Archive for September, 2011

Happy 200 blogs!

Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

>This is my 200th blog. At 100,000 click to date, I’m so grateful to be here and to have people interested in my blog posts. Thank you!

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Melly’s Eipc Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Posted by Jessica Jewett No Comments »

>I have been having fantasies about this soup since I saw the blog post last night, as if someone slow-cooked my fantasy man for six hours and served him in a bowl. Chicken noodle soup is my go to feel good meal in the winter and I usually eat Healthy Choice because it’s less salty than Campbell’s. You see the theme in my life? Cans. So the prospect of forcing someone in my household to make this soup has me counting couch change for bribery and extortion. Enjoy.

This recipe comes from http://mellyskitchen.blogspot.com

Soups are my favorite part about cool weather. Every week, I make at least one pot of soup or two, depending on my mood. Chicken noodle is one of my favorites, but unfortunately, can also be the most time consuming, if you really want to do it right. Because of that, this recipe will also be long. My apologies, but I promise you, it’s worth it.

You can open up a can of chicken broth, throw in some chicken meat, some noodles and call it good. I emphasize you can. I can’t. That’s not my style.

For this particular recipe, I use a whole chicken, fresh vegetables and (usually) I make the noodles myself. This time I used Reames Frozen egg noodles, which, for the sake of simplicity, is what I’ll include in this recipe.

1 whole chicken, rinsed with “parts” removed (liver, kidney, giblets, etc.)
1 8oz jar Chicken “Better than Bouillion” (I got mine at Target)
1 lb full sized carrots, peeled
6 stalks of celery, washed with leaves still on
1 large onion, chopped

3 qt water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground sage
½ tsp ground thyme
½ tsp poultry seasoning
¼ tsp ground marjoram
3 bay leaves

1 24oz pkg Reames frozen egg noodles

The first thing you have to make is a solid chicken stock. This cannot be rushed. It cannot be improvised. It’s going to take a good six hours to get a flavorful stock. If you don’t have time to do this, go find another recipe to make. Don’t say I didn’t told you so when the flavor isn’t what you want it to be. This recipe will make enough chicken stock for TWO pots of soup, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

STOCK:
Clean and rinse off the chicken, make sure there are no stray feathers. Also check that the organs and neck have been removed. Some people leave them in and remove them later. It’s up to you. I don’t simply because they kinda gross me out. (I’m a wuss.) Season the inside of the chicken cavity with a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper and put it in the pot. (Make sure you’re using a large pot so the broth and vegetables have room to move around while it cooks.)

Take the rinseed celery stalks and cut off the leafy tops, including about an inch or so of regular stalk. This is the part that is going in the stock. Save the bottom half of the celery stalks for later. You should have 6-8 full sized carrots in a pound. Peel them all, but set aside half of them for later. For the stock, I don’t bother chopping the vegetables very delicately. They’re going to fall apart over that six hour time frame anyway, so I don’t worry about it. In fact, when I put the veggies in the pot after I’ve cleaned them, I break them into chunks instead of chopping them.

Over the top of the chicken, celery, onion and carrots, I add the 3qts of water, then the spices and the entire jar of Better than Bouillion. This isn’t my usual broth enhancer when I need a touch of chicken flavor, but I’ve found it has the best flavor of anything else on the shelf and is PERFECT in the soup. It’s also not as salty as other bouillion or soup bases on the market.

Put the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to where bubbles are just coming to the surface around the edge and in the center of the pot (around the chicken). Anything hotter and you’re losing a lot of flavor to steam. Anything lower and you’re not hot enough to get the flavor out (Thank you Alton Brown for that cooking tip). Simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

While the chicken is cooking, I chop up the remaining carrots and celery into coin-sized pieces and put aside for later.

Once the stock has finished simmering and everything has cooked down to limp little carcasses of their former selves, caaaaaarefully remove the chicken from the broth. I use large tongs, but you can use a slotted spoon, as well. Chances are, the chicken will fall apart, but if you’re careful, you should be able to get the biggest part of it out without too much trouble. I usually set the chicken inside a colander, then the colander inside a bowl so any broth that drains out can be put back into the pot later. Scoop any remaining chicken out of the pot and add it to this colander. Let the chicken cool a bit.

In the meantime, carefully scoop all the rest of the vegetables (and any fallen chicken parts) out of the broth so nothing is left but the plain stock. (I usually strain it into another pan to make it easier.) Throw away what you scoop out. It’s done its job. Let it rest in peace. 🙂 ***

Now, is where I become a chicken snob. I don’t like dark meat. It’s got a different texture and flavor than white meat and, to me, it doesn’t work well in soups and other recipes that require continued cooking. So I remove the chicken breast meat from the carcass and shred it into bite sized pieces. (The rest of the chicken carcass gets put in my pressure cooker with 2 c of water and some salt & pepper and later becomes chicken broth to use in other recipes down the road. Holler if you want to know how to do this.)

Next, you’re going to combine the chicken meat, the broth and the vegetables you chopped up earlier and combine them together. Bring to a full boil, lower the heat and let it cook at a low rolling boil until the vegetables are tender. Once everything has cooked, I ladle out about half of the soup into a freezer-safe container. Let the soup cool on the counter, then cover it tightly and freeze it. This can be used later and combined with a pkg of egg noodles to create a healthy soup when you don’t have the time to cook. It’s also perfect just by itself when you’re feeling under the weather.

Some people cook the noodles in the broth. I prefer to do it separately in a pot of slightly salted water while the vegetables are cooking. The package directions call for a 20 minute boil. I typically do about 15 mins, then drain the noodles. By now, the vegetables should be tender. I add the noodles to the chicken stock and cook an additional 10-15 mins. Add a homemade loaf of bread or rolls and you’ve got the perfect meal for a cool night.

Again, it’s a long process and to people with tight schedules, this probably won’t work for your random Tuesday evening. But it’s great when you’ve got the time or desire to cook. A friend of mine (a baker) said “I hug people with food.” I could probably say the same thing. When you spend over six hours making a meal for someone, they know you love them. 🙂

*** At this point, if you prefer a healthier soup, you can set the broth in the freezer for a couple hours so the fat rises to the top and you can skim it off. I did this, but in the fridge overnight. I think the fat provides a fantastic flavor to the soup, but for those who are watching their weight, it’s still got great flavor without the unnecessary fat.

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The Corset Guide: Part IV

Posted by Jessica Jewett 5 Comments »

“So wearing a corset certainly changes your state of mind.” -Radha Mitchell

In The Corset Guide: Part I, we learned a little bit of the history of corsets, why women wear them today, the dissection of a corset, and the different styles available today. In The Corset Guide: Part II, we learned how to choose the right corset for you, how to be measured, and advice for plus size corsetry. In The Corset Guide: Part III, we learned the art of tight lacing, how to breathe, drink and eat in a corset, and ways to accessorize your corsetry look. Today, I thought I would go over some of the corsets I have and some of the ones I’m looking at acquiring in the future, as well as my recommendation for a great custom corset builder.

Originals by Kay

It can be very difficult to find someone who has the education, artistry and technical skills to make a corset designed specifically for your body. No two women are built alike and standard sizes don’t often work exactly as the body needs them to work. I began looking for a corset for Civil War reenacting several years ago but soon realized that seamstresses in that art weren’t quite sure how to work with my disability. Kay Gnagey was the only corset maker to respond to my inquiry favorably and found my disability no big obstacle because it’s all about proper measurement no matter what type of body is involved. I didn’t end up getting a custom corset because of financial trouble but a couple of years ago, my friend got one from Kay. It was beautifully made and fit her like a glove. While Kay specializes in 19th century corset styles made from patterns dated between 1800 and 1910, I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be decorated to look modern. Fit, after all, is the most important thing and Kay builds her corsets based from measurements in centimeters rather than inches, which is more accurate. Communication with any corset maker you choose is very important. Don’t be afraid to tell the corset maker what you need!

Originals by Kay website: http://www.originals-by-kay.com

An 1857 Parisian corset by Kay Gnagey
My Corsets

I used to have many more corsets than I do now. As I learned about what works for me through years of trial and error, I found that I had to get rid of the ones that didn’t work. I’m in the process of restarting my collection now that I’m better versed in the corset culture. Here are some of the ones I held onto, including a party dress that hugs me with the stiffness of a corset.

Corsets to be Acquired

Now that I know what works for me, I’m looking at several to acquire in the next few years. I’m really picky about it though, so it takes me a long time to decide on one. For example, if I’m paying $250 or more for a corset, it better not have a zipper closure. I see that a lot. My appreciation for corsets is based in the little details and craftsmanship for the most part, although I’m not going to be that anal about a $25 fashion corset. You really get what you pay for, so if you’re looking for quality materials and construction, you better be willing to pay for that quality. It takes a long time to make a good corset and it’s not an easy process. That’s why they cost so much when they are custom made or constructed using better materials. Again, you have to understand the differences in fabric, shape, boning, etc., in order to make an informed decision through your selection process. Hopefully you’ve been reading my other corset blogs and you’re well on your way to making the right choices for you! Here are some corsets I’ve been looking at, ranging from $25 fashion corsets to $250+ custom made corsets.

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