I’m excited because Joe and I are off to New York City at the end of this month — it’s been a long time since we’ve been there, and I love New York! ♥ All those tall buildings and sparkly lights, Madison Avenue, Soho, going back in time with the history of the city, clip-clopping horses and carriages, cozy restaurants, long coats, taxi cabs and valet parking and room service! Beautiful Central Park! So, of course, my first question was “what shall I wear?” And then came the sad and unfortunate answer, I will have to go naked because I am too cookie-fat to fit into any of my cute New York clothes. I have become my Grandmother’s bread stuffing. And I know who to blame:
My fat and I have become BFF.
We’re celebrating our 25th Anniversary in New York! (Not me and my fat, Joe and I!) We’re going to the New York Gift Show too, and it would be nice if I could fit into my clothes! I’m trying to inspire myself to get off the cake, cut the butter, stop the daily ration of toast and peanut butter, and not think, Oh it’s tea time, I deserve a cookie! (Even though I do!) I want to lose a few pounds and I want to do it a healthy, delicious way. So, in case you’re also in this after-holiday boat (alone, since there’s actually no room for anyone else to get in), and want to take off a few pounds; or if you’re starting to think, in your secret heart, despite the cold, that summer is coming, maybe you’ll join me and we can inspire each other! And even if you’re one of those amazing people who manages to keep a handle on your weight year ’round, I think you’ll like this too! ♥
My number one secret weapon when it comes to weight loss is a recipe I’ve put into almost every cookbook I’ve ever written; it’s my “signature” recipe for Chicken Stock (I call it that because I’ve made it so often that I can do it by heart); deep, dark, and delicious, full of vitamins and rich in flavor, the basis for my favorite healthy, fat free, heavenly winter soup. The stock takes two days to make, which is why you may not have tried it — but it’s SO worth it; most of the time it’s just bubbling cozily on top of the stove making the house smell wonderful. The good thing is, you end up with lots of stock; enough to make a soup that will last for days, enough to do that and to freeze some if you want — I use it to make our favorite chicken soup that’s as good for breakfast as it is for dinner. (Soup for breakfast is delicious on cold winter days! Corn Chowder or Butternut Squash, yummmy!) So here’s how to make the stock:
(Guess what? Dawn is just breaking; it’s just light enough for me to see outside . . . we’ve been dusted with snow!!!)
OK, so first you get a large whole chicken, and you need one that includes the giblets — lately I’m finding that sometimes they are being left out of the whole chickens, so be sure the one you choose has the giblets. They’re the secret to making a really wonderful, dark, rich chicken stock, they give it color and depth of flavor. Discard the liver (or do with it what you will); wash the chicken inside and out and set aside.
Wash the giblets (the heart, neck, and gizzard), dry them, and chop them into 1 inch pieces.
Drop the chopped giblets into a pot sizzling with about a tablespoon of olive oil.
Brown them well over high heat. When they’re dark brown, deglaze the pan by pouring about a cup of water into the pot; immediately begin to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get up all the little bits and pieces clinging there.
Add chopped carrots, chopped onion, and chopped celery; put in whole black peppercorns, a handful of parsley, and a couple of bay leaves. (You should never salt stock — how much salt to add will depend on what you do with it later.)
Put your washed chicken on top of the vegetables. (I had a couple of extra thighs in the fridge so I added them too.)
Pour in a container or two of organic chicken stock; then add cold water until the chicken is submerged.
Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to simmer; set the lid off to the side, and cook for about an hour until the chicken is done.
When it’s just done and beginning to fall apart, use a couple of big wooden spoons to remove the chicken from the stock onto a plate; the stock can continue simmering while the chicken cools to the touch.
When the chicken is cool, remove the meat to a bowl; put the bones, the carcass, and the skin back into the stock; refrigerate the cooked chicken. Partially cover the stock pot again, and let it simmer for at least six hours, but as long as ten is fine.
All this time your house is being inundated with home cooking smells . . . when your friends drop in for tea, coming in from the cold to your warm and cozy kitchen, there you are, adorable in your wonderful house, being a perfect homemaker with no trouble at all.
The stock requires almost no attention while it bubbles away the day, stir it once in a while and add more water if you need to. You can even take a nap while this is happening, and still feel like you’re accomplishing something!
Once the stock is done, it will need to be strained — depending on your kitchen set-up, you can figure out how to do this, but here’s what I worked out.
I put another very large pot in the bottom of my sink, hang my basket strainer over it, and pour the stock through it — I let it drip through until all the goodness is in the pan.
I shake the strainer a bit, leave it for about twenty minutes until the dripping stops. Then I toss all those bones and things into the trash.
And put the stock in the fridge for at least twelve hours (do not cover, stock will sometimes sour if it’s covered before it’s cool) . . . until it looks like this:
The fat has all risen to the top. It’s very easy to scoop it off and throw it away! And underneath you have essence of organic vitality. The cure for the common cold.
Use it in any recipe that calls for chicken stock (and notice the difference!), you can boil it down to thicken it a bit and freeze it in ice cube trays so you always have a little instant gravy; you can make a huge pot of soup and freeze it in serving-size containers; you can make my delicious ginger chicken and vegetables. Next time I’ll give you our favorite Chicken Soup recipe.
My other healthy-diet-secret-weapon is those Tofu Noodles I wrote about a while back. I still can’t get over how good they are and only twenty calories per serving (although their idea of “a serving” and mine are totally different; but you can have five servings and it’s only a hundred calories!!!) I could eat them everyday — love the wide noodles in my soup; they’re delicious with lycopene-rich tomato sauce as the perfect winter-diet-comfort-food. When I’m not trying to fit into clothes, I throw a couple of pieces of garlic bread in with everything. Yum!
Now it’s your turn; feel free not to talk about it if you don’t want to . . . but these days you’re a huge source of inspiration for me . . . do you have a healthy, weight-loss diet tip or food item? I’ve been on my bike every day now for three whole days, with my book perched in front of me; this has to be two-pronged, diet plus exercise; a full-frontal attack! But if anyone asks, I remind you, we are fluffy not fat.
C H I C K E N S T O C K
(from my Autumn Book page 56)
- 1 large whole chicken w/giblets (it doesn’t matter what the weight is)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large unpeeled brown onions, quartered
- 3 or 4 carrots, cut in two-inch chunks
- 3 or 4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- a handful of fresh parsley
- About 20 whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 or 2 containers of store-bought organic chicken broth or stock
Wash chicken and set aside. Discard the liver; wash, dry and roughly chop the rest of the giblets and neck. Add to hot oil in deep soup pot. Over high heat, cook, stirring occasionally. When giblets are very brown, add 1c. water; stir and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Roughly chop the vegetables and add them along with the rest of the ingredients, including the whole chicken. Pour in one or two containers of store-bought chicken broth; add water just until chicken is submerged. Bring to boil, set lid askew, and reduce heat to simmer. Chicken will be done in about an hour. Remove it from pot; cool to touch. Remove meat to fridge, put bones and skin back into stock pot. Continue simmering for 5 or 6 hours more; add more water if needed. Turn off heat and let cool a bit before straining it into a large pot or bowl; put the stock into the fridge, uncovered, overnight. The fat will rise to the top; you’ll find it easy to lift off and discard. You can stretch the stock by adding more broth or water, or reduce it to make it stronger. Keep covered (after cooling) in fridge, or freeze.