Back to Basics: In Appreciation of a Gluten-Free Life

Just one more note relating to the cruise here, before it’s back to recipes full-time. Going on a cruise as a gluten-free person made me nervous last year – what would I find to eat? In reality, my gourmet, home-cooked tastes were far more a handicap than being gluten-free. Food made for hordes of people and held on steam tables just doesn’t meet muster for me. I ate a lot of salad bar last year, and was largely unimpressed with the other offerings on Carnival…except for that one 2am plate of chili fries after dancing to Carbon Leaf, Great Big Sea and Gaelic Storm for 6 hours straight…those were some good fries.

Anyway, this year the BNL cruise was on Norwegian Cruise Line, and overall I was WAY more impressed with the level of service, the boat and the food. They were very understanding and accommodating to folks with special dietary needs, and knew exactly what to do. And when we needed to eat from the buffet offerings to save time before the next concert, there were a lot more ethnic food offerings, which were generally safe for me to eat. The salad bar also had a lot nicer selection of items too, and I happily made myself spinach salads at every meal.

All that safe eating came to a screeching halt when we stepped off the boat at Cozumel. There was a little taqueria near the Mayan ruins that our tour guide recommended, and after walking around in the sun for a couple hours we were famished, so we stopped in. I ordered steak tacos and a margarita. I wolfed two tacos down before I noticed that the tortillas were flour, not corn. Whoa. I guess I’m lucky to have so many delicious taquerias nearby in Chicago where I’ve never even seen a flour tortilla. I didn’t even consider that they’d serve flour tortillas in Mexico. Massive mistake. And that refreshing margarita…also a mistake, and much stronger than I’m used to.

The next two days on the boat were very painful, and add to that some VERY turbulent seas, it was a challenge. Seasick and wheat-sick at the same time is not a good combo. I still powered through and made it to concerts, but I had to sit down instead of dancing, and head back to the room to lay down frequently. And I have never wanted a heating pad more in my life than the last two days of the cruise.

All this to say, I am very thankful to know how to eat safely, how to feed myself well at home, and at many good restaurants near our home. And so it is back to basics this week, making things to help heal my unhappy tummy. So Saturday morning called for a simmering a pot of chicken stock on the stove, for soup for the week – green chile chili and a red curry chicken broth. I have never been happier to be home, and back to dancing in my kitchen.

Basic Chicken Stock
1 chicken back
Bones from one roasted chicken, or a pound of raw chicken legs
2 carrots, scrubbed, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
6 cloves garlic, whole
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
handful of parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Place chicken backs/legs on a pan, and roast for 35 minutes, then remove from oven.
  2. Get out your BIG stock pot – mine is 12 quarts. Put the chicken backs, and all other ingredients in the stock pot. Fill with cold water, leaving 2 inches at the top to prevent overflowing.
  3. Cover, and turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, skim off any nasty foam that floats to the surface, and reduce heat to low, so that the pot is simmering gently. Simmer for 4-5 hours, then remove from heat.
  4. Strain the stock with a fine sieve into a clean pot. Let sit on the counter for an hour to cool, then transfer to the fridge to cool fully overnight. The next morning, skim off the chicken fat that has solidified on the top, then use the stock for soup or storage in the freezer.

3 thoughts on “Back to Basics: In Appreciation of a Gluten-Free Life

  1. Thanks for the recipe. I made the Lentil Soup again and it would be nice to have my own stock to start with next time. I’m going to become a real cook thanks to you!

  2. Thanks, Jenn! Chicken stock is such an easy thing that makes a HUGE difference in your finished soup – it takes time, but can bubble away unattended for hours. And if you’ve got a market nearby that sells chicken feet – they are cheap, and make the best stock with all the gelatin from the bones. Mark jokes that when I’m done, the chilled stock is “chicken jello,” but a good concentrated stock takes up less freezer space, and you can dilute it a bit later.

  3. Pingback: Sweet Potato Soup with Chorizo « The Whole Kitchen

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