January 28, 2017

Babka

We belong to this meat CSA, so I had a chicken in the freezer that I couldn’t really use because Zachary is allergic to poultry. Don’t even pull your whole “Oh, allergic, is he?” face on me. He is allergic. As in, has an epipen in case he accidentally ingests like a turkey sandwich or some chicken nuggets. Allergic as in allergic.

The boy has also stopped eating pork. We’ll be leaving the meat CSA, because at this point our meat options are pretty much limited to cow products.

We had friends over last night, so I cooked said chicken, figuring we had enough guests to get rid of the thing. And, lo and behold, when I opened it up, there were two necks. Which pretty much means I had to make chicken stock because some other poor schmuck got no neck at all, and it would add insult to injury if I wasted them.

When the chicken came out of the oven, I was occupied with the self-saucing puddings and the mashed potatoes, plus getting the kids in order. Just before dinner, I managed to clear off some burners and I turned around to get the roasting pan so I could make gravy.

And it was gone. Gone, I tell you. No pan, no glorious drippings, no fat, nothing. Filled with a growing suspicion, I turned towards the sink. And there it was. Clean and drying on the drainboard.

Yes, you’ve got that right. For the first time in history, my husband had washed a pan without me having to point it out to him. THE PAN WITH THE SPECIAL INGREDIENT FOR GRAVY. So, no gravy. Self-saucing puddings, pumpkin pie, and challah, but no gravy. Which more or less obviates the need for a chicken or mashed potatoes.

I also have a batch of chicken stock that I can’t use. See above re: poultry allergy. I’ve put it on Front Porch Forum to give away. That’s this listserv we have here in Vermont that’s specific to each town. You can give away almost anything on Front Porch Forum, and I guarantee there’s someone in town going, “Damn, I want to make soup tomorrow, but I don’t have any chicken stock.” Mark my words, that chicken stock will be out of my freezer by tomorrow.

Anyway, the puddings didn’t sauce again. I think I need smaller ramekins and a higher baking temperature.

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When I was in high school, my homeroom/history teacher and I had a strong rapport. He was also the advisor for the community service projects, and so we spent a lot of time working together. I was enamored of the entire history department, and I hold them almost entirely accountable for my overdeveloped sense of civic responsibility.

One year, on my birthday, my homeroom teacher brought in a chocolate babka to celebrate. This was awkward because he never brought in anything to celebrate anyone else’s birthday. Looking back, I now understand that the history department had somehow ascertained that I was on my own. No one loved me. I mean, really, no one loved me. As true a fact as the above poultry allergy. Like the teachers for a decade before them, they took care of me. Including a chocolate babka for a birthday no one else was going to remember.

So, when my friend, Sarah (and they’re all named Sarah these days) emailed me a recipe for a chocolate babka, I knew I had to give it a go. The kids thought this was an excellent plan, but it is a long-term project that requires overnight resting, multiple rises, and a lot of patience. It took a week or two until I got to it, yet every time the kids walked into the kitchen, they asked, “Are you making chocolate babka?” Every single time.

Finally, they wore me down. A girl can only hold out so long.

 

 

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