Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Food Preparation

On Sunday, it is not unusual for me to start the day in the kitchen making breakfast and then never quite leave. I did that last Sunday morning and it tends to make my week a bit smoother when it comes to meal planning. It all started with making waffles, which is always a good start to anything. :)

The first order of business after breakfast was getting the chicken stock I had made a couple of days previously out of the fridge. It's always got to cool before anything else is done to it so the fat can solidify at the top so stock-making is always a slightly extended process. After taking one look in the freezer, I decided to can stock for the first time. :) It does require pressure canning but is super easy to can if you're familiar with the pressure canner. It took me a little extra time this morning because I put the pressure canner through a practice run (nothing in it but water) since this was its first use of the season.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation's recipe made me laugh though. After boiling chicken for only 30 or 45 minutes all it seems like you would have is vaguely flavored water, not stock - what's the point of preserving that? I simmer my stock for about 8-10 hours and up to 24 (as per Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions), using bones so I don't have to worry about wasting the meat. Bones from roasted chickens, by the way, impart amazing flavor to stock.

The canning seems to have been very successful, with all the jars appearing to (and sounding like) they sealed within the first hour. Ah, the beautiful "ping" of jar lids!

There was still a quart of syrup in the fridge from apricot drying that was basically a simple sugar/honey syrup heavily infused with apricots. After all of the apricots had been soaked in the solution before drying, I strained it to produce a clear, very tasty, syrup but it was too runny to be useful for much. Mom left 2 t. of Pomona Universal Pectin on the table and the activating calcium water in the fridge when she left, remnants of the sugar free jam trials, so I boiled up the syrup (with a couple teaspoons of calcium water) and stirred in the pectin. By evening, it had stiffened up beautifully into a runny jelly/very thick syrup. Looks like we'll be needing to make waffles again in the very near future. Here it is as a topping on ice cream. Yum!

I finally remembered to take a picture of the breakfast cookies that we are so in love with around here. I made a double batch so I could have them for lunches this week too and still have enough for breakfast. As always, I added about 1/2 c. of flour per batch, replaced the applesauce with apricot puree, and used almonds and dried cherries instead of walnuts and raisins.

We also cooked a nice 2-lb beef roast for Q to have in lunches this week and for us to have as beef au jus one night. Monday's dinner was toasted hoagie rolls layered with roast beef and provolone put under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese. We had a little bit of au jus leftover in the freezer from when the parents were here.

Oh how I love the deep satisfaction of knowing that the kitchen and pantry are stuffed with time-saving good things to eat!

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