Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Favorite Things, and Joy in Life

One of my favorite things to do is make stock. I know, it might seem silly. But I just love throwing those roasty chicken or turkey bones into a pot of water, looking in the fridge and finding things to throw in with them, and then boiling the tarnation out of everything. It makes the house smell lovely. Going in the kitchen and giving the stock a stir every so often just makes me happy. I love the smell when I take off the lid. I love mashing the garlic cloves against the side of the pot with the back of my wooden spoon to infuse the broth with garlicky goodness. I love knowing I am making something from stuff that otherwise would be garbage. In this case, one person's trash truly is another one's treasure.

How often have you just thrown away the bones and skin and leftover junk after you have chicken or turkey for dinner? Oh, it pains me! No bones get tossed here. How about the ends of carrots or the celery tops and leaves? Do you chop em and toss em? Sadness!! The best thing to do is this: every time you trim carrots, celery, onions, etc, throw the ends and bits into a plastic baggie in the freezer. You can freeze bones too. When you have plenty, just toss it all in a pot together and make fantastic stock... better than any canned stuff or bouillon cube you can buy!

I have the recipe for Turkey Soup and Magic Chicken Soup on this page (on the left side) but it's really the same idea. Sometimes I re-roast the bones at 425 for 15 minutes to bring out the flavor. Sometimes I don't bother. Just throw the bones in a pot. Cover with water. Today I added celery tops, garlic, half an onion, a handful of baby carrots, slices of ginger, a sprig of sage from my kitchen garden, and spices: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne, thyme, parsley. Don't be shy with the flavoring. You can always add more water if the stock is too strong.

My stock is simmering away, making me happy. I don't even have to eat it to get the comfort it brings. But yes, eating it is good too! After 3 hours I will strain it, pour it into a container and let it sit for awhile. Then I'll remove all the fat. Then I can freeze it or make soup. I will probably make myself some Egg Drop Soup tomorrow... so easy and delicious! Just bring stock to a boil, thicken with a little cornstarch, then slowly pour in a beaten egg and simmer a minute or two. Season to taste... add scallions if you like!

You know what else makes me happy? Looking at clouds. Every day I look to see what's new. I point out the changes to my daughter. I love the colors and the striations and variations each day. Sometimes the sky is so breathtaking I want to frame it and hang it on my wall, but photos never do the real thing justice. I just *love* looking at the sky. It makes me so happy.

Tea makes me happy, too. I have a serious *thing* for tea. I have at least 50 different types of tea in my kitchen right now, I kid you not. Herbal teas, green teas, white teas, black teas, imported teas, mate teas, Rooibos teas, dessert teas. All of the teas have zero calories. Every time I go shopping and bring home a new box of tea, my son says, "MOM!! Don't you have ENOUGH teas??" They fill two very large drawers and one big tea box. I usually drink 3 or 4 cups of tea each day. I add agave to some, milk to some, honey to others. Just sitting and holding a warm mug and smelling the delicious aroma makes me happy. Sipping it is wonderful. I am going to do a whole post on my favorite teas one of these days.

And my kids. My kids make me happy. Watching my daughter dance fills my heart with joy. Some of the best times of my life have been days camping with my children or sitting in the bleachers watching my boys play baseball. I adore them, I live for them. Yes, they bring me heartache and annoyance and all manner of other emotions, but they bring me more joy than anything.

And you know what? Writing makes me happy. When I sit down here and just start plunking on the keys without any forethought and something comes out that I am proud of, it makes me very glad. I love the creations that seep out of my mind and heart through my fingers onto these pages. I rarely if ever edit anything I write (except for spellcheck). I just enjoy giving birth to *something*. Words on a page. My thoughts, going to other people. I love it.

So, you see, life is rich. It's good and it doesn't have to be about food anymore. I used to be so blanketed in food obsession and compulsions to eat that nothing else... rather, NOTHING... made me truly happy. Oh, I *thought* I'd be happy if I got that box of chocolate truffles or that fried chicken and biscuits. I even *thought* I was happy eating it. But I wasn't. I was sad. I was so sad that I look back now and wish I could reach out and hug that very sad, very lost woman who was really crying out for help, but no one could hear. She binged in darkness, behind closed doors, alone. She was oh so alone.

Now I savor many things. Food, yes. I savor my food, but I also savor the ache in my legs after I have biked 7 miles, the softness of a warm blanket over my bare arms, the lilting ballerina music my daughter plays and dances to. I embrace input from all of my senses now. My life is full of bright skies and crunchy leaves and sweet hugs. I love my life. I am happy.

28 comments:

Jules said...

...and this post makes *me* happy!

E.B. Finds said...

Awesome post....Every day I try to focus on the happy non-food stuff. I love to make stock too. Thanks for the recipes. I never thought about egg drop soup-we have a small flock of chickens and I am always looking for something to do with eggs. You are a great read~thank you.

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

I know what you mean about writing making you happy. There's a real thrill in crafting a well-turned phrase, isn't there?

Good post, Lyn.

Autumnforest said...

Oh my gosh--a fellow tea freak! I have one for every mood. One time, I found the ultimate white chocolate chai--and they quit making it. I thought of getting in my car and driving 12 hours to pound on their door! I make stock too, but I make veggie stock. Hubby's cholesterol is high and I'm trying to lose weight, so we decided to do veggie stock for the plant sterols for cholesterol and no animal fat. It works just as well. I use as many different colored veggies as I can find--usually around 12-15 with fresh herbs, salt, peppercorns. I measure it into 2-cup sizes and ziploc it and freeze. I use it for soups and also for cooking couscous and rice. Yummers! I agree--it smells so good when it's cooking.

kelly said...

Great post! I have a hard time finding a tea I really like. I can't wait for your "Tea Post."

Foodie Girl said...

I can always count on you and your wonderful posts! Thank you!

spunkysuzi said...

Reading your blog always makes me happy!!

Tammy said...

Beautiful post Lyn...brought a tear to my eye. :)

rachel said...

That's great Lyn! I am so happy for you and I hope that someday I will get to my happy place, too :)

Shelley said...

It's nice to see you so happy, Lyn - and reading your post makes it contagious!

sue said...

funny, I'm afraid of soup...i'm mean making soup.
My late husband made the best homemade chicken soup. yummm...I think I will tackle that fear this winter, maybe even this week.
Lyn, you make me happy too!

Blubeari said...

I have never made stock before but I may just have to give it a try!

Melody said...

Isn't great how the simple things in life can make one happy. Thanks for the post Lyn.

Chrissie said...

wonderful post! A lot of those things make me happy too, though I don't really put in it words like this.
Reading this post made me happy as well.
Writing as well as you do really is a gift - to inspire happiness in yourself and your readers at the same time! Thank you!

screwdestiny said...

*feels happy*

jumping off the binge wagon said...

Thank you...

Vickie said...

I am glad you are doing well.

It sounds like you are able to BE in the moment. And that is a lovely thing. Not needing more, More, MORE.

Scale Junkie said...

reading this post made me happy

Anonymous said...

I have a freezer full of stock, I'm not sure I could cook without it now. Stock can be used instead of oils when frying things, it does wonders for rice, and yes, it makes the house smell heavenly.

Things that make me happy: my dogs, my cats, sunlight on the water, getting out for a hike on a lovely day, a hug from my husband, getting good marks in school and a good meal.

Barb

Graze With Me said...

What a great idea, I've never made stock before but I always have tons of chopped veggie "ends" that I would normally throw away. Thanks!

I'm also a tea addict, my husband says the same thing as your son when I buy a new box. I have an entire tea cupboard....

happyfunpants said...

Lyn,

It is great to read about this happy version of you. I'm sure you get this all the time, but I feel like we are on the same path...as I'm starting to realize that I feel the same way.

Your blogging makes me happy. It encourages me to be honest on mine...and it helps me feel like I've got someone else out there who knows what it's like.

Way to go! :)

Federica said...

you are so right...i am happy you are happy!
federica

flyingwoman said...

I have two chicken carcasses and a turkey carcass in the freezer right now just waiting for a day I have some time at home to brew up some lovely broth.

My favorite tea is chai, proper masala chai like the stuff I drank when I lived in India for a while a few years ago. Black tea, ginger and cardamom, cinnamon and clove, black pepper and star anise in a lovely warm spicy milky sweet mug of pure comfort. I use sweetener instead of sugar, jaggery or honey, which is a bit of a heresy, but I don't need either the calories or the sugar haze.

Hanlie said...

Gorgeous post! Life is good!

I have never made my own stock, but have been meaning to start, so thanks for the inspiration!

Steelers6 said...

Ok, dear girl, I have my first ever pot of 'stock' on the stove right now. This is a bit of a stretch for me, as I am feeling a bit like I have a pot o' garbahhhge on the stove.

I feel like I am having a visit w/Lyn today..hee hee. (bc of my pot o' stuff, got the idea from YOU.) May I just say thank you, again? Thank you for so generously sharing thoughts, recipes, motivators, etc w/me, of course w/US. I so often think of you in the kitchen now. You have a knack, and are kind to share. I'm sure your readers vary greatly from wonderful chefs to inexperienced young folk maybe just starting out, maybe newly wed, etc. We all glean from you. Thanks so much.

Anxious to see what I end up with here. I'll be making more w/the remains of the Thanksgiving turkey. Last year I saw ppl posting their turkey carcasses on Freecycle after Tgiving. Thought that was pret-ty unusual!

Lyn said...

Steelers6~

Yay! Way to step outta your comfort zone! Now, if the stock doesn't "turn out" in a way you like, let me know and maybe I can help you "fix" it. And even if the flavor is not something you'd want to sit and eat straight, it will be excellent to use for cooking rice, or in soups instead of water... will give lots of extra nutrition and flavor! I made a lot of stock before I started getting it right :)

Dia said...

This is such a lovely post - & I've enjoyed reading snippets of your journey - Thanks for sharing these favorite things.
I also love teas - mostly herbal, & grow a bunch of herbs, & have TWO tea camellia plants (one in a pot, the other in the ground) - met someone this summer who wonders if roobios could grow here (W Oregon!) I occ gather some fresh herbs for a hodge podge tea, & have a bunch of boxes.
In the mid 90s I shared a kitchen with a chef who made stock ~ weekly - he'd do just as you say, throw stuff in a bag in the freezer, & pull it out when the bag was full. I've done that ever since, & often heat a small pot of trimmings while I'm chopping the veg & such for whatever I'm making - a 20 min simmer is just fine for veg. trimmings :)

I'm also a huge fan of coconut milk & oil, & have been enjoying them since spring - came over here from 'shameless Cheese-Whore looking for your kabocha squash thoughts - didn't find that, but glad I 'browsed'

Blessings!

Anonymous said...

enjoyed reading your post-- thank you for your openness..