Making chicken stock is much like making beef stock. It requires your bones/meat, aromatic vegetables, herbs of preference, peppercorns, salt, and water. The length of simmer time is considerably less than beef, due to the size difference in the animal. A general rule is the larger the animal, the longer the simmer time. Beef stock requires a long period of time (24-48 hours) to break down the collagen and extract the marrow flavor from the bones. Chicken bones are much smaller with less marrow so they do not take as long to break down and extract flavor (12-24 hours).
Because chicken is such a widely consumed and readily available meat, it is a stock that people will typically make over others. Beef marrow bones aren't something that you get when you purchase meat at the grocery store, you have to purchase them separately. Chicken stock can be made with either a roaster chicken carcass, or any bone scraps leftover from dinner.
If you don't have a whole chicken, save any drumstick/thigh/wing bones you have leftover from dinner. Because the bones are so small, the stock requires more in order to develop flavor. Save the bone scraps in a bag in the freezer until you get a good stockpile that you can use to make stock. However you gather your bones, making chicken stock is super easy and prevents waste. The taste difference between homemade and store bought is undeniable, and because chicken stock is a pantry staple it is well worth the effort!
Breakfast. Hands down my absolute favorite meal of the day. I could eat breakfast food any time of day, and particularly enjoy it for brinner, dinfast, or whatever clever name you have for breakfast for dinner. I love it so much that sometimes on the weekends I wake up wide awake at 6:00 am and can't think about anything other than what I want to make/eat for breakfast. I lie there trying to put it out of my mind and fall back asleep, and give up an hour or so later when I realize it isn't going to happen and get up and make it. Oh wait, that's just me?
The beauty of breakfast is it's diversity. So many different meats, so many different ways to cook eggs, the potatoes, the bread/toast options, and the pastries. Oh yeahhhhh, the pastries. Delicious? Yes. Unhealthy? Ohhhh yeah. Between the all purpose flour, butter, sugar, and cream, it's sinfully delicious. Because I maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, this is something that I just can't allow myself to indulge in on a regular basis. My conscience wont allow it, but I still want it.
This past week of New England weather has been far from ideal tomato growing conditions. It figures that when I started my seeds and didn't need the sun it was mid 70's and full sun everyday. But, shortly after the seedlings popped and were ready to hit the window for some much needed sunlight, a solid week of overcast, cold, and rain rolled in.
Ample sunlight is essential for your seedlings post germination, and the lack of it for a whole week at one of the most crucial times took its toll on my seedlings. They went into somewhat of a stasis where they didn't grow or do much of anything. Luckily, the last few days have been nothing but sunshine and warm weather so I have moved the seedlings outside during the day to soak up as much sunshine as they can, and help strengthen the stems. The stems are thick and strong without any tapering (which would be a sign of inconsistent watering) or legginess, and on the ones that are further along, the second set of true leaves are coming in.
It is apparent which seedlings are the strongest in each cell and it's officially time to start thinning out the weaker ones so the stronger ones can thrive. Now, honestly I don't like doing this. I hate having to cut out perfectly healthy tomato seedlings because there is another one a little bigger or healthier looking, but I guess that's why you plant so many seeds per cell. You want the best of the best.
Well, it's that time of year again! Despite the solid week of cold, rain, and lack of sunshine, it's still garden season and time to plan. Last year was my first season with my garden here in Massachusetts, and I barely got by with the skin of my teeth. Because I moved up here in the winter, to a house where a garden hadn't existed before, I had no idea what kind of soil I was dealing with.
With no time to take a sample I had to plant my seeds and seedlings with some general 10-10-10 fertilizer and hope for the best. Well, it turns out that my soil was extremely calcium deficient among some other things. Word to the wise: if this is your first time putting a garden in a particular spot, do yourself a favor and get a soil sample! I had mine tested this past winter with some soil I collected in the fall. I recommend doing so as it will save you a lot of headaches and frustration!
With my soil issue being corrected this year, and a better handle on the sunniness or shadiness of parts of the garden (because I don't have the luxury of it being smack dab in the middle of an old cow pasture anymore!) I decided I was going to rearrange some plants to maximize space as well. To make the most out of your garden and utilize space, knowing what vegetables need full sun, part sun, or part shade in order to thrive is essential.
One of my top all-time comfort meals without a doubt has to be chicken and dumplings. Its a hearty, rich, and rustic stick to your bones meal that's great if you're in the mood for a satisfying mostly hands free dinner. For some reason though despite my love for vegetables, I prefer a non-traditional take on it. Most chicken and dumpling recipes have carrots and celery in a pale gravy with dense and heavy dumplings. This just doesn't do it for me, and I prefer a different approach.
When I think of chicken and dumplings I think of a rich darker gravy with a bright, fresh, herby and mushroom flavor with flaky biscuit-like dumplings. By omitting some of the classic ingredients such as carrots and celery, and replacing them with a wild mushroom blend and bouquet of fresh herbs, you get a different take on a classic dish. Then by preparing the dumplings like a biscuit, it ensures a light and airy texture that isn't heavy and dense. Whether you love the traditional style or just want to try something different, this dish does not disappoint!
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