You’re in for a treat today! Not only will I be updating the water jasmine I worked on several months ago…..……here’s the tree today…..
…..and the tree, back at the end of this blogpost
….but I will also be chronicling the creation of a classic American epicurean delight:
Turkey Soup!I had to pick up a few ingredients at the store….
But I saved, and froze, two turkey carcasses from Thanksgiving. One bag of bones is from a traditionally roasted recipe, but the second was from a rubbed, injected, inspected, dejected and deep fried turkey.
The work on the tree today, after a full growing season this year, will be removing the wire and cutting it back hard. Why at this time of the year?
Because it’ll still grow, if we let it.
The wrightia religiosa is a tree that can and will go dormant in the winter here in Florida. It’s one of those trees that are considered “drought deciduous”, meaning that, in the dry times of the year, the tree stops growing and can even drop its leaves. It just happens to coincide with winter in most places, and cold will slow down a tree like this, but it’s really the dryness that triggers the dormancy, unlike reduced light duration. A good example for some of the more temperate readers to understand the concept would be turf grasses. In the summer, many grasses may brown out in the dry heat, but as soon as the rains return, you get a good green lawn again.
Awwwww, a flower. I wonder if it will be there at the end of the post?
Let’s discuss the structure of the tree a bit.
You see that the leaves are opposite each other?
And below, you’ll see how the tree will shoot new growth from the inside of the existing leaf? Look near my pinkie.
It will almost only grow from the tip though, never filling in the back. This is good and bad. Good because it’s predictable, bad because you’ll need to hit the scissors hard every once in a while, or you’ll end up with way too leggy branches and a big bush with no definition (I think I’ve made that joke too many times…..).
But that will come after I’ve started my broth. I find this pot combo indispensable. A pot with a nested strainer. It makes for getting rid of the spent ingredients so much easier. Spent ingredients? Yup, we are going to extract all the wonderful and scrumptious flavors we can out of the turkey bones and veggies.
First step, shoving the carcasses into the pot and filling it up with water. At this point I don’t add any seasoning, as the birds have leftover seasoning from both of their previous cooking methods.
Next, the veggies….celery (after sharpening the knife of course, which you can read about in the Bonsai Noodle Soup blogpost from a few years ago)I’ll cut off the ends and the tops and those go into the stock pot. Like so….and then I chop up the stalks and those go to the side for a moment. Now for the onions. I discard the outer layer. There’s no flavor in it.
The second layer, which is still kinda rough, will go into the stock potHow many onions? I used two big ones, I think the Vidalia kind. You can use as many as you want or have. I only had two. They get chopped up and go to the side as well.
Carrots. A lot of carrots. I’m using two of the big packages. Cut the ends off and they go into the stock pot. Peel them and the peel goes into the stock pot as well. You’ll get lots of flavor from doing just this. I can hear the “ewwwwws” now.
We will be boiling this for several hours. If anything is left that can hurt us, it’ll seek us out to kill us with or without our help.
Chop the carrots and they go to the side. and I happen to have an apple. Chop it up for the stock pot too. Bring it all to a boil and then turn it down to simmer for a few hours. Next, cut the stems off your green beans (they don’t go in the stock, it’ll make it bitter). And now, in my 20 quart soup pot (at what size does it become a cauldron?) all the veggies I chopped up get placed, awaiting the completion of the stock (thanks to Ms. Vanessa for the pot).
Which means I get to return to the tree.
Much like with the vegetables, it’s time to chop. I’ll be taking the tree back to twos. Building structure…..Drinking beer (sometimes I’ll put beer in the soup stock, this time I put red cooking wine, I only had one beer left). All the wire was removed. So far, the flower is still there…..anyone taking bets on whether it’ll be there at the end?I only add one wire, on a new shoot that popped up in an opportune spot. The flower is still there…..But the stock is calling.
Look at all that yummy goodness! I’m thinking that I let it simmer for about 2-3 hours. Don’t let it boil as that will “burn” the soup. Which really means that it gives it a metallic, bitter flavor.
And now some real butchery (you thought I hit the trees hard, poor bird). One more reason I don’t season too much at the beginning, if you read the label, the turkey has been seasoned already.
I didn’t buy this turkey myself, it was a gift to my son from his employer, Universal Studios, Orlando, for Thanksgiving. If you click on the Noodle Soup link above, you’ll see a better tutorial on how to disassemble a piece of poultry, so I’m going though it quickly here.
Neck and gizzards go in a freezer bag. Remove the leg….take off the thigh for the soup…….the drumsticks and wings go into the refrigerator for barbecuing in a few days. The carcass, sans all the breast, rib, and back meat (as much as you can get) along with the neck and gizzards, go in a freezer bag for soup on another day.
Here’s the good stuff for the soup. Cut it up into pieces that are about the same size….……try to get rid of as much gristle, tendons, etc as you can. Nobody likes that in their soup.
And now you see why I use the combo pot. This is easier to do than using a colander (which should be outside with pine trees planted in them building trunks anyway).
Get rid of this…unless you’d like to put it in a blender, form it into patties, and batter, deep fry, and make turkey sandwiches.
Liquid gold! Homemade turkey stock. Now, the purists would take this broth, put it in the fridge, and let the fat congeal on top to remove it and further, there are proteins from the bones that people like to remove. They do all this to make the broth clear and “pretty”.
You know my view, I say, who cares. I have a friend Mr. Wade, in the restaurant business, who is owner of Delmonicos Italian Steakhouse. He says that it’s the fat where the flavor is. So there’s that.
And I have four hungry kids that don’t care if they can see their spoons in the bowl, they just want to eat.
So there, you uppity chefs of the world. You can sit at the same table in the corner as the bonsai snobs, and laugh at the rest of us. But you know what, we are really just laughing at you.
In goes the stock with the veggies….And the turkey of course. I had tasted the stock before I added it and gave it pepper and some kosher salt. Lots of pepper, a little salt. Oh! Lots of garlic. I prefer the pre-chopped stuff in a jar; it smooths out the flavor and I can add the juice as well, giving us more flavor.
Then I made sure that the turkey was cooked before tasting again. A visit from Sam and Ella isn’t a happy visit.
And there it is!Looks tasty, doesn’t it?
That’s those “imperfections” floating in the spoon. Tastes good to me.
Back to the tree (this is a bonsai blog after all).
I added one more wire to the top, to bring it down. I’ve been using bougainvillea fertilizer every four weeks during the growing season and I just added some Milorganite now.
And, ye of little faith, I did leave the blossom.
So what did we learn today?
Use all the cast off parts of your veggies to give flavor to your soup stock.
It’s ok to cut a tropical tree back really hard in the winter.
And that even 20 quarts of soup aren’t enough for four hungry kids (it’s all gone!)