Monday, April 30, 2012
On Strike and Starting with Stock
I love writing this blog. It's fun to come up with ideas, and I like taking the pictures. I stalk my blogger statistics like a jungle cat hot on the trail of a wounded warthog (Ooh, look! Somebody from Vietnam read about the lemon bars!) And via the comment section, I get to chat with people from all over, too. It really is a lot of fun.
However, as we all know, there are two sides to every coin. I have been hemorrhaging cash at the grocery. Cream, butter, shallots, bags of lemons, chickens, cuts of beef, spices, assorted sugars, and then on Friday, I hunted down a duck at a butcher across town which didn't even make the blog cut! That's it. I'm putting on the brakes.
My deep freeze is stocked with frozen vegetables and an assortment of animals and their various parts. The pantry is full of rice, beans, spices, flour, and a bunch of other stuff, too. Knowing that I'm well prepared for a snowstorm of staggering dimensions, I hereby am swearing off the grocery store for a full 7 (I'll try for 10) days. There is one allowance of $20 for fresh fruit and milk, but that's it. I'm stocked with coffee which would be the other deal breaker, but since that is accounted for, all things are a go.
The singular element that supports this endeavor is a notion of economy. It is not necessarily having enough food to survive. I've got enough sugar and multivitamins to keep us alive. I also should note the the term, 'economy' should not be equated with being cheap, but rather efficient, and doing it in a way that tastes good, wastes little to nothing, and squeezes every bit of nutritive or flavor value from every scrap of food in the fridge before it goes bad or goes to waste. I'll start with that duck.
Rendered Duck Fat:
Cut the skin and fat off of a duck carcass.
Cut it into bits.
Add to skillet along with a little water (about a 1/2 C) and cook over medium heat for about an hour.
Strain into jar, refrigerate, and use in place of butter for baking savory stuff or as an oil (when heated) to fry things.
And before you freak out, you should know that it's better for you than butter.
Duck (poultry) Stock:
Take your leftover cooked duck and get any remaining bits of good meat and make a sandwich or something. Put your bird in a pot, and add cold water so that it is mostly covered.
Add a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden or what have you, pepper corns, a few allspice berries, a few whole cloves-- wing it-- and a carrot, a stalk of celery, a clove of garlic (I must remember to conserve the garlic and not waste it all on stock), and an onion.
Simmer for 2-3 hours adding water if the level gets too low.
Since duck has so much fat, I'm going to refrigerate this overnight after straining it into a large mixing bowl. Since the fat will rise to the top and solidify, I'll be able to get it out all easy like.
Now, you may be asking, "What kind of recipe is this?!" Well, it's just flavored water. While some circumstances may require one to throw down a gazillion dollars to get the exact authentic flavor makeup de Provence, or some such thing, that is not the theme for this week. I'll use it to add to soup or use it to cook rice instead of plain water. Even if it's not a rich supple stock made with four whole chickens and two days of your life you can never get back, it'll be much preferred to the water coming out of the tap. I'm guessing that on day six of this experiment I'll be counting myself lucky to have it.
Let's do this!