I Did It Again

Our daughter is coming home from Michigan for a few days around Christmas. We are excited to see her and I’m sure she’s excited to see us. I’m also excited to see how she and the dogs react to seeing each other for the first time in almost 6 months.

When our daughter asked if, while she was here, she could borrow the car to visit some college friends, my first thought was “Uh-oh. I hope she doesn’t do something dumb.”

That’s when I realized I was doing it again. She will be 24 in a couple of weeks. At age 22, my fiancée and I drove across the country by ourselves in an old Volkswagen Beetle and we camped almost every night we were on the road. At age 24, had God not changed my plans, I would have been married for over 6 months. I felt I was responsible enough.

The moment I thought, “Uh-oh. I hope she doesn’t do anything dumb.”, I realized that **I** was the one being dumb. If I was responsible enough at age 24 to be married, then our daughter, a few days before her 24th birthday, would be responsible enough to “not do anything dumb” with a car….after all, I had helped to raise her.

My worry was replaced with “OK. No problem.”

Chicken…….Stock

I just finished up making and canning chicken stock.

The day before I found out I was heading out…again…I cooked a whole chicken.  While in the car on the way to the airport, I asked my wife to save the  bones and carcass so I could make stock.

This is one of those 3 day long recipes that needs about an hour of attention.

The only things one really needs are the carcass and water, but I do add some onion and garlic.

I put the chicken carcass into a stockpot, cover the carcass with water and add a couple of cloves of garlic and about 1/2 a chopped onion.  I then let it simmer for 24 hours.  Why 24 hours?  It’s just convenience…start it in the morning, let it simmer until the next morning.  There is no other reason.

When I get around to it the next morning, I pour the liquid through a strainer and into another container.  After the stock has cooled to nearly room temperature, I put it in the refrigerator so the fat will harden.

I skim the fat off and reheat the stock.

While the stock is being reheated, I get the canning jars, lids, screw bands and the canner itself ready for use.

I use 12 ounce jars for canning the stock.  With the required space left in the jars, it works out that the jar holds slightly more than a cup of stock.  Since most of my recipes need 1 cup or 2 cups, etc. of stock, this works out perfectly.

Fill the jars, wipe the jar rims, place the lids, tighten the screw bands, put the jars into the canner, secure the canner lid, wait for the needed pressure reading, start timing and then let it cool down.

I got started doing this when my father was still alive.  He had congestive heart failure and his physician said he should eat a low fat, law salt diet.  This kind of diet is difficult because commercially prepared low fat foods typically have a high salt content while commercially prepared low salt foods have a high fat content.

My father and mother loved soups, so I’d make the stock, add some vegetables and preserve it in 12 ounce jars.  With no added salt and the fat skimmed, the soup was both low fat and low salt.

After my father died, I continued this for my mother.

After my mother died, I quit making the soup, but I continued with the stock and use it when I’m cooking rice.  I just added another six jars of stock to the pantry.  After the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ll stock up (sorry for the pun) even more.

First Time Home All Weekend

Except for a vacation and a few short deployments (a total of 8 weekends) I have been going to my parents’ house at least one weekend day each week since October 2003.  Even after my mother died, I continued to do this as I cleaned out the house so the workers could get in there to paint and install new carpet.

Today, for the first time in almost 14 years,  I did not go over there and I’m not sure if I feel relief, sad or glad; relief at having more time, sad that I can no longer visit with mom or glad that mom is no longer “imprisoned” in a failing body.

I felt similar conflicting thoughts when my fiancee died, so I guess this is normal.  No matter what, this is not something I want to go through again..but we have no choice.

I did not make it over to the cemetery to place mom’s wedding bouquet on their grave markers.  It was so breezy this morning that they would have blown away before I could have taken a picture.  So, maybe next weekend.

I did make use of the extra time by making sourdough bread.  This is the first time in many months I have done this.  The bread just came out of the oven and the house smells wonderful. My wife just sliced a piece and pronounced it “wonderful”…music to my ears.

The 2nd use of my time was cleaning out my dresser of no longer worn (or never worn) clothes.  In my job, manufacturers and engineering services firms drop by lots of shirts with their company logos embroidered on them.  I rarely wear them, and I just stick them in the dresser until I begin to have to really squeeze the stuff into the drawers.

Now that the dresser “load” has been reduced I will be able to get my clothes into the “new” dresser.  New and old are backwards this time. The new dresser dates to 1959 and was used by my parents.  The old dresser was put together in 2015. The 1959 dresser is made from solid maple and is beautiful.  The 2015 dresser is pressed board covered with wood looking “paper”.  It looks  OK, but not as nice as the maple.