Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Grape Juice & Stock

Mama tells me it's harvest time. Following some thirty years of tradition, she and H. Rose's mother spent two days making grape juice and blanching soybeans. Fresh, hot Concord grape juice is more magic than most humans can bear.

By soybeans, we mean the fresh ones -- what the upscale grocer calls "edamame" -- which my grandmother planted in her garden back in the 40's. Soybeans are a little less good than we all thought, but who can argue with the moderate consumption of anything in my mother's garden?

But that garden is 3000 miles away, so in the meantime, I made stock and kept it a-simmering all night long. Even my favorite vegan said it smelled lovely. Brothy houses smell much better than brothel houses, and stock is rich in minerals and helps with digestion -- in addition to being the incarnation of savory goodness and the foundation of restaurant (French) cookery.

Lazy girl's stock (i.e. stock minus mirepoix): throw saved bones in a large pot, cover with water, and barely simmer the whole night through (don't stop don't stop don't stop!). Salt and pepper generously. Chicken carcasses are great, feet are better, cow knees and other ligamenty portions are fantastic, but so long as your bones have marrow and gelatin, you're set. Pour through cheese cloth and pick through the bones for the nice bits of meat. The amount of time you spend picking the bones is inversely proportional to the size of your bank account; I spent an arbitrarily-large amount of time, even chewed on some of the sufficiently-softened chicken bones, and collected enough meat for my lunch.

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