Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Distracted Cook and The Therapeutic Kitchen

The Weekword for this week is therapeutic.  Domestic Scribbles chose this word and it is always interesting to see how each of use uses the word. Everyone needs a little therapy somewhere, somehow. And I have determined that the place for The Distracted Cook to encounter therapeutic methods of treating a disease or condition is in The Therapeutic Kitchen. I am going to just jump to the bottom line here and say outright that cooking is therapy for whatever ails you.

Try standing there with a knife in your hand and tell me that isn't therapeutic. It's just the legal and polite way to get rid of those aggressions, to just release all that tension, and to get dinner underway all at once. Yesterday was a really cold day around here and everyone was thinking "soup." If you've been to the grocery store at all this week you know that they all are talking up the Super Bowl and Buffalo Wings. So this is the perfect time to make some chicken soup and some chicken stock while the stores are overflowing with chicken wings.

A dear friend gave me her recipe for chicken stock and I have been using it for a long while now. But, of course, The Distracted Cook makes changes - or just plain forgets what's what and starts tossing things in the pot. It's a simple recipe, or maybe a method, for making this stock. All you need is:

Therapeutic Chicken Stock

2# chicken wings (this is just an estimate in The Therapeutic Kitchen - more or less is just as good)
Olive oil - a few slugs or glurgs worth
1 carrot - chopped
1 onion ( or half an onion if you are not keen on onions) -chopped
1 stalk celery (more or less) - chopped
a handful of garlic cloves - skins removed, garlic cloves left whole

Turn the oven on as high as it will go -( or until your smoke alarm goes off because the remains of that last baked cake have caught on fire) and let it preheat while you prepare the chicken wings.

Cut the chicken wings apart at the joints.

Place cut wings  into a shallow pan so that they make one layer.

Pour Olive Oil over wings and mix so they are coated with oil.

Open the oven door and step back! SMOKE!  Wait until you can see into the oven and find the racks. Place pan on rack and shut the oven door, fast!

Set your timer for about 15 minutes or until the kitchen fills with smoke again. Stir the wings and check to be sure they are browning well.

Here is where The Distracted Cook makes some changes. The original recipe said to leave the wings in the oven at 450 -550 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes or until they were all golden brown and crunchy. The Distracted Cook turns the heat down after the first 15 minutes and lets it finish out at about 350 degrees and it takes about 30 minutes. I suppose if you had a professional kitchen with all those great vents and fans it wouldn't make such a big mess, but in my kitchen - the fire trucks are on the way!

Take the pan out of the oven and place the wings into a stock pot on the stove.

Take the chopped vegetables and garlic cloves that you have waiting and dump them into the hot pan from the oven, stir them up in the oil that is still hot from the first round in the oven.

Place the pan back in the oven and let these vegetables roast for about 15 minutes, turning them every so often. The original recipe said to dump the vegetables in the pan with the chicken still in there and put it all back in the oven for the final 15 minutes. Well, if you like blackened vegetables and charred chicken wings, go ahead and do it that way! Not me. I learned the hard way.

Remove the pan of vegetables from the oven and put the vegetables into the stockpot with the chicken wings.

 Place the pan from the oven  on the stovetop. Pour about two or three cups of water into the pan and stir it around to loosen all the golden bits of chicken and vegetables from the bottom. Let it come to a boil, then pour it into the stockpot.

Add about 4 more cups of water to the stockpot and bring to a low simmer.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and strain the stock into a clean container. Let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate - or make soup right then and there for dinner!

If you want some good soup right now, chop some more vegetables, add the meat from the chicken wings and maybe some noodles,rice, or dumplings. If you want to add a secret flavor to all of this, go cut some fresh tarragon and put a few leaves in the soup. Of course if your tarragon has already frozen from this winter weather it may be hard to get some fresh leaves. I had to dig down underneath the oak leaves and acorns to find some baby leaves just emerging. But that was enough! Magic! Therapeutic! Brilliant!

It is easy to see how this can become a therapy session right here in the kitchen. All that chopping, stirring, jumping back from the hot oven and all that smoke - therapeutic and you get your aerobics in too!


  1. Cooking--prep to eating--is daily therapy around here. Thanks for playing and a new recipe too!

  2. Isn't it fun? My Grandmother taught me a long time ago that banging pots and pans in the kitchen was a lot cheaper and just as effective as sitting in a therapist's office. And it is a lot more fun!
    This is my favorite recipe for chicken stock if you want a nice brown full-flavored stock.

  3. Thank you for the recipe! I'm sure it tastes way better than my papier mache one. You had me laughing about the the smoke and the fire trucks. Hehe, Tarragon is soooo good with chicken! I could taste everything as I was reading your post. YUM!

  4. Thanks! My alarm company calls when the smoke alarm goes off and asks me if I am cooking again. I kid you not. They've learned to check before they call out the trucks! And my Porsche of vacuum cleaners, my Miele, sets off the alarm when it blasts the hot air up to the sensor on the alarm. I have learned to turn off the system when I vacuum the kitchen now.
    PS - I will have to try your papier mache recipe.

  5. Growing up we always made bread and we were taught to take out our aggressions while kneading. I still love to knead. I'm going to have to keep this recipe to try sometime.

  6. Junebug -
    Oh yes bread-making is definitely another great outlet for the aggressions! I am still trying to prefect the art of making bread. I have my trusty sourdough starter on the counter right now - tomorrow is another adventure. Do you use sourdough?

  7. I am hungry just reading your post, so therapautic.............. :)

  8. Hi John -
    That soup is therapeutic, as is the banging around in the kitchen! Thanks for your comment. See you next Weekword!

  9. No joke, I just made chicken-barley-veggie soup last night, to take to a friend recuperating from surgery today. Very therapeutic for me to make it & hopefully for her, too!

  10. Heidi, what a wonderful friend you are! I am sure that the "soup therapy" will be one of the more pleasant things about this surgery for your friend.
    Adding barley is a great idea - next time I'll try that myself.


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