Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

I'm afraid this week is going to feel like a long week.  I have to work all week, which hasn't happened since October with all of the holidays we've had this month.  My 5-day work weeks feel long, regardless, but especially when I haven't had one in awhile... and especially after having such a short week last week with Thanksgiving.  But it'll also feel long because Kevin is gone again.  The good news is that he'll be home on Friday night and he's hoping he may not have to go back to Virginia next week... keep your fingers crossed! 

Last week was a good week.  Kevin had a productive week in Virginia and we got to spend lots of fun time together with family over the long holiday weekend.  We had Thanksgiving dinner with my mom's family on Thursday and we took a trip to Crossroads Village with most of Kevin's family last night for Christmas at Crossroads.  We got our Christmas tree up and our indoor decorations.  I'm going to pull all the ornaments off our tree and re-do it one night this week, though.  I need to pick up some ribbon that I like first, though.  Then Carson and I can have fun putting the ornaments back on it again.  We need to finish putting up our outdoor lights, too.  I picked up two fresh, local, pastured turkeys on Monday night last week.  I cooked one on Wednesday, which I chopped up and put into containers in the freezer for easy additions to meals.  The other one I butchered up, freezing some turkey cutlets, and grinding the rest and freezing in 1-pound packages.  I also made turkey stock, baked some bread, made sourdough corn muffins and corn fritters and froze some of each, made yogurt, made kefirs, made vanilla wafers, and baked a chocolate sourdough cake (at Carson's request).  I also got some candlesticks painted, did some crafts with Carson, got some sewing projects done and started some new ones, and made some progress on learning to crochet.  And I think I may have just about finished my Christmas shopping.   

We don't have a lot going on this week in terms of plans.  Carson and I will have to do lots of fun, creative things to keep us busy.  Maybe we'll start on some Christmas crafts.  Today we'll go to church and then we'll be putting up some more outdoor Christmas lights.  Thursday I might be going to Detroit for some meetings, but they're not definite yet.  Friday is milk and CSA pickup and Kevin comes home late.  Saturday we may head to Longway Planetarium for a laser show, but we're not sure yet.  We're planning to go to the Swartz Creek Christmas Parade on Saturday night. 

Anyway, here's the plan...

Sunday ~ church; put up outdoor lights
(make sourdough crepes; make deviled eggs for lunches this week; make steel cut oats)
B: scrambled eggs; bacon
L: leftovers
D: turkey crepes; roasted veggies; side salads

Monday ~ Kevin leaves for VA
(re-decorate Christmas tree)
B: steel cut oats with maple syrup and brown sugar
D: turkey and veggie quesadillas

Tuesday ~
(re-decorate mantel; start soft cheese)
B: yogurt with fruit
D: hot dogs; roasted veggies

Wednesday ~
(hang soft cheese; clean out refrigerator door and drawers)
B: muffins from freezer
D: eating at my parents

Thursday ~ Detroit for work? 
(make ricotta; make butter; clean out liquor cabinet)
B: kefir smoothie
D: pizza at my aunt's

Friday ~ milk and CSA pickup; Kevin returns
(soak beans; soak almonds)
B: steel cut oats with maple syrup and brown sugar
D: spinach and sun-dried tomato risotto

Saturday ~ Longway Planetarium?; Swartz Creek Christmas Parade
(clean out cars; dry almonds; make pumpkin ice cream)
B: sourdough pancakes; sausage
L: egg salad sandwiches; raw carrots with homemade ranch dip
D: chili in the crockpot

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Traditional Ricotta Cheese

I really try to get the most out of everything when it comes to cooking and food.  So when I saw a recipe on the Fias Co Farm site for making ricotta cheese out of the whey that is leftover when you make a lactic acid or rennet precipitated cheese, I was all about trying it.  So the last few times I've made my soft cheese, I've done just that.  This is extremely easy.  The downside is that you really don't get a lot of ricotta out of a quart of whey.  But this is too simple of a process not to still make the ricotta... plus the resulting ricotta tastes awesome!  I've just been adding it to a container that I've been keeping in my freezer until I get enough to use in a recipe.  I've finally got enough to use and cannot wait to try it next week in a recipe! 

Traditional Ricotta Cheese (made from whey)

You will need:
whey leftover from making a lactic acid or rennet precipitated cheese
vinegar, optional
stainless steel saucepan
large bowl or pot into which the colander fits
2 pieces of 90-count cheesecloth or butter muslin

Pour the whey into a saucepan and heat to 200 degrees.  Once you reach this temperature, you should see very tiny white particles (the albumin protein) floating in the whey.  You may add a little vinegar at this point if you'd like (1/4 cup per 2 gallons of whey).  It's up to you, some people do and some people don't.  I've done it both ways and have not really noticed much of a difference.  Adding the vinegar supposedly makes the texture of the ricotta a little more grainy, but I really haven't noticed it.

Line a colander with very fine cheesecloth/butter muslin.  I fold mine in quarters so I have 8 layers (between the 2 pieces) of cloth.  You really need a really fine cloth because the cheese will pass right through if you don't.  Place the colander over a big bowl or pot so you can save the whey for soups or baking bread.  Carefully pour the hot whey through the cheesecloth lined colander.

Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang the ricotta to drain for 2-4 hours.

When it has finished draining, put the ricotta in a bowl and add salt to taste.  Ricotta will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it until you have enough to use in a recipe. 

This post is participating in Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baked Spinach

This is a super easy side dish recipe. Its is quite tasty, too!   We have had this a couple of times now.  Its quite tasty as leftovers, too... and I don't say that very often because I'm not a leftover fan.  :)  I found the idea on a Crossfit food blog.  You could make this with any type of greens.  I've only made it with spinach, but it'd be very good with others.  You could also change up the nuts and add cheese and other spices.  This picture is made as it is written below.  But the second time I made it, I used crispy walnuts and added some of my homemade soft cheese into the mixture.  Feta would be good, too.  Or a cheese topping. 

Baked Spinach

1 1/2 pounds spinach
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup crispy pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Saute your spinach in butter until wilted.  Add your crispy pine nuts and garlic. Saute for just a couple of minutes.  Pour spinach mixture into a small casserole dish. 

Whisk eggs in a separate bowl.  Pour eggs over spinach mixture and stir to combine.  Spread evenly in dish.  Bake for 30-40 minutes. 

This post is participating in the Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS, Whole Food for the Holidays: Side Dishes at The Nourishing Gourmet. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

Our luck has run out.  At least in terms of one of us traveling for work.  We found out on Wednesday that Kevin is headed down to Virginia early tomorrow morning and will be home late Wednesday night.  Thankfully, he's able to be home for the holiday weekend.  He will likely be going back to Virginia a week from today and will possibly not be home again until Christmas.  We're hoping he's able to come home at least a couple of weekends.  But we shall see. 

In other traveling (good) news, though... we booked a trip to Arizona to go visit my BFF Jaime!  We'll go at the end of January and I can not wait!  We were hoping to go in the spring, but a flight deal came up that was seriously too good to pass up.  I've been watching ticket prices for a while now and they're usually around $300+/person.  We got tickets for $147/person, including all the taxes and fees!!  Unbelievable!!  Now we get to start planning our trip!

So, today we're headed to church, then we'll be tackling some projects around the house - changing some burnt out lightbulbs, putting up a new outdoor light in the back, paint shopping, priming some shelves, cleaning and rearranging in the garage, and Kevin will be packing.  He's headed out on a 6am flight tomorrow morning and he'll be flying in around 11:30pm on Wednesday night.  Tuesday I'm headed to Sarnia for a meeting all day.  Thursday we're headed to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving.  Friday I'll be headed out early for Black Friday shopping and will be picking up our milk.  Then we'll be following our tradition and putting up our Christmas tree and decorations.  We'll also be going to Christmas at Crossroads either on Friday or Saturday night with some of our family.  We also may go down to hang out with our friends Ben and Kati on Saturday so that Kati and I can do some sewing and she can teach me to crochet. 

Here's the plan.

Sunday ~ church; projects
(make vanilla ice cream; make kefirs; make steel cut oats)
B: sourdough cinnamon rolls
L:  mixed greens salads with hard boiled eggs; bacon; cucumbers; carrots; homemade creamy dressing
D: meatloaf; roasted potatoes and veggies

Monday ~ Kevin leaves for VA
(make vanilla wafers)
B: steel cut oats with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam
D: spaghetti with meat sauce

Tuesday ~ Sarnia, Ontario
B: yogurt with granola
D: vegetable beef soup in the crockpot

Wednesday ~ Kevin comes home
B: steel cut oats with maple syrup and bananas
D: grilled cheese; tomato soup

Thursday ~ Happy Thanksgiving!
(bake bread?; feed sd starter)
B: breakfast casserole
L/D: at Aunt Jeri's... turkey; stuffing; mashed potatoes; gravy; corn; rolls; apple pie; dutch apple pie; pumpkin pie

Friday ~ Black Friday shopping; milk pickup; Christmas tree and decorations; Crossroads?
(make sourdough corn muffins)
B: toast with peanut butter and homemade jam
L: leftover vegetable beef soup; corn muffins
D: chicken lentil quesadillas

Saturday ~ Ben and Kati's? Crossroads?
(make yogurt)
B: sourdough corn fritters with butter and maple syrup
L: leftovers
D: Thanksgiving leftover shepherd's pie

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crockpot Dijon Brussels Sprouts

I love brussels sprouts! They're one of my favorite veggies. Kevin and Carson like them most days. I usually just roast them, but I've been looking for some new ways to make them. I saw this recipe posted on A Year of Slowcooking and wanted to try it. These were pretty good. My favorite way to make brussels is still to roast them (although another recipe I've tried recently may tie for my favorite way to make brussels... I'll try to post it soon), but it was good to try a new way. The sprouts on the edge get brown and bit crispy on the outer edge... that was my favorite part!

Crockpot Brussels Sprouts

1 pound brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup water

Use a 2-quart slow cooker. Wash and trim the ends off of each Brussels sprout, and cut in half or quarters, depending on their size. Toss into the stoneware. Add butter, mustard, salt, pepper, and water. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, or on high for 2 to 3. Stir well to distribute the sauce before serving.

This post is participating in the GNOWFGLINS Tuesday Twister.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing

I hosted Thanksgiving with my dad's family last weekend.  Yes, it was quite early, but it actually worked out really well and gives us a good break between Thanksgiving turkey dinners.  I made a traditional turkey (post coming at some point) with our family's sausage stuffing.  Its just a basic sausage stuffing, but its what we always have had and probably always will have.  Its very tasty!  The recipe below is the base recipe, which is for a 12-pound turkey.  I had an 18-pound locally raised, pastured turkey, so I increased the ratios.  I also wanted to do more than just stuff the bird.  So I made a quadruple recipe.  First, I stuffed the bird.  Then I threw the remainder into my big crockpot to cook.  Stuffing really shrinks down in size as it cooks, so even though it may look like a TON before you cook it, it will reduce in size by about half.  So just keep that in mind if you ever make it. 

As for ingredients, use what you like, but I like to use local, organic, and homemade as much as possible.  I was going to make the bread for the bread cubes myself, but decided last week that I would just buy some loaves from our local organic mill.  They are WAPFers and they use very similar recipes to what I've made in the past, so I feel totally comfortable getting their bread.  I toasted it in the oven to make the bread cubes.  I used my homemade raw milk cultured butter; as well as local, organic celery and onions from my CSA.  I used celtic sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and my home-dried sage.  I used locally made pork sausage with natural seasonings.  And I made my own chicken bone broth.  So I feel like it was a pretty healthy stuffing.  :) 

Sausage Stuffing
(for 12-lb turkey)

12 cups bread cubes/croutons
1 cup butter
1/2-3/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup celery, chopped
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon sage
1 pound sausage
1 quart chicken stock

Fry sausage. Add butter, onion, and celery. Cook until veggies are softened.

Put bread cubes in large bowl. Pour sausage, butter, onion, celery mix over top of bread and mix. Pour chicken stock over top until moist, but not soggy. Add salt, pepper, and sage. Mix well.

Stuff your turkey with as much as you can fit.  Put remaining stuffing into a crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

This post is participating in the GNOWFGLINS Tuesday Twister

Crockpot Apricot Chicken

I made apricot chicken in the crockpot for dinner a few weeks back. The recipe is from A Year of Slowcooking. I used some homemade preserves that I bought from a woman at the farmers' market. They're made from apricots from a tree in her yard which she grows organically and cans with natural sweeteners. So I felt pretty good about using it to make this dish. I'm glad I tried it, it is very good! We all liked it a lot. It has a sweet flavor, but its not overly sweet. It'd be good to serve with rice so it could absorb some of the sauce... we had a lot of sauce leftover in the crockpot.

Crockpot Apricot Chicken

11 oz jar of apricot preserves (homemade with natural sweeteners)
1 teaspoon dried minced onion flakes (I just chopped some fresh onion and added it)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon soy sauce (I used worscestershire)
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional, I left this out)
6 chicken thighs or equivalent body parts

Place the chicken into your crockpot. In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients. Pour on top of the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, high for 4-6 hours.

Meal plans and the week ahead

We have another fairly low key week ahead of us, though we do have a couple fun things planned. Today we'll be going to church. Monday morning I have a dentist appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but I think I will be told I need a new crown on one of my molars... cross your fingers that I'm wrong. Wednesday I might be making a trip to Sault Ste. Marie for a meeting, but its not definite yet. It'll just be a long day trip, though. I may take Friday off, depending on what is going on at work... but I'll at least be taking the afternoon off so I can make it back in time for the parade... Friday night is Silver Bells in the City in Lansing. Its an annual light parade that ends with the lighting of the tree at the Capitol and fireworks in the sky. We've never taken Carson, even though we've wanted to every year. So hopefully we actually make it this year if the weather is nice. Saturday afternoon we're meeting my BIL, SIL, niece, and nephews at the Sloan Museum in Flint. Then, on Saturday night we're meeting our friends, Ben and Kati, for dinner. Ok, so maybe we have more going on than I originally thought. At least its not too crazy of a week, though.

I'll also have to go pick up our pastured, milk-fed pork once it is ready this week. I need to organize the freezers so that I'm ready for it. Plus, I'm getting two fresh turkeys next week, so we'll have more freezer inventory coming... I need to make some room!

So anyway, here's the plan...

Sunday - church
(make sourdough pull-apart rolls; make extra roasted veggies for soup tomorrow; organize freezers; make hard boiled eggs)
B: greek eggs
L: philly cheesesteak soup in the crockpot (with leftover pot roast from last week)
D: grilled steaks; roasted veggies (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, red potatoes)

Monday - dentist
(make butter)
B: toast with peanut butter; hard boiled egg
D: roasted veggie soup; sourdough pull apart rolls

Tuesday -
(make steel cut oats)
B: yogurt with granola
D: chicken divan over spaghetti squash

Wednesday - the Soo?
B: steel cut oats with maple syrup
D: leftovers for K/C if I'm in the Soo, if I'm home we'll have butternut squash soup

Thursday - pick up pork? 
B: toast with peanut butter; hard boiled egg
D: baked salmon; roasted veggies

Friday - 1/2 day at work; milk/CSA pickup; Silver Bells in the City
B: steel cut oats with crispy pecans and bananas
D: pork tenderloin; peas and carrots; side salads

Saturday - Sloan Museum; dinner with friends
(make beef broth; make yogurt)
B: sourdough crepes with soft cheese and fruit; local pork sausage patties
L: chicken avocado salad sandwiches; raw carrots and celery with pesto-cheese dip
D: out with friends... Ruby Tuesday?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

We tried spaghetti squash for the first time about six weeks ago. I wasn't sure what to expect from it, but we all really loved it! It really does serve as a great replacement for pasta noodles! We've had it several times now.  I've been trying to use it in different ways and thought about using it in lasagna. So I made one up a few weeks ago... and it was so good! Its a new favorite for everyone in our family. Just replace the noodle layers with a layer of spaghetti squash and use all your normal lasagna ingredients. This is such an easy, delicious dinner! Here's how I made mine.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

1 spaghetti squash
1 jar pasta sauce
1/2 - 1 pound grass-fed ground beef, browned
cheese - shredded, ricotta, cottage, etc.

Cut your spaghetti squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and reserve in a separate bowl to pick the flesh and then soak and dehydrate for a great snack. Place your squash cut side up in a baking dish. Add some water to the pan. Bake the squash in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or more. Once you are ready, scrape the squash flesh with a fork so that it comes apart all stringy like spaghetti.  You can prepare your squash ahead of time if you'd like - I did mine the night before. 

Brown your grass-fed ground beef in a skillet.  Add your pasta sauce so that it is warmed.  I use homemade pasta sauce, but you can use whatever you'd like. 
In a separate baking dish or lasagna pan, pour a thin layer of pasta sauce across the bottom of the dish.  Next, layer in half of the spaghetti squash. Cover the squash with a layer of whatever veggies you like - I used spinach, kale, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Next, put a layer of sauce.  And finally a layer of cheese. You can use whatever cheese you like. Now start with the layers again, beginning with the sauce and working your way through. The top layer should be a nice layer of cheese.

Bake your lasagna for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Enjoy!

This post is participating in the Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Meal plans and the week ahead

This week is pretty low-key.  Today I'm headed down to Livonia for a baby shower for the daughter of a co-worker and good friend of mine, Mohammed. Tuesday afternoon I'm planning to go to my local WAPF chapter meeting. Thursday I'm off of work for Veteran's Day. Carson and I will be going out to the Veteran's cemetery to visit my Grandpa and Uncle Barry, who were both in the Army and served in Korea and Vietnam together. Friday is my flex day and we'll be doing Kindermusik and the normal milk and CSA pickup. Friday night we'll be heading over to my Grandpa's house to celebrate his birthday with the family.  We're not sure yet about Saturday.  We may see if some friends want to hang out, or we've thought about going to Grand Rapids.  We need to talk about it a little more and see what we want to do.

I didn't get a lot of extra stuff done last week.  I was mostly just getting things ready for Saturday's turkey dinner with my dad's family.  Which, by the way, turned out perfectly delicious!  So this week I want to get a few things done that I've been wanting or needing to do for a few weeks now.  I've had turkey stock going overnight, so I'll deal with that tonight after its had a full 24 hours cook time.  Its a huge batch, so I'll be able to put some in the freezer and use some this week.  We'll be getting stock in our diet every day this week but Saturday at this point (and its TBD, so we could have it then, too), between the dinners and then leftovers for lunch the next day.  I want to make some more sourdough goods... crackers and cinnamon rolls.  We're out of both.  I also need to make some more granola bars and protein bars.  So I need to make some crispy nuts and some soaked/dehydrated oats.  I've also got some more herbs to dry.  I've got some more apples coming on Friday when I pick up our CSA order, so I want to do some more apple baking, too.  Not totally sure what I want to make yet, other than an apple crisp.  I think I'd like to make some mini apple pies for the freezer, too. 

So anyway, here's the plan...

Sunday - baby shower in Livonia
(make turkey stock and freeze; make steel cut oats)
B: pancakes with strawberry syrup
L: leftovers for K & C, I'll be eating at the baby shower
D: Thanksgiving leftovers shepherd's pie

Monday -
(soak almonds, pecans, and oats; dehydrate sage and chives)
B: steel cut oats with bananas and walnuts
D: kraut bierocks; green beans

Tuesday - WAPF meeting
(dehydrate crispy almonds and pecans; dehydrate oats)
B: sourdough english muffins from freezer
D: lentil soup in the crockpot

Wednesday -
(feed sd starter)
B: sliced apples and cashew butter
D: beef roast in the crockpot with potatoes, carrots, and parsnips

Thursday - Veteran's Day, visit Veteran's cemetery
(make sourdough cinnamon rolls; feed sd starter; make granola bars and protein bars)
B: yogurt
D: white chili in the crockpot

Friday - flex; Kindermusik; milk & CSA pickup; celebrate Grandpa's bday
(culture milk for soft cheese; make apple crisp; make sourdough crackers?)
B: sourdough cinnamon rolls
D: pizza at Grandpa's house

Saturday - TBD
(hang soft cheese; make sourdough crackers?)
B: breakfast casserole
L: tbd
D: tbd

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicken Bone Broth/Stock

I've been making homemade broth/stock from bones for many years now. But I was also canning it at times and I was still buying a good deal of it, too... or making some from Better than Boullion. I decided a few months back that I will not can stock anymore (I will only freeze it now), nor will I buy broth/stock anymore. I'm trying to work broth/stock into our diets more regularly... especially during the cold/flu season that we are headed into.

I've been making stock once a week now for the last three or four weeks so we've been getting it in our diets about two or three times a week. I'd like to eventually have it in our daily diets. That means I need to change the way I make stock... so I can make a larger quantity at one time. Currently, I just make it in my 6-quart crockpot and I usually end up with 3 or 4 quarts of stock once its done. Thanks to a tip I received at last month's WAPF chapter meeting, I think I'm going to start making it in my big roaster so I can make a larger quantity at one time. That way I can still feel comfortable leaving it on while we're away at work (I just would not feel comfortable leaving it on the stovetop when we're away from the house... even if it were only for an hour). I haven't tried it yet, but I look forward to trying it for the first time later this week when I make turkey stock. I'll update on the outcome.

So why the decision on wanting to incorporate bone broth/stock into our daily diets? Because its just so incredibly good for you! A good broth/stock contains minerals that your body can absorb easily - calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and other trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons - stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, which are now sold as supplements for arthritis and joint pain... and they cost quite a bit, too. Fish broth/stock is a great source of iodine and other thyroid-supporting minerals. I haven't tried making fish broth yet, but I'm hoping to get fish heads and bones from my uncle after his fishing trips from now on so I can give it a try.

Most importantly, a good broth/stock contains lots of gelatin from the bones. Gelatin is extremely nutritious. It builds strong bones and cartilage and also benefits your skin, digestion, immunity, heart, and muscles. It has been known to have a positive effect on many human ailments - such as ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice, and cancer to name a few. It is a wonderful digestive tonic and an excellent treatment for reducing inflammation.

Feet, hooves, heads, and necks from animals contain the largest amounts of gelatin. If you don't already have a source for these pieces, you should definitely find one. I have found many sources for chicken feet and necks. Not so much for hooves, but I also haven't looked into it much yet... I've also heard that selling calves hooves is illegal in Michigan... but again I can't vouch for this yet since I haven't looked into it yet. According to Sally Fallon, you should use 2-4 chicken feet for chicken stock and about 2 pounds calves feet pieces to get the best results in a large pot of stock.

So how do you make a good bone stock/broth? Below, I've included a recipe from Sally Fallon, which can be found in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. This is how I make my chicken stock. I have been using the carcass of a whole bird, plus 2-3 necks and 3-4 feet. Once I start using my big roaster to make my stock, I'll increase the quantities to adjust for a larger amount of stock.

Chicken Bone Broth/Stock

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
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
(I also like to add the green parts of leeks... I always wondered what I could do with those green parts aside from throwing them on the compost. Now I just collect them all in a large bag in the freezer to throw into my stocks. It adds a delicious flavor! I also add the leaves from the celery stalks, too!)

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. Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot (or crockpot or roaster) with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. This allows the vinegar to work the bones, making them ready to extract all the gelatin and minerals. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours (if you are using a crockpot on low, you should let it go 18-24 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. (If I use a whole chicken, I take the meat off the bones after a couple of hours, otherwise the chicken gets a weird texture and we don't care for it. Then I put the bones back in to cook... but most of the time I'm starting my stock with only the carcass/bones/pieces, not a whole bird.) 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.

For more information, Sally Fallon has a great article that I'd highly recommend reading - Broth is Beautiful. As well as Kaayla Daniel's article - Why Broth is Beautiful.

This post is part of the Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS.