Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicken Broth

1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
(*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.)

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

This recipe is taken directly from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon the Weston A. Price Foundation president. It sounds more complicated than it is. In a pinch, don't worry about letting it sit for an hour, or adding parsley. Great if you can but don't get bent out of shape if you don't have time for that. You can cook the broth for longer than 8 hours too, it gets more flavorful over time. Some people cook it for days....But I take the chicken meat off after 2-3 hours and then let the rest cook til the end. When the broth is all done and I have strained it and cooled it and taken the fat off, I use part of it to make soup and the rest I measure into 1 and 2 cup portions and freeze it in plastic freezer containers. When they are frozen, I pop them out and put them in large ziplock bags. That way they are always ready to go.

I do buy store chicken sometimes, the best I can find, and it works out ok. I guess J&B sells chickens from Hawley that may be a better bet. They are in the long open freezer diplays and reasonably priced.

Good luck with the broth.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flag soup

This recipe is so simple, yet so amazingly delicious I could eat it every day of the year. I even eat it in the summer and take it on camping trips. Everyone who eats it wants the recipe. I hope you love it too.

3 cloves crushed or finely chopped garlic
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 quarts chicken broth
3 pounds all purpose potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

In a deep pot, saute garlic and onion in butter or oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add broth and bring liquid to a boil. As you slice potatoes, add them carefully to the broth. Cook potatoes 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potatoes will begin to break up and thicken broth as the soup cooks. Stir in spinach in bunches as it wilts into soup. Season soup with salt and pepper, to your taste. Stir in tomatoes and heat through, 1 or 2 minutes.

Note: This is originally a Rachel Ray recipe. I never measure potatoes or spinach, just use what I like. The original recipe called for 28 oz. tomatoes but I like the 15 oz. Btw, it is called flag soup because it has the colors of the Italian Flag in it, Rachel's heritage country!

Irish Leek Soup

2-4 Leeks
1 medium onion
4-6 medium potatoes ( I prefer yukon gold)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Quart chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut leeks into 1/2 inch slices, chop onion, peel and dice potatoes. In large pot melt butter, add leeks and onions and cook covered til tender. Add potatoes and broth. Simmer, covered for 40 minutes. Add sour cream and heat to serve. Do not boil.

Note: Last time I made it I just had one jumbo organic leek, I mean mega big, probably as large around as a tennis ball or more. I just used that and we like it heavy on the potatoes, I usually eyeball it when I see how many are in the pot and adjust. It came out the best ever on this last batch.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Making Kombucha

A Kombucha "Mother" plus about 1 cup starter Kombucha from a friend
3 Quarts non-chlorinated water
5 Organic black or green tea bags (caffeinated)
1 cup white sugar


A large glass gallon jar, I use a lemonade jar with spout, but other jars would work too
Coffee filter and rubber band or similar
Canning jars and lids or bottles
A strainer with plastic mesh (optional)

Pour the water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the tea bags and cover. Set timer for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags when timer beeps and let tea cool. You don't want to kill your "mother"! When tea is cool pour it into the jar and gently add the starter Kombucha and the "mother" so she floats on top. Cover with coffee filter and secure with rubber band. Set into a warm spot 70-80 degrees for 5-7 days. You can taste it after 5 days and see if the sweetness is right for you. The sooner you drink it the sweeter it will be. If you want more sugar to be fermented out of it, you can wait a little longer.

After 5-7 days you will see little bubbles and smell vinegar. The kombucha should be ready. Take out the mother with very clean hands or a plastic spoon. (Never use metal with live cultures) Put the mother and about a cup of Kombucha in a quart jar and set aside. You are now ready to bottle your Kombucha. Canning jars work well for me and I fill them as full as possible to retain some fizz. The kombucha is actually naturally effervescent. It just amazes me! Refrigerate when done. Pour into wine glass to enjoy!! I start the new batch right away and while it ferments we consume the jars I bottled up. It works nice for our family. There are other methods, such as continuous kombucha and secondary fermentation. Search the web for more information on those methods.
Good luck! Prost!

Note: you may want to strain some of the fuzzies out of there. I strain some and otherwise just fish out stuff when I open the jars. Your preference. In either case it won't hurt you any if you don't remove them. Do not use a metal mesh strainer since metal reacts with live cultures. It is somewhat difficult to find plastic mesh strainers. I found some on the "Cultures for health" website, but the mesh is not very fine and won't strain out much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Homemade Crackers

I use the recipe on this great site:

The flour I use is Azure White Whole Wheat Flour.
Skip the soaking step if you are not comfortable with that. Just put all ingredients together and roll out. Bake them longer than you think so they are nice and crispy. Let them cool for a long time before putting them away or they will soften up in storage.

The soaking step is to remove anti-nutrients in the flour. You can read more about soaking your grains here:

Cream of Mushroom Soup (Substitute)

Don't be intimidated. Once you have the trick down it is really fast and easy. Give yourself a few tries to get it right and then you will not want to go back to the store stuff!

4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt or more to taste
12 fresh mushrooms, chopped small
2 cups of milk or cream (or a combination of both)

Heat butter, then add flour and salt, stirring to make a roux. Add mushrooms and cook a couple of minutes, just to soften. Add milk and stir until thickened.

To make cream of chicken, omit mushrooms, substitute half the milk with chicken broth or stock.

To make cream of celery, substitute celery for the mushrooms and proceed as listed above.
Yield: equals 2 10 oz cans

So this recipe makes twice as much as you need if you are substituting for one can of condensed soup.

Note: If you want to use this in a crockpot recipe I would suggest using only cream, not milk, as milk tends to separate during long cooking.