Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boneless Chicken Broth and Kitchen Science

So, despite the fact that depression tells me I'm not ever getting anything done because my to do lists are never finished (whose are?!?!), I really am doing pretty well.

The living room and den are passably clean. The other rooms are doing okay. The dishes get done every night. I've been making dinner most nights -- sometimes it's more impressive than others. ;) I've been making cookies with my son, and playing games with him. I read to him at night almost every night (sometimes the baby chooses bedtime to want to nurse, so I end up missing reading those nights, but my husband gets reading duty that night). We have been going places, like the Children's museum. We even did some simple science projects yesterday -- paper chromatography and a study of surface tension. Not that he had any idea what he was learning, but he had fun, and he'll remember the projects, at least.

For paper chromatography, all you need is markers, coffee filters, and a little bowl of water. Pick an interesting marker color, and put a dot about an inch from the bottom of the coffee filter. Then put the filter in the water, making sure the marker dot doesn't go under water. Hold it in the water, and watch the water slowly creep up the filter. The marker will travel up the paper with the water but (and this is key!) different pigment colors will travel at different rates. This allows the water the separate the marker ink into it's constituent inks. For example if you test brown, it generally splits into cyan, yellow, and red (or magenta). You'll see that some markers colors use the exact same pigments, just in different ratios. (Here's a discussion, with images. I recommend a dot of marker, not a line. You'll get better separation. ;) )

For surface tension, all you need is pepper, dish soap, and water. Grab a bowl (or a tupperware container, whatever!) and put about an inch of water in the bottom. Sprinkle pepper on top (if you have a pepper grinder, it gives the kids something to do while you do the dishes... :D Plus, if your kids like pepper grinders like mine does, he's thrilled he gets to use it for something, and might spend less time putting pepper all over his dinner, resulting in dinner that doesn't get eaten...). The pepper will distribute itself evenly over the top of the water. Then, use a finger or a dropper or something to drip one drop of soapy water into the middle of the dish. Plop! All the pepper suddenly flies to the edges of the water! (Here's a good discussion of surface tension. Or do a google search!)

And finally, yesterday I made some chicken stock. Sort of. See, I had the husband go to the store last week, and asked him to buy "chicken parts". I don't think I said what they were for, and I probably should have been more specific... See, bought boneless chicken thighs. Did I look at the package? Nope. I saw thighs and decided to make some soup. I'm having allergies or a cold or something, and figure having some chicken stock around would be nice. So I simmered the chicken thighs for an hour or whatever before I took them out to get the meat off the bones. I went though half a dozen thighs before I realized there were no bones! Argh! I am pretty surprised though. I do have a broth that tastes like chicken, and after a night in the fridge it's obvious it has at least some gelatin in it (the stuff that makes chicken broth act like jello when it's cold -- but the gelatin mostly lives inside chicken bones, I thought!), despite the complete lack of bones. The broth is a really odd yellow color though. You could mistake the tub of it for lemon jello... until you eat it!

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