20 October 2011

Consommé 2

The pot went into the "outside fridge" last night and, as I feared, this morning I had consommé jelly. Despite having jellified, all the fat seemed to have risen to the top, unlike the last time I made stock and the fat never separated from the rest of the liquid. It was very strange, and the reason why I haven't done this since. It was disgusting. But with this batch the fat was obvious (and copious), and I scooped it off with a spoon and threw it away.

I'd left some of the stock inside in another bowl and that, too, had separated nicely. There were nice swirly paisleys of fat on the surface of the liquid (not having been put outside, this one hadn't jelled). Skimmed that right off.

I may put it all through a muslin one more time once the jelled batch comes up to room temperature. I used some of the inside batch in a risotto just now - it needed salt, as I hadn't added any at all, but not much. A little salt brought the flavour out very nicely.

One thing that surprised me was that even after simmering for hours, the meat and chicken from the pot were not inedible. I used a simple boiling chicken and pieces of beef that looked like shin (there was meat and bone, I kept the meat on the bone) that were labelled "à bouillir". All came plastic-wrapped from the local GB, no special butcher, no fancy breeding, nothing! (The GB is the local supermarket. I have no idea what the letters stand for.) Again, all that was needed was a bit of salt. Maybe because I kept the simmering very very low, so did not boil the absolute hell out of everything? Who knows. But it was a nice surprise after a long day when, although I'd been cooking up a storm, I really hadn't properly eaten anything.

To be continued...

19 October 2011


Time is getting away from me. I'm still getting my 5-minutes-at-least with my notebook on a bench, but haven't reported anything here - for example, how the online course is going. I will try to do that soon. For some reason consommé caught my imagination this morning, so I have had a pot of beef and chicken simmering all afternoon. Why? I really don't know. For something that just sits and boils it's making quite a mess. The skimming and straining are not to be underestimated.

However, it does smell terrific.

Meanwhile, I am preparing some pumpkin sauce in advance for a lasagne.  I've just spent the better part of one hour seeding, peeling, and chopping pumpkin into 3 cm cubes. The recipe claimed to be easy. Someone needs to clarify "easy". Simple? - yes. Rudimentary? - yes. Tedious? - beyond belief. I don't think I'll be doing pumpkin again in a while.

Check back later for the results - one more straining through the muslin for the broth, and then it sits through the night so I can skim off the fat in the morning. Fingers crossed. The pumpkin sauce is simmering away very nicely. At last. And now it's time for a glass of wine to get me through the dirty dishes.

01 October 2011

What is wrong with my country??

Today, I've been reading posts on We Are the 99 Percent. Read some. Read some more. I could SO EASILY be among those posts... I am simply bloody lucky and feeling grateful every day for where I live and the opportunities I have.

What's the matter with the US?  Not only do I have a job, but what's more, with a Belgian contract I have protection for that job (which I needed desperately earlier this year when my American-based employer would have preferred to get rid of my position ASAP and pay as little as they possibly could in compensation, too bad for me ... My children and I were figures on a spreadsheet as far as they were concerned). Oh, and health care. So I don't have to worry if I need an ambulance or break my leg. Or my kids do. I can't understand for the life of me what some Americans have against health care... America, who already spends so much money on health care, the whole country could be covered. It is sad. I pay what some consider "a lot" in taxes but you know what? Not worrying about getting sick or changing jobs and staying insured is totally worth it.

If I have to hear one more time from someone about how the unemployed "deserve" to be unemployed, that they simply aren't doing enough, that there must be something wrong with them, or that universal health care is some kind of oooo-hooo scary socialism that will "ruin" America, I will throw up. The country is being ruined but certainly not by legislation ensuring that employers don't run riot over their employees, or by making sure that the citizens of  this very rich country have access to health care.

Go Occupy Wall Street !

We are the 99%. (Photo credit)
UPDATE: Occupy Wall Street protests grow.