How ‘Bout Food – Chicken & Forty-ish Cloves

It is Friday, y’all.  PRAISE DAGON.

It’s cold as R’lyeh’s Balls out there, and I am in the mood for some cozy time in the kitchen.  So perhaps it’s time for some Chicken & Forty Cloves.

ba-gok!

I love this recipe in a way that is deep and wide, mostly because the Maillard Reaction and garlic are on my top five favorite things list.  This is a staple for every paleo/ancestral template kitchen for a wide variety of non-woo reasons.  Firstly, it is easy and hella cheap to keep a few chickens in the freezer.  You can get split/eighth chickens pretty easily and they stack well in the freezer.  You can also use thighs or drumsticks, if you (like we) prefer the flavor and texture of dark meat.  A container of peeled garlic cloves is about $2 for a cubic noseload of delightful garlicky bon-bons.  Secondly, the bone broth you can make with the remains of this recipe is truly aces.  I usually serve this with potatoes and something delightful and green (tonight, it’ll be sauteed broccoli with harissa), but you can easily do double greens, cauliflower rice/mash, or sauteed carrots or beets.  I think tonight I might get fancy and make the gorgeous sweet potato and shallot roast that I usually save for special occasions.

Here’s how you do it:

Yield: 4 servings.

Some 3-4 pound collection of bone-in chicken parts, of your choosing.  I find that thighs are the most economical choice.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of ghee (or fat of your choice)
40 large garlic cloves (I often sneak some extras in, not gonna lie)
1/2 cup dry white wine (if you do not drink or keep alcohol in the house, you can use unsweetened white grape juice)
1/2 cup bone broth (or canned/boxed stock, if you don’t have any bone broth on hand)

Tools required: A good dutch oven (Mine is a Lodge ceramic coated cast iron), a nice sturdy wooden spoon

1. An hour or so before you’re due to start working, take the chicken out of the fridge, and let it rise in temperature.  If you like, you can start to peel your garlic cloves while this happens, and set up a pretty mise en place.  Take a picture.  Blog that ish.  Make it pretty.  Have a glass of wine or a cup of tea while you do this.  Talk to a lover or friend, or listen to some music.

2.  Sprinkle salt and pepper (I also sometimes add Harissa, Garam Masala, or Berbere, if I’m bored) to generously coat the skin of the chicken parts. Put your ghee/other fat into your dutch oven and bring it to the point where it is hot, but not smoking.  A good test is to flick a bit of water at the pan — if it spits, it’s ready. Add chicken skin side down and let it sizzle without f*cking with it for about 5 minutes, then turn and repeat.  It should be a nice, even golden brown with some crispy browner bits along the edges.  You don’t want to scorch it, so make sure you’re monitoring the heat and adjusting to what the fats you’ve chosen need from you.

3. Lower heat to medium. Remove the chicken parts and place them in a bowl or on a plate.  Put your garlic cloves in the pan, and saute stirring frequently.  When the garlic is uniformly light brown in color and starting to get a little translucent (10 or 11 minutes), add the wine/juice and your bone broth/stock.  Scrape the crispy sticky bits off the bottom of the pan with a nice sturdy wooden implement to deglaze.

4. Put the chicken parts back in the dutch oven, on top of the garlic cloves.  Cover that ish, and cook for about 10-15 more minutes over medium heat.  I trust y’all know when chicken is done cooking — juices from a thick thigh or breast should run clear.

How ‘Bout Food – Chicken & Forty-ish Cloves

Tikka Masala is my Jam

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve food-blogged and I feel like with the colder weather (seriously, yipe) everyone needs a fridge that is full of my very best dish.

I make some good food, y’all.  Truly.  But Chicken Tikka Masala is proof I love you and want you to be happy.  I’ll order it every time I go out, and always think, “this is good… but I like mine better?”  What I’m saying is, I have not met a chicken tikka masala I like more than my own, and I HAVE TRIED, you guys.

It’s payday this week, so I’m probably going to make sure I have room in the budget (February suuuuuuuuuucks money-wise, people) to put a big batch together next week.  Here’s what you need, to do the same:

  • garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger, or just buy the stuff that comes pre-pureed in the jar if you like (and I do)
  • 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2-3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons ghee 
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1+ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (we’re a spicy household, just be sure to balance the heat with the flavor)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish, more, if you love cilantro the way I do.
  • A lot of cauliflower.  For us?  3 or 4 heads.
  • A few tablespoons more ghee, salt and pepper to taste

If you like not being broke, I recommend buying spices in bulk from your purveyor of choice.  I use what’s in this recipe for a wide variety of dishes, and I’m always glad that we’re not out of cardamom.  Whole fat yogurt is, oddly, hard to find sometimes.  I get mine from our local co-op.  I make my own ghee, but you’re welcome to purchase it instead.  I find that small jars go too quickly in our house, and large ones are just prohibitively expensive, though I should honestly check our local Indo-Pak grocer because I’m still not great at being patient enough to wait for all of the milk solids in butter to separate.

  • Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk them together with a fork, and place them in a small skillet to toast them.  After a few seconds to half a minute, they’ll become very fragrant.  Take them off the heat, and put them in a  bowl.  Combine yogurt, salt, and half of  that glorious smelling mess of spices; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours, or overnight if you prefer. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
  • While that’s getting gorgeous, make your cauliflower rice.  If you’re clever, you have a food processor.  Rough chop the cauliflower in batches, and hit it with the food processor in appropriately sized batches until it is the size and consistency of grains of rice, and put it all in a big bowl.  If you’re me, you don’t have a food processor, so you use the best knife in the house, practice your knife skills, listen to jazz and make a giant mess for  a while.  I like to do this with wine, because I care less about getting cauliflower on the floor, which will happen, just accept it.
  • When all the cauliflower is rice-like, mix in your ghee, salt and pepper.  Place about a head’s worth in a skillet that has a lid, and cook it, covered, on medium for 5-10 minutes.  Do this in batches, until you’ve made the whole lot, or just make what you plan to eat that day, and seal the rest up in the freezer or fridge for another day.  We go through some cauliflower rice, so it’s always nice to have a lot on hand already prepared or ready to cook.
  • When your chicken is done (4, 6, or 12 hours later), move on to the  rest of the steps.
  • Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. I use my Lodge ceramic coated cast iron because it is the shiznit.  Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spices from Step One, and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them.  Wear a damn apron, and shield your squeeze hand with your open palm, or you will get tomato in your eye/on the wall/on your cats.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.  If you’ve left the yogurt and spice mixture on rather thickly (I tend to, because SO DELICIOUS SMELLING) it may not blacken, but I find that 10 minutes is more than enough in our gas oven to get the chicken primed to go in the pot.
  • Cut chicken into bite-size pieces (CAREFUL IT IS HOT), add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

    Serve with masala chai (which is its own post, frankly) and/or a nice glass of Pinot Evil.   Marvel at your masterpiece.

Tikka Masala is my Jam

Kimchi Party Ya Ya Ya!

I’ve written before about my thoughts on beginning a supper club co-operative amongst my dear ones.

In the spirit of beginning that adventure, I’ve planned and made preparations for a Kimchi making gather at our (still unnamed, it’s making me crazy) abode, and I’m hella excited about it because first of all, I love cruciferous vegetables with a deep and abiding love, and more’s the better if they’re made into spicy crunchy flavorful pickled substances.

Seriously, I eat a LOT of cabbage with a LOT of enthusiasm (I balance it out with Brazil nuts, a varied diet, and regular seaweed snacks — yay Selenium!)

We’re on a pretty austere grocery budget these days.  Thomthulhu’s last day at his job (good riddance!) was Monday.  He left voluntarily to return to school for History and Classics, and I’m extremely proud of him.  Today is his first day back at school, and I wish I could be there when he got home.  I can’t wait to see him grow into an amazing teacher.  The idea of seeing his degree conferred in 2017 makes me pretty marshmallowy.  One of the consequences of his amazing choice is that I’m our sole breadwinner for the time being, and that means we have to be far more cautious with our money than either of us has ever needed to be.

So the idea behind our Kimchi Making Gather is this:  We, as the hosts, will provide jars, labels, kitchen space, board games, and the main flavor component of Kimchi (gochugaru).  Our guests will bring extra ingredients to make enough kimchi for everyone to take some home to their pantries, and leave some with us!

I’m pretty excited to read the book I ordered to prepare for the party at the end of the month, and to see my friends gathered in my kitchen having a wonderful time.

Kimchi Party Ya Ya Ya!

Bonus Food Post and a note on Food Woo and Manners

So, last night, I made Paprikash and it was a big hit.  I had to fight the cats off the entire time.  The boys are usually quite polite, but Huginn (the more mild mannered of the two) has a bit of the crazy when it comes to meat.  If you give him a little sliver of raw heart, he will growl the entire time he is eating it.  He doesn’t guard his food dish at all, but coming between him and a slice of calf liver is not a life choice I’d recommend.

As it turns out, Celia was super generous, and we had too much offal!  I ended up carving up the hearts and gizzards to put in the paprikash (which was amazing, though still a bit soupy by the time we ate) and made a snack for myself as the paprikash bubbled away.  Here’s what I did with the chicken livers…

Liver is honestly best when it is cooked for a very short period of time.  It is an organ that is perhaps most unlike the usual muscle-based meat that is a staple of the American diet.  Texture-wise, when cooked as it should be, it’s a lot like velvet.  There is no toothiness or chew to it at all.  Flavor wise, it can be strongly metallic, and a teensy bit bitter.  It pairs well with smokey flavors, maple, lemon, cilantro, and hot-stuff.  One of the great things about chicken liver is that they’re pretty small, so they cook up really quickly in a hot cast iron.

I heated up my cast iron skillet with fair amount of butter.  For me, a “fair” amount is like, a tablespoon.  Ghee would also work nicely, but I’m lazy and haven’t made a batch in ages.  I would not recommend olive oil for this job.  When the butter was starting to foam, I coated the pan in a spice blend of Tom’s that contains smoked maple as a primary flavor.  I cleaned the livers quickly by rinsing them in cold water, and put them directly in the pan, toward the center.  There were close to fifteen or twenty of them in the bag Celia gave me, all between the size of a walnut and the size of an apricot (but you know, flat and wiggly).  I cooked them for what felt like the correct amount of time.  I usually judge meat based on approximations and feel.  I believe this was close to a minute and a half per side, or two minutes a side for the larger pieces.  They will bleed a bit, when you flip them.  I don’t really fret about under-cooked anything, except ground meat products from the grocery store because they often don’t clean the meat as well as I’d like before it hits the grinder.  I threw the livers in a bowl, and snacked with Tom while he made me a gin and tonic.

They were pretty intensely flavored, which I expect from farm-raised stock.  They eat a varied diet, run around, chase bugs, and engage in the usual derp for which chickens are somewhat famous.  Tom thought they were a great treat, and I was pretty pleased with their pink, velvety texture.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers with a bit of Sriracha tonight when I get home and get ready to make supper.

I should make simple quick things like this more often.  I think next time, I will try it with some fresh sage and lemon juice.

The rest of this post is dedicated to Carl, hater of all things Woo, and Listener-to of All My Crazy.

A thing that makes me have a little crazymouth is when people tell me food I like is “gross”.  Like, hey.  It might not be your thing, and that’s okay.  But making faces while I eat something you might not like, and being all, “Ew that’s the body’s filtration system it’s full of /toxins/” shows not only a a gross misunderstanding of physiology, it is also just plain rude.  First of all, contentious point: I don’t know what you mean by “toxins” and I don’t think you know, either.  There’s a lot of woo about “eating clean” and “toxins” and “cleanses” that a very small amount of rigorous research would show is exactly that: woo.  Secondly, in a healthy animal’s body, nothing of consequence builds up in the liver over time.  It isn’t a filter, it’s a conversion factory and distribution center.  It processes things from our metabolic processes that can be harmful, and converts them into things the body can use, or something harmless to be excreted (example: the conversion of ammonia, a natural byproduct of the liver’s metabolic processes in which food becomes energy for your cells, into urea, which is far more harmless [a primary ingredient in Nair and other cosmetic products!] and is excreted when you pee).  It’s not wise to overdo it with liver specifically, because Vitamin A and Copper toxicity, while rare (PUN! cos liver), is a thing.  Too much of either can be harmful.  I usually eat liver less than once a month, and I consume it for the treat it is — in small doses and with a lot of enthusiasm.  Like anything, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

That said, any animal parts you eat are bound to have some cholesterol.  Cholesterol isn’t bad on it’s own, but it needs to be balanced properly for your heart and vascular system to stay healthy over time. If you’re worried about your cholesterol, you can talk to your doctor, and ask them to do a CBC+Differential and cholesterol screening (I do this every year to two years, because cardiovascular disease sounds like the worst band name ever).  The results of that test are something you can discuss with your doctor or nutritionist, and they can suggest changes if your particular body requires them; for example, if the ratio of your TBC/HDL is too high.

If you’re worried about your cholesterol, let me tell you what probably won’t help: a juice cleanse you looked up on the internet once without the supervision of a physician.  If you’re worried about your weight, maybe try medically managed weight loss and a thyroid screening instead of a Cabbage Soup Diet.  I love cabbage as much as the next girl (which is to say, a lot) but cabbage can act as a goitrogen (that is, in high amounts not offset with the presence of iodine in your diet, it can suppress thyroid function).  Our bodies are pretty good at what they do, barring congenital problems, the breakdown that accompanies aging, and you know, people doing dumb crap, like abusing narcotics. They’re not “dirty” and don’t need to be “cleansed”.  They do, sometimes, need to go through a process of elimination, if you’re trying to figure out if you’re sensitive to a particular family of food items like dairy, grains, or sugar.  Bodies are all different, and an eliminative dietary choice is something about which you should speak to your doctor if you’re having persistent or chronic problems that are disrupting your life.  Your symptoms could be related to a deficiency as much as an over-abundance of something, and treating the internet like a dietary phone book you can select from randomly can put you on some dangerous paths.  Like the Lemonade Diet, are you kidding me right now.

Bonus Food Post and a note on Food Woo and Manners

Paprikás

So, I was supremely lazy on Friday, and made cumin lavender cracklin chicken because the hearts, livers, and gizzards in my kitchen had not thawed well enough.  Mea culpa.  But!  They are fully thawed now, and I’m making Paprikás (pronounced “paprikash”) tonight.

First a little about the offal in question:
Chicken gizzards are part of a chicken’s digestive tract.  When eaten as human food, they’re great sources of protein, B12, iron, selenium, phosphorous, and zinc.  They’re delicious in a multitude of ways, especially when they’re fresh.

I’m the first one to extol the virtues of liver.  First of all, liver is delicious.  Secondly, it is a powerhouse.  Chicken liver specifically is a great source of Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium.

I also have some lamb hearts on hand.  Like most offal, heart is great for getting Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus and Copper, Protein, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron and Selenium into your guts.

I’m not a nutritionist, by any means.  However, as a personal choice, I prefer food that is nutrient dense, and having a good dose of Vitamin B12 is a sure fire way to get me to consume something (along with being delicious).  Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system, and deficiencies are not uncommon.  A B12 deficiency can cause things like fatigue, depression, and poor memory.  I like the idea of getting the majority of my nutritional content from actual food items rather than supplements if I can.

So that’s what’s on the chopping block this evening.  I’m making Paprikash.

Paprika is excellently paired with offal, firstly because paprika is delicious, and secondly because it nicely compliments the iron-laden flavor of offal.  If you’ve never eaten the internal organs of a creature, there tends to be a flavor I happen to love but can put some people off if they’re expecting a kidney to taste like muscle meat.  It’s a bit metallic and quite rich in quality and things like butter, paprika, lemon, onion, and fig play nicely with it.

So, Paprikash is a traditional Hungarian dish.  I started making it when I was reading Dracula in college, enticed by Jonathan Harker’s sumptuous and enthusiastic discussions of Hungarian cuisine as he ventured into the Carpathians early in the first few chapters.  Here’s how I do it:

Prep your offal.  Remove the sinewy hinge from the gizzards — this will make the gizzards cook to tenderness time requirement decrease.  You can leave them whole, but if you’re hoping for dinner in the shorter term, I recommend removing the hinge.  Carve the hearts by ventricle.  The chambers are typically quite easy to recognize.  I have faith in you.  Liver doesn’t need a lot of prep, especially chicken liver.  It’s a largely undifferentiated organ, so bite-sized or slightly bigger chunks should do you just fine.  If you’re using cow liver and find the iron taste puts you off, just soak it in lemon juice for 24 hours before you use it.  The citrus bath will break down some of the blood-like flavors in the liver.  Chicken livers, in my opinion, don’t need that sort of treatment.  They’re fine, as is.  Find some bacon, or take your jar of bacon grease out of the fridge.

Mis-en-place time:

Your meat is prepared.  Put it in a bowl and leave it on the counter, not the fridge, while you do the rest of the prep.

You have rendered some bacon fat, either today or another day.  You’ve done this, because we’ve hung out a few times, and I’ve been like, “keep your damn bacon grease and cook with it.”  Goose is better, but like, if you find a butcher in the tri-state that will give you rendered goose fat, you better give me their number.  I will give them all of my damn money. You can also use duck fat, if y’like, which is sometimes available at the grocer.

Mince a large onion.  Use a sharp knife, for the love of crap.

Grab the salt.  It can be any kind of salt.  I do not abide salt woo.  I use a truffle salt, when I’m being fancy (always, have you met me?); but a smoked salt, sea salt, or just table salt will do just fine.

Collect whatever paprika you plan to use.  You’ll be using sort of a lot.  I typically blend 2 Tablespoons of Hot Hungarian Paprika with 1 Tablespoon of Smoked Paprika, because basically if you smoke something, I will consume it with enthusiasm and delight.

You’ll need a Tablespoon of tomato paste, and enough chicken stock or bone broth to cover the meat in your dutch oven.

You may, if you like, add up to half a cup of sour cream.  Tomthulhu thinks it is gross; I will eat it by itself out of the container with a spoon.  If I’m making supper for both of us, I leave it out and just put sour cream on my plate because people I love are allowed to have preferences.

Cut up some sweet potatoes into approximately one inch cubes, or use small fingerling/young white potatoes.  Traditionally, paprikás is served on a bed of egg noodles.  I make mine to sit atop a crown of either boiled or oven roasted potatoes.  You can also use cauliflower!

Mince two cloves of garlic.

Here’s what you do:

Put your fat in a large dutch oven.  Ideally, you possess a ceramic or cast iron dutch oven.  Use it for freaking everything, and love your life.  Heat the fat until it melts over medium-high heat.

Put the onions in your heated dutch oven with the fat.  Cook them until they’re tender and clear, then push them all over to a remote corner of the dutch oven.

Brown about a pound of mixed hearts, gizzards, and livers in the onion-fat.  I usually turn up the heat when I do this to get a nice Maillard Reaction going.  Don’t let it get out of hand, though.  Offal doesn’t like being overcooked.

Add your salt, tomato paste, and paprika blend.  Add enough stock/broth to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Put a lid on your dutch oven, and let this simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.  Check it after about 70 minutes.  If you de-hinged your gizzards, the dish might be done in as little as an hour. If you didn’t, it will take closer to three hours for them to be tender all the way through.  If the gizzard squeaks against your teeth when you bite it, it isn’t done yet.

Use this time to prepare your potatoes, sweet potatoes, or egg noodles (if you’re not on the paleo/ancestral template).

When it’s getting close to done, take the lid off, and simmer some of the liquid off.  This dish is meant to be rather thick; more like a thick stew than a soup.

As the liquid reduces, add your minced garlic.  Add the sour cream, if you’re doing that.

Serve on the starch of your choice.

That’s it.  The preparation time is pretty long, but the work is pretty simple.  This meal freezes and reheats well, and is excellent for chilly evenings with a glass of wine.  Pretend you are on a train trip through Budapest on a grand adventure as a newly minted solicitor.  “Memorandum: Get recipe for Mina.”

Paprikás

It’s been at least five minutes since I’ve posted about food, right?

So, I’m sick.  It started with a sore throat about a week ago, then when that resolved, turned into a wicked case of laryngitis.  My voice is returning slowly, but I’ve had headaches, a lot of fatigue, and an annoying cough.  I also may have hacked up a small alien larva this morning.  Gross.

Thus, I spent my evening making garlic soup.  I should use this post as a reminder to myself to freeze some and put it by, for the next time someone is ill… if I don’t eat it all.

I recommend this soup highly, not because of woo about garlic.  Most of its antimicrobial properties disappear when you cook it.  This soup will, however, help clear out gunk that is living in your upper respiratory system, comfort you like a fluffy blanket and a hug, and is guaranteed to resolve a headache and give you some energy when you’re dragging all the butts and feeling like garbage.  It’s also lovely for helping to break a fever.  I almost always have all the ingredients on hand, which is another big help.  So, make some of this, and put it by for the next time you or someone you love has a case of the yuck.

Ingredients:
4-5 heads — yes, heads — of garlic

3-4 onions, diced (I only quarter mine, so that T can pick them out, but its better if you dice them)

2T of butter

1 Quart of poultry stock — ideally, use bone broth, but sometimes, you gotta make do with the boxed stuff, like I did this evening.

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme.

A container of shiitake mushrooms

1T lemongrass paste — always have this on hand, it’s brilliant.

A decent sized nugget of ginger, peeled and minced.

Hot hungarian paprika or Cayenne pepper to taste (I’m a bit heavy handed with it, so I use about 3/4 of a tablespoon.

A few tablespoons of olive or coconut oil, whichever you prefer.

Salt of your choosing.  Black pepper (fresh cracked is always best).

A fresh lemon or lime.

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Have yourself some tea, or a nice glass of wine.  You’ve had a long day, probably went to work feeling lousy, and you should do what you can to enjoy the process of doing something nice for yourself.

Cut the tops off of the garlic heads.  Try to make sure each clove is exposed.  Don’t peel them.  Coat the heads in your oil of choice, sprinkle with a little salt, and wrap them in foil.  When the oven is done heating, put them in for about 45-50 minutes.

While those are roasting, do yourself a favor, and prepare your mise en place.  There’s a fancy french way to say everything in the kitchen, and that means cutting up and separating your ingredients in advance, or “putting them in their place”.  Dice your onions, mince that ginger, take the lemongrass paste out of the fridge, and gather your other ingredients.  Once everything is set out nicely, admire your work.  Mise en place can help calm your mind, and imposes order on a chaotic universe.  Enjoy the order.  And your wine or tea.

When the oven timer dings for your garlic, take it out of the oven, and carefully unwrap it, and place it in a dish or bowl to cool.  When the heads are cool enough to handle with your hands, squeeze from the base of the garlic and pinch toward the top.  The cloves should squeeze out either whole, or in a paste.  Either outcome is fine.  Let that all sit in a dish.

Warm up a medium to large saucepan at medium-high.  Brown your butter just a bit.  When it starts to foam, place your onions, ginger, and mushrooms in the pan.  Let that all cook until the onions are translucent and the edges are just starting to brown.  On my gas stove, this takes about 6 minutes.

Add the thyme to the mix.  When it becomes fragrant, add the whole quart of stock,  and all the garlic.  Bring that glorious mess up to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.

Cover, and let that do magical things for around 20 to 30 minutes.  Go finish up that wine or tea.  Pet a cat, or watch something you love on Netflix (I watch Twin Peaks when I don’t feel well).

When the timer goes off, uncover your soup, and add the lemongrass paste, some fresh cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and a can of coconut milk.  stir, and when it seems happy and integrated, kill the heat.

Ladle yourself a nice generous portion, and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste.

I’d note here that you can add other ingredients to this that work very well.  Asparagus and bok choy have both been welcome additions in the past, but don’t force yourself to make a special trip out.

If you’ve got a terrible cough, you can add a touch of honey to this to finish it to soothe that awful mess, or just enjoy it with some rooibos tea.

Make sure you drink a glass of water when you’re done, because that’s important when you don’t feel well.

Go ahead, have a second bowl.  You’ll feel better, I promise.

 

It’s been at least five minutes since I’ve posted about food, right?

Supper Club Co-Operative

So an idea I’ve been kicking around a lot, as we start to think about our mid-Winter move to Philadelphia is a Supper Club Co-Operative.  We have so many friends in Philadelphia, it’s ridiculous.  It’s one of the reasons we have decided to move — we’d be there every night of the week for one thing or another, if it didn’t involve driving home at 11PM or later.  Tom and I fully plan to join a CSA at the beginning of the season, and if I can find one that does meat or dairy in addition to produce, more’s the better for us. One of the ways I plan to get through the period where both Tom and I are both moving toward different careers, is to make as much nutritious amazing food in big batches as I can.  This means hacking a few gadgets, probably purchasing a small chest freezer, and investing in a few tools for the kitchen to make life a bit easier.  A DIY sous vide machine is high on my list of priorities.  Hacking one yourself costs about $75, and gives you the capacity to use a wide variety of water-filled vessels.  Buying one costs, legit, almost $400 and you’re stuck with the countertop size you have.  A sous vide machine gives you the capacity to pump out a lot of perfectly cooked protein at a fraction of the time you can do it on the stove or the grill. I’ve also been considering a stovetop smoker, but that’s mostly my tastebuds talking.  A pressure cooker might be on my list, for similar reasons to the sous vide — working around my shortcomings as a kitchen manager, mostly; but also an acknowledgment that our food choices aren’t conducive to emergency meals like spaghetti.  Most of the stuff we eat requires more preparation than “boil water, wait ten minutes, strain, add something from a jar, consume.”  I think, with the right tools I can get to managing to make sure we have a stocked fridge, plenty of produce, and some emergency stores set up for nights when we don’t feel well, or weeks when we’re broke or busy.  Some of the staples that belong in my fridge take 24 hours to make.  Some, like Kvass, take longer.

We have a lot of people in our soon-to-be-neighborhood, many of whom are excellent, talented, and creative.  I’d like to share my work and experience with them, but I’m no Gatsby.  I’m not currently in a position to do the sorts of things I want to do without reaping a benefit in return — even if it’s pet sitting on weekends we’re away, or picking up a CSA share so I can relax (with wine) after work, or a bottle of homemade wine, or storage in someone else’s basement for carboys of my mead to age.  I’m trying to come up with trades and barters that make sense — a chance to share the things we have, and we all do well and enjoy (and would be doing otherwise) with people in exchange for things we might need.  I know what my contributions are likely to be — food, primarily, since it’s already one of my goals.

I think there’s a lot to be said for mindful community building.  There’s also something to be said for sending out a text on Monday that says, “Hey I have treats for everyone, come on over,” knowing that the text on Wednesday, “Huginn is sick, can he get a ride to the vet while I’m at work?” will be met with: YOU BET.  Communities of reciprocity are something I work hard to build in my life, and enrich the world in which we live.  I’d like my next home to be a node in a much larger network of people who set out to do things for each other.  I don’t know who among my friends in the metro area will be interested in participating, or what the other things I might have to offer could be.  But it’s on my mind a lot.  The fact that I have talented friends further outside the city who might also benefit and be totally down with reciprocity is also encouraging.   A monthly gathering at our new place where we bring the things we have to offer, socialize, and block out time to connect sounds like another way for me to work around one of my shortcomings: scheduling time for people I love (including myself).

So yeah!  If you’re reading this, and this sounds like a community project you’d like to offer to and gain from, I’d love to hear from you.  What would you want?  What would you provide?  What are the things you love doing, and what are things you can’t stand or don’t have the time or resources to do, but need?

Supper Club Co-Operative