Saturday, May 1, 2010

Scenes from a cookathon

I've been cooking all day, and loving it. Big family bash tomorrow and my assignment is a chicken casserole for 10, easy enough to do, but the day started out rainy and that got me in a cooking mood.

By the time I came home from shopping with all the things on the list I also had impulse-bought some rhubarb, all the makings of a big batch of chicken stock, plus veal shanks for osso bucco tonight. Maybe it's my diet which is to blame! My rule is that I can eat anything I like for dinner, as long as I cook it myself (that's a loophole and a half, isn't it?). As well as loving the smells and flavours of cooking, I love the sights, and that's what this blog is about: scenes from a cookathon.

Strawbs drying on paper towels. They'll disappear fast tomorrow.

I think I accidentally clicked up a Dutch master treatment of these moody grapes.

Even the vegie scraps bin looks like a still life.

Here's my secret to a decent chicken stock. Old boiler chooks – full of chookie flavour, easily the best. The only ones I can find are frozen Home Brand from Woolies, and they do the job beautifully.

Chopped vegies ready for the stock pot. Lots of them.

The home-grown contribution to the stock pot: thyme, parsley, bay leaves.

For the chicken casserole I went all fancy and made a proper bouquet garni. Here's the makings: a stick of celery, a bunch each of thyme, and parsley sprigs, plus one of rosemary and a few bay leaves.

Here it is all tied up and ready to be tossed in the pot.

While the bouquet garni looks nice placed on the chicken casserole like this, after the photo was taken I shoved it deep in the pot to do its job properly. The casserole is a sort-of coq au vin variation I've invented, flavoured with French mustard, tarragon and white wine.

The rhubarb is for breakfast. In the sink they looked like red logs floating downstream.

Chopped up, sprinkled with sugar, with just a little water in the bottom of the saucepan, it cooks down in no time. I'm always looking for something new to add to my breakfast cereal, and rhubarb will do the trick this week.

Pam says I am a glutton for punishment in the kitchen, and she's right. For some strange reason I also went outside and harvested a big bowl full of cumquats, mostly to help the poor cumquat tree get on with recovering from its recent trauma. At first I thought I'd turn them into marmalade some time this week, but then it occurred to me that I could turn them into a cumquat jelly. My quince jelly went rather well last year, and so that's my next bit of kitchen madness. Cumquat jelly, hmmmm....

Anyway, that's it for the meantime – I'd better stop blogging and keep on cooking – the chicken stock smells great, so it's ready, and it's time to turn the veal shanks into osso bucco. Love a good Saturday cookathon every now and then, I do.


Bangchik said...

A solid and delicious looking dish! ~bangchik

dining tables said...

I love the photos! The veggies looked so fresh!

Mary said...

Love the blog. Try adding pure orange juice instead of water to the rhubarb and a pinch of freshly grated ginger. Absolute heaven I promise you.

Mary Bailey
Wickford, Essex, U.K.
English Garden

shotz by barb said...

beautiful pics! I'm salivating as I look at them...enjoy your feast!

Chookie said...

Yummy! My rhubarb plant only went in the ground a week ago. It's all of 5cm high!

Eric_Lam said...

This is so great photo!

Thank you for your sharing

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Sue O said...

So does rhubarb not grow well in your neck of the woods? I have a couple of plants in some raised beds that are prolific all summer long. I keep my whole circle of friends and acquaintances well supplied and also have enough to freeze. I don't think I could bring myself to pay money for the stuff any more!
Those strawberries look delicious. Oregon is famous for its strawberries, although they are much more expensive to buy than the horrible crunchy California berries that we get in the grocery stores. I grow my own, with varying degrees of success. Not many of them outlast the grandkids' appetites to make it to the table.

Jamie said...

Rhubarb grows fairly well here. I just don't have the space for it. I grew a few plants some years ago and they did fine (wilted in summer a lot, though!) but they just took up too much space. I only have 9m x 7.5m to play with, and in the end I decided the rhubarb had to make way for other crops. Still love to eat it, though!

Mary said...

Combine your delicious fruits by making a rhubarb and strawberry crumble. I will supply recipe if required. Absolutely gorgeous.

Mary Bailey
Wickford, Essex, U.K.
English Garden

Lanie said...

Great tip re home brand chook for stock. Ta.