After one last little spurt of summer we seem to have slipped full on into fall. And that means it's time for some warm, tasty comfort food. When I visit Costco I like to pick up one of their incredibly cheap roast chickens. Once we've eaten most of the meat off the poor thing I then use the carcass to make soup stock.
1 cooked chicken carcass (meat removed and reserved)
1 large onion, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
1 teaspoon salt
Put ingredients in a stockpot or large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, for two hours. Skim off any foam. Strain the stock through a cloth-lined colander or metal sieve. Discard the solids. Let stock cool, and refrigerate, you will find the stock will turn to a jelly, when cooled in the refrigerator which is the sign of a great stock. Use the stock within a day or 2 or freeze the stock in preferred sized portions. Using an ice cube tray works very well for small portions that can be popped into casseroles, soups or sauces.
Once you've made your stock you are halfway to having delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. The rest is easy.
Chicken Noodle Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small potato, diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 batch homemade chicken broth (see above)
2 to 3 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 to 4 cups dried egg noodles (depending on personal preference)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (reserved from making stock, above)
Melt butter in large pot. Saute the celery, carrot and onion for 2 minutes. Add potato, thyme, poultry seasoning, parsley. chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and chicken, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Around here fall is synonymous with The Puyallup Fair. It has become so ridiculously commercial and expensive that I no longer attend. But I do miss the scones. A scone is simply a triangular biscuit. I actually prefer scones as cutting out circle shapes from biscuit dough seems wasteful. The first step to making my scones was to prepare a baking mix similar to Bisquick. But instead of shortening I wish to use lard in my baking. I am cutting out all hydrogenated oils from my diet. I believe those are bad for our brains. A doctor once explained to me how he thought hydrogenated oils cause Alzheimer's. Our brains are made up of fat. The fats we ingest create brain cells. When fat is hydrogenated it changes the shape on a molecular level (way over my head) and our brains can't use it properly. Like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Since learning this I have switched exclusively to butter and corn oil. But for baking I need good old fashioned lard. I know that Mexican folks use a lot of lard in their cooking and we just happen to have a large Hispanic community here in Tacoma. I headed for the Hispanic grocery store. I did find lard but it, too, is now hydrogenated. Might as well use shortening. Dang. Where to find "real" lard? On a whim I stopped at the Carniceria (Hispanic meat shop) down the street from us and asked for lard. Once the fellow understood what I was seeking he pointed to a refrigerated case filled with tubs of a brownish substance.
He assured me this was lard. Really? I thought lard was white? I was again assured, by the lady at the checkout counter, that this was truly lard. I headed home with my prize, still unconvinced. But after some research I discovered that Hispanic lard is indeed brown as they render it with some of the meat remaining. Leaf lard, which is used in baking, is taken from a different area of fat (around the kidneys) and is white. Oh well, this lard is what I have access to and I'm gonna use it.
Homemade Baking Mix
For each cup of mix use:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lard
If you want to prepare 4 cups at a time:
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons lard
Put all ingredients into a bowl and use a pastry blender to cut in the lard evenly. Once thoroughly combined you can use it as you would Bisquick. Store it in your refrigerator until needed or use immediately.
2 cups baking mix (above)
3/4 cup milk
Mix together in a bowl. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead 12 times. Pat and or roll the dough out into a 1/2" thick circle. Cut it into 8 wedges. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Slice and spread with butter and raspberry jam. These are even better than fair scones.