Q: How are you? How have you been? How was Thanksgiving? How is the whole North Korea situation? These are all stock questions that have been buzzing in my emails, letters, and skype conversations as of late. All of them rightfully so; I have been out of the United States now for one-third of a year, Thanksgiving did just happen, and North Korea has gotten a little uppity recently.
A: I’ve been good, keeping busy by running, writing, reading, catching up on movies from time to time, finding new holes-in-the-wall around Seoul, and planning trips skiing, to Japan, Russia, and Thailand. Thanksgiving was spectacular both in the food and company departments and North Korea’s attacks on South Korea about two weeks ago didn’t really affect Seoul in the least. It was scary for a second or two, then life resumed as normal and I found myself calming down all of the kids, which in turn calmed me down.
“Teacher, we’re at war!”
“No, we’re fine. Don’t you worry about it. They would never do anything bad.”
“Because that would be crazyyyyyyyyy” as I run around the room as if I was crazy, to distract them.
Now that it’s been over a week, most of the world has recovered from the news, and the kids have almost all forgotten it ever happened.
I’ve been recovering too, from Thanksgiving that is. Saturday was so much of a cooking fest that lasted over four hours of constant preparing, stirring, sauteeting, blanching, and cooling that I’ve tapped out of my kitchen for a little while. Perfect timing, too, since I have a full refrigerator of left overs. Cold mashed potatoes, stuffing, stew, apple crisp, and a turkey carcass.
Yes in-deed, I was the one that – after five hours of eating, sitting, drinking, lounging, laughing, dancing, laughing – took the turkey carcass home. Would you imagine it any other way?
“I know this is strange, but I call dibs on the carcass.” I said as the first cuts were being made in the carving.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” a friend said, as he laid a slice of white meat on the platter. I haven’t been able to figure out if that was an insult or compliment, but either way I packed up the picked-apart carcass in aluminum foil and trucked it home to my fridge.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I decided that I needed to get back into the kitchen; my recovery period was over. Maybe normal people would pull out some simple ingredients to hop back into the swing of thing, but no. Not me. My first instinct was to pull out the bird bones, throw them in a pot full of garlic, onions, water, salt, and pepper, and make myself some stock.
I’ve watched my mom make it time and time again. I’ve smelled the savory-pepper aroma filling my house, warming me corporeally as well as soulfully. I’ve watched the open flame kiss the bottom of the pot, keeping the stock at a low boil for hours on end, just to extract all of the flavors from the skin, bones, marrow. I’ve tasted the results encompassing onions, potatoes, and crumpled up crackers and enjoyed myself thorough. But never have I made my own.
Much like the stew I made a week ago, making stock was much easier than I thought. The most difficult part of the whole process was not eating all of the soup out of the pot. It turned out great, too. The stock is now sitting, as a hearty but thin soup-to-be-made spiced with ample pepper, four cloves of garlic, and a whole turkey’s worth of bones and skin. Tune in soon to see the soup, constructed.
1 Turkey carcass with most of the meat picked off from Thanksgiving
1 Carrot (I didn’t finish the Mirepoix, and left out the celery… oops)
4 Cloves of garlic
Break up the carcass and throw it into a pot. Cover the bones and skin with water and bring to a boil. Once it’s at a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, then add in the onion, garlic, and carrot. Constantly add water to cover the bones back up. I simmer my stock for about 3 hours, but 2 would have been fine. Finally strain out all of the bones, skin and bits of meat (and skim the top, since some fat will float up).
I chose not to add the other spices (oregano, basil, etc) because I wanted a basic stock that I could adapt later on. You can always add oregano, basil, thyme, tarragon, sage, if you’d like a more distinct and specific stock.