I have been working remotely for several years. By “working remotely,” I mean “working from home and often in casual clothing/dainty unmentionables.” I am used to being alone and dealing with other humans via cell phone, Skype and my imagination. (I have a very active imagination).
It will not be a stretch for me to self-quarantine, is what I’m saying.
It will, however, be a problem where the rest of my family is concerned, because while I regularly interact with cashiers at Rouse’s and Whole Foods, they actually see other humans in non-transactional interactions all the time. Co-workers in my wife’s case; classmates where the children are concerned.
I have decided to teach my children about cooking when they are inevitably quarantined and the charge on their mobile devices runs out. Some would say I am using them as indentured servants but since most of you don’t know what indentured servitude means, I don’t care! Plus, it’s not illegal if they’re my kids and I’m not using their labor for profit.
I’m a lawyer, and I did the research!
So, here’s what I’ve decided to do to teach my kids over the few days that they are almost certainly going to be stuck at home.
First: stock. A good stock is the foundation to many other dishes and if you can make a good stock you will understand a number of different techniques that are useful in other preparations.
The most common and useful stock is made with chicken, and all you need are some chicken bones – with some meat on them – and some water. It will help if you add a few vegetables and depending on what you want to use it for, some wine and/or herbs may help.
Roast the chicken bones if you want, or just throw them into a pot with water to cover by a couple of inches, bring to a boil, skim the stuff that comes up to the top for the first 10-15 minutes, add salt then simmer for a couple of hours before adding the vegetables and any other seasonings. Keep it at a simmer for another hour or two, adding water if the bones/vegetables start poking above the liquid, then strain through a fine sieve.
If I have time before we are all forced to stay home all the time, I will visit a market at which they sell split pigs’ feet, because if you add pigs’ feet to your stock ingredients (or chicken feet, for that matter) you will end up with a much more gelatinous result.
Which brings me to my next project for the kids: Pork pie. Specifically the sort of pork pie made in Merry Old England, using a hot water dough and different bits of pork (ground shoulder, diced belly and bacon) and finished by pouring a gelatinous stock into a hole in the center of the crust which, upon being cooled, ends up as a meat jell-o that binds the whole thing together.
They are not likely to eat the pork pie, mind you, but I’m not concerned. I have canned beans, rice, pasta and many frozen things that they will consume. And one day they will come around on things like pork pie – when they do perhaps they will remember making a hot water dough and mixing ground and diced pork, or how to make stock that turns into meat jell-o when it cools, and perhaps they’ll think of me when they think of meat jell-o.
There are worse ways to be remembered.