About four years ago, my aunt offered to pack up the Thanksgiving turkey’s carcass in a trash bag for me to haul home to San Francisco. I crinkled my nose in response. Why would I take that nasty thing with me on the 4+ hour drive home, especially when my largest pot was no more than 4 quarts?
Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving in my tiny, one-bedroom apartment and had finally acquired a sizable stock pot. Entirely different story. The next morning, I broke down the carcass a little, and shoved it into the giant pot with some water, leftover onion ends and herbs to simmer for a few hours. After straining out all the odds and ends, I froze a third of the stock in ice cube trays for smaller uses and the rest in 2-cup tupperware for soups and other bulk uses.
The most awesome part? I had stock for months. And all because I threw some turkey bones and onion end pieces into a pot on a day that I otherwise spent watching movies, enjoying a roaring fire and playing games.
Even more awesome part? After using some of the turkey drippings for Turkey Day gravy, I froze the rest in cubes and used those as “stock starters” once I ran out out actual stock. Just dissolved a few frozen drippings cubes in hot water and magical flavor resulted.
The lesson I learned was to save and freeze (in reasonably small portions) all those seemingly yucky byproducts of turkey roasting. It saved me a ton of money and prep time for several months’ worth of future meals, and cost only minimal time to preserve the drippings and stock since I froze it all almost immediately. (more…)
Cold weather is creeping back into San Francisco after a glorious month and a half of summer weather. To me, that means it’s time for warm, comforting dishes like risotto.
I especially love risotto because it tastes naughtier than it is. Although it looks and tastes incredibly creamy, risotto doesn’t contain any cream. Usually, the only high-fat ingredient I add is cheese, and even then, I don’t add much. Plus, without anyone noticing (ahem, Jay!), I can almost double the recipe’s output by adding tons of vegetables. As far as I see it, the only downside of risotto is the constant stirring.
But constant stirring is a double black diamond, super steep downside, probably covered with ice and moguls. It’s no gentle, downward sloping bunny hill. There’s no denying it: standing in your kitchen for 35+ minutes, stirring every minute or so, then adding broth every few minutes is downright laborious. And incredibly boring. It often makes me wish my rice cooker had a risotto-cooking mode.
Enter my knight in shining armor: farro. (more…)
San Francisco and I will soon celebrate the five-year anniversary of what I’m pretty sure will be our life-long love affair. Over the years, we’ve really grown together. I’ve come to share her love for farm-fresh, locally grown produce and CSAs. We’ve shared many eating adventures, eating our way through a large percentage of the Indian restaurants in the city within a mere month, seeking out restaurants like Red’s Java House and Boulevard that couldn’t be more different but are each foodie landmarks in their own right, and making a Saturday morning ritual out of walking to the farmers market to peruse the goods while sipping Blue Bottle cappuccinos and munching on Downtown Bakery apple swirls and seasonal fruit galettes. We’ve become weekend hikers and city explorers, avid museum-goers, sometimes concert attendees, and periodic wine country visitors. But for all the shared enjoyment, we still can’t come together on one issue: the weather.
You see, San Francisco is whimsical, constantly changing her mind, wanting what she wants and needing to have it now. Quite honestly, she’s a little high maintenance when it comes to this particular issue. I, on the other hand, prefer the sun, though I don’t really mind the wind or the rain or even the fog. But the one thing that drives me crazy is her insistence on starting off with a windy, rainy mess of a day, then giving a brief glimpse of sun, and later dashing all hopes of good weather by issuing a complete downpour. And then fluctuating between beautiful sun and windy rain as often as some San Franciscans take coffee breaks.
Last week alternated between caught-in-a-downpour-without-protection and sweating-in-rubber-boots-and-turtlenecks moments, keeping my feet consistently wet and causing my appetite much confusion. After scoping out summery produce at the market and enjoying barbecued summer fare the weekend before, I allowed myself to get too excited about light, chilled, produce-centric meals.
But amidst the largely cold and rainy weather this past week, I found myself yearning to eat something warm and comforting, yet also summery. A serious dilemma, indeed. So thank goodness for corn (more…)