a friend of mine, ages ago, had advised me to use alcohol wipes to cool her, & while this is a frighteningly quick remedy, according to dr. hulda clarke (genius healer) it also removes any protection from parasites - so that's out - vinegar, which is alkalizing, & cooling, does the same, without any toxic side effects. eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, & or chamomile are perfect additions, for general healing, anti-congestion activity, & SLEEP. but of course, i was out of everything, it seemed, & had only chicken soup to rely on. @ the time, of course, i was on the phone with my friend the notorious S, who begged me not to go with any alcohol whatsoever, & free associated on chicken soup, as well. along the lines of pep talks, we compared notes on herbs, & she assured me that my chicken soup would be banging - taste wise, & fever-busting wise, too.
so friends, since you & i are in the midst of a last minute change, & since sleep deprivation kept me from following through on my grand thiebou djen plans, then let me follow through with one of my first promises to you: never to leave you without a recipe or @ LEAST some food for thought. this is the base on which so many classic dishes are built. i leave you with an excerpt from my upcoming cookbook/memoir heat:
(Tales, spells, recipes, botanicas, and bubbling cauldrons)
Trailing The Path of the Kitchen Goddess
A Culinary Memoir
By Stefanie Kelly
One should not indulge in the act of cooking
Unless one wants to engage in a little magic…
“Always move through the kitchen with confidence, & give thanks to the food that has sacrificed itself for you. & never let the heat know that you fear it.”
“Ruby – put the meat in the pot!”
- As told to ruby at age four by her father Teddy..
Mama Sis surveyed the kitchen of The Greasy Spoon.
It was sure gonna be packed today being a church day and seeing as how people would be coming from miles around for her chitterlings, well known in the region surrounding Cleveland as some of the few that didn’t have a stink lingering around the edge of their flavor.
Other than the pot liquor’s vapors redolent with garlic, onions, thyme, vinegar, and hot peppers, there was none of the rank odor almost always associated with even some of the region’s best versions of this traditional delicacy.
She had 100 lbs soaking, and another 100 lbs in the deep freeze.
She would pull those out but those were the least of her worries. Yesterday had been sausage day. And she already had the dry mix for both lard biscuits, and cornbread prepped.
Greens, a bushel of them were clean out by the icebox.
‘O, yes. I think it’s a soup day’
Mama Sis decided to make chicken stock.
Chicken stock for navy bean soup with duck and cracklings.
But first it was time to turn on the ovens, start some water running over some bones, get some beans soaking, and start rendering pork and duck fat.
She moved easily through her kitchen, handling pots and pans comically large for her 4’10” frame, sturdy and round as she was. She laid out her eggs and got her home cured bacon sizzling. She dropped neat rounds of biscuits onto extremely long sheet pans and shoveled these into one of the ovens. She got coffee percolating and boiled water for tea. She put up the oil for chicken and the fish that day, which she couldn’t be sure of until Papa Greasy got back from the lake. It could be catfish, but depending on which direction he went it could be whiting, porgies or croaker. Anyway no matter.
She knew the first customers. They would not be in a hurry just yet, as it was 5:00 am, and they came early enough to linger over coffee or tea and a biscuit or some cornbread. She took a last, quiet look around the tiny, neat diner, still dark, with its lace curtains and wooden furniture, mix matched plates, everything in the place a blessing. She allowed herself to fill with gratitude for a moment before she laid herself open to the onslaught of grueling work that lay ahead, waiting to eat up the next 16 hours of the day. She took a deep breath and turned the sign over. She was ready to open.
Chicken stock is the basis of most common stews, stocks, soups and sauces the world over. Many different version of this basic elixir exist, but the basic ingredients remain the same:
Roasting the bones is optional. If you choose to roast, do so in an oven cranked to 450 degrees, for 1&1/2 hrs.
Then load everything, including the drippings from the roasting pan into a large pot, with water to cover, and bring to just below the boiling point, while skimming any dark, foamy liquid from the top. Turn heat down to a simmer and keep at this point for 2 – 6 hrs, until the taste reaches your desired strength. When the stock is done, let the fat rise to the top, then spoon it off, or refrigerate, and peel the hardened fat off. The stock is then ready for use.
a word about mama sis: she was an early feminist. it wasn't common for a woman to own her own business @ this time - the '30's. while i didn't find out about who she was or what she did until i was six years into my cooking career, it is upon her shoulders i stand. without her as a guide, i would have never made it. during a particularly punishing phase during which all of my mettle was being tested - emotional, mental physical, spiritual, financial, i had horrendous dream which convinced me that my life was in danger: a rat took a chunk from my jugular in one bite. i arrived on my mother's doorstep, still shaking, the next day. my mother, who we call 'the pistol' around the house found within her the one bone of sympathy she may have ever had for me, & with minimal words, led me to her jewelry box & said,
'i found this from mama sis. it would look good on you. god knows it doesn't fit me.' she then reduced me to a puddle of grateful tears, when she produced a lovely, delicate, turquoise & silver CHOKER. i clasped it around my neck & didn't take it off for a year.
after mom barked on me to get up off the floor, she gave me mama sis's ring, & informed me that we shared the same birthstone: virgo, sapphire. i was officially fit to be tied. left my mom's house unstoppable.
these were the thoughts i had as i added more healing agents to the stock:
& if i had had them on hand,
cordyceps (chinese mushrooms)
the maca is used as a cleanser, balancer, energizer in peru, & the cordyceps propelled one of china's olympic teams to a victory so fierce, that the chinese suspected foul play, but upon investigation, it came out: - cordyceps!
12 hours later, nashira's fever abated in waves until it receded for good (GODDESS WILLING) this morning.
that's when nashira looked @ me with her limpid, inky doe eyes & said,
'can i have your ring? anyway it's MY ring. yo' mama sis gave it to YOU. then later on YOU gonna give it to ME.'
'that's right, smart girl!' i screeched - how did she remember that word for word? & then she intoned,
'so can i have my ring, please?'
ps next week, we return to thiebou djen w/kashmiri chai, & pics - i swear - of the chicken soupa dupa from this week - promise.
thank you for your time!