I've been stocking up on chicken stock! The picture above is the stock from chicken feet, that was taken from the crock pot early this morning. I thought it was lovely, with sparkly golden globules of fatty stuff. Brandon stumbled from bed into the kitchen this morning, on a bee line for the coffee pot, only to catch me taking photos of my stock and asked, "Isn't a a little early to be nerd'n it up?" It's never to early to go nerdy for chicken feet, right?
Since I brought home a bag of feet, a bag of necks, and a bag of hearts mixed with gizzards, from Joe's chicken processing party, I've come up with a system for continuous stock production using my crock pot. Each morning I put chicken bits with water in the crock pot and let it cook until the next morning, when I strain the bits from the stock, and put the stock in the refrigerator. Yesterdays stock, now cooled, goes in the freezer. Like I said - I'm stocking up! I'm getting a few complaints that the house smells like a bowl of soup, but really, who doesn't love soup?
Look how thick the chicken feet stock is? Like the meat jello that come on a canned ham, or the gelatinous goo in Vienna sausages (pronounced vie-ee-knees around here). I think I used too many feet for too little water. The crock of simmering chicken feet smelled just like a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle. I would bet my stash of stock that Campbell's soup is made with chicken feet, plus lots of salt. One thing I realize, now that I've made my own chicken stock, is that the kind you buy at the store has lots of salt. To get mine to taste like what I'm used to, I really have to pour in the salt. Since that doesn't seem like a healthy thing to do, I haven't been adding any salt before freezing, and I have to remember that the stock isn't salty when I'm cooking.
I've started freezing the stock in plastic ziploc bags, and I wish that I had figured out to lay them flat sooner, because the flat ones stack like plates and take up so much less space. As soon as I finish eating all the ice cream left over from the party, I'll have even more room for stock! The darker colored stock was cooked with a quart of left over vegetable soup, and is the tastiest so far.
And now, to mitigate for making you look at photos of chicken juice, I leave you with some pictures of flowers that are blooming in the garden today.
My only zinnia. All the more beautiful because it's alone.
Crepe murtle, which always drops too many petals in my swimming pool, but has such pretty blooms I can't bare to cut it's branches back.
Clematis, the very fist thing I planted when we bought our house. I'm sad to think I may leave it someday soon.
Not a weed! A native wildflower, New England aster, which grows in my "butterfly garden" and anywhere else it can escape to, including my blackberry rows. Okay, so it's sort of a weed, but so pretty!
White New England Aster?
Native goldenrod. Also not a weed, unless you are a farmer and you wish it wasn't taking over your fence rows. In my yard, it is a treasured wildflower. As my elderly neighbor once told me, "your yard always makes me think of nature." Was that her subtle hint that it was time to mow my grass?
And these pink flowers that came from my grandpa's house. I don't know what they are called, but I have a sentimental attachment to them, like so many of my plants. The ceramic sculpture in the flowers caused quite a stir in our neighborhood when we first placed it in the yard. Once, when I was getting home from work in the early morning hours, a group of teenagers was milling in front of my driveway as I pulled in. A little wary of kids who were out so late on a school night, I decided to wait in my car until they moved on. It soon became obvious that they were waiting for me to come out. I braced myself for a tense encounter, but was surprised when they approached and asked about the sculpture. "What is it?" they wanted to know. We ended up having a pretty interesting conversation about abstract art, in my driveway at two a.m. with kids I was afraid of. Art brings people together in unexpected ways.
Like when Brandon and I were doing yard work by the fence and one of our neighbors stops her truck, rolls down the window, and demands "what is that thing?". Brandon says, "It's a sculpture." She rolls her eyes and says "I know it's a f*cking sculpture! What is it?" From then on Brandon tells people it's a cotton dispenser. A sculptural cotton dispenser is less contentious, if not more ridiculous.