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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

IMG_1565. . . or, who gets the thigh and other fowl parts.

 

I’ll get to the chicken parts in a moment – or¬†when I figure out how to use this new layout WordPress changed to when I wasn’t looking. Having used the same format for over 10 years, I was quite comfortable with the way things were. My first few posts were small entries. It took me awhile to figure out how to add photos, change my banner, add favorite blogs and so forth. Eventually, I managed to figure it out, post most days, and found the process enjoyable while making many new friends along the way.

I liked things just as they were.

Lately, my posts have been sporadic. Life’s many distractions and challenges, social media and other activities have stolen much of my time – along with reading and maybe playing too much Tetris. ūüôā This week, I vowed to get back to posting more often and here I am – ready to fire up the keypad and finding a new format for posting just when I had a post to write. Oh, bother, as a certain bear would say.

“It’s th’ unblessed food that makes you fat.” – Puny Bradshaw Guthrie *

On to poultry politics.

My treasured friend, Sharon, who has enjoyed Jan Karon’s Midford books as much as I have, gifted me “Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader” for my birthday this past December. We finally met up for lunch a few weeks ago, where I squealed with delight when I received this book. I have been slowly perusing it ever since.

The book contains recipes from the Midford series with related excerpts from the books, kitchen tips, whimsical drawings and short essays from Jan Karon. It was in the pages of this gem that I came to a short piece entitled “Political Chicken” with the lead sentence observing that

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†“. . . once it hits the table, friend chicken becomes highly political.”

Every part, it seems, has its target audience. From the drumsticks, which most often go to children, to the breast meat, which Ms. Karon finds tasteless, to the wings and the thighs. Even the back of the bird is considered, often eaten by the cook, so everyone eating gets a more appropriate piece, except for an elderly aunt who might prefer “the part that goes over the fence last“.

As children, my sister and I were always given a drumstick – and made to feel we had the most cherished part, and we could eat it in our hands. Recently, a younger man asked me to help him find chicken thighs while I was picking up chicken at the local grocery. Really. I’m at that point in life where my female mystique is relegated to chicken thighs, but, I digress and you already know that some of my more enlightened conversations are conducted at the grocers.

I’ve rambled and hopefully this will publish and you can tell me what piece of chicken is your favorite, or, if you have a chicken story.

 

 

 

 

 

* ¬†Quote from the inside flap of ¬†“Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader” ¬†edited by Martha McIntosh

 

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IMG_5320

We had been married for a year or two. Like many newlyweds, we were on a tight budget, we both liked to eat, and we came from families of good cooks – and no written recipes. Oh, I had, several cookbooks – still have, an early 1970’s edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It is the one with the checked red and white cover, little tabs on the side for meat, vegetables, soups, etc. Most of the tabs have worn off and a few of the pages are torn or splattered with ingredients. I have a newer version, but, I tend to reach for the well-worn edition, mostly because the back inside cover has quick conversions and my favorites are so used that they just seem to tumble out right when I need them.

This, however, is not a post about¬†cookbooks. It is about my journey in making potato soup, which was one of those comfort foods that my groom loved and for which there was no recipe. Tom’s mother made it, as did her mother before her, and his great-aunt, Ethel. It comes from their family’s kitchen on the old homestead in Ohio. The potatoes were harvested¬†from the kitchen garden behind the barn. The milk would have come from the cow in the barn and the eggs came from¬†the chicken coop just a few steps from the barn. The bacon was from a butchered hog, smoked and cured and oh-so-good.

Potato soup is comfort food. It is inexpensive and something many cultures share, with variations in seasonings and ingredients, but with the common use of potatoes.

In those early years, having had the soup only once, maybe twice, and with no idea whatsoever how to make it, I thought I would give it a try. Tom thought he could guide me through it Рand he did.  It is amazing what we can remember from those moments of our youth when we had the opportunities to observe. Color. Texture. Aroma. All part and parcel of our what and how we ate.

Back then, I bought probably more potatoes than needed and a pound of Oscar Meyer bacon. We peeled the potatoes and cubed them into bite sized chunks, then set them to boil with water. I fried up the bacon, cooled enough to handle, and crumbled it into bite-sized pieces that were tossed into the bubbling pot.

When the spuds were tender, Tom said to add milk. This was in the days where we used whole milk. Skim was for when you were sick. I knew enough to not let the milk boil.

All pretty easy so far, don’t you agree?

The “iffy” part was making what Tom called egg curdles, which didn’t sound very appetizing to me then, nor does it today. I call them dumplings.

Cracked an egg into a bowl and scramble. That part really went well. It was when I needed to add the flour that things, shall we say, grew tense. Tom had no idea and I had no frame of reference. We worked together with me adding flour a tablespoon at a time until it looked like Tom thought it should look. I made dough balls and dropped them into the hot milk.

TADA!

It turned out pretty good, though the curdles/dumplings were a bit too big. Practice makes perfect, and so, slowly but surely,  this comforting concoction has gotten better and better over the years.

It was particularly good on Saturday night.

So here, dear reader, is the basic recipe, which some of you asked for. My sister-in-law added minced onions. I think she saut√©ed them first. Leeks or shallot would also enhance the flavor. I don’t add salt, bacon takes care of that, but, I do add freshly ground pepper. This is based on the approximations that I used the other night. It made enough for several hearty servings the first night and leftovers, which mellow the flavors and taste even better

Tom and Penny’s Potato Soup

Cooked bacon broken into bite-sized pieces

4 large baking potatoes, washed, peeled, and cubed into bite sized pieces

Enough water to cover potatoes in pan

Boil until the potatoes are fork-tender

Dumplings

Add enough milk to be able to add dumplings and simmer until hot

2 eggs, beaten, in medium-sized bowl

Add about one cup of flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until dough forms a soft ball and pulls away from sides of the bowl

Drop by small spoonfuls into soup until done.  (only a few minutes)

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