Sunday, February 18, 2007

Connecting bones...the heart of the matter

Whenever someone asks me why I blog, I can hear myself explain the fun of comments, the interaction, inspiration, making new friends, the inside look in other cultures and kitchens, sometimes literally. Food connects people whether it is cooking with your mom, stirring the spoon with a friend, hauling half a cow and knitting sausages while the four of you buckle over with laughter, or sharing a bite of fresh cake at the kitchen table…. I guess you know what I mean and this here is a very very good example.

This story begins with accidentally starting the NYT no-knead bread together with Tanna at My Kitchen in half Cups and resulted in a –for me -midnight baking session and e-mails flying. So much fun! We decided to do it again and do something we never tried before, something scary maybe and do it together (minus or plus 7 hours time difference). Planned this time!

Kitchens divided by the ocean, connected by Internet, creating an atmosphere as if we were standing next to each other, taking turns to stir in the pot, and ask: do you think my bones are sufficiently browned? Which in fact, created big grins on either side of the ocean...I never imagined sending someone an e-mail and say: Wow, you got nice bones!
(oh and we had some discussion, in one of the 100 something emails, where to get the meat…no problem here in the Netherlands but I understand it’s slightly more difficult over in the US?)

Beef stock á la Mr Thomas Keller himself; all the way! I do make beef stock like my grandmother and mom do, I put the meat in with the cold water and let it come to a simmer add vegetables and herbs, simmer for hours and tadaa bouillon! Not this time, this time I eeh.. missed the sent recipe somewhere and did it my way (beetje van mezelf beetje van Thomas zullen we maar zeggen):

3 schenkels (ca. 800 gr) (aka shank bones)
2 mergpijpjes (ca. 300 gr) (bone marrow)
1 small can of tomato puree

Baste the schenkels with the tomato puree and put the schenkel in an oven dish. Set in a hot oven (220C), let roast for 45 minutes. The lovely smell will attract all man folk in your house. What’s for dinner mom? In another 5 hours or so honey…. The hot oven and the puree will make your schenkels quite dark, but that is adding to the color of your stock, so don't worry.

I didn’t get a lot of fat out of this so there was no need to drain and/or pour the fat off, in the stockpot it went. Deglazed the oven dish with some boiling water and added some more water to cover (approx. 2 to 3 litres).
Simmer on low, low heat. Simmer some more. And don’t forget to skim. Again, and again…. Tanna had a fancy device, I used grandma’s trusted enamelled skimmer.
Sim sim simmertime…for 5 long hours.
Well into simmer time (after two hours) I added

1 large carrot (big chunks)
1 fat leek in (big chunks)
half an onion (skin on for extra color in the broth),
10 pepper kernels,
bay leaf, some parsley stalks

and left the house…..

Stockpot in charge of the husband…who went to bed some hours later and saw some glimmering under the stockpot and turned the heat off. Good boy! Stock had been simmering for about 6/7 hours.

I came home to a house smelling of delicious beef stock! Wow! And satisfied the culinary newbie went to sleep. Peacefully.
To wake the next morning, coffeepot, coffee in hand to stockpot….Yikes!!! The smell!!
Start computer, send an SOS e-mail for help. Taaaannaaaaa, this &*$%# smells like I had three very dead deer hanging in my kitchen, should I start over again? What’s keeping the scratch and sniff Internet?
Still in pyjamas I ladled the fat off this stock, carefully strained (did not do the cheesecloth thing) and strained again through a finer mesh sieve.

Back to heat again, just to make sure it was alright or should I start over again.
Thankfully, the source of the smell seemed to be the accumulated fat on top. Once discarded, all was well again and smelled like roses stock well made. Phew! Now I have a beautiful stock, to be used in many dishes as "the heart", for me the heart of the matter was in the exchanging of laughs and e-mails all across the big pond as well as this gorgeous stock. Now, what to do with it?
Coming soon on a blog near you


  1. Oh, hooray, we did it! And I really love your grandma's spoon!
    That really was scarry thinking that you might have to throw away all that good meat and the labor! Beef fat is smelly!!

  2. I was following along with the 2 of you in spirit!! What fun you were having! Great Bones! Now you know what fun Tanna and I are having all the times we are in the kitchen together! Sue

  3. You gals really know how to have a good time -- can't wait to see what you do with that beautiful stock.

  4. What fun ! Nobody told me what would be going on, otherwise I would also have joined you in spirit. But no wonder with 200 or so mails that there was not more time left to write me ;-) I am happy that the two of you made it !

  5. I can just imagine how incredible that stock must me with the marrow! :) A fitting "heart" to many a great dish I'm sure!

  6. Je maakt me wel heel nieuwsgierig, Karen, maar ik heb het vermoeden dat de bouillon gebruikt gaat worden voor iets wat Arden een paar dagen geleden heeft gepost. Zit ik er ver naast?

  7. Wat een ontzettend leuk project!! Er gaat toch niets boven samenkoken....en je loopt elkaar zo niet eens in de weg. Ben benieuwd wat hiervan gemaakt gaat worden!

  8. What a story! And your descriptions of "why I blog" are poignant. Very special -- to be remembered, for sure.

  9. I'm looking forward to expand my repertoire to beef stock! I can't wait for a quiet weekend to try it out! All I think is Risotto Milanese...yummy! Should we have a little fish stock project next?


Thanks for visiting! I really appreciate and enjoy reading all your comments! If you have any questions feel free to email me.