Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicken Stock Epiphany

I know, I know. The language is a bit epiphany over chicken stock?!

But if you've read much on nutritious cooking, a good homemade stock pretty much gets #1 on the list of must-haves. It's full of minerals and valuable electrolytes, it's easy on your digestive system, promotes digestive healing, reduces allergies, helps your body get every bit of value out of the protein you eat, boosts your immune system, and is frugal and easy to make. Basically, it's a wonder food. You just have to know how to make it right.

My mom taught me how to make chicken stock when I was a teenager, and I had always used a relatively similar process. However, the nutrition experts said to simmer the stock for 6-24 hours to get the full nutrition from the marrow, and by then, my stock smelled so overcooked I didn't even want to taste it.

But I have overcome. And you can too. (if you care, that is). The secret is to simmer the bones for 6-24 hours, but add the veggies in only at the very end. It was the vegetables that were getting nastily overcooked.

This is my new method (my apologies to recipe lovers everywhere--just apply this method to your favorite stock recipe if you are into following rules and that kind of thing):

- Soak chicken bones in cold water to generously cover, along with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, for an hour or so. (The vinegar helps get the minerals and gelatin out of the bones and into your broth).
- Simmer on low heat all day, for 6-24 hours.
- An hour or two before you're taking it off, add two quartered onions (with the peel on), a couple celery stalks, several chunked carrots, parsley, salt, and whatever herbs you desire in the pot.
- Drain broth into a large bowl, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight. You'll know sweet success if your broth has turned into a gelatin--this means you've gotten all the good stuff! You can skim the fat, but it's a good-for you kind of unsaturated fat, so I usually keep it.
- I freeze my broth in two- and four-cup portions, and make an ice cube tray of broth cubes for those times where you just need a 1/4 c. of broth.

I am now making stock every time I get a good bag of leftover chicken bones saved up in my freezer, which is about every week or two. Since it's so nutritious, I substitute broth in for the water in casseroles, rice, stew, and even pasta sauces. It tastes 10 times better than Swansons, and is infinitely more nutritious.

Just had to share my latest culinary victory!

Convos, Take Two:

A few more conversations from the last few days:

Isaac, to Vance on a walk, just after Vance had beaten him in a race (Isaac was biking):
"Daddy, you're full of slowness. I'm full of fastness!"

(He's confident. Not a very good grip on reality, but the confidence he has in spades :)

Isaac, to me, as I spilled a good bit of pudding cake batter on the counter, in a disappointed voice:

"Mama, I'm not very impressed."

(do I get at least an E for effort? I was making dessert for a weekday meal, for crying out loud! That almost never happens! :)

They just keep coming at me...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Talking with Little People

One of the best parts of my job has to be the crazy and curious little conversations I have with my little ones during the day. They frequently say such crazy things, or make me say things I never thought would come out of my mouth. I know I've posted some of these on facebook, but since this is my "official" family record, they need to be taken down here as well...

At dinner:
Vance: "Isaac, would you pray tonight?"
Isaac: "Okay. GOD!! (big sigh) Stop the hateness!! Give us loveness! Amen."

Again, at dinner (wherein all the items on his plate are things he likes, but my arrival to the table veggie in hand was met with a cacophony of "BROCCOLI!!!!!!" from my if I never feed them green things):
Isaac: "Mama, can I have some more broccoli?"
Me: "Um, sweetie, you haven't eaten anything else yet. Eat some potato, and then you can have more broccoli."

At bedtime (wherein Isaac wanted me to put him to bed instead of Daddy):
Isaac: "I don't like you very much."
Vance: "Oh. Well, I love you. Do you love me?"
Isaac: "Yeah."
V: "Do you like me?"
I: "No."
V: "Oh. Well, I like you, Isaac."
I: (sighs) "yeah, me too."

Talking about the new baby:
Me: "Isaac, do you think the baby is a boy or a girl?"
Isaac: "I think it's a girl"
Me: "Why do you think that?"
I: "Because I like girls. Girls are my favorite!"
(Lock up your daughters, ladies :)

Claire hasn't come out with such extended strange talks, but she has her own slew of cute-isms. She is the most encouraging two-year old I know. She is constantly exclaiming over things I do, saying, "Good job, Mama! Good job!" She told me that yesterday when I was making dinner: "Good job, Mama! You are a good cooker!" (I'm sure the fact that we were having pasta for dinner did not sway her judgment in the least :)

She also likes to call me "honey" or "Terri" at random times. It's particularly sweet and unexpected when she calls me honey or sweetie. She will do that to Isaac too, and if he is crying or whining she will run to find him, calling, "What's wrong, honey?"

Claire wants to be a big girl, and tries to keep up with her big brother as best she can. Isaac has been sounding out lots of things lately, and she's trying to do the same. After a car ride full of Isaac's " B says, b, b, Bicycle!", Claire decided to try: "B says b, b, stroller!

She's almost got it, I think.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


that's how we feel tonight. And a little shaken up.

We were driving the bridge over the Bay tonight after church when we heard a sound like a gunshot. I whipped my head around to see Isaac's window splinter into a thousand shards, and then Isaac and Claire both started screaming. As Vance pulled over, I realized that Isaac was holding a tennis-ball sized chunk of concrete next to his face.

It was scary, what with all the screaming and the flying glass and the blood (which turned out to be from Isaac's nosebleed 20 min before). But when the glass settled, we realized how protected we'd been. Somehow that chunk of concrete came directly through Isaac's window and hit him in the face, yet he had nothing but a little rash from the abrasion. No blood...not even a scratch. Thank you, Lord.

In typical fashion, Isaac bounced back almost immediately--it shows you the power of childlike faith that he could immediately calm down because God was his protector--but Claire took on the fright and had a much harder time calming down. We drove home a little slower, with the window blown open, suddenly much more aware of how helpless we are to truly protect anyone we love. And suddenly much more grateful for the sovereign King who is able to do all that we cannot.