Good morning, blogging world! After a week-long absence, we have a lot of catching up to do.
It was not my intention to be a once-a-week poster; my goal is for 2 – 3 semi-substantive posts a week. But with my wedding only 20 days away (commence freakout) and my job in full “busy-season” swing, I’ve had to put blogging on the back burner. (For those of you blissfully unaware of the term “busy season”, it’s an accounting thing. You see, the time between now and April 15 – tax day – is when accounting firms make all of their money, so that’s when their employees are supposed to work the most. Last week, I worked about 55 hours, which is a joke compared to the 80-hour weeks I used to pull at my last accounting firm. So while I’m absolutely counting my blessings, 55 is still more than 40, and the switch is slightly un-fun, to use a very technical, grammatically correct term.)
Anyway, I’ll make it up to you with a nice long post, and no pictures of me butchering geese.
A few weekends ago, I made homemade beef broth. It’s essentially the same process as making chicken stock, but the beef bones are first roasted with aromatics to bring out a richer flavor. Making the broth required time, but only 30 minutes or so were hands-on, and there was nothing complicated about it. I threw a few pounds of beef bones into a roasting pan with red onions, garlic, bay leaves, and a few rosemary sprigs, then popped the pan into a 300 degree oven for an hour.
Beef bones, red onions, and garlic, ready to go into the oven
Then I transferred roasted mixture to a stockpot, poured in water to cover, and simmered it for a few hours. Once the stock was ready, I left it in the pan and stored in the refrigerator over night. The next morning, all the fat had hardened at the top and was easy to separate from the broth.
This is an important step, unless you like your broth with a side of cardiac arrest.
Once I skimmed off all the fat, I strained the broth and transferred to storage containers. Easy-peasy. Homemade, low-sodium broth for cheaper than you get in the store. I purchased 5 pounds of beef bones for $1.50/pound and made 3 quarts of fairly concentrated broth. The Pacific Natural broth I usually buy is anywhere between $3.50 and $4.50 for a quart, so by making 3 quarts homemade, I saved at least $3! Plus, I was able to control the source of the beef (sustainably raised) and the salt content of the broth. It freezes beautifully (as long as your Ziploc bag doesn’t have a hole in the corner that allows defrosting beef broth to slowly leak to the bottom of your refrigerator – thanks, Ziploc) and it’s easy to make a huge batch a few times a year. Like I said, I made mine pretty concentrated so it would take up less room in the freezer and last me a while.
With the geese the Boo brought home from his hunting trip, I made goose tikka masala using the recipe for duck tikka masala in my Afield cookbook.
Served with lime and a dollop of plain yogurt
Instead of the traditional basmati rice, we opted for a brown rice blend (because, wedding in 20 days, people!). This turned out okay; the sauce was really flavorful (although next time I think I’ll cut down on the cream) and super easy to make. The goose meat came out a little tough, though. Next time I cook with goose (we have 2 more) I’ll brine the breasts first or cook everything in a slow cooker.
Last night’s dinner was really good and exactly what I needed to end the work week (yep, Saturdays during busy season are spent at the office; at least they give us free food) – homemade skillet pizza.
Easy, fun, almost nutritious weekend dinner
I know it’s kind of hard to see because my cooktop is black, the skillet is black, and the lighting in my kitchen is horrendous, but that’s my pizza, cooked in a cast iron skillet. I started making homemade pizza back in college, because like most college students, I was poor, slightly lazy, and would rather drink my calories than eat them in the form of greasy pizza. We had a few “artisan” pizza places in the area, but none of them would deliver, and driving wasn’t really an option when you’d spent the afternoon watching your football team lose (again) and counting down the days until basketball season. My homemade pizza was good, it would suffice; the crust wasn’t awesome, but it was way better that what Dominos could offer, for a fraction of the price.
My version – basic tomato sauce, mozzarella, and bunches of crispy kale.
Then, last year, a friend exposed me to the amazing food blog Annie’s Eats and I found her Perfect Homemade Pizza Crust tutorial. That changed the way I do pizza. My dough recipe is the same (from Baking Illustrated), but instead of a pizza stone (which I never got around to purchasing), I make mine in a cast iron skillet. I also reduce the oven temperature to 400, so I can coat the skillet in a healthy dose of olive oil; that gives the pizza crust a delicious, almost fried crispiness that I love.
The Boo’s version – basic tomato sauce, sharp cheddar, horseradish cheddar, venison BBQ, kale, and lots of red pepper flakes.
Last night, the Boo and I settled in, with our pizza and water (I can’t wait to drink on my honeymoon), to watch the Duke/Syracuse basketball game, a DVR’d episode of Shark Tank (my crush on Mark Cuban is growing), and about 5 episodes of the Big Bang Theory before I fell asleep on the couch.
Today, we’re supposed to have sunny skies and highs in the 50s which means only one thing – I must get outside! It’s been forever since the Boo and I played tourist and walked around the National Mall, so that’s what we have planned for today.
Is it finally sunny where you are? Is anyone else going stir-crazy like I am with all this cold weather? I hope wherever you are that you have a great weekend and can get your sun fix soon!