Sunday, January 28, 2018

Expensive goods from cheap ingredients: Bone Broth

Bone broth has become all the rage. Google it up - you'll find plenty of information I leave to you to sift through. 

It's basically stock that's been simmered in a way to draw more minerals and protein out of it's components than the usual pre-soup simmer. The how is pretty simple: addition of acid, and long simmer time. Of course you can buy it (my personal fave), but it gets pricey. To benefit from bone broth, it's supposed to be a frequent, if not daily, treat. Good bone broth is richly flavored but not strong. Good for daily fortifying, and great when you're not feeling well. Also worth noting: it's not the same as bouillon, which is typically high in salt/sodium. 

So, how to have enough bone broth without stealing dollars from your movie budget (hey, priorities!)? Enter: the conversation with your favorite butcher. I found out today that our local fave sells chicken backs for a whopping 50 cents a pound. Squee! 

Chicken backs from the butcher - who knew?!
Setting up to make two batches, because it's a little labor intensive and freezes well. One beef using oxtails, one chicken using chicken backs (I've read you can include chicken feet for extra collagen; maaaaaaaybe I'll get there, maaaaaaaybe not). 

One tray each, light S&P sprinkle only.
First, roast them lightly. I did 25 mins/turn/20mins at 350deg w/convection. Not very scientific, but I'm pushing browning over tenderness. This is going to simmer a very, very, very, very long time, and all I want is the broth anyway.

Roasted up!
Then into the crockpot with some seasoning buddies, water, and trick #1: acid. Include a couple tablespoons apple cider vinegar in the simmer to draw out minerals. Be sure to use the good stuff and not apple cider "flavored" vinegar. 

Seasoning buddies, plus vinegar.
Leading to trick #2: simmer for what seems like an obscenely long time: crockpot low for 36 hours. Some recipes also say 18hrs is long enough, some say go the full monty 48hrs. I say it's flexible. You can do this on the stovetop, but I have a gas stove so I'm not keen on leaving a gas burner running unattended for that long. You probably could speed this up using an InstantPot (which I don't own, yet....). If someone tries/has tried that, please let me know! 

Go time: 1:30pm. Now, we wait. 


Next morning, still waiting....

Simmering over. 

Beef broth after simmer.
Chicken broth after simmer.

Next: strain the broth, and chill overnight for the fat to settle out and congeal. 


Lift the fat out - a spatula works nicely. 

I think this would keep in the fridge maybe up to a week (I'm not an expert - use your own judgement). For longer storage, I'm freezing it in glass canning jars. Fill them about 2/3 full to allow for expansion. I figure 1 pint jar is good for a couple days' worth. 

It's not as gelatinous as I expected. I don't know why. I've read including chicken feet really boosts the gelatin content. I think I needed more bones in general. 

Still,tasty, soothing, and surprisingly satisfying on these cold Wisconsin winter days. 

Did someone say snow?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Easter Eggs, Deviled

I decided to decorate Easter eggs for the first time in years. That would explain why in never occurred to me our usual eggs, being brown, wouldn't work...

Enter plan B: make deviled eggs and dye the whites directly. 

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Use actual food coloring. I wouldn't recommend using the typical egg dying tablets. That dye isn't meant to be directly eaten, although it is food safe or you couldn't use it on the eggs at all). 

Step 1: get yo' self some hard-boiled eggs, shelled. Many ways to do this. I use an egg cooker.

Step 2: dye yo' eggs. I left them in about 10 minutes. I used a decent squirt of neon food coloring in each bowl. 

Step 3: drain yo' eggs. And admire the colors (ooh... aahhh...)

Step 4: place yo' eggs in a pretty platter. 

Step 5: fill yo' eggs with deviled goodness, and eat! 

They go particularly well next to a lamby cake with strawberry roses. So much color, and no leftover hardboiled eggs! I really like this whole idea. So much so I plan to try it out green and gold for some football game parties later this year. (GO PACK!!)

This content previously published in On the Table, April 2016.

Hello Hellebore

When I was growing up, the earliest blooms in the garden were always bulbs. First crocus, then daffodils, and then tulips. Sometime around late March, color would return to the garden. 

And as much as I'm amazed by the bulbs that emerge in the spring, I'm in awe of plants that come up even earlier. The hellebore in our garden have been blooming since February. 

Helleborus "Winter Jewels Painted"

Helleborus "Winter Jewels Black Diamond"

Content in this post was previously published in In the Garden, Spring 2016.

Traveling in My Kitchen: Thailand

My chief menu planner hat is a blessing and a curse. The fun of having so many recipes to choose from to try is beleaguered by the hassle of having sooooo many recipes to choose from to try. 


So, this chief menu planner made an executive decision to pick a theme for each month. That way I can focus recipe choices and menus. December 2017 was Comfort Food month, only I didn't take a single photo of any food all month. Well, not entirely true: Christmas Eve family dinner dessert was my first try at a pavlova. 

Not bad...
Vanilla Pavlova with lemon curd whipped cream and fruit

January 2018: Thailand. 
Winter in Wisconsin can be cold. As in, the air hurts your face cold. As in, you could fart snowflakes cold. 

We started with soup. Tom Kha Gai is one of the most traditional and widely recognizable soups from Thailand. I used an adapted version of this one (sub ginger for galangal, no kaffir leaves; recipe halved). What was fascinating was how the smells changed as the broth simmered, and then later as the lime juice and fish sauce were added. Totally forgot to take a picture. Halved, the recipe still made plenty for the two of us. I had thought we would have leftovers for lunch, but no luck. We polished that sucker off. 

Because it's cold outside... 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Let in the fresh air.

Phew! Sure smells stale around here. My apologies. Let's open it up and let in some fresh ideas.

Happy Independence Day folks!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Weekly Randomness for Friday June 3, 2016

Did someone say June already?!

News that made me stop what I was doing to look it up.
  • A byproduct of the "Publish or Perish" expectation, which is a byproduct of inadequate funding for science research, which is a byproduct of.... (I could go on...) 
  • Another argument for proper livestock farming practices
  • Uff-dah! All that bending and kneeling and reaching - I call it Yard Yoga 😜

Weekly Shits n' Giggles

Weekend Aims
  • Outside: time to map the gardens before I really forget what's planted where.  
  • Inside: annual rummage in a few weeks, time to start gathering goods (i.e. de-clutter!)
  • Outside: Golf in the evening! So far we've seen coyote, fox, and deer (countless birds). 

Outside wins!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Magnet Monday: Michigan (the other mitten state)

Cheesy Refrigerator Magnet for Monday, May 23, 2016
"Michigan", painted laser-cut wood, circa early 2010's

We spent an extraordinary amount of time outside in the garden this past weekend (outside in general, between gardening and yard work, plant sales, and a round of golf). Oddly enough, despite how much I love to play in the dirt and watch things grow, I have few magnets with any plants on them. 


We picked this one up in Detroit airport on a layover to somewhere. We could have picked up a Detroit magnet, which maybe is a more accurate picture of our visit, but 1) there were no magnets of the Detroit airport, per se, and 2) I'm working on getting one from all 50 states first. Detroit the city will just have to wait. 

Magnet Monday features a selection from our semi-vast and ever growing collection of cheesy refrigerator magnets. Without doubt the perfect souvenir. Only slightly less cheesy than collecting snow globes but a whole lot easier to smuggle in your bra. If need be. Which I hope it never is. Unless it's really worth it.