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
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
And I show him the parts.
Here is the rib cage; here is the neck; here is where the tail feathers
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
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.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, farming