Cooking with Annie: Episode 12 – Chicken Broth

Homemade chicken broth is one of those magical flavor boosters that just isn’t replicable with base, paste, or even store bought broth.  While those all work well out of necessity, once a taste of homemade chicken broth has hit your soup, it’s hard to go back.  Or at least hard not to notice the difference.  In this episode, we show you how to make broth from bones that were part of a chicken dinner and in a future episode, we’ll talk about what to do with any leftover meat to make a third meal.

If you missed the two soup episodes using up leftovers, they are here:  Carrot, Coconut, Ginger Soup and Creamy Potato Soup.

We’ve already talked about how to roast a whole chicken, and the next step is to take those leftover bones and all of the innards from the chicken – heart, liver, and gizzard – and add them to a stew pot.  Add a carrot, an onion with the peel, and a stalk of celery and cover everything with several inches of water.  Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for at least 45 minutes to an hour.  This sort of broth doesn’t take as long as full on chicken stock made with a whole, uncooked chicken.  The bones have already released some of their flavor and if you cook the broth too long, it begins to loose some of it’s wonderful flavor.  Lastly, strain the entire pot in a colander set over another pot and let drain.  Discard all of the bones and vegetables and store the broth in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer (labeled and dated please!) for upto 6 months.

Annie
Happy cooking!

Cooking with Annie: Episode 9 – Chocolate Mint Brownies

I can feel steel being forged in my spine and my spirit as each day I wake to choose calm, grace, kindness, and caring. As I choose to focus on how grateful I am for so many of the ‘little’ things, while what I maybe would have called the ‘big’ things swirl around and around. Outside of me. Outside of my control. Outside of my realm of influence.

The realm I choose is grateful. The realm I choose is grace. The realm I choose is forging steel in my spine and my spirit as each day I sit, sometimes with faith and sometimes with discomfort, and give witness to this experience. It will not go to waste, this time of waiting.

And until the waiting is over, we bake… with chocolate.

 

Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Mint Bars 
This is one that my family would make every Christmas, sans Bailey’s when we were little. My brothers and I could eat a pan of these in no time flat. It’s really no different on the Riggin – they disappear quickly.  Excerpted from At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer.

2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Frosting
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Glaze
3 ounces (3 squares) unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and cooled to room temperature. Beat in the sugar, eggs, Bailey’s, and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the center springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Frosting
Beat the frosting ingredients together until light and creamy and then frost the bars.

Glaze
Melt the glaze ingredients, cool slightly, and pour the glaze over the frosting. Tilt the pan to spread the glaze. Cool before cutting.  Cut into 24 bars.

Makes 24 bars

Annie
Hang in there!

Cooking with Annie: Episode 8 – Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

To help stretch the groceries in the house, this meal turns into three meals with a couple of simple techniques.  The roast chicken is one meal.  The broth that gets made with the bones can become soup.  And any leftover meat can become a third meal.  I’ll share the broth and the leftover meal in future episodes, but for now, roast chicken is one of the simplest meals that we love to have over and over.

If you are in a hurry, butterfly or spatchcock the chicken by cutting the chicken through the breastbone and laying it flat on a baking sheet. It will reduce the cooking time by about 45 minutes.  The herbs in the variation are a classic blend, Herbs de Provence, but not always the same.  The ones I like to use are thyme, rosemary, basil, savory, and lavender buds.  Others I’ve seen added are fennel, marjoram, and mints.  Most grocery stores carry a pre-mixed version, so it’s not necessary to buy each herb individually.

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables
1 (4 1/2 pound) whole chicken
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus extra for the vegetables)
several grinds fresh black pepper (plus extra for the vegetables)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices (or 3 cups baby carrots)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub the chicken outside and inside with the paprika, salt, and pepper and place on a roasting pan with the onion, parsnips, and carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours or until the legs feel loose in the joint and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Whisk the mustard into the pan to make a pan sauce, adding a little water if needed to loosen the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Variations
Lemon Garlic Chicken
Follow the instructions above and stuff the chicken with one whole lemon cut in half and two heads of garlic. If butterflied, place the chicken on top of the lemon and garlic, then roast.
5-Herb Chicken
Follow the instructions above and add 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence to the paprika, salt, and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Hang in there!

Cooking with Annie: Episode 6 – Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Onion Omelette

Yesterday I spent the day outside in the light and warmth – listening to the birds and breathing fresh air.  While I was in the garden, walking wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of wood chips from the large pile out in the front yard to the walkways in and around the garden out back, I found myself repeating a mantra to myself.  As there is so much that is not within my control right now, my mind moved to all of the things of which I am in charge and do control.

I am in charge of the food I choose to eat.  I am responsible for how I move my body each day.  I can choose to be outside no matter what the weather.  I am the one who chooses what I buy or don’t buy.  I am the one who is in charge of how I treat my family, the kindnesses I offer others, the way I greet my fellow humans.  I can choose to wait before I speak.  I choose grace.  I choose intention.  I choose surrender.

The word surrender has a connection to the phrase, “I quit”.  But that’s not what I mean.  I surrender to the things I cannot change.  I surrender to peace – in my mind and in my space.  I surrender to something greater than myself.

And I felt better.  And continued to walk the heavy wheelbarrow of wood chips to the garden – creating new pathways and adding a layer of freshness to the already worn paths.  And I felt better.

Annie
safe, calm, kind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 4 – Using up Leftovers = Potato Soup

Since we are all cooking at home more, there’s got to be some leftovers happening in those kitchens of yours.  Before they get shoved to the back of the fridge, become a science experiment, and then head to the compost pile, what if we talked about how you can turn those little bits of this and that into another meal?

Now, more than ever, being creative with what we have on hand makes good sense.  Maybe you lost your job and you need to be really frugal about what’s happening in your household right now.  Or maybe you’ve got more people or fewer people in your house than normal (more if your kids or parents are with you, less if you are social distancing by yourself).  Perhaps you are only going to the grocery store once every two weeks.  Probably more than one of these is true for you.  No matter how the corona shutdown is affecting you, the practice of using up leftovers is a good one to bring back or begin for the first time.

How to actually accomplish using up leftovers without having the same meal again and again, is a little bit of an art, but also there are some basic guidelines.  In this episode I talk about a couple of basic steps for making soup.

  1. Pick three things in your refrigerator that you think will go together in a soup and cut them up into soup-sized pieces.
  2. Dice and sauté about 1 cup of onions unless you have leftover onions in the fridge and then use up those first.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the cut up leftovers.
  4. Add about 4 cups of water or broth to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  5. Check for salt and pepper and either serve as a chunky, rustic soup or puree in a blender for a more elegant result.
  6. Add any garnishes that will go – think leftover fresh herbs, stale bread for croutons, a few minced nuts, or some kind of dairy like grated cheese or creme fraiche.

In our family, even BC (before covid-19), we would do this once every week or every other week.  When the girls were little and taking lunch to school, we’d heat up some broth and add leftover noodles and veggies with perhaps a little chicken and this would be their lunch soup.

In any event, this is just one of many ways to use up leftovers and over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing more.  Hope you find it helpful!

Annie
#staysafe #becalm #bekind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 3 – Traditional Boston Brown Bread

With all of the comments about folks not being able to find some ingredients (and wanting to stay away from the grocery store in general), I thought perhaps this recipe would be a good one to share.  It’s one of my favorite and is super traditional New England.  It uses whole wheat flour, which for some I’m hearing is easier for people to find than regular white flour, and NO eggs, which I’m also hearing are sometimes tough to come by especially around these Easter days when everyone is dying eyes with their kidos.

On the Riggin, I often serve this Boston Brown Brea with homemade butter, fresh garden radishes, an assortment of sea salts as one of many appetizers.  Here at home, we had it with lamb stew and then snacked on the remainder.  It’s delicious toasted with cream cheese or a little pat of butter.

The first recipe works well with either rye or whole wheat flour, but again, I have a hard time getting rye flour in ‘normal’ times, so wrote the recipe with whole wheat in mind.  If you don’t have buttermilk, it’s easy to make.  Combine just over 3/4 cup milk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes or so.  The result is usually just a little thinner than store-bought buttermilk, so I just end up substituting a little less than 1 cup of homemade buttermilk for 1 cup of store-bought.

Hope you all love it!

Traditional Boston Brown Bread
1 cup whole wheat or rye flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup raisins

3, 14-ounce cans
waxed or parchment paper
foil
string

To prepare the cans, trace the edge of each can on waxed paper and then cut out 3 rounds. Liberally grease each can and place the waxed paper round in the base of each can.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, molasses, and raisins and mix until just combined from the center out to the edges of the bowl.

Divide the batter equally between the three prepared cans, cover with tin foil, and use string to keep the tin foil ‘lids’ in place.

Transfer the cans to a medium pot of simmering water. The water should reach just about half way up the side of the cans. Cover and simmer until the breads are set and gently pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 35 minutes.

Transfer the cans from the pot to a cooling rack, remove the foil, and allow the bread to cool. Run a knife along the inside of the cans to loosen the bread and then invert the cans into the cup of your palm or rap firmly on a work surface to dislodge the bread.

Makes 3 little loaves

Mom and Grandma’s Brown Bread 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch bread pan. Cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk, eggs, and molasses and stir until just combined. Stir in the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour into the prepared pan, and let it sit 20 to 30 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the center springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing.

Makes 1 loaf

Annie
#staysafe #becalm #bekind

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Fennel and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet

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“Summer’s here!” proclaimed my youngest daughter several years ago as she climbed into bed full of satisfaction that she was without the need to set her alarm in preparation for another day of school. The time for formal education had come to a close for the year. The structure and the rhythm of a school year released into the dreamier, looser days of summer, opening up the unstructured, but no less important, time of summer discovery and adventure.

At least that’s what we think summer should be – one big adventure. My memories of summer, on the other hand, are like a jigsaw puzzle of moments of boredom interspersed with swimming, reading, and capture the flag which then circled back around to boredom. I lost myself in books time and time again, then would leave that imaginary world for another by the creek or in the swimming pool and then onward to a game of capture the flag. Back to listless ennui and the cycle repeated itself.

As I look back on my childhood and compare a similar rhythm to my own children’s summer days, I don’t regret that boredom.  From those moments of lethargy came inspiration and imagination.  As my girls grew, I was privileged to witness the same transformation in them.  And what came after boredom was always full of creativity and fun.

Just as the schedule of summer loosens and becomes more elastic and flexible, what we eat and how we prepare it does too. The structure of recipes and needing meals to be on time and planned around family schedules relaxes. The found treasures of the farmer’s markets turn into impromptu salads, pastas, pizzas, grilled anything or… tartlets.

This is the time of year to be playful and creative with your time and your meals. Enjoy both!

Prosciutto, Chèvre, Fennel, and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet
While this dish is delicious with the fennel and red pepper, the sky is really the limit when it comes to the meat, cheese, and vegetables that you use. Substitute some Genoa salami, an aged cheddar, spinach, and spring onions OR bacon, Parmesan, zucchini, and tomatoes OR grilled chicken, mozzarella, and pea shoots OR strips of salmon, farmer’s cheese, fresh corn, and cherry tomatoes…. Play with what you find from the farmer’s market or what you have leftover in the refrigerator from another meal.

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon ice cold water

Filling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced fennel; about 1/2 bulb
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper, seeded and cored; about 1 pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
4 ounces crumbled chèvre; about 1 cup
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about ¼ cup lightly packed

Crust
In a food processor pulse flour, salt, and butter. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time until it forms a ball. Remove from processor, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When ready, dust the surface of the counter with flour and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Press into an 11-inch tart pan. Cover with parchment paper and beans or pie beads and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Meanwhile prepare the filling. When the crust is done, remove from oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, and add the filling mixtures beginning with the fennel and then the chèvre. Lay the prosciutto slices on top and sprinkle with thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese.

Filling
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the fennel, peppers, onions, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, mash the chèvre with a fork and add the eggs one at a time incorporating each time until there are few if any lumps in the mixture. Add the half and half and mix well.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the center is just barely cooked and still wiggly. Serve hot or room temperature.

Serves 6

Annie
Get bored, then get creative

Throwback Thursday – Annie in the Refer

Remember the time when we only had one, huge wooden ice box on deck that weighed 2 tons and in which we were forever loosing everything to the depths of the deep, fathomless bottom?

That ice box was made by Dave Allen, the previous owner of the Riggin, and required at least 10 to 15, 20-pound, bags of ice every trip.  Looking at this photo just makes me love the battery operated refers I have now even more.

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Annie
Love improvements!

Hot Composting Chicken Manure

This winter while the snow was 2 feet deep and the green garden was only a dream that would come eventually, I read about hot composting chicken manure.  While I’ve always composted our chicken manure, which turns into garden gold and keeps our plants super healthy, never had I used it in the same year.

Chicken manure can be extremely “hot” or nitrogen rich and, if used too soon, can burn tender leaves and even more established plants.  To protect my garden plants, I’ve always waited a full year for the manure to “mature”.  This spring, based on my research, I thought I might try a new technique to speed up the process and see what happened.

To begin with, my coop is layered all winter long with pine wood shavings.  I try to keep the bedding fluffy and never really let the manure matte into a pile, but rather continuously add more bedding.  This encourages scratching which helps reduce any matting and also allows me to occasionally go out, when temperatures are above freezing, and clean off the horizontal surfaces and nesting boxes without doing a deep clean in the middle of winter.  Instead I schedule a major clean out twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.  Continually adding bedding also warms up the coop just a tiny bit as the decomposing of the bedding continues all winter long.

I learned that hot composting requires a 30:1 ratio of shavings to manure, i.e. carbon to nitrogen.  This is, it turns out, also a healthy ratio for the hens, as breathing in the toxic ammonia from their waste is not good for them.  If the ratio is off,  the compost pile (or the coop) begins to smell of ammonia/urea.  Adding more bedding is nearly always the answer.

Once the coop was cleared of all of the winter manure and bedding, I created a compost pile 4 feet by 4 feet with wooden pallets that I just tied together.  Hot composting requires that the pile be big enough to build up heat in the center.  Each day the pile needs to be turned and then covered with a tarp to keep the nutrients from leaching out due to any rain.  Conversely, if the pile should be moist, so in the beginning it may be necessary to add water.  By the 18th to 24th day of turning, the pile should be smelling like hummus.  Once earth worms appear, it is ready to go into the garden.  They are the indicator that the pile is now safe for plants.  If it was still too hot, the worms would not find the pile hospitable.

 

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Pallets assembled and ready for chicken inspection.
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In the beginning, the pile was all the way to the top of the pallets.
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The actual work of turning the pile is a real workout. No need to go to the gym for Rebecca (last year’s outfitting crew).
backyard chickens, chicken manure in the garden, chickens in the winter time, hot composting, how to hot compost chicken manure, Maine windjammer, taking care of chickens
Turning into pretty rich looking compost.
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The turned pile covered with a tarp for the rainy days.

Annie
Worms arrived!