Cabin Fever?...No, Cooking Fever!
My kitchen has been busier than a one-armed paper hanger, as my mother would say. Three contributing factors: I love to cook; yesterday was Chinese New Year & I look for any reason to celebrate; Old Man Winter hit so hard I couldn’t go anywhere. With the roads icy & schools & businesses closed for several days, it’s easy to go stir crazy. The cure? Get busy cooking!
I took advantage of the confinement by making several things that I put in the freezer for future use. First, I made 3 1/2 gallons of chicken stock. Who doesn’t use chicken stock? It’s one of those staple ingredients that is really easy to make, it just takes a little time. You can put it on to cook while you do something else...for me, that was cleaning the kitchen, bookkeeping for my husband’s business, & cooking lunch.It is also much more economical to make your own, not to mention healthier...you know what you put in it, you can pronounce everything that’s in it, & you can control the amount of salt. That left me with some cooked chicken meat that needed a purpose. So I seasoned it with onion, bell pepper, cilantro, Mexican oregano, garlic, salt, & pepper for future use in enchiladas or tacos.
Now for the Chinese New Year portion of the week. We LOVE Chinese food...then again, we love most food! To celebrate Chinese New Year, we like to have a Chinese feast that includes traditional foods. With the help of Son & 2 of his friends, we made 227 Chinese Dumplings, or Pot Stickers; 82 Spring Rolls; & 78 Crab Rangoon. Along with these items, we will have Dan Dan Noodles, Egg Drop Soup, Coral & Jade Shrimp, Fried Rice, Mandarin Vegetables, & Sesame Chicken...did I mention I’ve been cooking all week? During the meal, we talk about the significance of each of the dishes to the Chinese. It’s part of our homeschool cultural education...or, at least, that’s my excuse for making all of those yummy goodies!
Of course, most of the Pot Stickers, Spring Rolls, & Crab Rangoon went in the freezer for future treats. As for the rest of that food...we couldn’t possibly eat all of it, so we invited a few friends over to help us. One final tidbit for the freezer was 1 1/2 quarts of shrimp stock. Even easier to make than chicken stock since it only takes 15 minutes & it’s a great way to use those peelings from the shrimp! Simple toss the shrimp peels into a 3 quart saucepan with 1/2 an onion, a small carrot, 1/2 a stalk of celery, a lemon half (lime works too), & a few whole peppercorns. It works best to cut the veggies into large chunks. with water & simmer 10 minutes. Strain with a sieve & presto! You now have beautiful & tasty shrimp stock. This can be added to any dish calling for chicken stock or water that you would rather give a shrimp flavor to, such as basic rice. A little shrimp stock in place of water...now that’s some flavorful rice!
One would think that after all of this cooking, I would take a couple of days off this weekend...but no! We have a fellowship meal at church Sunday for lunch, then Super Bowl party at our house Sunday evening...I told you I like to celebrate!