Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In Which I Make Nice Smells

A brief history of chicken stock:

1990-2006: Every year around the end of November, I watch my mother make turkey stock. All sorts of unnatural items go into the pot, most memorably the bits of a turkey that you would be least likely to consume. I helpfully observe that the neck looks like the thing that comes out of one's chest in Alien. My mother, year after year, swats me out of the kitchen and informs me that my observations are not appreciated.

2007: Thanksgiving with my fiance's family. After dinner, I observe a large pan in which turkey bits and unappetizing veggie parts are floating in water. I give it a good squirt of dish soap and go on my merry way. Not long later, I see the pan bubbling on the stove. Well, poo. I consider my options:

(a) Pretend I didn't see the pan and let my future grandparents-in-law eat soapy stock. Deny all responsibility next time I see them, when they say "And it was the darndest thing...there was something off about that stock. Something mighty peculiar..."
(b) Confess.

I chose the latter option, and to Grandma's credit her face didn't even fall. She actually laughed and said, "Oh, honey, it doesn't matter. Saves me having to use it." And she never once brought it up after that, even though she totally had license to tease me mercilessly forever after.

2008-2010: Avoid the kitchen at stock-time.

2011: I have been reading, I think, too many cookbooks. All my favorite authors tell me that I haven't really lived until I've made my own chicken stock. They tell me I'm not a decent cook if I use the Swanson stuff. They tell me I won't regret making it. And since I believe them, I decided a few months ago that I would man up and just make the dang stock. I have, therefore, been collecting all the extra chicken bits from our meals and tossing them in the freezer, and by now I have a pretty nice supply of carcasses in there.

So tonight, not wanting to go for a run because it's very cold and rainy feeling all domestic-goddess-y, I threw on my apron, excavated the carcasses from the bowels of the freezer, dug through the vegetable for crisper for anything of interest, tipped the contents of any spice jars that were mostly empty into a pot, and sat back to spend the evening sniffing. And oh good glory.

I say this in all humility: I am very, very good at making stock. I am probably the world expert at making stock. It is deep and rich and probably sinful and it's only been on the stove for ninety minutes.

Mom, I'm sorry about all the snarky alien remarks. And Grandma, I'm sorry about the soap. I didn't know what I was ruining.


  1. Oh, Kathleen. This makes me smile. Primarily because I can relate as my mom has always made chicken stock and I am intimidated to do so. But I will have to give it a try after reading this. What will you use the stock for?

  2. Perhaps I should come smell your kitchen. What a wonderful idea. :)