Tuesday, February 23, 2016

To Build a Home

A few weeks ago in Hawaii, I managed to make chicken stock, something I hadn’t done in months, despite the fact that I didn’t have real stove. At the end of the day, as I was surveying my yield - 12 cups of stock (bone broth, really); a whole chicken in pieces, off the bone; and 3 cups of cooked carrots, onions, and celery - I wanted to share my activites on our Facebook page. But at the same time, I was afraid it would seem like bragging - “I made bone broth on a hot plate today! What did YOU do??” - and nobody likes a braggart.

*I* even questioned my motivation. Why did I do that?? Why did I spend an entire morning in the kitchen, when I am singing a principal role while parenting two children on the road without my husband? Am I such an overacheiver?? It was awkward, strange to be at odds with myself like that.

So I asked Matt, “why did I do this?? Am I such an overacheiver?” And his answer was so obvious I practically slapped my forehead:

“You do it to feel at home.”

Of course. We are homeless this year, and while it is our choice it is still a rather unsettled feeling. I’m constantly unpacking into a new home and rearranging things after a week as I learn how best to use the space. Always navigating a new grocery store. Looking at other people’s choices of art on the walls. Tucking Henry into a different bed every few weeks, sometimes one Matt or I share as well, since it’s weird sleeping alone in a new place. All the daily little things about “home” are absent for us.

And so when I found myself with a whole chicken in the fridge, I thought “I’ll make stock!” It’s what I do when I am home; my freezer is never without a bag of onion skins, carrot peels, and celery ends, awaiting the arrival of a chicken carcass. Then I use the broth to cook our grains and to make soups, other things I do that speak of Home. Yes, it would be easier to buy a box of stock from the store - or easier still to buy premade soups and grains. But when we have so few things right now that make us feel “at home,” it is worth the time and effort to bring them into our life. 

I’m in NYC now, and I made stock again today, and rice with the stock to have with the chicken for dinner. It was delicious, a truly “homemade” meal.

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