Month of January: “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” Recipe: Basic Homemade Meat Broth”

“The child lay dead between the ripples of the river but the woman rose up from that bed of suffering.” Louisa May Alcott

Well, it’s been a real adventure to get to this new year. Since my last post I have received a new stove in the studio as the old one was leaking a substantial amount of gas. I had been smelling the leak and getting mild headaches since closing all the windows. My landlord didn’t smell anything. My husband didn’t smell anything. Ironically, I learned from the gas and electric company technician that 80% of all calls originate from women who typically tend to smell gas more than men. Another lesson learned: stop doubting myself and I am alone to figure this out. Anyway, now I have a brand spanking new stove and a new attitude to boot.

This month I am going to explore an Italian classic cookbook. Being more than half Italian this should be a cinch. Marcella Hazan has introduced Italian food to Americans in a similar way that Julia Child brought us French cooking. The first post will be from the fundamental chapter where I have made a real broth. You know, like the kind our mothers and grandmothers used to make. Substantial yet light bodied. It is a base for just about everything.

The word fundamental struck me for some reason. It means to “form a necessary base or core” and is “of central importance.” Putting that in personal terms, I feel a regret (those damn regrets!!) that somehow the message of how to form a grounded core of my own wasn’t transmitted or valued in my early development. To be part of a family or group; yes, that I understood. But to be an individual…not so clear. I have finally arrived to take those steps at the ripe old age of 56. It appears to be my time. If we are to master any craft at all, we must start with the principles. So here I go. I am ready.

Ingredients: salt, 1 carrot peeled, 1 medium onion, 1 or 2 stalks celery, 1/4 to 1/2 red or yellow pepper cored and seeded, 1 small potato peeled, 1 fresh ripe tomato or a canned Italian plum tomato drained, 5 pounds of assorted beef or veal of which no more than 2 pounds may be bone.

Put all the ingredients in a stock pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and as soon as the liquid starts to boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours. Skim off the scum that floats to the service, abundantly at first, then gradually tapering off. Strain through a large wire strainer. Cool and refrigerate overnight. In morning, scrape off solidified fat and discard. Use within 3 days or freeze for later use.

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