Bonsai Noodle Soup

I warned you. 

Here it is.  

The soup post. Well….with a few junipers thrown in, but there’s definitely soup. Chicken noodle soup to be precise. 

First, let’s start with the tree.  

 

A juniperus chinensis “something or other”. It’s not a parsonii, I’m pretty sure. The needles are a bit too wispy.   

    

It’s been said that the foliage pads on this type of juniper will never get dense enough to be satisfying, and that’s entirely possible. But the deadwood and movement are awesome, so I won’t be throwing it on the burn pile just yet. I’ve had it really dense at one point and I’m sure I can get it there again. More sun I think.  Or I’ll resort to grafting. 

 This post actually takes place over three days. Day one: clean and lime sulphur the deadwood. Remove the old wire….. 

 It’s cutting in there bad. And, as I unwire, clean out the unwanted growth.  

 
Wire off! 

 
Wire brush!  

 Wire not? This brush is for the the deadwood. It’s has stainless steel bristles. I use a soft brass bristle to clean the living bark. 

Protect the soil from the lime sulphur. 

 And then apply the lime sulphur. Smelly!  

   The first time you use it you’ll be surprised at how yellow it goes on. Don’t worry. It turns white/grey pretty quickly.  
   
While I have the lime sulphur out, I might as well hit some other trees.  

A medium procumbens nana

  And a sweet mame that was given to me by Guy Guidry.  

This post will feature a rarity. Something you’d never, ever think I’d use.   

 
Yep, that’s correct. Copper wire. I figured that I could mend some fences a bit because it seems that a few people were offended by my off the cuff statements about using copper and growing tropical trees. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re growing a ficus, which needs rewiring 3-4 times in Florida’s intensive growing season, I still think it’s insane to use it. But on conifers like these junipers, go right ahead. And I had this wire sitting around and I have some junipers that need work. Why not. Let’s see what I can do, right?   

 What could happen? 

Oops! I could burn the chicken!  

 So, you are wondering why, if I’m making soup, the chicken is on the grill? Well, that’s tonight’s dinner. I’m making soup……….tomorrow. All day long. Nighty night. 

Ok, it’s tomorrow. Here are the leftovers from last night.  

 Looks like a back, a wing, and two thighs. I’m making my own stock for the soup and this is the beginning of my flavor profile. I used a “rotisserie” rub on the grilled chicken last night and that plus the grilled aspect, will add to the complexity of the broth. 

This is my soup pot.  

 My stovetop is even relatively clean. I remove the leftover meat from the leftovers and throw the bones in the pot. Next, a whole chicken.  

 It doesn’t matter how big the bird is, I’m not a very precise kind of cook. However big you’d like. And everything is “to taste” today, no measuring. 

Now, you can buy a chicken already disassembled. But that’s no fun, and it’s definitely not 95¢ a pound. All you need is a knife.  

 If it’s not sharp, grab a coffe cup and hone it on the unglazed bottom ridge of the cup.  

 A couple of passes and you can shave with it. 

Now, there are many tutorials out there on how to cut up a chicken. This one from Alton Brown is pretty well done (click here to see it) I do it slightly different but the principles are the same (just like in bonsai…..ah). First, grab a leg and hold it up.  Not your leg showoff, the chickens. 

  Then locate the joint.  

 And cut through it.  

 You remove the wings and thighs the same way. Alton separates the whole leg/thigh first. Tomato/tomahto. How’s this?  

 Next, debone the breast, leg, and thigh meat. The bones go in the pot along with the back. All the skin too. Not the fat though.  I’ll show you why later.

 All the, now, boneless, meat goes into a container and into the freezer. Freezer? Huh? Trust me. You’ll see. 

The wings I save for the next time I barbecue. They’re my favorite and a bird only comes with two. At least for the time being, that is. 

Next, the veggies. I’m not one to waste food, and I need the flavor in the broth, but putting good veggies in the broth destroys them…..what to do? Watch.  

First, remove the dried out outer layer and throw away. 

 Then remove the ends and the second, rough layer.   And all that goes in the pot. Next, carrots. Cut off the ends and put them in the pot.  
 And then peel the carrots directly into the pot.  

 I have this “real neat in theory but not in operation” peeler. It’s built well because it’s stayed sharp and not broken when all the other ones are occupying a landfill somewhere. 

I say it’s not good in the real world because the handle, which makes it really easy to use, also has this fatal flaw.  

 Just damn. Anyway. Peels in the pot.  

 Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, a touch of soy sauce and this… 

 Yes. Beer. And then the secret ingredient is….a dash of cinnamon. 

No. Really. It works. Not too much. Just a few shakes out of the container. 

Then rough chop the onion and carrots and put them in the fridge.  

  Here’s another trick, salt the carrots and cover them with water to pre-season them.  Fill up the rest on the pot with water and bring to a boil. But you don’t keep it boiling, that “burns” the stock and gives it an off taste. A slow, slight simmer. It’s 9:30 am. I’ll let it go until about lunch, checking on it every half hour or so, stirring it and breaking up the bones. 
What can I do until then? Oh yeah, the tree!

 
Styling a juniper is a practice in wiring. You don’t tend to chop and hope it grows back. You place foliage pads where they need to go with wire.  

  

I hate to keep saying this but, if you’re a regular reader, you know that a lot  of the trees in my collection were neglected because of my health problems. This is one of them. I really should have been pruning and rewiring it as it filled in from the last styling, which was a re-set of all the branches (hence all the wire). So now, unfortunately, I have to re-set it again.  

    
 I guess it’s not too badly chopped back. It’ll have good growth until winter (say January here in Orlando).  

It’s now about one pm. The stock is done; all the bones have let go their bonds of sinew and cartilage, and they’ve given all the flavor they can.  

 They have sacrificed their all for the success of the soup. Now you’ll see why I’m using that pot.  

 It’s easy to drain out all the yummy broth and get rid of the bones. Look at the color!

 But also,  look at all that fat. Here’s how I get rid of it. It first goes into the freezer.  

 

And, then I take that chicken I had put in earlier out. It’s because ready to cut.  

 You remember it, right. It is now mostly frozen.  

 Which makes it easy to slice into cubes.  

 I salt and pepper it and it goes into the refrigerator. 

Now it’s time to pick up the kids from school and get them to taekwondo (yeah yeah, TKD is Korean and bonsai is Japanese. Bite me).  

 That’s my son and my wife. 

Today, I’m bringing a little friend to help pass the time.   

  The juniper that Guy gave me. It needs some wire. 

It had one bit of aluminum on it, I’ll again re-wire with copper because, well, why not? Right? 

And I get to use this itty bitty 24 guage wire I found.  

 It’s so delicate. It’s like baby’s hair. 

Here’s the before. 

 With my son harassing my daughter, who is trying to not be photographed. 

And the after. With a plug for  Small Business Saturday thrown in. 
  

  

And now, and you thought I forgot about it, it’s time to remove the fat. It’s almost dinner time and I need to get this done.  There are three hungry boys and one hungry goil (ah ga ga ga ga!). Not to mention She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. 

 The broth could stand to cool off some more, until it’s a solid and you just peel it off. but it’s mostly congealed, a paper towel catches most of it.  

 Not too bad.  

 At this point, take a taste and season as necessary. Then add the carrots, onions, and chicken.  

   

Oh, lots of garlic too. 

 At least four squeezes. Maybe six. Or eight. 

Then it’s just waiting for the carrots to cook.  

 
And  noodle time!  

 I went with my go-to brand, the bag on the bottom. My wife was afraid of the fancy ones I got specifically for this recipe and the blog post. 

So, after all that, how did it come out?  Mmmmmmm!

 My wife got the fancy square ceramic bowl. I get the cheap plastic one.  

 
How does it look? I think it’s the best broth I’ve made in a while and the carrots were perfect. Not too mushy, but done. I serve it with buttered bread myself, but you could use crackers if’n you want to. 

After an orgy of chicken noodle soup heights, it is now the third day. 

Here’s that little juniper in a little better light.  

 

And the big one.  

 You know what? Maybe it’s the soup hangover, but there’s something not quite right.  In the front. The first branch. These two branches are competing with each other. 

 

Man. I put so much work into these branches though.  

 
Oh well. 

   
 Some Jin plier work.  

 You basically just crush the outer bark and peel away. 

 Once you’ve done it you’ll see how easy it is. No twisting with the pliers at all. 

A little rearranging of the remaining branches.  

   And I think that works. 
   
I really hate having to do this type of work two years in a row but the tree will end up better for it in the future. There are a few more branches I’d like to get shorter but that’ll take time. 

Ok, what’s next? Maybe another juniper or…..I do have several ham bones I’ve been saving…….

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in Advanced basics, branch placement, Horticulture and growing, philosophical rant, redesign, wiring and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Bonsai Noodle Soup

  1. SCDavid says:

    How are you so thoroughly entertaining? Thanks for another post! Hopefully i can buy something from you when Im in florida next month.

  2. Teschio63 says:

    Ciao Adam, fammi capire sul ginepro più grande hai ripassato il zolfo-calce per fare risaltare il vecchio lavoro di jin, quando lo dai inizialmente é giallo poi ossidandosi con l’aria diventa grigio-bianco …..è. Così? Dove posso reperire questa mistura magica? Ciao ti seguo sempre dalla bella Italia.💀💪🏾💀💪🏾💀

  3. granolagirlatheart says:

    I finally got to the soup post, glad it had bonsai in it or that would have been weird.

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