I’ve had this blog for *mumblemumble* years, and I just realized I’ve never posted about chicken stock. So let’s fix that, because this stuff is a mainstay in my kitchen.
Homemade chicken stock is a lifesaver in so many ways. For folks like me who are avoiding onions and garlic, it’s an indispensable substitute for storebought broths. And because it tastes great on its own, it’s become my secret weapon for simple, brothy soups like egg drop soup, hot-and-sour soup, or avgolemono. I like to cook matzo balls, wontons, or tortellini in salted water, then float them in warm chicken broth. I use it as a base for miso soup and ramen. Even if you’re not a soup person, this stuff is great for cooking grains—rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc—and it makes for a damn fine risotto.
Chicken stock is also an important part of my self-care these days. When my gut is acting up and I just can’t stomach the thought of solid food, I’ll heat up some stock and sip it from a mug, adding a generous pinch of salt and maybe a few slices of fresh ginger. It’s a nice reminder that food doesn’t have to be complicated and fraught, and that it doesn’t actually take much to nourish myself.
Chalk up today’s post to “experiments in high-altitude cooking.”
I spent the weekend with friends at a vacation home in Mammoth Lakes, California. At nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, it’s a ski and snowboard haven. We neither skied nor snowboarded–the winter’s been so dry that the resorts are resorting (heh) to exclusively man-made snow. Plus, the only winter sport I’m really interested in is sipping wine in a hot tub.
So we mostly stayed indoors, away from the punishing bone-dry winter winds. We cooked big communal meals. I improvised a cozy broccoli soup–quite literally, out of thin air–that somehow got lots of compliments. Not bad, given that we had trouble getting water to boil hot enough to cook pasta.
This is a post about balls.
A controversial topic, to be sure. Some people grew up with them; some didn’t. When it comes to taste, some like them soft and giving, others firm and round. Some like them small, compact, easy on the tongue; some want them so big you couldn’t fit them in your mouth even if you tried. There are some people who don’t even like them at all, but–if we’re being truly honest–that’s something I just can’t identify with.
Traditionally, especially in the springtime, these balls are often consumed alongside a hunk of beef–though, again, some folks just don’t swing that way. But at least everyone can agree on how the whole thing gets started: a thick paste of eggs and ground matzo, shaped into spheres and simmered in salted water or broth.
Wait, what did you think I meant?