. I've never made stock like that, but my mom always used to talk about spending childhood afternoons on her grandparents' farm and helping her grandma cook chickens. Your story reminded me of those days. I love the idea of slowing down and really connecting with the food we're eating (although, sadly, I don't really like being in the kitchen) and I loved your metaphor, too. I hope you find your farm.

 
At March 22, 2012 at 8:33 AM , Blogger Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

I think this is spot on. We are too disconnected from our food and most of the natural world, and I am as guilty as anyone because I never make my own stock. This reminds me of one of the Little House books where a boy wants a cup of lemonade for 5 cents and the dad takes him through what that 5 cents means in terms of all the work they did on their farm with the potatoes to plant, grow, harvest, and sell them. Which is my way of saying that we're too disconnected from the real value of money as well as food.

 

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