Tag: brisket

put on your yarmulke.

Fresh Scratch, Menorah, HanukkahI didn’t grow up celebrating Hanukkah. It’s one of those things I’ve created space for in my life as an adult. I was drawn to it years ago when I noticed on my family tree that my great-oma’s last name was Morowetz. I pieced together a story somehow, and that story led me to purchase the gorgeous menorah in this picture, hand-forged in Vermont by some blacksmith in his barn. Because – come on! – this is my menorah we are talking about. It simply had to be folksy.

Long, long ago, somewhere up my family tree – maybe past what I can see – these eight nights were a big deal. I don’t want to forget that. I want to remember it and honor it. A lot was lost for these celebrations to continue. It feels more right each year that I should make space for these flames.

It’s funny what we come to know about ourselves. Some of it takes so long to rise up to the surface. When my girls and I light these candles at sundown during this season of hustle and bustle, it’s like my soul sighs a sigh of great relief. Everything goes quiet and still inside of me. It is indeed a holy time for a girl whose idea of “holy” is generally pretty unconventional. It feels right.

These candles and this ritual that we hold for just a hair over a week center me somehow. They pull me into myself. They pull me out of myself. The stillness makes me feel a gratitude that moves me. When the shamash is lit each night, I almost feel a memory that is not mine. It exists further back. I feel tethered to something that’s hard to explain. It’s the weird deja vu feeling I get when I am in eastern Europe; it somehow feels connected to the way I love the grittiness of those cities and towns because the grittiness makes the beauty sparkle all the more. It’s kind of like life, isn’t it?

So this is my menorah in my new front window. I think it looks best here of all the homes it’s been in. I will take that as a bit of holiness, as well. Look what happens when we just feel our way through everything – we stumble sometimes into the divine.

The runner-up to lighting these candles every night of Hanukkah? Hanukkah dinner. I do not even know if this is a thing. But I have made it quite the thing, so let’s just go with it. I just finished up the dishes from tonight’s big feast {dish duty was accompanied by a dog at my feet and this! podcast! with! bruce!}. My cousin Evie and her family were over earlier, and kids were running around, we were drinking wine, I burned my hand in the oil… and we still managed to feast on brisket, noodle kugel, and latkes with applesauce. If you could scratch and sniff that photo for the smells all around that menorah, you’d want to write home about it.

There is absolutely zero I change in these recipes when I make them, so we will call them “borrowed.” Just click on the links above – the brisket goes in the crock pot all day and couldn’t be easier, the noodle kugel isn’t much more than mixing some stuff with some par-boiled noodles and throwing it in the oven, and the latkes aren’t too scary to make, even if they are from a Martha recipe.

There’s one more night left, homies. To quote Adam Sandler, “have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah.”

Or whatever it is that brings you quiet deep down in the places that matter.

xoxo,

ms. fresh scratch

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put that crock pot to work.

Recipes, Fresh Scratch

***Happy Monday! And a very happy CONGRATULATIONS to the winner of my Return to Us giveaway with Evolving Parents – Kristin N.! Kristin, I’ve sent you an email with how to proceed. Thanks to everyone who entered. I hope you’ll consider registering for what is sure to be a very special and helpful experience.***

Up until this winter, my crock pot had primarily been used to make chicken chili. That’s not to say I haven’t tried other things, it’s just that I’ve had my share of Pinterest fails.

But all of Pinterest can’t be wrong. So I’ve persisted this winter. In my effort to embrace the dark afternoons, the rain, the coziness/cabin-fever of it all, I’ve branched out and given my crock pot a work out that has truly paid off.

Naturally, I’m sharing the results from this strenuous fact-finding mission with you. You can thank me later {in case I’ve never stated it before, I love dark chocolate.}.

1. Chicken Stock

Ever since I gained confidence from learning how to roast a chicken {thanks, Amy Pennington!}, it’s been a staple in the dinner department at our house. But what to do with that carcass? It’s so gross. Picking a carcass is not on my list of fun.

So I discovered making stock on the stove and freezing it. Also not really fun. Something about having to stand-by, as the stove top was on for hours.

But stock in the crock pot? Oui, oui! There’s no way you can say no to that. Clementine asked me yesterday why we make it ourselves, and it was a great lesson in thrift, using all of an animal, and in environmental awareness {we’re bringing less packaging into the house by making it ourselves! Holla!}.

So next time you find yourself with a chicken carcass, put it in a Ziplock bag, toss it in the freezer, and get it back out when you’re ready. Here’s the recipe:

Crock Pot Chicken Stock
If you can pour water and push a button, you can do this!
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Cook Time
24 hr
Cook Time
24 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 chicken carcass, frozen or not
  2. water
  3. salt
Instructions
  1. 1. Put your chicken carcass into the crock pot. If you've got the neck or anything else that was inside the chicken when you first got it, throw that in, too.
  2. 2. Fill the crock pot up with water.
  3. 3. Sprinkle in a couple tablespoons of salt (or not).
  4. 4. Turn the crock pot to it's longest, lowest setting.
  5. 5. When it's done, run it through another cycle to get the most flavor out of your carcass.
  6. 6. Strain out the liquid, put into freezable containers in portions that make sense for how you cook, and freeze.
Fresh Scratch http://freshscratch.net/
2. Brisket

Oh, man. I don’t think I’d ever eaten brisket, aside from corned beef. It just sounded weird and bad. But GP always goes on and on about it, so at Hanukkah this year I decided I’d go for it and serve one alongside my latkes and applesauce. My friend Kathy also raved about cooking one in the crock pot, which gave me hope.

Let me just say that this was fantastic! So flavorful, totally falling apart, melt-in-your-mouth amazing that I’d wished I’d bought a bigger brisket. Seriously.

The recipe is right here.

3. White Bean Soup

This soup just tastes like Germany in a bowl. It’s practically perfect in every way. I love everything about it.

White Bean Soup
Serves 6
If Germany were to turn into a soup, it would be this.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. dried white beans {or 1 can!}
  2. 1/2 lb. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise. Many kinds of sausage will do.
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 2 stalks of celery, halved lengthwise and chopped
  5. 4 sprigs of thyme
  6. 8 cups of chicken broth
  7. 1 bunch of baby kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces, stems removed
  8. 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  9. salt and pepper
  10. Quality sauerkraut, like those made by Oly Kraut
Instructions
  1. 1. Combine the following in the crock pot: sausage, onion, celery, thyme, and broth. If you're using dried beans, this is the time to toss them in, too, after rinsing and sorting out the yucky bits.
  2. 2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until the beans are tender. Don't try rushing this and turning it up on high for a shorter time. You'll then have crunchy vegetables.
  3. 3. 30 minutes before the 8 hours are up, fish out the thyme stems and put them into the compost. Add the kale and beans if you're using canned beans {rinse them first}.
  4. 4. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  5. 5. To serve, top each bowl with a hearty portion of sauerkraut. It really sends this soup soaring. Be sure to buy a crunchy kind - no slimy stuff. Eww.
Adapted from Real Simple
Adapted from Real Simple
Fresh Scratch http://freshscratch.net/
4. Crock Pot Ham with Pineapple

If you can dump pineapple out of a can, you can make this ham. OMG. So good. And so impressive.

5. Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

This is mac and cheese the way I love it – custardy and crisp at the edges. It’s Southern style, so don’t go thinking it’s light on the fat and good stuff. Just eat it. My kids love it. It comes together pretty quickly, too.

6. You can bake your potatoes in the crock pot! What?! It’s amazing. I do this every time. And I don’t wrap them in foil.

7. Tapioca Pudding

And what are all these savory recipes here for if not to get you to dessert? Right?

If you don’t like tapioca, just stop reading right here.

Because I love tapioca.

My mom used to make the instant kind in the microwave. It was one of the many things from childhood that I craved during my pregnancies {Doritos, Cheetos, orange mac and cheese, fish sticks, Velveeta, Ramen…ugh}.

But have you ever made tapioca pudding from scratch? It sucks. Like, you’re just stirring and stirring and stirring at the stove for what seems like seven hours.

Ain’t no one got time for that!

Enter a nice German lady who pinned a crock pot tapioca recipe on Pinterest. Lady, you have made a difference in my life!

Click here for the recipe. It is seriously so easy. It sets up nicely in the fridge after it cooks. I like to put it into 1/2 pint Mason jars. They’re like homemade pudding cups, and I really miss pudding cups, so…

Get out that crock pot so you can get other stuff done!

And do tell me if there’s something I’m missing here on this list in the comments below! I’d love more crock pot success stories!

Happy Week,

mrs. fresh scratch xoxoxo