Tuesday, September 29, 2009

End of Major Jam Production

Annie and I have finally decided to call an end to the major jam production for the year. After canning another 24 jars of jams and jelly this last session, we both came to the realization that we cannot eat and give away this much jam in a year. Therefore, there is only one more canning session for jams left this year due to my want for caramel apple jam. I am really excited about that one! We tried our hand at jelly for the first time, and while not totally clear due to only doing one pass through our "jelly socks" and squeezing for extra juice, I am still quite proud of the product. We chose to call it natural unfiltered jelly, which is kind of silly because jelly is supposed to be clear, but the tasty product we made cannot be beat! I would like to think Dan's apple picks are most of the reason why.

We started with six pounds of rough chopped apples, leaving the skins and cores intact. Next, we cooked the apples with some water. Meanwhile, Annie and I finished off her preparation of the pear and pinot noir jam.

It was quite tasty! We then moved back to the apple jelly. After the cook time was up, we placed the cooked down mush into a pair of clean nylon stocking. Now, you may be scratching your head at this, but there is a perfectly good explanation. I am somewhat cheap, and the jelly bags you can get at many stores are just a bit to expensive when I am trying to be extra thrifty, so the stockings and high necked faucets work just as well as the expensive jelly bag set ups.

The most important thing is to make sure your socks are clean. We washed this pair of hose before cutting them up and placing the food inside. We then hung them over catch bowls and went to get some lunch.

From there we took the collected juice and added our lemon juice and sugar and cooked it all down.

We canned that and moved on to the plum and the peach that I had prepped the night before. All in all we had 24 half pints at the end of the day. I was proud of how much we did in the little time we spent canning. I guess we have our system down now.

Today I hope to get some time in behind the sewing machine. The call of my knitting has been a strong distraction lately, but it is not part of my Christmas sewing or my Fabulous Pants sewing, so I really need to leave that off till at night in front of the television. The black pants will be finished if it kills me today. I am also planning on finishing up this pants repair for a friend's pair of pants. While cool pants, the seams that the sewer used were way too short, so there are lots of little repairs for me to try to fix up the seams. I am taking most of it to the serger. I also want to make a killer fall meal tonight since the weather is so cold. Today was the first really cold morning, so I am even debating washing the quilt for the last time this season and getting out the down comforter. Hum... I think I need to make a pumpkin pie while I think about it. Test out that crust mojo and see if it is still here!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jam Session - End of Season Peach, Plum, Fall Pear, Apple

Today I am up and going for a long jam session with Annie! She and I wisely decided to each do some prep work for the session at our own houses. We were hoping to get all the canning in faster than before. Last time we were really flying, and this time with most of the prep finished, we should be able to get most of this done. I am also hoping it is more pleasant out in her part of the bay. The weather for the last week and a half has been in the triple digits and very unpleasant for jam making. The original plan was to make peach with raspberry and cardamon, pear with pinot noir and cinnamon, and then either apple or plum. We decided on apple jelly, trying our hand at jelly for the first time rather than jam. Sadly, though, when I went to the market my favorite plum seller told me this was the last week for them. SO, I decided to tack plum onto our jam making list. We were going to wait until next week for it, but if this is the last week of these wonderful plums, I needed to act. I still have not told Annie. Hopefully she is signed on to the plan! I prepped the peach and raspberry and the plum in the hopes of keeping us on my expanded jam session plans.

Both are already a beautiful color just with the maceration and steep. I cannot wait to see how they look in the jars. The apples have to be prepped at Annie's place, so we can always back out if four jams is too much. We may, however, need more jars. Always need more jars. More pictures of the finished jam tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finding Focus

My entry before the quick recipe posting talked a little about my focus problem. I decided to dedicate myself yesterday to quieting my mind. All things pointed to the need for this, including my friend's twitter stream Tarot card pick. It called for self focus. So, in my attempt to focus, I spent yesterday recouping. I let myself sleep in quite late. I ate breakfast and did not try to multitask while doing it. I kept the music off and the focus on what I was doing in that minute, whether that be sweeping the house, looking at recipes for Monday's canning session, or organizing up the sewing desk. I did all without a ton of distractions from the television or radio. I even sewed on BART sans the headphones. I think it was good for me to pair things down. I felt more focused as the day went on. I took only one student with me at 826 and tutored just one. I focused in on what we alone were doing rather than room scanning as I usually do. Hey old teaching habits seem to die hard. It was nice. I settled in for a night of knitting something for myself. Usually I am working on items for other people or the store, so it was refreshing to just sit down with a piece of something for myself.

I managed to make that pie on Wednesday. It was a true success. I have Hubert Keller to thank for that. He gave me my crust making mojo back. I am keeping his recipe and not letting go of it! It turned out the perfect crust with no fuss and no need to reroll. I could even pick up the crust off the counter without cracking, breaking, or having to scrape it up with the dough scraper. I am in crust heaven!

I have been informed that I must make pumpkin pie next with this crust. I am willing to bend on this since we are almost into October, squarely in pumpkin pie territory.

Today I am trying to stick with the focus, although I have to admit that music is on the stereo. The pants that I am repairing for a friend will be finished up today. The black pants will have the finishing touches on them, and the first good day for photography, I will be trying out my new photographing spot at the new building. Hopefully it works out as well as the old one did at the last apartment. Here is to looking at a focused weekend with a focused week ahead.

Applebutter Recipe

I had a comment on my apple fair entry asking if I ever got my sister's apple butter recipe. I in fact did, and while I answered in the comments area, I thought I should also post up the recipe here. I hope you enjoy it!

My Sister's Apple Butter:

4 pounds of apples, peeled, cored, rough chopped
2 cups apple cider
3 cups of sugar, less if your apples are really sweet
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. allspice

Place cut apples, cider, and sugar into a crock pot on high for one hour. Turn to low setting, stir, and crack the lid keeping it open with a wooden spoon or similar item. This should allow the steam to evaporate out of the crock pot. Cook on low for around 10 hours, stirring around every once in a while. I cooked mine overnight. Cook until it is reduced to a very thick sauce like consistency. Using a stick blender, blend up the butter until it is like baby food rather than extra chunky applesauce. Add spices to the butter and cook one more hour on a high setting. Pour into properly prepared half pints. Process for ten minutes in a water bath.

I hope you like it, and it works for you!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Yesterday I was really unfocused. Today is also shaping up to be the same. I cannot seem to stay on one task and see it through to completion lately. I was hoping to get things more on track today, but I fear it is going down the same road. I did get my desk in order and also plowed through the three months of personal checkbook balancing that needed to be addressed. The desk, I am happy to report, is wonderfully clean now, and the books balanced on the first go. From there things just degraded. I wanted to get some new items ready for photographing this morning and uploading to the shop, but I could not stay on task. I debated making a pie. I debated working on the belt. I picked up a pair of pants and stitched for a bit. I then focused in on some Christmas stuff for family and pattern copying for their gifts. (I am a chronic copier of patterns rather than cutting them out of the paper. I like to have copies rather than have to buy the pattern over again if there is a cutting problem.) Then I went back to the pants and debating pie. Then I decided to get on line and attend the SF Etsy team chat. Then I researched a discontinued pancake mix for my parents.

I was literally all over the place. Seeing as it is noon now, and I have not a lot to show for the day, I think today may wind up the same way. I think the pie has to be made. Who can say no to chocolate pie? Then I am going to focus in on the pants that I have been trying to work on for forever and finish them. Preliminary pictures perhaps for tomorrow's posting. Then I want to work on a pair of repair pants for a Belegarth friend. He needed me to fix some patchwork pants that keep ripping apart. I hope the serger can fix that up. If there is time, then it is off to work on the red work tins. The embroidery for them is gorgeous; they just need to get finished.

Those are the goals. Hopefully I can make them! Hey what is that shiny thing?!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcoming Fall

Yesterday I kept waiting for the heatwave to hit that was supposed to move into the area. Luckily, though, the sea breeze kept the heat over the Oakland hills on the other side of town from us. The house stayed delightfully cool for my fall housecleaning madness. I cleaned all surfaces. There was dusting of bookcases and tables, wiping down mirrors, polishing plates (Yes we have to polish our plates due to a reaction between the silverware and stone wear.), cleaning of bathrooms, and laundry in the machines. It was a whir of activity and a banishment of dust clouds. I kept the one last remaining good flower in the arrangement as a last hint of summer in the house. Today, it is still delightfully chilly despite blistering temperatures across the hills. I enjoy bay side living.

The only thing that did not get tackled is this:

I intend to get the desk mess in order today. Entropy is a hard force to fight. Just when you think you have it beaten down, it shows itself somewhere else. It will be great to have a fully cleaned house and work space. Today I am hoping to finish off a pair of pants and perhaps more handwork on a belt. There is also a matter of dessert to be made since the temperature is not hot again. I am looking to make a chocolate pie that I saw in my latest Penzey's Catalogue. It looks really yummy. Hopefully this will also be the end to my crust issues I have had as of late. I will report back to see if a new recipe and method worked better this time rather than the disastrous results I have been having lately. The red work boxes are being made, but are not finished yet. More on those soon. There is also the possibility that I will abandon all this to go and get some more tools for clay working. I am working up some new contraptions in clay and hope to have those out for all to see soon as well.

I am going to get down to work on this desk thing... hopefully it doesn't take all day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Staying Cool

This weekend I tried to fix the salsa debacle. It went much faster having Dan there to help with all the cutting and chopping of the ingredients. This time I came up with five full pints that are labeled and boxed up in the pantry. I did not get to try it this time, so hopefully when we pop open the first jar, it will be a vast improvement over the non-halved sugar recipe. We also added more hot jalapeno peppers to this batch as well. Hopefully the heat is back in the salsa. We tried the peppers raw, and they were more spicy than the peppers in the first half batch, so here is to hoping for a perfect heat in the full batch. I will report back when we actually open up a jar after finishing the store bought jar in the fridge.

Today is supposed to be very hot around the Bay Area. I am planning on staying as cool as possible around the house for as long as possible. I have pulled out a tank from dance class sessions and a skirt that I can move around easily in. The plan is to clean the house top to bottom before the heat of the day settles in this afternoon. This afternoon I hope to keep cool with some letter writing, recipe copying, and hand sewing. I also hope to get some red work tins worked up this afternoon and hopefully have them photographed for tomorrow to upload on the Etsy Store. Hopefully it is something I can pull off with out much time to sit and realize how hot it is outside. Well I guess I should quit the procrastination and get to the cleaning. Pictures of the tins, hopefully tomorrow!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Carrot Cake

Yesterday, the sewing instinct just was not with me as much as the baking one was. After a long trek out to acquire household needs and hauling four canvas bags back to the house, sewing was not on my mind. Cake, on the other hand, was. I usually do not back cakes for Dan and I because we just cannot finish them before they get stale and nasty, so lately I have been opting for cupcakes that we frost as we want to eat them. That ends up being a week or two of the same desert with some of the same results: mold or staleness. Finally I decided to bite the bullet and do something I have been tossing around in my head for a while. I went down to the party supply store and bought two of the smallest cake pans that you use for the upper tier of a wedding cake. I halved the recipe for carrot cake and split that among the two small cake pans. The results were the best, prettiest cake I have ever made!

The frosting is not super smooth looking because the kitchen was so hot it was melting off the cooled cake as I frosted it. I could have fixed it before the picture, but we were too excited for dessert. The only other thing it was missing was the piped carrots on top. I ran out of time to make them. This small size means that Dan and I can each have a piece of cake for two nights. Just enough of a taste of a cake type without getting tired of it. We can also finish them before they get funky! I cannot wait for all the possibilities for cake desserts that I have just opened up by finally buying those pans!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kinetic Artist Arthur Ganson

The Long Now talk by Arthur Ganson was rather interesting and thought provoking for me. I am not usually that big of a fan of kinetic art, as most of it seems to be a who can top who lately, but his pieces seemed much more thought provoking for me. (I will keep my critiques and thoughts short, so they do not taint your own towards the work.) He had with him, the thinking chair. It was a neat piece with a chair that walks around a rock that is suspended above the gear structure.

It is so intricate and yet so heavy at the same time, with the rock above all the delicate metal pieces and gears that move the chair. It also seems to be walking on its "hands" to me, which places the piece totally off balance. There is a tenuousness to it all, where you expect the chair to fall, or a teacher to yell "Four on the floor please" at it, and yet it seems perfectly at peace with itself.

My other favorite was Machine with Chair:

I am a big fan of organic shapes and textures in artwork and architecture. The music combined with a machine dancing with a chair is so moving and beautiful to me. I am not sure if it is the dancer in me that was drawn to this particular installation, but I think the form of the machine is beautiful and the layering of the classical guitar music makes it all work together. It is form and machinery all in a perfect harmony. The most amazing thing to me is the small amount of tolerance for error that Mr. Ganson achieves with all of his art pieces.

Cory's Yellow Chair was also one that I found a great appreciation:

Mr. Ganson talked about the moment of now when explaining this piece, and I love that concept. When is now? I find that the moving meditation that is performed before my classes at Fat Chance Bellydance help to bring me into that moment of now. That movement focuses me in on what exactly I am doing at that moment with those people. This chair is also a focusing point to me. The momentary time when the chair is assembled is a definite moment of now, and then, that brief completeness is taken apart as the chair explodes.

Those are just my thoughts and reflections. If you go to Arthur Ganson's website he has many more videos of his works, including the Machine with Concrete and Margot's Cat, two other thought provoking pieces that you should really see for yourself and ponder without my thoughts cluttering yours.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seeing Red

I seemed to get a lot done yesterday. I made salsa, red food. I worked on my cross stitch, red floss. I went to Long Now to hear about kinetic art, red theater seats, and today I tasted the salsa, too sweet. This got me seeing red. I spent a lot of time working on the salsa yesterday to only mess up one thing. I did not cut the sugar amount in half when I halved the recipe. I guess that is what happens when you should have really eaten lunch but waited until your canning was complete.

Overall, I got some really great pictures though. I loves how red these tomatoes are. They were super ripe, so it made for easy slipping of the skins.

They were super fragrant and wonderfully juicy. I did not have to squeeze them at all for extra cooking juice for the vegetable mix of peppers and onions.

The cooking went well and did not take up much time. Like I said, all was well except forgetting to cut the sugar in half. After all the work, I only ended up with two full pints and one filled three quarters of the way, so it had to go in the fridge.

This takes me to what I am going to do to fix the problem. After some quick consultation with Dan for some ideas, I have decided to get four more pounds of tomatoes from the market on Sunday and make another half batch with out the sugar. Then I will open up the jars and pour them in and bring the mix back up to boiling for a few minutes. Then it will go back into clean jars and into the canner for reprocessing. Hopefully this works out for a better salsa. I also found that there was no heat to the salsa despite adding three full jalapeno peppers, seeds and all to the salsa. Now, I am not a big spice person, so this was a real shocker to me. I am going to add three more peppers to this half batch, and hopefully we will get some heat back into this.

Today up in the Etsy Store I am listing some new red gerbera daisy hair flowers. I really like them. They are a beautiful crimson shade with dark brown to black middles. They also have the same sturdy silver bobby pins for maximal placement possibilities.

Today I am determined to sew up a new pair of black sari pants for the store. I have had them cut out for a long time, but I have been too busy with canning and housekeeping to get to them. Today is the day. I also have the last of the tent adjustments to make at 826 Valencia. Hopefully I can squeeze in some muffin baking as well. Tomorrow I will post my thoughts on the Long Now talk from last night. For now the thoughts are still marinading.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rainy Weekend Renewal: Wine Goes in the Jam and Not the Makers, Solving IT Problems with Mixing Bowls

This weekend started off a bit rocky. I was not feeling well on Friday, so I did not get to attend dance class. This was made up for by Dan, who brought me flowers, helped cook dinner, and watched silly movies for me in our summer movie festival. Needless to say we are starting to run out of time and dvr space as the fall television shows are starting up again soon. This set of flowers actually came out well with my arrangement. I took a class in flower arrangement in college, and I never quite got the hang of it. Seeing as my mother and sister are wonderful at it, my mom being a former florist, I though it would come natural. I was wrong. I guess the practice is just finally starting to show results.

This weekend was rainy in the bay area. I loved every minute of it. I woke up on Saturday to a clean feeling world. It had rained overnight, and I also got to hear a few rare claps of thunder as I filled orders in the morning. I was then off to Dublin by BART to join up with Annie for a day of canning. The ride was delightful as I stitched on my canvas and turned up the Celtic playlist on the headphones. It has been a busy canning fall this year, and the pantry is showing it. I worked on some reorganization this morning to fit in today's new project, salsa. This weekend, Annie and I hit the farmer's market in Pleasanton and one of the usual farm stands on the way to her house. The plan was for pickles and peach and lavender jam. We also thought that we could try to fit in plum. When we hit a stand that had wonderful pears, we added a pie in the sky goal to try to get some pear jam in too. We ate a lunch that was not quick enough and ran off to the store for.... more jars! We definitely have a canning problem.

The produce filled one of the counters:

From there on out it was a sprint pace. I started by washing up the plums and cutting them up to macerate with the sugar and vanilla beans. We were using the recipe for plum jam with vanilla and Gerwurstraminer from Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber.

Annie went to work on getting the dill pickles prepped. Pots of brine were started, water for skinning peaches was boiled, and the big canner pot was also started to get the water boiling.

Once the plums were off and macerating, I joined up with Annie prepping the dill pickles. We cut them into spears. The color of the cucumbers was very nice.

From there we packed the jars with the spears and added all the spices into the jars:

Next we added the brine, and then the jars went into the canner for processing. Meanwhile, we started up the peeling of peaches. Let me say, it is really difficult to peel peaches by any other means than a knife when they are rock solid unripe! We ended up getting some of the skins to slip with the boiling water, but the rest had to be carefully peeled by knife. Once that was done, it was time to remove the pickles and let them cool and seal.

We counted the pops until they were all sealed down. The peach jam was started and the steeped water from the lavender was added. It was a great smelling jam. Sadly we were too busy to take any pictures of that one. We then started up the second pot of plum jam as we realized we were rapidly running out of time to get the jams done and me home "on time". The wine was added to the plum instead of feeding up the whole time. Perhaps this is the secret to us getting so many things done in so little time! I would like to think we are getting better systems down and more accomplished at the canning process. The peach finished off and went into the canner to process. Then, we only had the plum to contend with. It was at that time that the canning staff got to finish off the remnants of the wine! The plum jam made the most beautiful purple garnet color that I have ever seen.

All in all, we got a ton done in a little amount of time. The take was, as always, pretty awesome! Two quarts of pickles and seven half pints of jam.

It was a full day! I came home late though. I never seem to be able to get things done quickly enough! We missed a party with friends, but hopefully I can make it up to them by going out another time.

Sunday was spent getting the kitchen restocked here for the week from the Farmer's Market. I also got all the supplies for making salsa today. Dan worked on some IT problems I have been having. We moved out the wireless access point into my office so it is closer to the living room and also helps out my computer more since I am not directly connected into the network. We also worked on fixing our Nokia 770. I use it to listen to internet radio, mostly Radio Paradise on the stereo. We found out that the cure to the networking problems with the 770 could be cured by using a high tech system of our metal mixing bowls to block out a network that was confusing the poor thing so it could not find our network. High Tech indeed! I guess I need to make sure that I don't use those bowls in the kitchen when I want to tune in the internet! We also got to watch some football and listen to the rain outside. It felt like we were back in an Illinois fall day. I loved smelling the rain and hearing it fall outside making the dust fall out of the air after a long spring and summer with out it.

Well today is off to a slow start, but it is time to get things accomplished. I hope to get the salsa made and canned before lunch. I also want to move onto sewing up those black pants finally. Tonight Dan and I have a Long Now talk to attend as well. Pictures of the salsa making tomorrow!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Start on Christmas.... Yes, Christmas

So in an attempt to not be a mad crazy woman around December 20th, I have been very determined this year to finally start my Christmas crafting well ahead of schedule. Right now I can hear the groans and moans. "But it isn't even Thanksgiving! We haven't even gotten through Halloween! Why are you rushing things!." For those of you who hate the pushing up of holidays to unrealistic selling schedules, I am right there with you. I hate seeing Christmas stuff in stores before Thanksgiving. I think it is totally inappropriate and hated it when I worked in retail in high school and college. However, when you hand make a majority of your gifts and have a big family, it is a necessity to start early, and that is always my goal.

I always intend to start the minute I see Christmas and winter themed items in the fabric stores. This, however leads me to a depressing idea that I am starting Christmas way early in the summer and not long after the last birthday gifts for the nieces and nephews are finished. Usually I then avoid working on planning, purchasing, and crafting until around October, when I start to say, "Hey, I really need to get on this!" By then I realize that I can still put it off further and wait until the beginning of November. That still leaves me with two months right? Once November hits, I usually find myself suddenly prepping for the Thanksgiving dinner we usually do at our place and wondering where all my time went for starting the Christmas present making. Then I decide that I need a few more days of recovery after the party and find myself on December 1st really up the creek!

This year, finally, is different. I have started my planning now, in September! I have also made several purchasing trips. This is nice because I can actually look for sales and use coupons like I always plan rather than panic buying. What a concept! It is one I have wanted to follow through on for a while, and this is the year! I even started one of the first gifts yesterday.

I thought it was oddly appropriate that we are around four months out, and I was doing numbers that counted down to four. Today I need to finally get around to finishing up the choli I am making for myself. I would love to have it for class tonight. I need to focus on finishing up all these projects I pick up and then drop quickly, so the tassel wrapping is also on the list. Those need to hang, so I can trim them and get that belt finished. Those are the goals. short and sweet for today.

Tomorrow is another canning party with Annie. We are looking to do pickles, peach and lavender jam, and perhaps some plum or pear. I am voting for plum as the season is just about over. I will take pictures as usual and give you the update.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Dahlias

Not much time to write today. There will be a better posting tomorrow. Today I listed up this wonderful pair of dahlia like yellow hairflowers.

They are really beautiful! Come on in to Fabulous Pants on Etsy to pick them up!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wine and a Running Start

This weekend, Dan, Annie and her beau, and I went out to the Livermore Harvest Wine Celebration. Needless to say, I forgot to take any pictures of the event since I was enjoying myself so much. We got to taste wine from many different wineries both at the fair and also at the wineries themselves. While the wine was not necessarily in my favorite types, it was wonderful weather with beautiful scenery and great friends. We also attended The Shotgun Players version of Animal Farm. It was another wonderful production with imaginative sets and musical numbers. This one was full of rap stylings and step style dance. The movie marathon also went on with a movie last night of "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," and earlier in the weekend we watched "Boiler Room." Both were pretty good, although "Mr. Magorium" to us was lacking. It felt like the cutting room floor took too much of the movie, and the message was too dumbed down and simplistic.

I also worked more on the hand sewing on the elephant and peacock belt, and it is coming close to completion. I hope to get some early Christmas present supplies today or tomorrow. I am very intent on getting things done earlier this year. Well I want to get a running start on the short week, so I am off to get some last minute laundry into the system and finish off a personal choli that has been lagging around. Then an afternoon trip up to the fabric stores and perhaps the yarn shop, but that may wait for a trip with my knitting coach! It is much more fun going to the shop with her.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Homemade Chicken Stock

I love making my own stock. I usually do this every four or so months, and it takes me along till the next time I have a chance to make a batch. You can use either chickens or turkey with this recipe. I use chicken in this particular tutorial. This stock can be used for cooking or as a base for your own homemade soup!

~ carcass of a chicken or turkey - some meat still attached is preferable to a cleanly picked one
~ three or four carrots
~ three stalks of celery
~ onion
~ bay leaves
~ parsley - fresh is best but dried works
~ thyme - fresh is best but dried works
~ rosemary - fresh is best but dried works
~ optional - oregano - fresh is best but dried works
~ pepper corns
~ salt

~ large stock pot
~ big wooden spoon
~ large colander
~ small mesh strainer
~ two big bowls
~ measuring cup
~ ladle
~ muffin tin

First wash all the vegetables and herbs that need to be washed. I do not peel my carrots for this, but you can if you would like. Chop the vegetables into large pieces. Do not make the vegetables too small as they will mush up too soon and cloud the stock too much.

When I made stock this time, I had more than just the carcass of the bird from the night before. I happened to buy four chickens that shopping trip because they were on such a great sale. I broke the other chickens into parts for other meals, but I had backbones and internals left from the other chickens. If you only have a cooked carcass, please skip down to the picture of the cooking onions.

If this is the case for you, warm a little oil in your stock pot, remove the parts and pat dry. Place them skin side down in the pan and brown them up. This not only adds flavor to the pot but also will render out some of the extra fat from the backs. This is a traditionally fatty part of the chickens.

Once all the backs are browned, take them out of the pan. CAREFULLY drain out some of the chicken fat, leaving a little bit for starting on the onions. DO NOT drain the fat down your sink! If you did not have any raw pieces you can skip cooking the onions and just place them in the pot with everything else without any oils. Start the onions in the oil until they begin to sweat.

If you are just using a cooked carcass, throw everything into your pot. If you are with us from the cooking and rendering part, please throw all the other vegetables and cooked carcass into the pot. I also threw in the hearts and necks from the innards. I am not a big fan of using the livers however as I think it makes the stock look dark.

Fill the pot with as much water as is feasible. Remember that this is going to be simmering for a long time, and the water will evaporate out. You want to make this worth your time and not have to add more water during cooking.

Add a half teaspoon of pepper corns and two teaspoons of salt. You can add less if you like. I usually just eyeball this and tend to err toward the side of less is best. You can always add more salt later. Bring the mixture up to a light simmer. It should be bubbling constantly but not violently. As it cooks for the first 30 minutes or so, a scum will start to form. Scrape off the foam from the top of the liquid and discard. If you do not do this, the end stock will be dark and cloudy.

When the stock evaporates off enough to feasibly put a lid on the pot, do so. There may be a dark ring left from the scum that you did not manage to get off of the top. Leave it on the side of the pan, do not scrape it in.

Continue simmering for a few hours with the lid on. I usually simmer mine for three or so hours stirring it around once in a while when I think of doing it. It will start to cook down quite a bit. The meat should be floating freely in the liquid and the vegetable should also become quite soft after a few hours. The stock should also be a nice yellow color. When it reaches this point, turn off the pot and let it cool slightly.

Once it is cool enough to easily handle, but not totally cold, strain out all the big pieces by pouring through the colander into one of the big bowls. I usually gently press on the contents of the colander to extract any trapped juices. Don't mash too hard or you will end up with vegetable pulp in the stock. Discard the contents of the colander.

Next, pour the liquid from this bowl through the metal mesh strainer into the second clean bowl.

This should remove all the stems from the herbs, small bone chips, and other floating material. Discard. Some people do this through cheese cloth for a better filter.

Place the stock into the refrigerator and cool the stock completely. The fat will rise to the top, and when it cools, it will form a filmy layer at the top of the bowl. The stock in the bottom will be very gelatinous like jello. This is just fine as the natural gelatin from the bones have been cooked into the water.

Scrape the top layer of fat off with a spoon and discard. Do not put this down the drain of your sink! It should come off easily without taking much of the stock from underneath.

If you are making soup, you can just reheat the stock and add any water you want if you would like a less thick stock. If you are planning to cook with the stock, I then take it and portion it out into a muffin tin and freeze it into "hockey pucks." Warm up the stock until it is mobile and liquid enough to pour it into a muffin pan.

Most standard muffin pans will hold around a third of a cup of stock in each section. Once they are frozen solid, and they will still be a bit slimy and seem unfrozen, place the pan bottom into a little hot water to loosen up the pucks. Remove the pucks and place them into a freezer lock bag and place that back into the freezer. Whenever you need some chicken stock, you can just pull out as many third of a cup pucks as you need!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on stock making! Happy cooking!