An Engineer in the Kitchen

I made a chuck roast in my crock pot this week (recipe to come) and had an issue: the leftover broth, which I obviously intended to eat, had tons of fat floating on the top. Since turning into a grain-free carnivore, I’ve learned to embrace fats of all kind, but as my parents and boyfriend can attest to, I hate seeing and feeling the fat.

For example:

Nice, crispy bacon. Just two seconds away from being burned. The fat is barely noticeable and is just as crispy as the meat.

Gross, pale bacon! The fat is still transparent or white! Even if the meat is solid and tasty, the fat is squishy! I always remove the fat from bacon like this and only eat the meat.

When my mother would make meat broth from scratch, she had this little gadget that looked like a watering can, in which she would pour the broth, let it sit for a few minutes so the fat would rise to the top. Then she would pour that slowly into a pan or bowl, and stop when all that was left in the watering-can-thing was fat! Oh, hey – here it is!

Well, I don’t have one of those in my kitchen. I had to get creative and use that expensive piece of paper hanging on my wall saying I’m a mechanical engineer. Crap.

My mind immediately went somewhere strange: my turtle. Sixteen years ago, my parents made the stupid decision to buy a 10-year-old a pet that will not only bore the child after the first couple of years, but would also outlive them. To clean a semi-aquatic animal’s 20-gallon tank requires a siphon, speed, and parents who love their daughter.

For anyone who has never used a basic siphon before, there are two things you need to know: First, you rarely use them for getting tasty liquids out of something (basin, tub, tank, etc.) – it’s usually something like gasoline or, in my parents’ case, dirty poo-filled turtle water. Secondly, you wish it were something tasty because your mouth is involved and will almost certainly come into contact with the aforementioned nasty liquid. Even if it’s for a half second, it will be the grossest half second of your life.

I used the memory of my parents sucking on a siphon tube to put the turtle poo water into buckets and engineered a solution to my broth problem.

Please ignore my crazy face, but I was excited.

Okay, close-up…

Solution: straws! Lots of straws!

I own two sets of reusable straws, and it just so happens that the bent metal ones fit snugly into the straight plastic ones. After nearly burning my hands while holding straws through which hot liquid was flowing, my boyfriend came to my aid and handed me my oven mitts… and took the photos you just saw. What a guy!

Believe it or not, this home-made siphon worked perfectly. My straws aren’t even messed up! I made gravy out of a cup of the broth and froze the remainder for future use. Best part: the liquid wasn’t poopy turtle water, but tasty tasty beef broth!

PS: My parents still have my turtle, Lucky, in their condo in sunny Florida. 🙂

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