Monday, December 29, 2008

The Joy of Stock!

Happiness is a refrigerator full of stock.

I get a lot of accolades for making my own stock, but let me let you in on a little secret: If it was complicated, I wouldn't be doing it. Having homemade stock on hand is the easiest way to make yummy, flavorful food (not just soup!) and incredibly good for you to boot.

The basics: Buy a chicken (preferably organic, free-range, etc.) and roast it. Have I lost you already? Okay, buy a rotisserie chicken. Or two. Eat the meat for dinner and then throw the bones and all that good stuff from the roasting pan (yes, I mean the fat too, that's where the flavor is!) into the pot with some leftover wine or apple cider vinegar (about 1/2 a cup), a whole yellow onion, a couple of unpeeled carrots, and the butt end of a celery or celery leaves. Cover with water, bring it to boiling, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 24 hours. Cool, then strain and toss the veggies and scraps to the dogs (the bones are soft now).

I know, I know, you have to leave it on all night. If that worries you, do it in the crock pot. But make sure your crock pot doesn't contain lead, which many do. The wine or vinegar is important because its acidity leaches the minerals from the bones. All the good stuff from your veggies gets into the stock too, which can be reduced to a sauce later, and eaten over mashed potatoes or pasta. Mmmmm. What a fun way to eat your greens.

If you have beef bones, brown them first to bring out the flavor, then cook them for 36 hours (yes - three days!) and be sure to cool it and discard the fat. In both cases, be sure to check if it needs more water as it's cooking. I don't salt it until I'm ready to use it, in case I reduce it for sauce. If you're in a hurry for some beef stock, go ahead and strain after 12-24 hours, but then use the bones again with more veggies and wine/vinegar.

This is one of the secrets of ancient diets that kept people healthy. Why do you think they are making cancer treatments out of shark cartilage? And why is chicken soup the Jewish Penicillin? Give it a try. If you make beef stock let me know, and I will share my mother's amazing minestrone soup recipe!

One more tip - save and freeze your vegetable scraps. I know I really sound like your grandmother now, but those onion peels give your stock such a nice color. Keep adding to your zipper slide gallon bag every time you chop just about any veggie, and when you are ready to make stock, you'll be all set.

Once you've tasted your favorite recipes with homemade stock, there's no going back. You will treasure and cherish your bones. And truly have no shame about how you acquire them. Picture me, for instance, walking around the kitchen last night snatching up gnawed on chicken wings from the everyone's plates. It's okay, really. I'm going to boil them, after all.

Click here if you want to read more from the professionals, but while the weather outside is frightful, you should really make some stock!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Cocoa!!!

Courtney is thirteen today! We love you soooo much, Cocoa.

This picture was taken when you were eleven and you have changed so much! But since you said it's your favorite picture in the whole world, I thought it was the one to post.

Our lives would not be the same without you! Your bubbly, passionate personality and hard-working, can-do attitude are an amazing combination. God has blessed you richly, and we pray your life will be to His glory.

I'm so excited about our day together today!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wii Bummer

We've been enjoying an early family Christmas gift of Wii Fit. I have never liked video games, but I LOVE this. It's a pretty good work out with yoga, strength training and aerobics. And I can out-ski Dan! In real life he skis blacks, and I slide down the hill on my rear end.

It's also cute to see the little ones try yoga, and hear Cade's sound effects while he's boxing. My current goal is to beat Jack's score on the hula-hoop. All in all, good family fun.

I was also excited to see some pounds dropping when I signed in and did my body balance test each day.

But the bummer part came today when I heard Katherine laughing when she did her body test. "Haha it says I've lost sixteen pounds." WHAT? If Kat lost 16 pounds she'd probably have to be hospitalized. She checked the bathroom scale and found she really hadn't changed at all.

That is not what I wanted to hear.

I'm going to back to living in my wii dream.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dinner Hour

Homemade stock, free-range meat, and organic vegetables... I think I'm taking good care of my family, but if I forget to serve it, I guess it doesn't do much good.

It's pretty sad when my two-year-old has to bring me his plate and a spoon (while I'm sitting at my computer, I must admit) to remind me that he hasn't eaten. It was one of those nights... people heading out to basketball and church, others coming and going from our home, and quite a scene of costumed children (having so much fun that I didn't want to interrupt their play just to eat). Before I knew it it was 8 p.m. and half the family hadn't eaten dinner... until Bode made his point with dishes in hand.

The good thing is he was really hungry! He ate a lot better than he does at 5:30.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Home Alone

I had forty-five minutes ALONE in my house today. I started thinking about adopting children someday. It was really quiet.

But then remembered this blog, and that I still needed to figure out how to post pictures. It's kind of a small picture for such a big family.

But I did it. All by myself!