• Chicken Stock (Broth) Recipe

    I consider stock made from animal bones to be a panacea of good health.  I hadn’t always recognized their value.  I was introduced to the culinary concept by Chief and then got really in to learning about the health benefits.  Stock is also known by the term broth. While the two are essentially one in the same, stock is generally used to refer to a liquid made from boiling down bone, while broth is made from boiling down bones that still have a significant amount of meat on them.  Also, stock is a term that is sometimes used more in restaurants with a prescribed recipe whereas broth might be more scraps from whatever is available at home and will be slightly different every time.

    Stocks are really simple to do but they are full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that many people are lacking in our modern diet.  In our throwaway, removed-from-the-process lifestyle, making stocks has kind of gone by the wayside.   Ancient  cultures, conversely, were very resourceful in using up every part of the animal, understanding that not only were bones not meant to be discarded, but that is where some of the most vital nutrients of the animal were contained including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, gelatin, glucosamine-chondroitin and electrolytes.  The gelatin is an additional source of protein to the diet and is thought to help keep bones healthy while the glucosamine – chondroitin helps keep joints healthy.  Joints can sometimes be troubled as a result of over-training or arthritis.

    Besides the resourcefulness and health benefits, there is also the excitement of contributing to your confidence and pride as a cook by preparing your own stocks.  There is an irreplaceable, rich depth to homemade stock and it imparts a delicious flavor to everything you cook that requires stock in the recipe.

    Cooking it also makes a house smell comforting, and I love making our kitchen a space of experimentation and tradition.

    Stocks are a really important component for keeping you and your family healthy.  Broths are very easily digested so work well for supplying nutrients in the system when the body doesn’t have much energy to supply to digestion, like during times of illnesses or for the elderly or with anyone having digestion problems.  The liquid and electrolytes are also really good during times of dehydration during recovery or during times of over-exertion.

    Because stock is generally made out of any leftovers it is very inexpensive.  You can buy the leftover parts from the butchering process at a low cost or you can simply use  the carcasses you’d normally discard, like the remains of a roast chicken.  Using up these bits means that is an extremely frugal way to cook. Often times we’ll ask for some chicken backs at the meat counter and he gladly gives them away to us for a very low price.

    I’m going to put the recipe for chicken stock here because I think that is the one that’s easiest to do as a beginner, but know that you can follow the same general outline for broths of beef, lamb, etc.  Some of the red meats require roasting (about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F) before they are transferred to the stockpot.

    Equipment
    A large stockpot
    A strainer
    A slotted spoon

    Ingredients

    • 1 whole free range chicken or 2-3 pounds of chicken parts (bones, backs, gizzards, etc.)
    • 2 Tbsps vinegar
    • 4 quarts (one gallon) of cold, filtered water
    • 1 large onion, quartered
    • 2-3 carrots (coarsely chopped)
    • 3 celery stalks (coarsely chopped)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • Other vegetable odds and ends you may have on hand

    P1050053

    Basic Instructions

    Cut the chicken up in to several large pieces if using a whole chicken.  Put it in your stockpot with vinegar, onion, carrots and celery.  Let stand for about 30 minutes to an hour before turning on the burner and bringing to a boil.  Doing so helps to extract some of the vitamins and minerals with the vinegar.  Once it begins to boil, remove the scum that comes to the top.  It is important to do this step so that you can get rid of the stuff we don’t want and to help ensure clarity of the stock.  This is best done with a metal slotted spoon or a small mesh sieve.  Once all the scum has boiled off, reduce heat to a very low heat, cover and leave for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.  You want the water to be turning over to some extent but want to keep the heat as low as possible – not quite to a simmer.  You really won’t need to do much during this time so don’t be daunted by the long process.  It’s really nice to do when you’re around home on the weekends, etc. and makes the house smell lovely.

    The longer you simmer it, the more rich and flavorful the broth will be.  Note that the broth will not be salted until it is ready to be used so keep that in mind when testing the flavor as you go.  When you are finished, remove the bones or carcass with a slotted spoon.  After deliberating for the last year, we finally invested in a stock strainer and Chief is in such a state of joy over it now!  It really is quite handy.  If there is a fair bit of meat left on the bone, remove it to use for things like curry, chili, chicken salads, or enchiladas.  We recently used it as the meat for Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì), yum.  The skin or soft small bones can also be given to your dog or cat who will be very happy about the treat!  Larger bones can splinter so don’t feed those to animals.

    Strain the stock and put it in containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer.  We have made the mistake of putting it in glass containers that weren’t made for freezing and cracked them so be sure to get specially designed ones.  It also works well to just put them in Ziploc bags and freezing them that way.  Use larger gallon sizes if you are going to be making soups and smaller Ziploc bags for the times you just need a cup or so.

     

     

     

  • Vinegar Water Health Tonic

    Vinegar is a panacea that has been used over the millenia for internal and external bodily health and to maintain homes and possessions.  Vinegar has a wide range of healthy functions and can be used to help with anything from digestion to cleaning to cooking.  I use it in a lot of different ways but this post will focus on one of my habits that I do every day to maintain good health – drinking vinegar water.

    Vinegar is primarily  acetic acid and its etymology is related to the French words for sour wine.  It is created by a two-step fermentation process.  The first step in the process is the fermentation of sugar in to alcohol.  The sugar can be from any natural source.  In the case of apple cider vinegar (ACV), the source of the sugar is the juice of apples.  Other vinegars you may be familiar with come from other fruits or grains such as rice, malt, or grapes (for wine vinegar).  Once the alcoholic liquid has been produced from fermentation, the second part of the process begins.  Naturally occuring bacteria begin to combine the solution with oxygen.  This process forms the acetic acid solution we know as vinegar (along with other minerals, aminos and nutrients).  You might have experienced this naturally when you haven’t finished a bottle of wine and it goes sour.

    Vinegar has been touted to have amazing benefits.  It has been cited as preventing obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, cancer, common colds, arthritis and aging.  It is also thought to boost immunity and serve as a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent.  While some of these claims are pumped up, vinegar does have some real health benefits that I believe in:

    • Increases calcium absorption.  The acid in vinegar increases the body’s absorbtion of vital minerals, including calcium.  This is especially helpful for those who don’t consume dairy or suffer from osteopenia or osteoporosis.
    • Controls blood sugar levels. Consuming vinegar prior to a meal slows down the speed at which the carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the body.  When the sugars from the meal are released more slowly, the body doesn’t become so overwhelmed by the glucose.  In essence, drinking vinegar can help inhibit insulin sensitivity which can help control the onset or symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes.
    • Aids digestion.  Vinegar is full of prebiotics that are present from the bacteria involved in the fermentation process.  The prebiotics nourish naturally occuring intestinal bacteria (probiotics)  that live in the gut.  Keeping the intestinal bacteria balanced and happy can help irritable bowel syndrome or a bad tummy and keeps digestion moving along.
    • Eliminates heartburn.  People get heartburn for different reasons, but one of the reasons is that certain foods can cause the esophagus to relax which allows the acid in the stomach to rise up.  Drinking vinegar makes the esophagus contract which prevents the acid from rising up.  In the case of pregnancy, the esophagus is relaxed because the placenta is producing progesterone which relaxes the smooth muscles in the uterus.  This also causes the nearby esophagus to relax which is why heartburn is such a pain during pregnancy.
    • May aid in weight loss.  According to the Nutrition Diva (whose podcast I love), acetic acid activates certain genes that cause your body to store less fat around your waist. Instead the fat is deposited more evenly around the body.  It is also thought to increase thermogenesis which essentially makes your body run hotter using fat as the fuel, similar to my post on cold showers. Read more
  • Nauli for Good Digestion

    There are a number of kriyas associated with yoga that may seem freakish at first but are wonderful ways to care for the body.  The kriyas are various cleansing rituals that serve the purpose of keeping the body healthy, clear, and free of disease.  Some have become archaic since we now have more access to clean foods and drinking water but some still have a place in modern society.  One that I like to do every single morning when I wake up and before I consume anything is called nauli.  It is a way to massage the internal organs in the abdomen area, thereby working the abdominal muscles, the intestines, the reproductive organs and the whole digestive system.  One of the things this accomplishes is that it prevents the digestive system from getting too slow.  It relieves constipation and keeps things moving along.  It promotes a feeling of well being for me like I am cleared out and attentive to a key component of my health, superior digestion.  Expect to notice the digestive system in alert mode an hour or two after this exercise.  It’s a bit hard to explain and I won’t dig myself in to a hole by doing a YouTube video that could result in an infamous claim to fame but you can try your luck Googling around.  The way I do it is as follows:

    • Start standing up with your feet a couple of feet apart as you take a big inhale.
    • Exhale everything out through the mouth quickly and forcefully with the lips pursed as you double over (head higher than hips with hands on knees)
    • Begin 10 “pumps” of the stomach while holding the breath.  These pumps can be explained by pulling the stomach creepily far in and then pumping it back out to fully inflated.  You may feel the stomach sort of jiggle on the out since it is done with a pretty intense energy.
    • Inhale back up after you finish the 10 pumps.
    • Exhale through the mouth again as you bend over with your hands on your knees for the second set of 10 pumps.  Do not inhale or exhale as you do this.
    • Inhale back to standing
    • Exhale down and at the bottom with the hand on the knees, pull your stomach in as absolutely far as it can go.  Really suck it in so that you can feel a pressure on your inner organs and hold for as long as you can, or approximately 10 seconds.  Inhale back up and exhale standing to finish.

     I like to perform this every morning.  I usually do it the very first thing when I get out of bed because it must be done on a totally empty stomach.  If I do it within a couple minutes of waking, I know there is no chance of me having drunk any water.  It energizes me to begin my day on a healthy and pure note.  There are more advanced ways of doing nauli which involve rolling the stomach muscles from side to side so that both the ascending and descending colon are deeply massaged but stick with this simple routine until you get more used to it.