"Don't let the turkeys get you down"
... And other helpful advice from my mother
"Your lack of planning is not my emergency" said: pretty much all the damn time.
"Let's make popcorn!" said: anytime it rained in my hometown of Phoenix, AZ
"Stop chewing your cud" said: when my gum chewing became unbearable.
"Let's add jalapeños to that" said: anytime she was cooking (jalapeños were my mom's spirit animal from approximately 1985 - 2002. In '02 she switched to Thai chilis).
"Past behavior is an indicator of future performance" said: in an effort to provide helpful clarity during "bang head against wall" moments with others.
"Soup is my favorite!" said: whenever you ask her what she's making for dinner.
"Get over it" said: about most things.
"Let me show you a trick I learned in the Army" said: when she could do something especially cool that none of us knew she knew how to do ... (it wasn't until I was a teenager that I put it together that she had ACTUALLY never been in the Army).
"But I like ice in my wine" said: anytime I suggest pre-chilling white wine so as to avoid this troublesome habit.
"I might need a bigger stockpot" said: the last time I prescribed a new broth recipe for her.
"What do we do now?" said: any time we argue and fight and get to the end of it and we both just want to hug each other and cry.
"I love you honey" said: too many times to count.
Mama Gail is a force - I guess it's in her name, after all. I can certainly attribute a hefty portion of my tenaciousness to her. Also, perhaps, my unconventional, whimsical, organic approach to cooking has lots to do with watching her walk through the world. Specifically, the world of our kitchen where no dish was off-limits from the heat of chili peppers, recipes existed for reference purposes only, and butter was always in great abundance.
Today, as I prepared my pot of soon-to-be turkey bone broth with my Thanksgiving leftovers, I took time today to think about my mother. About mothers. About mothers and daughters and cooking. Lessons learned. Tastes savored. Flavors explored. Laughter had. This is why I love the kitchen so much - it's where the action is. It's one place left in the world where we can use our senses with reckless abandon and relish every drop of deliciousness. It's often the zone of women. It's a coordinated, beautiful dance - even when it's a chaotic shit-show. The kitchen. The women of the kitchen. Mothers and daughters - yes! And if I had a sister, she'd be there too.
Broth making is more about consideration and meditation for me on days like today.
Less about procedure - more about what feels good.
Things to consider as you're working with your turkey leftovers:
Turkeys can be large. If you had one of the big ones, you're going to want to halve the carcass so that you can either make two pots of broth, or one pot of Super Broth*. Go to your local butcher and they can slice the whole thing in half, horizontally. Or, do what I did and pick the bones clean and then find the thinnest part (kinda underneath the where the breast meat was) and make a wide cut, down, towards the floor, with a sharp knife (I like serrated for this). Once you can grab a hold of both sides, you can just use the strength in your arms to break the rest of the carcass apart. Good to go. You should be able to fit these halves into a stock pot now.
If you did what I've taught you and stuffed your turkey with lovely things (apples, onions, whole heads of garlic, fragrant herbs, sliced citrus, olives, whatever), you're going to want to take this moment to remove them from the cavity. These creatures are lovely during the initial cooking, but can make your broth bitter, bitter, bitter. Remove them now.
- Follow my basic broth protocol (in groups of three, because we're making magic here): onions, whole heads of garlic, celery stalks, carrots cut in half, celtic sea salt (3 Tablespoons in a standard large stock pot), black peppercorn (3 Tablespoons in a standard large stock pot), fresh herbs that you love. (I used parsley, thyme and rosemary). Fill the pot with your ingredients first - it should be brimming full. If it's not, go find more raw material. Once it's brimming, add water to just below the top (about an inch below the rim). Cover. Simmer. Gentle bubble for at least eight hours, but for as long as 48 hours. Just keep tasting to be sure you're not getting bitter. If after the first day of cooking you notice some bitterness, remove the plant materials with a slotted spoon, and add fresh into the pot with the bones / carcass and broth that's already there. Add a bit more water if you need to and continue with gentle bubbling. (I call this Super Broth because it's extra flavorful and nutritive). You can also add in fresh or dried chili peppers, celery root, fennel, medicinal plants / roots / mushrooms - basically anything that catches your fancy that isn't a member of the brassica family of vegetables.
Stir with a wooden spoon. Always use wood. Wood receives your energy and transmits it into the food you stir with it. Go ahead and invest in good, hand-made, wooden spoons.
Consider the temperament of a turkey when you think about dispensing this incredibly special broth. Benjamin Franklin called turkeys "birds of courage" and was so impressed by them that he rallied for the turkey to be the national bird of the United States. Turkeys are curious and resourceful. Wild turkeys can fly up to fifty-five miles per hour and have excellent memories - storing the geography of a region up to one thousand acres large. They have the unique ability to recognize each other by their voices and have at least twenty different documented vocalizations.
So, from an energetic perspective, turkey broth is perfect food for that friend who seems to struggle with finding their voice. Perfect for individuals who tend to feel alone or shunned, uncertain and unstable. Those who need the lift of upward mobility and lightness. Share with people who seek to find more courage, fly faster and remember the essentials with more fluidity. Share with those who feel stuck, in a rut, and unable to make progress - but who appreciate the level-headed-ness more intrinsic in a turkey, versus a chicken.
Finally, remember that this broth is (for many of us), the culmination of many hours (if not days) of care, thought, attention, work, joy and love. Place one hand on the pot, and one hand on your belly and take some deep breaths. Smile. Think about all that had to come together for this pot of broth to be made.
*"Super Broth" is a creation of mine that is superior in flavor and nutritional content. This result is achieved by removing all plant materials after one day of cooking, and adding in new plant materials to existing broth and bones and continuing to simmer for a second day. This method of broth making is perfect for pregnant women and new mothers during the postpartum period, or anyone requiring supremely nourishing foods. To learn more about my next level broth-making ideas, consider attending my virtual class on January 13, 2018!