Friday, May 6, 2011

Chicken (soup)

You're getting a two for one today. This will be both "how to feed yourself like a grown up" (especially when sick) and a story of how I totally punted and now feel LAME. (Skip down four paragraphs if you know how to make/don't care about soup.)

Remember when you roasted that chicken, following my expert advice? And now it's all carved up and eaten? Don't throw it away! Get a big pot, throw the carcass in, scrape all the fat and grease and juice out of the bottom of the pan, cover the whole thing in water and put it on simmer for like...I dunno, however long you feel. 2 hours? If you had herbs and spices in the chicken, throw them in the pot too. You can add carrots, onions and celery here and now if you want too, it will all impart flavor to what is essentially going to be homemade broth. Once it's done simmering, let it cool a bit. If you started this after dinner and it's now late, just turn the pot off and leave it over night on the stove. It'll be fine, I promise.

You'll notice, after you let your broth sit for a bit, that there is a layer of grease on the top. You can skim this off and throw it all away if you want healthy low fat chicken soup. But as any good Jewish grandmother can tell you: that stuff is schmaltz. And as any even pseudo chef can tell you: fat = flavor. If it's a thick layer like ice on a pond, sure, throw some of it out. But when you heat your soup again it'll dissolve back in and be delicious. So I leave it alone before straining out the bones.

Now you need to strain all the carcass bits from the broth. If you have an insert that you did this in, that'll make life easier and just remove it. You can go through the carcass and pull out bits of meat that are left and good to put in your soup or you can just throw it all away and add more chicken later. You're call. When it comes to food, I'm not particularly squeamish so digging through doesn't bother me. But: strain it and throw away bones. If you added any veggies to the simmer stage, throw them away, we're adding more later.

At this point you have just broth or broth with some chicken meat in it. I turn it back on simmer and let it reduce down a bit. And add a shit ton of salt. Yeah, that's a technical term. I'm not at all heavy handed with salt in my every day food eating. But chicken stock? Add as much salt as you can stand and then add some more. Then I add a couple carrots sliced into rounds, roughly chopped white onion, and a couple diced celery stalks. If I want some starch, I'll a couple diced potatoes. I've never done noodles but I see no reason you couldn't. If you want more chicken in your chicken soup, take whatever cooked leftovers you have and toss them in. Although, and I haven't tried this yet, I don't see why you couldn't throw in a couple raw breasts to boil in the liquid and then shred them apart.

Anyway, as with most things I make: throw whatever you want into your broth, leave it alone to simmer for 45 minutes until your veggies are al dente and ta da! Soup. It will be estimably better than anything you buy in a can. I freeze it and have it on hand for when I'm sick.

Oh! You're going to want to taste your soup throughout the process. Checking for salt, seeing if you want to add more stuff. I dunno. Just taste it a lot.

So that was pretty stupid easy, right? I wish real life was as easy as making soup.

Because Butler got sick right as I was in the middle of making soup. Seriously, I started the making broth process Friday and by Sunday had a pot of soup. And since I am Catholic and felt guilty about making someone sick (maybe), and this is a guy I actually LIKE, I thought, "I'll drop soup off at his fancy corporate apartment place and be the hero!" But then I kept vacillating. Was this super adorable and thoughtful or totally psycho? I happened to be downtown on Monday evening, brought the soup with me...and totally chickened out. There was palpable disappointment from the friends I had confided in. I promised to do on Tuesday but didn't for a variety of reasons but mostly sun! In the Sunset! And I'm lame.

I feel even more traitorous in not actually sacking up (great line in Cougar Town about this phrase as applied to women the other night, btw) and not doing something after the various "Just do it!" speeches I've given others. Trust me. If I had my very own Dr. Tom, we'd add this to the list of regrets. But now it's Friday and bleck...

So WHY didn't I do it? To that first question: I spend a LOT of time not ever ever ever wanting to look like the psycho crazy clingy girl that I'm guessing I think exists everywhere because I've seen her portrayed in TV and movies constantly. I don't actually know any psycho chicks though, which is odd. I want to be the super chill girl. So anything that even begins to smack of clingyness, I want NO part of. Even if probably adorable and thoughtful.

But bigger than that is my own self defense mechanisms and not ever wanting to be in the position of a) being rejected and b) not being in control. (Yes, I have issues. I am well aware of this.)

And even beyond THAT is the fact that I grade A suck at dating. Hook ups? No problem. Friendships? Sure. In fact, had recently come to the conclusion that my life was gonna be a little bit hooking up and a lot of amazing guy friendships and never the twain shall meet and I was cool with that. And then BAM! The twain potentially met (let's not put too much pressure on this). I don't know what to do with that!! How does one like, ya know, date? This is a giant hole in my developmental social skills. I blame that damn hook-up culture they're always talking about. Or my parents. Either one works.

So how do I act do I be me with a guy I actually want to get to know? While overcoming a fear of abject rejection and that if I don't actually try, this all goes away and for the first time I can't shrug and be like "It was fun while it lasted" and moving on? What are the proper steps here? I have a few texts back and forth but nothing since Wednesday. When do I stop being respectful of "hey, people have real jobs and can't text all the time" and that turning into looking disinterested? WHAT do I text that says "hey, let's hang out in a totally non-clingy psycho way"? I can't just wait for guys to make the move all the time, right? Cuz movies and tv have also taught me that you're clueless assholes who someone how need women to point out that Miller Lite has taste (which it doesnt').

How does one act natural while trying not to ACT? HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS!? I feel retarded. Completely and totally retarded. *hangs head in shame*

Seriously. If you're reading this I implore you to offer your best "what do you do when you like someone" advice. You can tweet it to me, email me privately, find me on the gchat. Smoke signals. Don't care. Just tell me!

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