First, the announcement:
Yep, we’re pregnant!
- As of now, I’m about 15 weeks
- I’ve been feeling really good, hardly any nausea, no scary symptoms
- No cravings, exactly, but I have a weird relationship with food. Sometimes I can eat a ton, sometimes barely anything. I’m already eating several small meals instead of normal ones (and by that I mean tons and tons of snacks)
I have zillions of thoughts and feelings, but I find that can be hard to pin down. In the beginning, it was a lovely secret between me and Robby. I was bursting (metaphorically) to tell people, but I also didn’t want to share our tiny baby with anyone else. Additionally, I’m trying not to be completely consumed by this pregnancy–to turn into a mom-to-be and only a mom-to-be–while also trying to savor it (especially the moments where I’m not starving, bloated, or both. The glamour). As with most of life, I’m finding that the sweet spot is in the fuzzy area between extremes, which is of course the hardest place to stay.
I will say that this first pregnancy is something of a personal victory. On October 30, 1997, I sat in a doctor’s office crying, facing down a two and a half year cancer treatment plan. As an adult, I had a lingering fear that the chemo had done some kind of invisible damage that we wouldn’t find until we wanted to get pregnant and couldn’t. But on October 30, 2017, I sat in a doctor’s office with Robby, listening to our baby’s heart beat for the first time. Not everyone gets this kind of happy ending.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Jook
Given that story, comfort food seems appropriate, yes? Jook (rhymes with “book”) is what’s more commonly known as congee, Chinese rice porridge. There are equivalents in other Asian cultures, of course, as you would expect for cultures that eat a ton of rice.
My mom always makes this after Thanksgiving, using the turkey bones. It could also be made with chicken or really any other protein, but for us it’s a post-Thanksgiving tradition, just as much as stuffing-cranberry-turkey-gravy sandwiches.
What I’m giving you here is, as often, really more like guidelines. I prefer a more soupy jook, but you can use more rice for a thicker porridge. I also prefer short-grain rice because I think it dissolves better (my mom uses Calrose brand, I bought sushi rice).
The base of the soup is a chunk of what’s left over after the meat has been sliced off the turkey. Last year I somehow wrenched the picked-over turkey skeleton in two and stuffed half into the pot. This year, I used a wing, including the drum part, for a ton of flavor. I also upped the broth factor by adding a shallot, a chunk of ginger, and a splash of soy sauce.
What really makes jook fun is the toppings. Below are just a few of the dozens I’ve seen suggested, and of course there’s nothing keeping you from making this your own.
Veggies: Dried Chinese mushrooms, shredded lotus root, preserved radish, bamboo shoots, chopped scallions or cilantro
Sauces: Soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, chili garlic paste, hoisin sauce
* Dried Chinese mushrooms: Rinse well and soak in warm water for about 30 minutes. Discard the stems and slice into 1/4-inch strips. Add for the last half hour of cook time.
** Fu jook, or bean curd sheets: Break into fourths or smaller and add at the last half hour of cook time
A big chunk of turkey remnants with at least some meat still on
1 cup small-grain rice
2 quarts water (more if needed to cover the turkey, less if you prefer a thicker porridge)
1 shallot, quartered
1-inch chunk fresh ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
Optional: 1 cup dried Chinese mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced; 4 sheets bean curd, broken into quarters
Place turkey into a large pot with rice, water, shallot, ginger, and soy sauce.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow to cook for at least 2 hours. Stir more often if you prefer the rice thicken the whole soup, less if you like the rice
At the last 30 minutes, add mushrooms and bean curd, if using.
Remove turkey pieces to a cutting board. Discard bones and skin. Shred meat and return to pot.
Serve with as many toppings as your heart desires!