Monday, January 25, 2010

Time for Dinner

Yesterday we had a glorious dinner: homemade chicken soup with bread bowls (okay, really large rolls that were attempting to be bread bowls). It made for a really good meal, but it took a lot of time getting there:
  • Jeff used the rotisserie attachment to the grill (a Father's Day present) to cook a whole chicken on Saturday, which we had for dinner that night, along with some mixed-grain rice and some veggies. I then took the leftover chicken carcass and boiled it in some water with bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, for 3-4 hours last night.
  • I started the bread bowls on Saturday evening as well. I used one cup of my sourdough starter that I've been cultivating since the beginning of the month, two cups of water, one tablespoon of salt, and nearly five cups of bread flour to create the dough. I mixed it and kneaded it in my super-duper stand mixer (since sadly, my arm prevents me from doing this by hand), before turning it out into a greased bowl covered by a plate, to rise all night. I also fed the starter again (1 c milk, 1 c flour, 1/2 c sugar), and let it eat for a while at room temperature before putting it back in the fridge.
  • Then, on Sunday morning, I kneaded the dough and shaped it into four rolls, and let them rise for 6 hours (my sourdough starter is kinda wimpy, and there's no sugar in the dough, so this takes a while).
  • I removed the bones from the soup early Sunday afternoon, and let the soup boil for a while before adding other ingredients (mixed vegetables, noodles, etc.). Normally I make matzo balls for my soup, but since this soup was supposed to go into bread bowls I did not.
  • I actually decided to go wild and crazy and make homemade whole-wheat noodles for the soup, something I adored when my mom made them when I was a kid. I enlisted the help of my favorite cooking assistant when I made the dough -- he got a huge kick out of making a mound of flour, and a well in it to crack the eggs into. He called it a volcano, which was especially appropriate when I overfilled the well and egg started pouring down the sides. I did hand-knead the pasta dough, which just about wore me out. The rolling of the dough one hour later was pretty exhausting too. But the noodles turned out well.
  • After the rolls were done rising (or I gave up on them, depending on how you think about it), I put them in a 450 F oven along with a cup of ice cubes that I poured into a cast-iron skillet in the oven. The Joy of Cooking says you should have them in for 25 minutes; however, The Joy of Cooking does not know my oven, so I instead watched them like a hawk and took them out after less than 15. They were hot and crusty but not very bowl-like, unfortunately.
  • But still, hot soup and hot rolls made for a delicious combination. It took me only... 24 hours from start to finish to make this meal (not counting the rotisserie time)!
Zuska's post about the soup she made was the inspiration for this post. She made some fascinating points about food -- how costly, in terms of time, eating well really is; how many people, even in this country, do not have access to good, healthy food; how Michael Pollan's advice ("Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.") works well for those of us who have access to good food and time to prepare it, but not the folks who don't.

It's an interesting topic and I could say a whole lot more, but I'll leave it for another post.

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