I lay awake last night listening to the waves clawing up the cobble on the beach. Strong winds brought the pitch to a deep rumbling purr which I could feel deep in the pit of my belly…and then the rain started. Lashing at the roof top where I lay my head under the eave each night, it sounded like pebbles being scattered across the stormy southeast side of the building. I defiantly challenged the goddess of the straights Hecate thinking, “is that all you’ve got?” I know, tempting fate by taunting the gods may seem to some a foolhardy notion, but tucked up cozy and warm in my bed I bravely throw caution to the winds!
I think of things at night when the wind blows and I cannot sleep. Cooking and recipes ideas come to me when I am thinking of what needs to be dealt with tomorrow or the upcoming week. Living on a rock in the middle of the Pacific, a lot of our food is gathered and stored earlier in the year, and it is not uncommon to have not just one freezer but sometimes two (we have three) to hold the gleanings of our land and water harvests. As a good friend once told me, don’t buy any more than you absolutely have to in January& February and so on until you use up all that hard work you put into those freezers the previous year. If you’re like me, then it’s time to put some planning into what you’ve got left and what you’re going to do with it. Cleaning out the freezer is a good way to make a big pot of soup, and my morning has begun with lamb carcass bones roasting in my oven to be set on the wood stove in another hour or so, to gently simmer for the day, coaxing out all of the goodness to make a rich broth for my favorite; Scotch Broth.
I am fortunate to have tenants who raise lambs for their freezer, and so a match made in cooking heaven; I get some bones to make soup which I then jar up and share with said tenants, a win-win for us both I like to presume. Once your bones have been roasted and everything is all golden and browned nicely, place them into a large stock pot with water to cover. I will say that you can use any bones that you have kicking around the freezer; beef, venison, pork although the latter will be a sweeter stock than the others, I added some salt, rosemary, thyme and a bit of summer savory to the bones while roasting, so won’t need to add much to the stock as far as herbs go. Adding some onion, garlic, carrots and celery leaf to the stock pot will give you a well rounded flavour so add some of that too. Cook for the day on the woodstove or conventional stove, then separate the bones from the broth and let everything cool down. The stock will form a skim of fat on top which when thoroughly cooled will be easy to remove and discard. My foremothers would never have thrown this away, but I do not have an immediate use for it so out it goes to the chickens! The next day uniformly chop up into small dice, carrots, onions and or leeks, potato, turnip, and parsnip. As a rough estimate of vegetables to stock I would go with one each per quart of liquid, you can use more or less of each one to suit your tastes, and also a handful or two of barley. Let it all simmer along for several hours till the vegetables are soft and the barley is plump. Adding some parsley, salt and pepper at the end is good too, and also the meat that you’ve picked from the bones that you’ve reserved after separating the stock. It won’t hurt to let it simmer for a bit on the stove if you’re serving this for dinner, you want all of the flavours to meld together, and ideally it’s even better cooled and reheated the next day. After dinner, I’ll ladle the leftovers into quart jars, seal and pressure can for 90 minutes. Now you’ve got a good meal ready to go in minutes, (think of this spring when you’re working in the garden long hours) and, TA-DA you’ve cleaned out a bunch of stuff out of your freezer, getting it ready for the upcoming harvests! Well done sweetie pie!