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Jewish Penicillin

January 19, 2017

Today we do Jewish. Because yesterday was a continuation of the coordinated bomb threats phoned into Jewish Community Centers around the U.S.

I don’t know what goes on in Polish Community Centers, or Italian Community Centers, or Irish Community Centers. But the Jewish Community Centers aren’t just rec rooms. They aren’t simply halls where people congregate for big events. Often they are daycares and nursery schools. Sometimes they serve as senior centers too.

So when one has to be evacuated, because someone thinks it would be a good idea to call in a false bomb threat, these are the human beings who are directly affected. Our most vulnerable, and their caretakers.

Yesterday, dozens, literally dozens of JCCs got such calls. Those are in addition to the calls several other JCCs received last week. Two coordinated attacks. That forms a trend line. And it’s not pretty.

The aims of such actions are to intimidate. Part of this makes me sad. Part of this makes me angry. But a bigger part of me knows that anger isn’t going to solve the problem. The answer is love. The answer is compassion. Because people are not born to hate. We’re not.

And there’s no better expression of Jewish love, than chicken soup.

Can I tell you how much chicken soup I’ve been making lately? It’s a shitton. Part of the reason is because it’s winter. But the other part is because I’ve got this nasty head cold, and I’ve had it for about two weeks.

My Jewish mother isn’t crazy about how I make chicken soup. She makes hers out of a chicken broth for which she uses whole chickens. I make mine from chicken stock, which is made from the bones. Some classically trained chefs would agree that the more gelatinous stock should not be made into a soup. To them, I say hogwash. It’s rich and delicious, thankyouverymuch.

I was just telling Young Master Fussy earlier this week how lucky he was to get a bowl of homemade chicken soup whenever he wants.

Chicken soup is always just minutes away. I take my stock, concentrate it, and freeze it into stock cubes. So all it takes is melting those cubes in some boiling water, seasoning to taste, and adding a little pasta or vegetables to the liquid, and you’ve got a soul satisfying hot bowl of comfort.

But I digress.

Over the summer, we throw our Friday night roast chicken carcasses into the chest freezer. And in the winter, we transform those bones into a silky, golden, aromatic liquid that will heal all your ills. Recently, I’ve been using the pressure cooker to help with the task.

I’m not sure how much of a time saver it is. Instead of simmering for three hours, the stock cooks for just 45 minutes. But the pot takes 30 minutes to get to pressure, and another 30 minutes or more for the pressure to naturally release. I suppose there is some time saving there, but it’s not incredibly significant.

What is notable is how much better the pressure cooker is able to extract the flavor components from the chicken, the bones, and the vegetables. It’s remarkable.

This Jewish penicillin has been very comforting, but it hasn’t cured my cold. So I’ve been supplementing it with hot toddies of bourbon, honey, lemon, ginger, clove, black pepper, and cardamom.

There’s actually a penicillin cocktail which I haven’t tried yet that uses Laphroaig, which I happen to have around the house. I may have to try that as well.

Except for the fact that I actually saw a doctor yesterday, and got a battery of meds. One is an antibiotic. I’m just not sure I really need it. There is no sign of bacterial infection. Yet. So, I’m going to wait until after the Nine Pin 26er party on Friday to decide. The last thing I need is to sabotage my antibiotic regimen with hard cider.

But I think Friday, regardless of how I’m feeling, booze will be the order of the day.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2017 11:08 am

    Thank you for this. We should all have a bowl of chicken soup today, in solidarity, and a shot (or more) of something stronger tomorrow.

    I have just one question: what does your mother do with the meat from the chicken, after she makes the soup?

  2. January 19, 2017 11:39 am

    Burnt is on to something. Let’s all have chicken soup, in solidarity. Also, lately I’ve been making stock (or broth or whatyacallit) from chicken wings. Lotsa bones and the result is gelatinous. That’s on days I know I need it but don’t have any carcasses on hand. Feel better, but soon.

  3. Raf permalink
    January 19, 2017 12:04 pm

    My GG used to boil a whole chicken for soup, but the meat was always a bit overcooked. I like starting with stock and then poach more meat in the stock to chicken up the soup. Poached breasts are nice but can only stay in for 20 minutes; whole legs can go for an hour and still yield nice meat for soup.

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