Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Cooking and Other Gratitudes

I have made a lot of stock during my lifetime--homemade stock made from the bones of previous meals.  But never has a pot of stock turned out to be quite as delicious as yesterday's stock.

My spouse thinks that the mushrooms in the soup added depth, and they did.  But the stock itself was a rich, deep color before I added a thing.

We've had a Christmas of cooking, so I started out with a good carcass.  We had a turkey which my spouse wanted to brine before we grilled it.  But it wouldn't fit in anything that would then fit in the refrigerator, so he cut it into pieces.  He brined the breast in an orange spice brine and the legs, wings, and thighs in an espresso-molasses brine.  After a 24 hour soak, we then grilled the pieces over a smoky fire.  Yum.

I wonder if brined bones make a tastier stock.  I'm fairly sure that grilled bones make a tastier stock--but I've made stock with chickens that we've grilled, and nothing has come close to matching yesterday's stock.

The rest of the soup was simple:  a pound and a half of sliced Portobello mushrooms and a pound of sliced carrots.  I usually put barley in the soup, but we didn't have barley, and I didn't feel like going out in the gloomy rain to get some.  So I made dumplings instead.

It was the perfect supper for the day after Christmas, a day where we ate too much and much of it was high fat.

For lunch yesterday, I ate a healthier version of the Christmas meal:  turkey, broccoli, sweet potato casserole (a lower-fat version with a brown sugar and pecan topping) and stuffing (healthy, except for the half stick of butter, made with whole grain bread, pecans, apples, and onions).  For a snack, I had some of the turkey that my spouse pulled off the bones when they were done being transformed to stock.

On Christmas Eve, we made an amazing espresso barbecue sauce, and I put some of that on the pulled turkey--yum.

I offer this report on yesterday's eating in part so that I will remember it.  But it's also interesting to me in terms of how differently I'm eating now.  Ten or twenty years ago, I'd have spent the day after Christmas eating a variety of sweets.

Also different from years past:  so far, no crushing sadness at the thought that the season is close to over.  There's a passing whiff of sadness, but nothing like past years.

Perhaps it's because I know that the 2015 holiday season will be here before we know it--how quickly time zooms by!  Perhaps it's because I've tried to savor the season as we've gone through it--but I always do that, and it doesn't always stave off depression.

This Christmas season has left me with a profound sense of gratitude.  I know that not everyone is having this kind of peaceful season, and I know that there will be years in the future, as there have been in the past, where I will not be enjoying this kind of Christmas season.  But for now, I'm trying to stay in the current moment, while praying for those who are not in a cheerful Christmas place.  I'm trying to stay rooted in gratitude while praying for more peace to visit the world that can so sorely use it.

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