The Ten Week Challenge Syllabus

I walked people through a ten week challenge, using the following syllabus.

Week 1 - Sugar-free
Week 2 - Whole grains
Week 3 - Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats
Week 4 - Raw dairy
Week 5 - The microwave
Week 6 - Fats and oils
Week 7 - Cultured and fermented foods
Week 8 - Local and organic produce
Week 9 - Processed foods
Week 10 - Implementing lifestyle changes

Visit my Recipe Index over at Going Green in a Pink World.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why Stocks Rock

I remember distinctly the first time my mother asked me to touch raw meat. She was running late, she'd said, and could I please cut up the chicken for dinner? I held the phone between my neck and ear, not wanting my mother to hang up, because I wasn't sure what would happen to me if left alone with this pink, slimy flesh. A knot formed in my throat, and I was on the verge of either screaming or crying hysterically. Or both. Handling a raw piece of meat was just too much for my 12 year old psyche. I think I left it in the sink until she came home. I feared it might grow its feathers back and claw me.

Oh, how far I've come. But, how far we've come as a nation. And I'm not sure I mean that in a good way. In other parts of the world, there are fewer middle men, and more connections to the food. I don't mean that in an it-used-to-live-in-my-backyard kind of way, but there seems to be a greater appreciation for the ENTIRE animal, rather than just a bit of its flesh. Some of you may remember when birds were sold as whole chickens and meat was on the bone. There's reason to think twice about our practice of fast-fooding our meat: we're missing out on some good stuff.

I know, I know. You thought meat was week three. It is, but, in my humble opinion, rich stocks should form the cornerstone of a good diet, and stocks are made with meat. When I lived with my mother, it drove her nearly insane to have large bubbling cauldrons of brown scum cooking for what must have seemed like days on her pristine stove. Now that we've moved out, my husband worries if I'll light the apartment on fire, and asked if our renter's insurance covers chicken stock blunders. (It does. Line 30.) However, when they really understand the benefit of a good stock, they just might think twice. Here's the low-down:

Health benefits
**Extremely nutritious: full of electrolytes and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
**Supplies hydrophilic colloids - compounds that attract water and make for quick, easy digestion.
**Contain gelatin - a protein that aids in digestion and has been proven to successfully treat intestinal disorders such as Crohn's and colitis.
**Cartilage and collagen - supplies nutrients that have been successful in treating cancer and arthritis
**May help prevent and treat colds, asthma, infectious diseases, and contribute to virility!

I've been making stock several times a month for the last year. I don't have an exact recipe. I'm not too fussy about how much and how chopped etc. All of the brews generally come out the same. If you don't have celery, no sweat. If you have four onions to get rid of, go for it. It's all about making it work for you.

Cooked or raw chicken or turkey--1 whole carcass or 2-3 pounds of necks, backs, breastbones, and wings
or beef or lamb bones (rib, neck, knuckle - a mixture is great)
Calves foot or chicken feet for the brave (think gelatin!)
Cold, filtered water (Newton's water is yellow, so I always run the water through my brita for stock)
1/2 c of white or apple cider vinegar

an onion or two, coarsely chopped
a few carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
a couple of celery sticks, coarsely chopped

when i have fresh parsley, i'll use it. i generally don't worry too much about it if it's winter.

Put all of the bones in a large stock pot, add vegetables, cover with water, and pour in the vinegar.

Let it stand for 30-60 minutes. (If you're doing beef stock, you can roast the meatier bones in the oven while the water is standing, and add all the drippings plus the bones when browned.)

Make sure the water is at least an inch below the rim. Clean-up isn't fun when we overfill our stock pots.

Bring to boil. Skim off skum.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for as long as the other people in the house will allow you - 6 to 72 hours. It will definitely cook down if you go the full 72 hours, but it will be delicious concentrated goodness, and you'll just use water to reconstitute it. **If you have parsley, add it to the last ten minutes of your simmer. It imparts some important nutrients.

Now comes the fun part. Once your stock has sufficiently cooled (or the people in your house are yelling at you to get all the crap out of the kitchen), figure out what straining method works best with the tools you have. I use our pasta strainer and a large ceramic bowl. It makes a mess, I lose some stock, but I never said I was perfect. I just sit the strainer over the bowl and pour in the stock so all the liquid goes into the bowl.

Next, I dirty some more dishes and use a large measuring cup to pour the stock into tupperware. I find that we use 4 cups at a time usually, so I tend to stick with 32 and 60 ounce containers...or whatever's clean. I pop them in the freezer and use as needed!

As for all the goodies left in the strainer? If there is meat on the chicken that's salvageable, go for it. If not, wave goodbye. I usually have enough chicken or turkey bits to make a few chicken salad lunch portions.

Uses for Stock
brown rice
soup (many recipes to come!)
any kind of grain you can think of

A few of next week's recipes will call for stock, so get cooking!! If you don't want to make it, you can definitely buy some Swansons - but I doubt it will have the health benefits of homemade stock.

1 comment:

  1. Woohoo! I know what I am doing tomorrow as I work from home...or in Maine with Pete. I will be having soup all weekend!