Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chicken Broth

You could say I'm a bit of a recipe-aholic!  I love to read different recipes, and I collect them by the hundreds, even recipes I know I'll never make.  One must have fifty different salsa recipes!While recipe hunting this week, I read two on  One was a pork shoulder recipe, and the other was a chicken pasta recipe.  While reading the recipes, I became annoyed at the waste of the authors.  In both recipes, the authors indicated that cooks should discard perfectly good parts.  I'm not sure why it upset me so much - it could perfectly well be hormones - but I felt that the authors should encourage their audiences to not only reduce waste in the kitchen but also to use solid bases in recipes, like using homemade chicken stock.  Making your own chicken stock isn't nearly as difficult as it sounds, it's also a million dollars cheaper than buying stock in the long run, and you have complete control over the ingredients.  Packaged foods that have "spices" listed as an ingredient usually have gluten, soy, or msg in them.  Plus, it tastes fantastic. Packaged stock taste like dishwater in comparison.
Here is my super easy recipe for chicken stock:
Chicken bones, skin, fat, blood, ect  (to acquire this, keep a bowl or bag in your freezer.  When cooking chicken, place either cooked or uncooked chicken "waste" in the bag.  When you have enough to fill your crock pot, get ready to make stock)
Vegetable peelings (you should not use vegetables that are rotting or gross.  You can use things like carrot peels, celery leaves, onion and garlic paper, ect.  Make sure to use mild flavored vegetables like carrots, celery, summer squash, baby turnips, mild greens like spinach, ect.  You can save your veggie scraps in the same bag as the chicken parts)
One small onion chopped
2-3 peppercorns
Herbs (like parsley, bay leaf, celery seed, chive.  Use small amounts and experiment)
Dump everything into your crock pot and turn to high.  Add enough water to cover the chicken.  You want the crockpot to be at least 3/4 full, or it won't run properly.  I use a 3 quart crockpotand it holds one picked-clean chicken carcass, a cup or so of vegetable scraps, and a small onion.  If you have a larger crockpot, I envy you.  Use a larger onion and more scraps. 
Cover, bring to a simmer, and let simmer for at least 8 hours or overnight.  I like to start mine right before bed and leave running all night.  
When done, turn crockpot off and remove lid.  Let sit for 30 minutes or so, until the pot is somewhat cool.
Place a very large bowl in your sink and place a colander inside.  Carefully (using good hot pads) dump the stock from the crockpot into the bowl.  Pick up colander, and let drain for a minute.  Press a large spoon against the cooked scraps until the remaining liquid is drained.  Discard scraps (If you live in Seattle, you can add the scraps to your yard waste bin).
Place bowl in the fridge for several hours, until the stock thickens and the fat has solidified on the top.  Using a large metal spoon, scrape off the fat .  If you'd like, you can save the fat in a glass jar.  Keep it in your fridge for a month or in the freezer for 3 months.  It tastes fantastic on toast, or as the primary fat used in homemade french fries.
You can use the broth right away, or it will keep in the fridge for about a week.  You can also freeze the broth.  It should keep at least 4 months.  I like to freeze mine in ice cube trays, which are about 2 tablespoons for each cube.  I've also seen people freeze broth in their muffin pans, which are about 2/3 cup per cube.  You can also freeze in plastic bags or containers.
I'll post pictures the next time I make broth.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Vacationing with multiple food allergies is a nightmare.  At least for us, when we're on vacation we are more active and adventurous than normal.  We've hiked, kayaked, and snorkeled across parts of three countries now.  We need to feel great every day!  Thus, we must find a way to eliminate any chance of food contamination when traveling.  The simple solution?  Rent a condo!  This was our first big vacation in a condo, and we loved it.  I'm not sure we'll ever return to hotels.  


The best part about our condo on Maui was the view.  I'm not sure most restaurants on Maui could guarantee us this kind of show:

The second best part of having a condo is an opportunity to really sample the local foods.  I'm not talking about a bite of poi and poke at a luau.  I'm talking about real, locally-grown, heirloom fruits, vegetables, and meats.   Across the street from our condo was a daily produce stand with a wild variety of fresh summer produce.  That's right, in January we were eating local zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, purple sweet potatoes, and strawberries.  Plus, we had our fill of local heirloom bananas called apple bananas, strawberry papaya (a non-GMO papaya variety.  Most other varieties have been corrupted by GMO varieties planted), pineapple, passion fruit, star fruit, and mango.  And then there was the citrus, like pomegranates, limes, lemons, and oranges.  In short, I'm ready to move.


The kitchen was well equipped, for a rental kitchen, right down to the metal garlic press.  One item missing in particular was a metal loaf pan.  They only had glass.  This is why I don't recommend baking bread in a glass pan:

To be fair, the oven was also broken.  But still, bread should never look like that after being in an oven for two hours.  The oven also ruined the brownies.  It was sad:

But, we survived without baked goods for the trip.  The meal list:


Spaghetti with GF pasta 


Tacos with sprouted corn tortillas


Stirfry with brown rice - without soy sauce :(


Fresh grilled Mahi Mahi with grilled vegetables and sweet potatoes


Fresh grilled Walu with grilled vegetables


The meal list starts with meals we commonly eat at home, and slowly shifts towards less common meals made with readily available foods on Maui.  Eating tacos is great, unless the tortillas cost more than the meat.  And let me tell you about insane food prices!  I paid $13/lbs for "natural" chicken breasts.  Ouch.  Thankfully, neither of us can digest milk.  That saved us $8 a gallon.  By eating simple meals with all local ingredients, we were able to stick to our food budget. 


Most every day was started with a fresh fruit smoothie, made with whatever fruit we had on hand.  Fresh banana was almost always an ingredient and coconut milk made regular appearances:

Lunch was usually a salad, except for the last day.  I went all out and made a pasta salad with grilled eggplant, grilled tomatoes, and steamed green beans (and EVOO and lots of garlic).  I topped it with a hunk of leftover Walu.  Fantastic!


Dinner was always started after a long walk on the beach at sunset.  We were completely spoiled.  I'm so ready to move.


Of course, I forgot to take pictures of most of the meals, so I can only leave you with this to inspire jealousy:

I'm counting down the days until strawberry season.  The Wenatchee farmers promised me some in April.  We'll see if that happens.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming....

Around January 29th, I disapeared off the face of the earth.  There were two reasons for this:  Our internet died! and we left for Maui two days later, before the internet was fixed.  Now that we're back, and our internet is working again, I can return to posting.  I know, dear readers, that you've missed me dearly.  I missed you too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Words of Wisdom to Ponder...