Monday, March 1, 2010

Skim Your Stocks

OK, for all of you financially-minded people out there, this posting is not about a new way to go to jail. It comes from living in the cold tundra of Chicago where soup-making is a winter sport. In the past couple of months, the girls and I have been experimenting with new recipes for soup, often making enough for endless nights of leftovers. We have scoured cookbooks, shared recipes via the internet, and made the most of the library for new ideas.

Making soup is in my genetic makeup. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, my grandmother boiled the leftover turkey carcass and made turkey soup. I still cringe whenever I throw out turkey bones, expecting Mammy to come zipping around the corner of the kitchen to chastise me. (And she died almost forty years ago)! Nothing went to waste in her kitchen.

The basis of any soup is its stock. Stock can be made of any kind of meat, vegetables or both. (Or purchased in liter containers at Trader Joe's market). Stock is the foundation from which the rest of the soup is built.

I never paid a whole lot of attention to making stock. Boil the meaty bones and strain the liquid before adding the rest of the ingredients. But then I discovered what I was doing wrong. One cookbook said that the most important part of laying this foundation was to skim the stock -- to continually be removing the impurities as they rise to the surface. If you wait, they will be recirculated into the liquid, impossible then to remove, and the stock will be cloudy. It will not be as it should. The look, aroma, flavor and texture will all be affected. And in turn it will impact the rest of the ingredients. Consequently, I always seem to be tweaking the soup right before serving. "Something is missing." It just doesn't taste the way it should. And it never seems to look as good as the color-enhanced picture in the book. I add other seasonings to mask what is not right.

And so I find in life. I need to take notice of the little impurities as they rise to the surface and remove them immediately. We see them rise, no mistake about that. It bothers us for a bit, but then we seem to be ok with it. The soup just gets a little cloudier. And we wonder why.

We want major surgery to extract the negative stuff in our lives, when all God is asking is to "skim the stock" in our everyday goings. It will make all the difference.

Press on, friends.

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