Remodelin’

When I was a graduate student in Rhode Island, it was pretty normal (to me at least!) to be watching t.v. while wearing multiple layers, at least two pairs of socks, sometimes a hat and scarf, covered in blankets with a snuggly calico cat snoozing away in my lap. Graduate students don’t get paid much and, turns out, New England gets pretty damn cold in the winter. Heating an apartment with lots of windows, high ceilings, and an inefficient heating system was pretty expensive. So, I did what I needed to—layer, layer, and more layers, and blankets, and kept the heat ridiculously low.

Well, it turns out that living through a kitchen/living room remodel is kind of like graduate school, at least in the first part of the demo when things were down to the studs and there was little keeping the wind and rain out of the house other than a wall of shingles (with gaps) and a roof with no insulation. Rather than have the heat on throughout the house, I just put on the layers and hoarded all the blankets. Skip was more willing to run the heat for the sake of comfort but my inner graduate student just wanted more blankets and fuzzy socks, maybe some fleece gloves…and a hat. And a cup of hot tea.

Thankfully, we have family close by who we’ve stayed with and who’ve helped make this remodel pretty manageable and comfortable, for us and the pets. The pets love it at my mother-in-law’s—Milo is addicted to the gas fireplace (seriously, cat’s got a problem) and Roux just enjoys hanging out with Angela. We’ve stayed at Angela’s off-and-on the last couple of months, during the noisy or super dusty parts. Now, we’re in the home stretch with about a month or so to go! The floors went in last week and get finished this week. Then, the cabinets get installed a week or so after that! It’s been exciting to see the space evolve and go from a closet kitchen to a crazy big space with so much glass and natural light, it’s amazing. I’m so excited about what it will be in the end, and to hang out in my house with the heat on, without half my winter wardrobe, and not feel guilty.

Another similarity with graduate school: getting creative with dinners, prepping more on the weekends, and keeping things really simple. In graduate school, the simplicity was much more often the product of a limited budget; now, it’s due to the fact we have an induction burner, a microwave, and a toaster oven—none of which can be run at the same time. So, whatever I can make on Saturday or Sunday for use later in the week just makes cooking dinner less complicated. Things that cover multiple meals are even better like this delicious garlic broth that bubbled away one Sunday afternoon while I took care of other chores and to-dos. The broth was used to cook pasta in one night and an amazing ramen soup another night. Seriously, this garlic broth was so satisfying and super easy, I’ll be making more of it and freezing it, even after we have a fully functioning kitchen! But for the next month or so…patience, and  more garlic broth.

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Garlic Broth
Modified from Epicurious.com.
Make a double (or triple batch)…trust me.

2 heads of garlic
1-2 Small parmesan rinds (leave out to make vegan)
1 tsp Red pepper flakes (optional but delicious)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Bunch fresh herbs (basil, italian parsley, oregano, etc.)
2 Quarts Water
Salt & pepper to taste

Details

  • Slice 1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled, in half crosswise; set aside.
  • Separate cloves from remaining head, peel, and crush lightly, or cut cloves in half.
  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add crushed garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, 8–10 minutes.
  • Add water, and increase heat to high. Bring mixture to a boil.
  • Add herbs,red pepper flakes, reserved halved head of garlic, and parmesan rinds. Reduce heat so broth is at a light simmer and cook until garlic is very tender and broth is reduced by nearly half, 40–60 minutes.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Strain broth through a mesh sieve into a large bowl or use a wide slotted spoon to remove all the solids.
  • Store in the refrigerator for a week or cool and freeze for up to 6 months.

Drink it in a cup, cook pasta in it, use as a soup base…just enjoy it & repeat.

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