It’s been an odd 24 hours. Yesterday, the dogs belonging to 2 friends were not doing well. It may seem odd, but we’re a close community on Twitter. And even closer on Food52. One sweet one is in liver failure, having already survived beyond the anticipated time. Another is approaching being elderly and has had a series of ailments. The stray cat that the latter’s “mother” tends to was not at the garden door for breakfast as usual yesterday morning, but during the night had left half a mouse on the doormat.
Those of you who are not cat people may not understand the potential significances here. It could certainly be a compliment. Many years ago, before the advent of the son and the daughter, the husband and I had been back East for a couple of weeks visiting his family and wandering around the amazing state of Maine. When we got home to California to a big house we shared with the sister and the now husband, our cat Mike (long story, the name, not interesting) repeatedly ran up into the woods behind the house to kill a bird and bring to us at the back door. He was glad we had come home, that we had not decided to abandon him for fault of not being an adequate bread-so-to-speak-winner. On the other hand, the stray cat’s mother knows the cat’s schedule. She also knows that neighbors regularly use poison against mice. She interpreted the cat’s absence and the presence of the half mouse as evidence of his demise. Several of us followed her line of reasoning.
We of the Twittersphere were already sad about the dogs, and the cat’s presumed death followed the spiral downhill. And all this happened by about 9:00 in the morning, my time. The dog and cat events were taking place on the East Coast. I don’t know that that needs to be capitalized, but I’m taking no chances, for reasons that will become apparent.
I contribute recipes to a website by the name of Food52. It’s a fantastic site where cooks of all stripes can contribute recipes, read posts from amazingly intelligent and generous people, and ask questions about anything under the sun that is food-related. I won’t describe it any further because it would simply take too long. Visit the site. You’ll fall in love. You’ll get my point. I post recipes and participate in a question and answer forum that is a whole wide world of wisdom freely shared. People can ask questions without fear of feeling ignorant, and others share information generously and without condescension. Until yesterday. All of the above found itself snared around a word I had used in a recipe. A word. I don’t have the stomach for repeating the entire conversational thread. You can read it for yourself here. At one point the original questioner SCREAMED. Even I, probably the last convert to the wonders of the world-wide-web understand upper case letters to constitute a SERIOUSLY raised voice. The word in question was glug. At the risk of repeating myself, you can read the original recipe here, and you can read my response (after 24 hours of quiet thought) here. My alias on Food52 is boulangere.
Several kind friends spoke up. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, the original questioner totally missed the point, as did one responder who added to her objections. Friends, if you ever have a question about a recipe or an instruction, please, please, please email me through this site. I check email assiduously. I will respond to you. I care deeply that you achieve good outcomes. Translated, that means that I want you and your families to be happy making whatever you make.
To get around to the original idea, stock, today I simply needed some comfort. Last weekend I roasted a chicken. I roast whole organic chickens over a “fond.” “Fond” is a fancy French term for onions, celery, and carrots scattered over the bottom (“fond”) of a baking dish. It literally means “base.” The fond lifts the chicken up off the bottom of the baking dish, it adds layers of flavor to the chicken, and what it does for a pot of stock is almost indescribable. Speaking of the chicken, I stuff its cavity with a pierced lemon, some cloves of garlic, and sprigs of fresh herbs. I used rosemary. After I’d eaten what I wanted and picked off and frozen the rest, I pulled the lemon out of the cavity and scraped everything else into the pot of my slow cooker. People ask me regularly if they can make chicken stock in a slow cooker and I always respond, “Sure.” But I’d never actually done it. I decided I should know whereof I speak. As in glugs. More to come.