Silver Spring, MD
As my seven-week respite (amended to seven weeks) at the homestead in Maryland winds to a close, I find myself during these dwindling days leading up to my return to LA racing around in an attempt to touch base with as many of my people as possible, cooking up all the fresh food I optimistically purchased with the intention to cook for Every. Single. Meal. And immersing myself into the manifestation of this pet project that is Toni’s Table.
Posting this blog entry represents an essential portion of that manifestation. Here’s the catch, with a Toni-do list longer than the wait for summer in the middle of a Syracuse February, time is short. Solution: Setting a timer for five minutes to offer you, darling reader (yes, I’m still trying to think of my own pet name for those who, wisely or not, choose to follow my escapades – my loves? Friends? Tribe?) a brief recap of these past several weeks.
Knowing the readership count for this blog is currently limited to fewer people than it takes to fill a minivan, today’s focus is on simply getting it done. Progress over perfection.
The reason for this escape to the Oriole state is twofold. First – liberating Cole, the-Idris-Elba-of-dogs, from his two-month stay at the most fabulous boarding facility – and I do mean fabulous, he gets treated like a king at Rocky Gorge; still he loves returning home to his (read: mine) Saatva queen sized bed and made-to-order breakfasts of sweet potato, rice, peas, and salmon. Yes, we often share the same menu. With both feet firmly in my 60’s I have become one of those people, whose pet has become their de facto life partner.
Secondly, but equally important, with a major medical procedure scheduled to take place in the early days of the summer season, and too much upheaval in other areas of life, returning to my personal place of Zen to get grounded, feel the familiar – check that… the healthy familiar – reconnect with my nearest and dearest, and just breathe freely, coming home to Silver Spring was critical.
One thing I’ve learned as I logistically and emotionally prepare for the upcoming stem cell transplant is time – and my energy – is of the essence.
A couple of major challenges arose in the realm of family and relationship, and so did a powerful reminder about my own essence. Finding myself on the verge of falling into the depths of an emotional abyss after a particularly challenging situation on the Homefront, I pulled myself together enough to prepare a few dishes for the week.
Later that morning, surveying the fruits of my labors and feeling much better about myself, my options, and the world in general, I remembered a key element of my Self:
Cooking restores and sustains me.
Recalling this part of me felt like coming home to my Self.
Oh dang, my five minutes are up and I didn’t even get to the recap!
The least I can do is share the recipes as promised.
You can find the accompanying videos on this site. They are conveniently linked in the titles.
Disclaimer: You’ve heard variations of the sage advice about perfection being the enemy of progress. Well, the emphasis obviously focused on getting these babies filmed and posted. Perfection was not even a notion, so keep those expectations in check, friends. As a matter of fact, not only do these clips offer tasty kitchen how-twos, they shed light on how not to produce a cooking video.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot.
Add chicken feet to the pot, watch out for splatter! – and cook for five to ten minutes.
Add chopped vegetables and give it a good stir.
Cook for another five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add enough water to fill the pot 3/4 of the way to the top.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low or low, depending on your stove, and cook until the liquid reduces significantly. This usually takes between 90 minutes to 2 1/2 hours for me.
Pour the contents of the pot through a strainer into a heatproof bowl or another pot.
Use immediately, refrigerate, or freeze.
*I find it safer to simply freeze any portion I do not immediately use, instead of forgetting about it in the refrigerator for three weeks and then cursing myself when I need to dispose of it.
This stock is my go-to for soup bases, risotto, and a few different couscous dishes.
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 parts olive oil
As much garlic as you want
Honey, if you roll like that
Add all ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and SHAKE until well blended! I occasionally marinate chicken in this mixture before cooking it up and adding it to the couscous.