Come over and join me for discussions on Real Food! Ask your questions, link to your own blog, post your recipes, whatever you like. Hope to see you there!
Come over and join me for discussions on Real Food! Ask your questions, link to your own blog, post your recipes, whatever you like. Hope to see you there!
Perfectly gellied Chicken Broth
One of the biggest eye openers I came across when I started my in depth reading about Real Food is that the purpose of broth is not only to add taste to recipes, it is also an incomparable source for a whole whack of vital nutrients.
Not only that, but did you know that the broth that you buy, whether in as cubes or in liquid form, is actually really not any good for you, even if organic? That's right, my sources tell me that they ALL contain MSG, not to mention all kinds of sodium and who the heck knows what else. I promptly headed home and threw out all my packaged broths and vowed to get with the program.
Now I make my own broths, from bones.
The wonderful thing about Real Food and Traditional Foods is that this stuff I'm relating to you is not new fangled hocus pocusy health nut stuff. It's the way that traditional societies have always known to prepare food. We've just lost touch and forgotten about all that stuff in the name of convenience.
Making your own bone broth is SO easy to do, there's no reason why not to do it. It's chock full of essentially minerals, gelatin (which is so important to be consuming during stomach bug season as it attracts and gets rid of viruses somehow and the word chelation comes to mind. Don't ask me how it works, though, because I don't know. I just like that idea), and all sorts of nutrients that are essential to healthy bones and teeth.
A really good stock will gelly up in the fridge but will be liquid when you heat it up. The trick to getting this effect is not to add too much water. I made a whole lot of broth before I figured it out first, so I'm passing on the knowledge to help you get it right the first time.
Now, the tricky part is consuming this broth only because we aren't huge fans of any soup in this house, unless it's my homemade chicken soup, and we can only eat that so often. I use it as my stock in chili and for cooking my Beatmalls. In order to benefit from the healing and nourishing powers of bone broth, you should aim to consume a cup a day, which, of course is easier said than done. Since I've switched back to white rice we consume a bit more than we did before (more on that later) and I use the stock in place of water to cook, simply adding a little sea salt for flavour.
My tastiest broth comes from the bones of my roasted chicken. We devour the chicken and I remind everyone not to throw away their large bones or the carcass. I leave some meat and gristle on the bones for added depth of flavour. Chicken broth I simmer for 24 hours.
I also periodically make broth from beef bones. These I can pick up from my local organic grocer for just a few dollars a bag. First I roast them lightly on a cookie sheet in the oven, and of course I inhale the marrow. Did you know it's 80% fat? Mmmm...drooling just thinking about it.
If you're pressed for time you don't have to roast the bones.
So all you need is:
• A collection of bones, from either a chicken, turkey, bovine or any other organically, pastured animal you are lucky enough to get your hands on.
• Filtered water.
• 2 tablespoons of vinegar, which apparently helps to leach the minerals from the bones.
• You can add anything you like to the stock, such as veggie scraps or garlic, but you don't have to. I prefer to add veggies to soups afterwards when I make them anyways.
• A large stock pot.
• A free burned on your stove (or a crockpot will work as well) as this process is lengthy.
1. Roast your bones if desired.
2. Place bones in your stock pot.
3. Cover with water until the water rises about 1" above your bones.
4. Add vinegar.
5. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.
6. Add anything else you'd like, such as veggie scraps or garlic.
7. Cover and leave to simmer.
I leave my chicken broth to simmer for a full 24 hours. Broth made from beef bones is left for 72 hours. Always check on the water levels but with the lid on and the heat low, they shouldn't drop much, even after all that time.
Let the stock cool, and then, using a strainer and cheesecloth, strain until your broth is relatively clear. Sometimes I forget the cheesecloth and just use a dirty broth, but that's mainly because I'm lazy or have run out of cheesecloth. I'd suggest freezing it in small, open mouth mason jars, because then it's so easy to add to any recipe. If you freeze too large a portion you'll have a hard time using it up. 1 cup allotments is the perfect size, I find.
And that's that! Easy as pie and you've got a really nourishing and nutritions base for your cooking!
Then you can freeze or use right away.
This post was shared at Fat Tuesday on the Real Food Forager.
For a long, long time I believed that milk from cows was not fit for human consumption. I had a couple of solid reasons backing me up, but the key consideration was the fact that my body just didn't like it. After puberty, that glass of milk I'd enjoyed as a child only served to bloat me like a hot air balloon.
Growing up my brother were given milk to drink alongside our glass of orange juice for breakfast. Milk was freely available and the drinking of it was encouraged, despite the fact that my mother herself never drank it. It was what kids drank, and it still is.
But not for my kids.
My first two kids were all breastfed past the age of two. Once weaned they drank water and the occasional amount of juice. But milk to me, in the conventional format, has always reeked of dairy board collusion and the way it's hawked to us all through intensive and ongoing advertising campaigns is really tantamount to the drug pushing of Big Pharma, is it not? How many times has the fact that my kids don't drink milk been met with looks of horror because I'm allowing their bones to turn to rubber? The general public has bought into the idea, hook line and sinker, that without 2 - 4 servings of milk a day, all of us will end up with osteoporosis by the age of 50.
What is conventional milk? Conventional milk is a very highly processed industrial food product. Yes, it is. VERY highly processed. In fact, it's so processed that many of the nutrients we are supposed to be deriving from it NATURALLY have had to be added back in, including vitamins A and D. Not only does the high heat pasteurization process destroy these naturally occuring nutrients, but if you remove the fat from milk, you also remove the fat soluble vitamins. That's not so hard to figure out.
Have you ever picked up one of those little milk packets at the café and actually read the label? The "milk" in these containers has been modified to such an extent that it cannot actually be called milk. Instead you'll see them labelled "Dairy Milkers".
So past the factory like conditions in which dairy cows are enslaved (perhaps not so much here in Canada where laws are much stricter, but for sure in the US where demand for milk is ENORMOUS), we've got the pasteurization process and the homogenization process. For an in depth look at the evolution of the modern dairy industry and an explanation of how these process came into being, I'd suggest you pick up a copy of The Untold Story of Milk. It's a rather disturbing read and I've once again been made aware of how lucky I am to be living in Canada where demand for product is much lower than in the US.
In theory, these two processes are designed to both save us from certain death (they don't) and to allow milk a weeks' long shelf life (they do), but what they also do is impact greatly on our health.
Now, here's where my non-scientific self comes in. There are TONS of studies out there both on the positive and negative impacts of drinking processed milk. I'm not going to list them for you because they are easy enough to find through a Google search, so you do the leg work if you need convincing. I don't. I'm convinced. But THIS article was very very timely and backs up my feelings exactly, so I will share it with you. And I quote:
"Farm milk consumption has been identified as an exposure that might contribute to the protective effect of farm life on childhood asthma and allergies. The mechanism of action and the role of particular constituents of farm milk, however, are not yet clear."
(Source:The protective effect of farm milk consumption on childhood asthma and atopy: The GABRIELA study)
So for those of us, once again, who buy into the theories of the Weston A. Price Foundation, this is a kind of pointless study. We know already, both from reading the works of Dr. Price and from the tons of anecdotes on the tons of Real Food blogs, that drinking milk straight from the cow is a health promoting practice. After all, it IS breastmilk, and look what that has done for our babies. Granted, we're not cow babies, but we're also not strictly reliant on cow milk for our survival. We do eat food.
Upon having started reading all the literature in depth when I rediscovered my love for the Real Food movement, it quickly became apparent that while I am very fortunate in many areas (local egg lady, farm fresh CSA produce, freshly slaughtered quarter beef bit for my freezer), I am SEVERELY and perhaps permanently deprived in the raw milk department unless I a) can make really really good friends with a small scale dairy farmer, or b) buy my own cow and find someone to board it for me.
Oh, Québec. You bring me $7/day daycare and you expose me to a beautiful and very challenging culture but you don't allow me to CHOOSE to drink my milk unpasteurized.
I will tell you, I have yet to encounter a problem to which I cannot find a workaround, and I am communing with the universe to connect my path with that of a dairy farmer or a lonely cow, so I may yet be able to add the consumption of raw milk to my bucket list.
In the meantime, however, I feel very fortunate to be able to purchase low temperature pasteurized and unhomogenized milk at my local organic green grocer. That's a step in the right direction, even if it does come in squishy plastic bottles.
This stuff still hurts my stomach. It still gives my kids diarrhea when I attempt to increase their daily consumption. But the cream rises to the top and it is not fat reduced, so that's a start. And on Wednesdays when I pick it up I stick one bottle in the fridge and make the other into a deliciously tart, fully fermented living yogourt that my body does appreciate.
Milk may just do a body good after all, but not YOUR kind of milk. Consider yourself warned.
Though I have had every intention of really getting into the Real Food thing on my blog, the problem is that I just haven't been able to plain old figure out where to start. It's a chicken and the egg kinda thing, and I'm a bit intimidated by the knowledge that if I write too much your eyes will go all googly and I'll have lost you, perhaps forever.
But my good ol' baby bro gave me some fodder for a starting point, so please indulge me while I jump straight into the deep end.
Health Really Does Originate in the Gut
I sent along this really interesting article to my brother today from The Mommypotamus on the real cause of acne. I'd sent it for him to pass along to a friend who I happen to know has had acne issues. The article suggests that the true causes of acne are rooted in the gut, to oversimplify things.
Let me preface my brother's response and my initial interpretation of it by stating that he's my Sid the Science Guy. Sometimes I just can't figure out how my parents could have produced us, we're such polar opposites (except in the looks category - we've both kinda lucked out there:).
I've been singing my song for years, quite loudly at times, and let's just say that he's been known to imitate duck sounds in response. In fact, he's gone so far as to spell out the sound that ducks make in an email to me in response to something I'd touched on. But we've learned to keep a healthy distance when it comes to certain subjects, and I do appreciate his perspective on a number of issues. Plus I love him dearly. He's my only sibling and he did once let me dress him up like a girl.
So his response to this really interesting article (note, I do not suffer from acne) was:
"Eh. Yet again food solves or causes all woes?"
Now, originally I had interpreted his response to suggest that he felt I was way off base, once again, but in fact, he has clarified his reaction. What he meant was that he's tired of thinking about food as a way to fix things, rather than something to just enjoy. And I can't say I blame him as he's got Type 1 diabetes. Living with this sort of a condition would give one an entirely different perspective on food.
So my fantastic premise for jumping into my take on Real Food has kind of been pulled out from under my feet because I was going to go into science versus instinct approaches to nutrition, but so much for that, because he didn't mean what I thought he meant. But never mind. I've already started writing so might as well finish, right?
Now, if you subscribe at all to the theories of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the idea that the cause of your acne originates in your gut won't be news to you. To me, it resonates STRONGLY. I full believe in the idea that all health originates in the gut. And I believe that this refers not only to physical health, but to mental health as well.
And as time goes by, this belief is becoming easier and easier to translate into practice in my household. I've understood and subscribed to the Real Food philosophies since I was first introduced to them at the age of 25 through the NHC Institute here in Montreal, but then life got busy. I got married, I got pregnant, I had a baby, I created a business, I had another baby, I created another business, and then I had another baby. There hasn't been tons of time for breathing, let alone cooking.
Now, though, post-babies, in a relatively well-established business and with three kids in full-time care, I am making the time to breathe again and to focus on the one thing I have been truly and consistently passionate about on some level all these years, namely, food.
This past June, my darling husband decided, as he does periodically, that it was once again time to deny himself the pleasure of certain foods in the name of weight loss. I'm always all for these initiatives of his because it usually means a total and complete cessation of the consumption of sugar, and who isn't in awe of anyone who can stick to such a committment for any amount of time?
But this time he decided to go a step further and cut out the things he considered "carbs", such as grains.
My husband has been a low level sufferer of digestive issues for years. He's not largely overweight and he eats well, normally, and yet he's experienced chronic nasal congestion and snoring along with the kinds of symptoms caused by chronic inflammation of the digestive track. I won't get into the details of the latter because he'd kill me.
So anyways, he cut out grains and he cut out sugar. And fast forward two months and not only had he lost 10 pounds without exercising, but his chronic congestion had disappeared and his bowel function could now be classified as healthy and normal (I only know this because I found a poop chart on the internet and we had a discussion about it. We're not that intimate and I hope we never will be).
Initially I thought that perhaps he was gluten intolerant as we went out to eat and he had the calamari, which was fried in batter, and then had a relapse in the digestive department, but it seems that may have been more viral than anything else. The next time he allowed himself to slip he did not experience any problems.
All this to say, by making a change in his consumption habit and by identifying a component of the modern North American diet that we have been told is a health food (grains and whole grains), he gave his gut the time to heal from a problem that has probably been plaguing him for most of his adult life. And a condition that most would consider unrelated, his chronic congestion, cleared up.
And this, my friends, has been the most incredibly validating experience for me. I have all the proof I need to fully and wholeheartedly jump right back into the world of Real Food and envelop myself in it in the home. I learned about bone broths and am working on incorporating them into our daily food intake. We changed our purchasing habits pretty drastically and now buy only fresh produce and unprepared meats. We consume three cartons of eggs from our local egg lady a week and butter by the pound, and I've done my homework and found the closest thing to raw milk that's available to us in the this crazy province if we don't happen to be neighbours to a cow. My freezer is full of a quarter of a beef, all nicely packaged and organized.
I soak my family's oatmeal nightly. I strain my homemade yogourt to make a creamy cottage cheese and use the whey in green smoothies to increase our probiotic consumption. I actually used up a large amount of the pears from our tree in healthy, low grain baking and I didn't let them rot. I used all the apples we picked at the organic orchard in crumbles and my kids ate them two or three times a day.
My plan for my new kitchen (due in April - stay tuned as I chronicle the renovation journey in all its splendour) includes a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer with a grain grinding attachment so that if I do need to use grains I can rest assured that my flour is as fresh as can be.
Next year I plan to learn how to can those pears, should we be lucky enough to have such a perfect and abundant harvest again. I will learn how to lacto-ferment vegetables and maybe we'll even enjoy eating them. Maybe I will learn how to make jelly from the grapes that grow on our vine. And who knows, one of these years maybe I'll actually be able to slow down enough to enjoy gardening.
It's all a journey and it's one I'm happy to have re-embarked on. And if you'd like to come along for the ride, I'd really appreciate the company!
This post was shared at Fat Tuesday
I'm so thrilled to have found an organic apple orchard within driving distance of Montreal. Did you know that apples are on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list? It's the first item on the list, in fact, so it's a fruit that we should be making every effort to eat organic if possible!
I came home with two huge grocery bags full of apples, and my usual fear that I wasn't actually going to do anything with them and end up having to compost them, but guess what? They are GONE!
So happens the kids love eating apples, but I also made four apple/pear crumbles in one week. I still have tons of pears, but that's only because it takes them so dang long to ripen. Pear crumbles, here we come!
Do you want a super easy and tasty desert recipe that you can really enjoy, and which will also help you to quickly use up those huge bags of apples sitting in your basement? Well, here it is!
• 5 cups of thinly sliced apples, or a combo of apples and pears, or any fruit, for that matter, fresh or frozen.
• 1/4 cup of flour, either regular whole wheat or you could use oat flour.
• 1/2 cup rolled oats (I did see a recipe for a soaked oats version of crumble somewhere, but I haven't tried it out yet)
• 1/3 of a cup of sugar (you could easily use Sucanat or coconut sugar in this equation. The fruit is so sweet on it's own that it's really just for the crust)
• 1/4 cup melted butter.
• 1 tsp cinnamon (OPTIONAL).
• 1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut flakes (OPTIONAL).
Preheat over to 325°.
Spread the fruit in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish.
In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the dry ingredients together. Pour the melted butter into the mix, and mix it all up until the butter is thoroughly incorporated into the dry ingredients and the mixture has formed crumbs.
Spread the dry mix on top of the fruit.
Pop into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown the fruit is soft.
So I took the kids and my parents and headed up to Beaver Lake in order to try out my new camera. I took 327 shots, and managed to delete at least 200 of them. These are what I consider the best of the lot, and I would LOVE a critique of both my composition and technical stuff.
I'm going for a depth of field look as much as possible, however I'm not sure that I am quite achieving it. I tend to use the AV (Aperature Priority mode) and I like to leave it at 2.8. I think that works best when I'm right up in people's faces, correct? The camera determines the shutter speed and I sometimes fiddle with ISO to brighten things up, but I'm a bit paranoid about doing that this early in the game. So I have done some after photo editing to brighten things up a bit. It feels like cheating, though. Is it cheating? Or is that the name of the game in DSLR land?
This post was shared at Real Food Wednesday on Kelly The Kitchen Kop.
It took me 32 years to figure this out, but I did it. I can roast the perfect chicken (or two), and it's the easiest technique EVER!
I don't like fancy chicken. I like a good, barbeque-type roasted chicken. My family likes dark meat, because it's so yummy and juicy, and this method that seals the skin and keeps the juices contained so that even the white meat is almost edible. At the very least, it can be used on salads or in soup afterwards. And then, of course, you have a tasty carcass to use for stock. Do not throw out that carcass! I'll get around to stock in the next few days.
Washed and ready for flavouring!
Spiced and waiting for their turn in the oven.
My spice mix.
My little chickens, roasting happily in the oven.
Done and ready to EAT!
All you need is a chicken or two (organic, pastured, if you can find them), some barbeque spices, a roasting pan, an oven and you're good to go! If you have potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, all the better, as you can roast the veggies in the juices at the same time using the bottom of your roasting pan.
1 or 2 or even 3 medium sized roasters.
1 BBQ spices, either purchased in a pack, or made using equal amounts of sea salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, thyme and cumin. I prefer to buy it premixed as I have an organic spice brand I like.
If you plan on roasting veggies in the chicken juices, you'll need about three medium potatoes, 2 large carrots, and a mix of whatever other veggies you can squish into the bottom of your pan.
• Preheat over to 395°, on the roast setting if you have one. A short high heat exposure crisps and seals the skin.
• If you will also be roasting root veggies, clean and cut them up into large chunks and arrange evenly in the bottom of your drip roasting pan.
• Wash and pat dry a decent sized roaster (chicken).
• Position roasters on your drip roasting pan top tray.
• Dust liberally with your barbeque spices.
• Pop the whole setup into your oven, on the bottom rack.
• Set your timer for 20 minutes.
• When the timer goes off, drop the temperature in the over to 325°.
• Set the timer for another hour and 20 minutes.
• Once the timer goes off for the last time, puncture the now crispy skin in a few places and see if the juices run clear. If they do, you are good to remove and enjoy! If the juices are a bit bloody, pop the chicken back in for another 20 minutes.
Well, it's always good to have a backup plan, right? Or something to aspire to? I'm hoping that I can just enjoy this photography thing as a hobby and not feel like I have to DO something with it. Because every time I jump on to a creative bandwagon like this it usually ends up as a part of my business plan.
My plate is pretty full these days with that stuff, so hopefully that will be enough to convince me that I need to take pictures for fun only.
Anyways, I don't know what the heck I'm even doing, yet. Kind of getting ahead of myself.
I picked up a Canon Rebel T2i. I got the T2i rather than the T3i because as I understand it I would have paid $200 more for a flip out viewer. Surely I must be missing something.
I opted to go with just the body rather than the kit because I have learned that kit lenses, ie - the lenses that come with the kit, aren't worth the money. Instead I got a Tamaron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II, which was essentially the least expensive lense that would do what I needed it to do. And what I need it to do is to take pictures of my kids. If it can do that, it's totally worth the money!
Why do companies keep advertising awards they won over half a decade ago? Does that mean the technology has not advanced in all this time?
So tomorrow I'm planning on heading up to Stanstead for Townshippers Day as it's supposed to be a beautiful day and should provide me with a good opportunity to test out my new baby! Stay tuned for photos.
In the meantime, here are a few more I took last week with Joyce's camera.
I had to post this one because Fred is not happy with me for posting that pic of his mouth last week...
Food is my happy place. After a long(ish) day of work, the easiest way to get my thoughts off the challenges of the day is to solve problems that do not relate to business. And my favourite problem to solve is that of making sure that my children are as nourished as they possibly can be.
I'm talking physically nourished here, just to clarify. The other kinds of nourishment can be found on the blogs of other moms.
Azure has never given me cause to worry on the food front. She's always had diverse tastes and thankfully she's always loved smoothies. You can hide anything in smoothies (except for fermented cod liver oil. There ain't nothing that can disguise the taste of that nastiness, but more on that in a future post). And she has always understood the relationship between what she eats and how it affects her body, at least from the perspective of whatever age she has been.
Ione is not the best of eaters, though her size would indicate otherwise, but I'm still nursing her and making sure I am well-nourished, so I'm not yet concerned. She's got time to swing in one direction or the other.
My little Phoenix, on the other hand, is a whole challenge and a half.
I know I'm supposed to be greatful that she likes as many foods as she does. I know I'm supposed to quip, "well, I was a picky eater and I turned out okay." But did I, really? And what if I want my kids to be more than just "okay", because just okay is not good enough? From that angle, she really is not a very good eater.
Phoenix is the kid you kind of worry about. She's healthy as a horse, is never sick, has met or exceded all her milestones, and so on and so forth. But she's a small kid and she hasn't got much on her, and certainly nothing to spare should she ever come down with something (knock wood). And the fact that I can't get the right kind of foods into her is a real cause for concern.
Foods Phoenix will eat:
• Oatmeal (it's the only breakfast option other than French toast or homemade pancakes)
• Tortellini and pesto, packaged. She LOVES tortellini and pesto.
• Apples, tons of apples
• For a while there all she wanted to eat was bananas. Now she will eat the occasional banana.
• Juice (which, if we give her, is limited to an ounce a day, watered down, and more infrequently).
• Broccoli, especially if frozen.
• Roasted cauliflower (mmmm...so easy and so good)
• Sweet potatoes as oven fried chips.
• My Add Anything Meatballs, which can be stuffed full of veggies.
• My chicken soup.
• I'll add more as I think of them!
So here's the problem: Phoenix has a cavity. If you click on this picture and look between her two front teeth, you'll see it. You'll also notice that her gum are ripped off the teeth on her upper right, due to a face-against-the-headboard-while-jumping accident from last Christmas day. Fun little buggers, those teeth.
What's the big deal, right? We go to the dentist, she gets it drilled and filled, and off we go.
EXCEPT I've done a lot of reading recently on what a bad idea that is. And not only that, but apparently, under the right circumstances, teeth can heal themselves. They are, after all, living tissues. The reason they decay is not, in fact, due to all the reasons your dentist has been feeding you all these years (but do not stop brushing your teeth!), but rather because they are a mineral rich research and when the body is out of balance it pulls minerals out of teeth and bones to maintain equilibrium.
It's largely about what you eat.
And this kid doesn't eat enough variety.
See my dilemma? I could FIX it, if only she'd let me! This is a problem to which there is a wonderful and apparently very accessible solution.
This is one of those times where ignorance is bliss and I simply know too much.
I will try to be grateful that this cavity is in a baby tooth.