Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beef Stock and French integration policy

Those are the two things I am working on today. Finally--finally!--I am inaugurating our stock pot. I know, I said this would happen at least a month ago, but I'm just now getting to it :)

So I pulled the 8 or so pounds of beef bones out of the freezer, let them thaw in the fridge and started soaking them in cold water and vinegar this morning. I browned the meaty bones (ribs and whatnot) in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, then added them to the stock pot and started boiling the water. In went 3 chopped onions, 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery stocks and then I waited for it to boil. At least 40 minutes later (dang--16 quarts takes a long time to boil!) I've got the pot boiling. I scrape the scum layer off the top with a wooden spoon, add thyme and crushed peppercorns and lower it to to a simmer. Now it has to sit like that for 12-72 hours--yeah, seriously, up to 3 days.

After getting the stock going, I left the house and came to Caffe Vita just down the street to get some work done on my thesis. I can't tell whether I think it's no big deal or a little bit foolish to leave the stovetop on while I'm not in the house--but for today I'm deciding that it's no big deal. Not being in school right now, I have no reason most days to leave the house, which means I stay on the couch, do wedding-related research and read books on Islam and Integration in France. I get things done, of course, but it gets pretty stuffy in that apartment all day. So today I opted for the coffee shop. The barista is playing horrible music and people watching is semi-distracting, but at least I see some sunlight, and I'm out of the house!! (Obviously the fact that I'm writing here means I'm not being super-productive, unless I decide to add 'write on blog' to my list of things to do--then I'm being very productive, indeed).

So I'll work on thesis reading, then return to the house to monitor the stock and make some dinner tonight. I haven't been writing as much about elaborate recipes and preparations in part because some of them are becoming so regular (soaking rice and beans, using raw dairy and grass-fed meats, long marinating, making my own dressings, etc) and also because I'm enjoying eating well while eating simply. Many nights we'll make a carbonara pasta (pancetta, raw parmesan and egg sauce with fettuccine) or a lamb and olive pasta. We often eat farm eggs over medium with sourdough from a local baker toasted with raw butter. And a recent favorite has been grass-fed lamb burgers (marinated for an hour or two with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper) with raw blue cheese, shallots, dijon mustard on sourdough with a salad or sauteed chard. All of these things are pretty simple to prepare, take maybe a half hour in the kitchen (as well as an hour or so in advance for marinating, if you choose) and only cost a fraction of eating out for a good meal.

We're hoping to get a food processor soon, which means all sorts of new projects--I can start fermenting garbanzo beans (soaking with boiling water for 12 hours plus 12 hours) and making falafel at home, as well as dips like homous, and mayonnaise for chicken salad sandwiches. It definitely takes some practice to get into the rhythm of thinking ahead to make these things, but I'm getting more used to it, which means that even when I start back to school at the end of the month I'll be able to maintain this--it doesn't take that much more time, just more thinking ahead.

No comments: