We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent Season: Music for Advent

Well, the Christmas music has started on the local radio stations.  Since they'll stop playing it on December 26th (only the 2nd day of Christmas, y'all - not to be too much of a curmudgeon about it), we will enjoy it while it is around.

But I also like to play some Advent music, too!  Hard to find on the local radio stations, but if you do a search on Youtube for Advent music playlists, you'll find some.

Here's one I put together:

Friday, November 28, 2014

Super Easy Bone Broth in 4 Steps!

So, have you heard all the hoopla about BONE BROTH?  If not, go read those links.  It's really just the hip new way of referring to something that homemakers have known about for an awfully long time: making stock.  And it is so simple!

Here's how I do it in the slow cooker:

STEP 1) Save the bones from any meat you've recently eaten (chicken carcass, turkey carcass, beef bones from steak, etc).  You can also ask for bones from your butcher, but it is recommended that you cook the bones before using them if they are raw.  Some people will save bones in the fridge or freezer until they have enough to make broth.  I'd say you'd want bones from about 5 pounds of meat, at least.

Here is the broth above at the 18 hour
mark.  You can see the color is a nice
dark gold.  The flavors have started
to mellow. 
STEP 2) Throw the bones into a crock pot with a splash of vinegar (helps pull minerals from the bones), enough water to just about cover the bones, some veggies for flavor, herbs, if you like, salt and pepper.  For veggies, I usually use an onion and 2-3 stalks of celery, maybe a carrot.  Anything else you have on hand is good - I used a bunch of parsley that I had leftover from Thanksgiving this time. The broth will have a distinct vinegar scent at first which will mellow and disappear by the time the broth is done.

The broth after 24 hours.
The color hasn't darkened significantly,
but the carcass has broken down quite a
bit.  Bones are still hard at this point,
but beginning to release their gelatin
making the broth quite unctuous.
STEP 3) Set the cooker on "LOW" and let it do its job for the next day or two.  Yes - day or two!  The broth will darken and mellow... you'll even begin to see a gelatinous oil towards the end... and those bones may get positively soft.  That's all good!!  If you just can't wait that long, you can take it out at the 18 hour mark.  But, oh, do try to wait a little longer!  The results are much better.

Bone broth at about 36 hours.
Notice the color has gone from dark
golden to a rich brown.  Bones are soft
and crumble when squeezed with your
fingers. It could be left it cook longer,
but I think this is a perfect point to
finish the broth.
STEP 4) Once you are satisfied with the broth (anytime after the 18 hour mark, but I'd suggest letting it go for at least 24 hours), let it cool a bit and remove the larger bits of veggies and bones with a slotted spoon.  Then carefully (get someone to help with this) pour it through a sieve and into another container.  Now you can serve it, use it for soup, or store it.

Final product!  I wound up with
about 3 qts of broth which
I divided into two gallon ziploc
bags to freeze.
If you refrigerate it before using, you can skim off some of the excess fat, if you like.  I don't generally do this as I think that stuff is GOOD FOR YOU!  I let mine cool quite a bit and then freeze it in gallon freezer bags.

Do you make bone broth regularly for your family?

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a lovely day with family and/or friends...and for those of you who got snow, I hope you enjoyed it!!  My kids were a little jealous.

We had no company, nor did we travel for the first time in a LONG time.  It was a quiet and relaxed Thanksgiving.  Not how I'd want to spend every Thanksgiving, but it was nice this year.  

We laid out a craft paper banner for everyone to write or draw what
they were thankful for...this was so easy and enjoyable, that I think
it will be a new tradition!
Here is our table.  We have inherited quite a bit of china and
silver, but this is our wedding china.  I love using it!  
Mid-feast - (right to left) Artemisia, Kalliope and Erik.

(left to right: Faramir and Athos)

Our cat, Zeke, is a notorious
counter-surfer.  We had to put him
while we ate for fear he'd get into
turkey on the counter.  He sat on the
windowsill and pouted.

Faramir and Athos enjoyed a
checkers throwdown.

And at the end of the evening - the
turkey carcas, an onion, some
celery and the leftover parsley
all went into the crock pot with
water and a little vinegar (and salt
and pepper).  Bone Broth!!