This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just a Bag 'O Bones...

Roasted Bones

swim to make stock 12 hrs later

Meet Chuck Roast the next day

And finally become beef stew!
   But what those bones can do for you!  For the past two days I have been making homemade beef stock by starting with a bunch of bones from grass fed animals.  I usually buy mine direct from a farmer but this time I went to Whole Foods and bought the bones from Baldwin Family Farms, about an hour up the road near Yanceyville.  I have been making my own stock for several years now...mostly chicken and beef.  I sometimes make fish stock, which is also excellent, just take care to avoid fish with high mercury levels.
    What these bones can do for you is nothing short of amazing.  Properly prepared broth has all kinds of minerals that the body can use such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals.  It even contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, so instead of buying pricey supplements, you can just make some broth.  To me, this is what the world needs and has been missing from our lives since the advent of industrial food.  Yes, the food scientists can make a broth that may taste like real, but MSG and all those laboratory food flavors won’t keep your bones strong.  Maybe that’s why kids today break their bones at the slightest bump these days.  For a beautiful treatise on the benefits of broth and further details on how to make it, check out this article from 2000 called “Broth is Beautiful.”
    The short version of making beef broth... my project this week, is to get those big ol’ bones-- some meaty and some marrow bones and as many kinds as you can get and roast the bones for an hour at 350 degrees.  Then put the bones into a stock pot and fill with filtered cold water.  You can add kitchen scraps such as onion shavings, celery and carrots and also add something acidic to draw the minerals out of the bones.  I like to use  Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (it says “with the Mother” on the jar) and put about a 1/4 cup into a full stockpot.  I have seen some people say this is optional or put in about 2 tbs... I don’t know that there is consensus on this so experiment and add how much you want.  I do think it is good to add at least some vinegar or lemon juice.  I let all the ingredients sit in the cold water pot for about 1/2 an hour before putting it on the heat to get to a boil.  Make sure you watch to get the scum that rises to the top just before boiling and scoop that out with a spoon to remove the off flavoring of the scum.  Once you hit the full rolling boil, put it down to simmer and let the simmering go on for 12 hours or even more if you are game.  When I am ready to “harvest,” I follow Sally Fallon’s advice from Nourishing Traditions and add parsley for the last ten minutes to add additional nutrients at the end.  Then let the stock cool and separate the broth from the rest of the “gunk.”  When it is cool enough, store the jars of stock in the fridge overnight to let the fat rise to the top.  When it has settled to the top, you can take that fat layer and save it to use for cooking vegetables.  
    If you have used enough good bones, your stock should “jiggle” when it is in the fridge.  It won’t just be a clear liquid although if you do just get that it is still fine to use.  This is my cooking nirvana moment... when I see that my broth has achieved jiggle status.  Now this broth is the base for soups, rice, stew meat and even just drunk warm like a tea and this is food that will fill you not only with warmth and fill your house with a wonderful aroma, it will feed your body the nutrients you need!  The broth will keep in the fridge for a few days but it is also good to freeze some for later use so that you can banish canned stock from your home.  Remember the saying “a chicken in every pot?”  Well, we need to become a nation of “broth simmering on every stove top.”  Imagine if we drank as much broth as we do soda in this country... not scientific but I’d venture that we’d have a much healthier nation.

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