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IT'S TIME TO TAKE STOCK OF THE SEASON

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I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time getting up in the

morning.

This happens every year about this time, as I am physically and

psychologically ready for daylight-saving time to be over several weeks before

it ends.

I want back the hour I lost last spring. Now.

I want to wake up naturally, as I do most of the year, without an alarm,

and feel like I'm getting an early start to the day. But it's impossible when

the particular angle of light and the time announced on the clock don't match.

It all feels wrong, off kilter, askew and will until we turn back our clocks.

Alas, this year daylight-saving time lasts a week longer than last year,

ending on the first Sunday of November instead of the last Sunday of October.

Even so, preparations for winter are -- or should be -- under way,

including in our kitchens.

Driveways are full of firewood waiting to be stacked and every weekend, the

sound of chainsaws can be heard throughout west county.

My wood stove stands open and ready to be cleaned and there's a stack of

kindling by the back door. Driving through Monte Rio last weekend, I saw

circling plumes of smoke rising skyward amid the redwood trees.

There are still good tomatoes at the farmers market, but it is time to

think about the soups and stews that will warm us on cold nights and

nurture us through the inevitable colds and flu that will begin to spread all

too soon.

If you've read this column for long, you'll know what I'm about to

recommend: Spend a day a two making stocks. Make it a family project and

you'll be surprised by the results. When it comes time to make dinner during a

storm or when a cold front has set in, everyone will share in the sense of

satisfaction that comes when you realize the pleasure of planning ahead.

It's helpful to have both chicken stock and beef stock on hand throughout

the cooler months. Vegetarians will want hearty vegetable stock.

Mushrooms give this stock good color and an earthy depth of flavor.

Vegetable Stock

Makes 8 to 10 cups

3 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered

1 head of celery, leaves discarded, stalks cut in half

5 medium red tomatoes

1 garlic bulb, halved (unpeeled)

1 pound mushrooms, preferably crimini, coarsely chopped

1 bunch Swiss chard, coarsely chopped

2 large leeks, white parts only, halved and thoroughly cleaned

3 carrots, in chunks

5 medium zucchini, in chunks

-- Kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

10 sprigs Italian parsley

2 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs oregano

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the vegetables into a large roasting

pan and season with salt. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, add the

herbs and toss gently to coat everything with the oil.

Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes. Put the vegetables and pan

drippings into a large stock pot, add the peppercorns and enough water to

cover the vegetables by two inches and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, adding more water as

needed to keep the vegetables submerged.

Strain the stock, return it to a clean stock pot or saucepan, set over

medium heat and simmer until reduced by one-third. Cool to room temperature

and ladle into labeled freezer bags in two-cup portions.

Make chicken stock from local poultry, either Fulton Farms or Rocky. There

is no substitute for homemade chicken stock and for the best, you must use

begin with good chicken, not the tasteless national brands sold in most

supermarkets. Kosher chicken is also a good choice.

Chicken Stock

Makes 8 to 12 cups

6 pounds chicken (whole chicken with feet and head or backs, necks, thighs

and feet)

1 yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered

1 medium carrot, cut into chunks

1 celery stalk, cut into chunks

-- Kosher salt

If using a whole chicken, use kitchen shears or a boning knife to cut off

the feet at the joint. Use a boning knife to make deep slashes in the meatiest

parts of the chicken.

Set the chicken in a deep stockpot and pour 4 quarts of water over it. The

chicken should be fully submerged in the water. Bring to a boil over medium

heat and skim off the foam that forms. Use a large spoon to press the chicken

down into the water, simmer a few minutes more and skim off the newly formed

foam.

Add the onion, carrot, celery and a tablespoon of kosher salt. Simmer,

uncovered and without stirring, over low heat for about 4 hours, until the

stock is rich and flavorful and the fat has formed a golden layer over it.

Remove from the heat and let rest for a minute or two.

Set a large strainer over a container and carefully ladle the stock through

strainer into the container. (This is easier than pouring from the pot.)

Transfer the carcass and vegetables to a bowl and pour the remaining liquid

through the strainer.

Cool the stock thoroughly, refrigerate and remove the cap of fat that

covers the stock. Fill labeled freezer bags with 2-cup portions and freeze.

This stock is delicious served as a simple soup, seasoned with nothing more

than a little fresh Italian parsley and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. It

is also, of course, a perfect building block for winter soups, braises, stews

and risottos.

Beef Stock

Makes about 12 cups

5 pounds beef shank, marrow removed (see Note below)

-- Kosher salt

8 cups chicken stock (see recipe, this page), cold

2 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks

2 yellow onions, cut in quarters

3 celery stalks, leaves trimmed and discarded

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Set a large heavy roasting pan over a medium flame and when the pan is hot,

add the shanks in a single layer. Sear them for about a minute, turn and sear

the other side.

Use two pans if needed to arrange the shanks tightly in a single layer.

Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the meat gives off a

delicious aroma and the shanks are evenly colored.

Remove from the oven and use tongs to transfer the shanks to a large (12

quart or larger) stock pot.

Drain off and discard the fat in the roasting pan, set the pan over a

medium flame, add one half cup water and simmer as you scrape up pan

drippings. Pour the drippings over the roasted shanks.

Pour the chicken stock over the meat, add enough water to cover the meat by

two inches, set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Skim off and discard

the foam that forms. Use a large spoon to press the shanks down so they are

fully submerged, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes and skim off foam again.

Add the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns and press to

submerge them.

Simmer undisturbed over very low heat for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the

stock is aromatic and richly colored. Add water as needed to keep the meat and

bones submerged.

Remove from the heat.

Set a large strainer over a container large enough to hold all the stock

and strain the hot stock into the container, leaving the meat and vegetables

in the strainer.

Add half a cup of water to the stock pot and swirl to gather up any stock

that remains. Pour this mixture over the meat and vegetables and then let

drain for about 10 minutes.

Cool completely. Ladle into labeled freezer bags in two-cup portions. Be

certain the bags are tightly sealed and stack in the freezer.

To use, set a bag of frozen stock in a wide bowl and thaw in the

refrigerator over night.

Note: You want shanks that are about 1-inch thick. To remove the marrow,

simply press it out of the center of the bone onto a work surface.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts ``Mouthful'' each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 91.1

FM. E-mail Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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