Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicken Stock

Every week or ten days I throw a whole chicken in the crock pot. It's the easiest way to cook a chicken. The chicken can be thrown in frozen and it'll still cook beautifully. I usually just throw it in and crack pepper and salt over the top then leave it on low until 5p or some where in there.

After we eat it for dinner with (usually) potatoes and steamed veggies I dump the veggie cooking water (minus what I pour on our pups dinner) into the pot with the carcass, skin, fat and other bits left over from the chicken. I usually need to add water as there is typically only 3-4 cups of veggie cooking water on hand. When I know I'm making broth I try to save the veggie cooking/steaming water for a couple of days before I make broth. Celtic Sea Salt, cracked pepper and whatever herbs are handy go in. Usually some garlic. If there are older onions in the fridge they go in also.

This sits on low in the same crock pot on my counter for two days. Usually dinner on the second day (the house smell so fantastic) I'm ready to use that broth. I like making thick hearty meatless dishes like split pea soup or potato soup or I'll make a chicken based soup such as good old fashioned chicken soup (with rice or noodles) and we always love White Chicken Chili. When using the broth the same night I just send the broth through a colander right into the soup pot on the stove. If I'm not using it immediately (pictured) I skim it into my four cup glass measure cup and pour it into jars. Once it has cooled I stick the jars in the fridge if I am going to use it within a day or two or the freezer if longer. I usually get 10-12 cups of stock but it varies on how much water I put in. If the carcass is very small I tend to add less liquid so that the stock has strong flavor. I try and keep a few jars in the freezer all the time so I always have a quick meal. The jars of broth thaw quickly in a pan of warm water.

Whatever lands in the colander is trash. Usually everything cooks down into a very mushy three cups or less mess.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

(our) Allergen Free Beer

Over the last year I haven't had beer. Hubs brews his own and controls the ingredients to exclude his allergens (primarily corn and soy) but hasn't attempted a gluten free beer. Mostly because the GF beers I have tasted were horrible. Prior to my gluten intolerance discovery I enjoyed beers such as St Arnolds Brown and Amber ales. I never tolerated the Bud or Coors beers. I liked, in small quantities, a good Guinness but having been through England and Ireland the beer imported to the US just wasn't the same and I never did drink much of it. Greens Dubbel Dark Ale was the first beer I had tasted in about six months. I'd given up on beer, which was okay I prefer wine and had found some labels that were vegetarian (to avoid beef which I'm allergic to) and were really good. The Dubbel Dark was delicious. I had two when usually I'd limit myself to one. I had it with fish and chips that had been coated with brown rice flour and fried in rice oil. The combination was amazing and I can't stop thinking about it. The beer was sweeter than Guinness but richer than St Arnolds Brown. Hopefully I can get Hubs to make a few comments about this beer because all I can really say is it was delicious and before you write off GF beers - try this one. (It's made without corn also. Which I have never seen before.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Menu Planning Saved The Day

We lost one of our dogs quite unexpectedly over the weekend. I have no appetite and no interest in food but life must go on despite grief and today has been an utter waste except for dinner. One look at my menu and I knew to drop a frozen chicken in the crock pot. So now I can smell chicken and I'm thinking about mashed potatoes and carrots. Comfort food. Nearly 12 hours have passed since I got up and I have no idea where it went... But we have dinner! :) Sunshine would be happy about that. My sweet girl didn't miss a meal for anything. So even if I didn't mop my floors or fold my laundry. I walked our dog Scratch and made dinner. That has to count for something considering how hard we have to work to have a meal around here. =) The weekend wasn't just a sad affair. Only a few hours prior to the death of my precocious doggie I discovered a beer. It is all of our combined allergens free. So NO corn, soy, wheat, beef..... Give me a few days to wallow in my misery and then I will give my review of this beer. I haven't had a Gluten Free beer I have liked. And I'll see if I can get Hubs to chime in - he makes his own corn free brew and actually knows his beers. Me - I can only speak to whether or not it tastes good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Menu

By meal planning a few months at a time I can make purchases on meat and other items that are costly but can be frozen for later use. It also helps me utilize all leftovers. For instance, I purchase whole chickens (the healthy ones with room to roam and adequate time to grow with out hormones and antibiotic use) and cook them in the crock pot. Then I make broth by adding water, spices and herbs to the pot with the bones, skin and other bits of leftovers from the chicken once it has been cleaned of meat. It usually sits on my counter for two days on low. Then I use the broth to make a soup, lentils, gravies and so on. Left over chicken means fried rice or another dish that calls for cooked chicken. Meal planning also cuts down on trips to the grocery store. I go each Friday to get fresh fish and keep a little list of other items I'll need like fruit or veggies. This is a very quick trip to the store and usually not very expensive. I do a really big shopping every month but I'm working to make it every 6-8 weeks (I think I was successful in January) that blows the bulk of our grocery budget minus dairy which we purchase from Gramen Farms.