January 9: Lee’s Tavern, 60 Hancock Street, Staten Island, NY
You’re not making stock, and if I know you, I’ve probably given you a hard time about it.
“Look, it’s easy!” I’ve said. “It’s trash, then it’s gold! You are going to thank me so hard.”
Generally you don’t agree with me.
This past Thanksgiving, I forced my brother to lug the turkey carcass home with him from the host’s house. I shoved it in a pot with whatever he had in the fridge that worked with it, covered it with water, and turned his kitchen into a sauna while we had more wine and watched Master of None. Long after the time I’d strained and bagged it, it was still pretty hot, but also really late. I shoved it all in the freezer and went to bed. The next morning, there were gallons of slushy turkey stock in his freezer, and my brother groaned. By now they’ve frozen, but he’s a little worried about having food around too long, so I’m guessing he’s thrown them all away. That’s too bad, because we smoked that turkey, and even though I was tipsy and stuffed and high on road tripping and friends, when I tasted it, that stock was something special.
Or maybe it was just bony vegetable water.
Until about August 2014, I’d spent most of my time in New York City looking up. I’d carry my camera along for miles on urban hikes, snapping photos of old signs and layers of peeling paint and architectural details. But that summer, following a breakup and questioning everything that had once seemed alluring on those long walks, I left the camera behind and started looking down. I didn’t have the energy to see what I’d once seen, but mostly, I didn’t want to bump into anyone I knew and have to make small talk.
That month, I noticed something strange. There had been several moments while I was walking through the city when I literally kicked a piece of spare change. “Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck,” is one of those childhood phrases etched into so many of our beings, but as an adult in NYC, it never held any superstitious weight. If anything, it was something you’d avoid. God knows why that penny is there — at worst, a drunk just vomited it up after accidentally swallowing the change from his nips, instead of putting it in his pocket; at best, someone bleeding from the face used it to plug up their nose briefly before the ambulance arrived.
Still, it was hard to ignore the coincidence, and I was definitely in need of some luck. I decided to accept the risk, and I started picking them up.
Winter after winter, some exposed part of me freezes: I try to arrange the hair over my ears, or tug my collar around my neck, or shove my bare fingertips deeper into my pockets. Winter after winter, this knitter has forgotten to make sure she’s got all the essential accessories.