The Magic of Bone Broth

Don’t let the term bone broth scare you.  It’s just another word for stock made from leftover animal bones just like your grandma made (or at least mine did).  What every chicken broth is based off of.  I am not a scientist or health and nutrition expert. I am just a regular mom who has worked in kitchens her whole adult life and has studied books on primal nutrition and spent hours on end in her own kitchen creating food and recipes to share with you all.  With that being said, I will leave it up to the experts to do all the big words and scientific stuff about how bone broth is one of the most healing foods on the planet.  However, I don’t think you have to be an expert on the subject to realize the healing power of a bowl of homemade soup.  Even up until last year, my mom would bring me a bowl of homemade chicken noodle or rice soup when I was sick.  Now I have grown up to be the weird family member that asks for the turkey carcass at Thanksgiving if it’s just going to be thrown out.  I mean, why would you WASTE such a beautiful thing?! Here are some things that will make you reconsider next time you think about chucking the bones of your next roasted chicken (or turkey, or pot roast, or pork shoulder):

1. It’s free. It costs absolutely nothing to throw it into a pot with some water and boil away.  We usually want to add a few things for flavor and maximum benefits but if it was all you had you could still do without those.

2. Glucosamine, gelatin, and glycine. All in one bowl (or coffee mug on the go), no pills necessary.

3.  You may think, “I could just buy it from the store and save myself the two seconds it takes to throw it on the stove and let it simmer for a few hours while I’m doing something else…”. True. You COULD buy it from the store.  There are two reasons I think this is a horrible idea.  Numero uno: it costs money. Duh.  And secondly, EVERY brand I’ve come across has additives.  Even the organic ones.  Sugar and thickening agents (cornstarch, guar gum, carageenan) NOT what you want when you are trying to heal your body.

Do I have you convinced yet? I hope so.  Here is my usual go-to recipe for a quick chicken stock.

1 organic, pastured chicken carcass (leftover from a roast or after breaking it down for separate meals)

3 stalks organic celery

2 or 3 cooking onions, roughly chopped, skin and all

2-3 carrots, scrubbed and unpeeled

1 bay leaf

1 Tbl apple cider vinegar

salt to taste

Break the bones with a cleaver if you have one.  This helps expose the marrow.  Place all ingredients except salt into stock pot.  Add cold water until everything is covered.  I don’t have a magic number for cups of water, but I usually fill it up about 2-3 inches above the bones.  Bring to a boil (uncovered) on the stovetop and lower heat until just simmering.  Now you can walk away for a few hours.  After it’s been reduced by about half add some salt and taste.  If it tastes weak, continue boiling.  You will know when it’s ready.  Strain all solids and store refrigerated in glass containers when cooled.

This is a very basic, quick stock.  I use it mostly in soups.  You can also simmer your bones for up to 24 hours (wait until the last few to add vegetables if you are) to make a very dense nutrient-rich broth.  Keep adding water a little at a time as it evaporates.

Good luck on your bone broth adventures.  I promise after some practice, you won’t even think twice about tossing your bones before getting every last bit of nutrients you can from them!

Long Drives Home at Night

Death.  It’s something I haven’t really had to deal with until recently.  Of course I’ve had grandparents pass away after living long and happy lives and have had acquaintances pass away over the years.  Then in the early months of 2012 my mother was diagnosed with liver bile duct cancer and given a pretty grim outlook.  This is not a story most people know in detail.  Every one of these memories haunts me daily, and they especially get to me when I’m driving home from work at night after a long day.  I remember the day she came over to help move a new refrigerator into my house.  She went into the bathroom and asked me if I thought her eyes looked yellow.  My answer was yes and after days of begging her, I got her to go to the doctor.  I remember being at her house the day they came home from the doctor appointment where they heard the news.  We had gotten there a little early and I let myself in through the key pad on the garage.  She came in only a few minutes later and I could tell she had been crying.  She came into the living room and sat me down holding my hands and told me.  6 months to a year.  The shock of it was overwhelming and I cried like I’ve never cried before.  Everyone gave us positive thoughts.  “Oh they are wrong about these things ALL the time.” “I’ve known someone they told 6 months and 5 years later they’re still here”.  And still, I had a gut wrenching feeling the doctor was right.  After refusing to take only one doctor’s opinion into consideration, eventually she was accepted at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Philly where she would fly out for one night a week to receive her treatment.  They gave us hope. They don’t give timelines.  The chemo she initially had seemed to be working.  She even found a doctor in Ohio that worked with the treatment center so she could receive her chemo here.  After a few months, it started making her sick so she took breaks inbetween treatments.  They also started radiation on the inoperable tumor which led to longer bouts between chemo.  She ended up with a blood infection from her line in which she received the treatment.  While in the hospital, they found a small mass in her breast which was removed.  I went to see her and something was wrong.  I thought maybe it was just the pain meds they had her on making her spacey and tired.  A couple days later while walking in Home Depot with Matt and Evan I got the phone call from my brother.  There was nothing else they could do, it had spread too far and she was too weak to handle further treatments.  I was faced with choosing Hospice options and handed manuals on “dealing” and “what to look for near the end”.  About my mother who was always so strong.  About my mother who only months prior was babysitting Evan and attending my brother’s wedding looking as if nothing was wrong.  All the while this is going on my brother is also receiving chemo for colon cancer and being diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition that I have talked about in prior posts.  I don’t know why I feel the need to share all of this.  I don’t think people see this side.  I try not to think about it while doing every day activities.  It hits me the hardest when I’m alone.  I think of how terrified SHE must have been.  How badly she wanted to be around to watch Evan and any future grandkids grow up.  How she cried when forcing me to take money from her to buy Evan clothes because she just couldn’t do it anymore.  When she said “Why can’t I just have a new body? I don’t want this one anymore”.

I get so angry. Angry to the point that I scream at the top of my lungs in my car when no one can see or hear me.  I assume this is normal when dealing with the loss of someone close.  I recently got a new phone and when putting in the contacts, skipping her was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  Not because it’s a phone or a number, but because it symbolized moving on…without her.  I can cry and whine all I want because it isn’t fair when there are children dying everywhere and people much younger dealing with cancer. But really, it isn’t fair.  Not when I see the shitty people that get to live out their lives in full and a beautiful person such as my mother gets the short end of the stick and Evan has to grow up without her.  I worry that he wont remember her.  Someone who did everything she could for him and loved him so goddamn much and he might not even remember.

I was going to make this post partially about Lynch Syndrome, gut health, and fermented foods but I think I’ll save that for a later day. This is for her.  I miss her each and every second of every day.

Here is a photo from Mother’s Day 2012, only a couple months after her diagnosis.

mothersday2012