A Healing Broth

Delicious bone broth

Bone broth after a few minutes of bubbling away…

 

Have you heard of bone broth? It’s become a bit of a hot topic lately. But instead of spending $3.50 on a cup of bone broth (ludicrous), I’m here to teach you how to make your own. It’s really very simple and requires about 5 minutes of actual hands-on time.

The hardest part is sourcing the bones. This specific broth is made with beef bones, specifically femur bones (but knuckles and necks are also good choices due to their cartilage content). My husband and I belong to a raw milk coop from a farm that is home to some very well-treated grass-fed cows. Sometimes I can get bones from them. If not, I pick up a few pounds of frozen beef bones at Whole Foods (also from grass-fed cows, according to the label).

There are some extra steps you can take if you’d like that supposedly add more flavor, such as roasting the bones in the oven for an hour before beginning the broth. I always skip this step, simply due to time constraints and having a toddler running around at my ankles all day long.

But basically, you throw the bones in a large pot (I use an enameled cast-iron pot with a lid), throw in some roughly chopped veggies, like onion, celery, carrots, etc. And then cover them all with pure, filtered water. Bring this mixture up to a gentle simmer. Bubbles and scum will form on the surface (you can see it a little in the photo above, taken around this point in the process) – skim those away and throw them down the sink. Throw in a tablespoon or two of raw apple cider vinegar and some good quality sea salt. Once no more scum forms, you are ready to put the lid on and let time do the work. Leave the broth to bubble very slowly and gently for at least 24 hours. 36 is ideal. We generally do 24-28, depending on what time Finn takes his nap and I have the time to focus my attention!

Cooked bone broth

After 24 hours of cooking, here’s my pot o’ goodness

 

Now you must strain the broth – this can be tricky because the pot will be heavy. Strain it through a fine sieve. Use a ladle to spoon it out into the sieve if you’re unable to lift the pot and pour it. Make sure the sieve is positioned on top of another pot to catch all that good broth! I’ve definitely almost strained all the liquid gold down the sink before…

And your broth is almost ready! The next step is another waiting game. Let the broth cool at room temperature for a little while. Then transfer it to a jar or other container, and place in the fridge to cool completely (overnight probably). A layer of solidified fat will form at the surface – scoop this off and keep for another cooking purpose. NOW your bone broth is ready to either eat or freeze!

You can freeze this broth for a good 3 months in the jar. Or keep in the fridge for a week. Heat up to a simmer before slurping! Or use it as a base for soups and stews.

Jar of bone broth

Jar of bone broth before I removed the layer of fat. Yum!

 

So why on earth would you jump through all these hoops just to make a semi-clear liquid? The reasons abound.

  • Homemade broth is packed with essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, and other nutrients, such as gelatin and glucosamine – they are leached from the bones through the slow-cooking process and the inclusion of apple cider vinegar, which helps to draw the minerals out.
  • These minerals are very easily absorbed by the body, making it an amazing healing food for those who have compromised immune systems or digestive issues (such as leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel). It’s also wonderful for babies and small children who don’t yet have the digestive capacity for red meats.
  • One pot of broth will give you several weeks’ worth of servings, depending on how often you drink it. If you (and your family) are sick, you could easily go through a pot of broth in a week, and will be making it more often. But since the broth lasts 3 months in the freezer, chances are if you’re good and healthy, you won’t need to do this process more than 5 times a year. However, it’s a great practice to get into!
  • Gelatin is a powerful nutrient that deserves a bit more attention here. Its’ health benefits are numerous – it can strengthen your hair, skin & nails, joints, and muscles. It can help to balance hormones. It is the crucial aspect in broth that supports digestive health, lining the intestinal walls which can be damaged due to leaky gut syndrome or IBS. (This is the reason I started making it in the first place, since Finn had some digestive issues around his first birthday. Since drinking broth, things have greatly improved!)
  • It is wonderfully supportive to the liver, making it an amazing detox food/beverage. In fact, it is just the thing to consume on my Winter Renewal Detox, starting this Monday!

Bone Broth
 
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A healing slow-cooked bone broth that will last for months in the freezer!
Author:
Serves: several quarts!
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs of grass-fed beef bones, ideally rich in cartilage or marrow (knuckles, femur, neck)
  • 1-2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 organic carrots, roughly chopped (don't bother peeling)
  • 2-3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • Any other veggies or fresh herbs you'd like to add to flavor your broth! Choice is yours
  • 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • Plenty of pure, filtered water
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large, heavy pot with a lid. Cover the bones and veggies with pure filtered water. Bring to a simmer and skim off the surface scum.
  2. Put lid on and continue to gently simmer for 24-36 hours, refilling with filtered water and skimming surface as needed.
  3. Strain broth through a fine sieve into another large pot.
  4. Leave to cool before decanting into storage containers, just as mason jars. Place in the fridge overnight.
  5. Remove layer of solidified fat - this can be used for other culinary purposes, so save it!
  6. Broth is ready for consumption or storage! One cup is the serving size, so feel free to portion it out before freezing for easier defrosting.
  7. Prepared broth will keep in its container in the fridge for up to 7 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 


Squash Brownies

IMG_0984

Time has a funny way of speeding up while simultaneously slowing down when you’re at home with a kiddo. I can’t believe the last time I wrote a blog post was 6 months ago. That feels like a million years ago in some ways, five minutes in others! The leaves are falling, the weather is cooling, and my baby is talking up a storm (new favorite word: cucumber!).

Change is inevitable, whether time goes slowly or not. And so here we are, in another season, another year, but we’re still the same people. My passion for healthy food never goes away, and neither does my husband’s excitement for his work. Finn is still my little lovebug, despite the odd mess or meltdown!

And I’ll tell you what else doesn’t change: my love of brownies.

These brownies are delicious, loaded with healthy ingredients, and just in time for Fall. They’re also gluten-free, if you’re so inclined (but the flour is easily substituted out for whichever you prefer). Make them while the winter squash is sweet and tasty, before the ground freezes!

And I’ll do my best to be back sooner rather than later.

Squash brownies

 

Squash Brownies
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16 brownies
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs winter squash (butternut, delicata, acorn, etc.), peeled, diced, and steamed
  • 5 oz plain dark chocolate, broken into small chunks (or use dark chocolate chips)
  • 11 tbsp diced organic butter
  • 4 organic eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups organic sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1½ cups brown rice flour (or any flour you choose)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9"x13" baking pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
  3. Mash the squash until smooth (or use a blender or food processor to puree).
  4. Combine the sugar, vanilla, salt, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in the squash, melted chocolate and butter, and eggs.
  6. Pour into the baking pan and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through (check with a toothpick through the center).

 

Guaranteed to make you giggle!

IMG_0987


First Birthday Cookies

Since having Finn in July, I’ve gotten to know many other new mamas in the past year. And all of a sudden, those babies are turning ONE! It’s hard to believe how quickly a first year goes by (and yet, how very slow it feels in the moment). I’m attending my first FIRST birthday party this weekend and decided to bring along these delectable cookies in celebration of my dear friend’s baby girl. The recipe comes from the LEON Baking & Desserts cookbook, one of my personal faves from England, along with the other Leon cookbooks available. All are terrific.

chocolate chip cookie

These cookies are gluten-free, egg-free, and contain no processed sugars. Plenty of butter though, which gives them the perfect gooey cookie middle.

chocolate chip cookies

Make these if you feel like celebrating along with me!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
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Based on a fabulous recipe from Leon Baking & Desserts
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups gluten-free oat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup organic unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (including the chocolate chips).
  3. Mix together all the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until they are well combined, but do not over-mix.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough on to the prepared baking tray. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  6. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, and allow the cookies to cool on the tray for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

 

 


Power to the Potato

We’re back in Boston after a wonderful warm week away in Florida. Seriously, that trip couldn’t have come at a better time. This winter has been brutal, particularly since Finn and I are both getting major cabin fever! But spring is just around the corner, so I’m trying to think about my favorite foods of the colder months and look on the (snowy) bright side. Something I haven’t made all winter: BAKED POTATO. Why not? I guess when I think about making potatoes, I usually jump to sweet potatoes and roast them up with some fish. I also associate baked potatoes with long cooking times (which is true – they take about an hour in the oven) but it’s not like it’s a labor-intensive hour. You poke a few holes in them, throw them in the oven, and leave them alone. My son can’t be left alone to play longer than 10 minutes, so you might say a baked potato is easier than a 7-month-old. But that would be a pretty weak analogy.

fried egg baked potato

But anyway.

It’s pretty easy to make a meal out of a baked potato. In England, “jacket potatoes” are a familiar vehicle for all manner of toppings that make a tasty and filling lunch. It’s not just sour cream and chives over there. Baked beans and cheese, for example. Or tuna and cottage cheese (woof).

Last night, as Phil and I embraced the fact that winter isn’t over, we settled in for a really satisfying and comforting dinner: baked potatoes with tomato sauce, cheese, and spinach, topped with a fried egg. Sounds simple? That’s because it is. And I’m totally having it again for dinner before the warm weather sets in (so hopefully not more than once…?)

The following recipe is loosely based on an article from the always fabulous, always miniature, Everyday Food magazine.

 

Fried Egg Baked Potato

by The Particular Kitchen

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance spread
  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce (we used a simple jarred pizza sauce that we had in the fridge already)
  • handful of organic baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated manchego cheese
  • 2 organic eggs, gently fried
  • ground black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425F. Poke the potatoes a couple of times each with a sharp knife and rub the skins with olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a fork.

Everything else can be prepared when the potatoes are about 5 minutes from being done.

Once cooked, place the potatoes on 2 plates and slice open down the middle. Let the butter melt inside before sprinkling on the cheese, spooning on some sauce, stuffing in the spinach, and topping with the fried egg and some grated black pepper.

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Noodles for New Parents

Cooking when you’ve just had a baby sometimes feels like the very last thing you want to think about. And here I am, with a 7-month-old baby, and still struggling to get dinner on the table most nights! So Phil and I stick with the dinners we feel comfortable making, week in and week out. Eventually there will be room for creativity in the kitchen once again. But for right now, we’ve found what works for us. It’s funny, but the idea of dishes you make over and over again, recipes you know by heart, is something I always envisioned I’d do when I became a Mom. It might be a far cry from the way I cooked before, but hey – most things change when you have a kid!

Peanut Sesame Noodles 1

One such dinner we’ve got memorized is a delicious Peanut Sesame Noodle Salad that is slightly adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. We have probably made this for dinner once a week for the past 4 months. It’s that good. And that EASY.

peanut sesame noodles

And its ease is precisely why it’s the perfect dinner for new parents. It only requires a few ingredients, takes about 15-20 minutes to make, and gives you plenty for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day (which we always enjoy).

The adaptations we made to Mollie’s original recipe:

  • Added grated ginger to the sauce
  • Used wide rice noodles rather than vermicelli-style
  • Added red bell pepper
  • Cooked tofu

Are there any go-to dinners you make every week?

Peanut Sesame Noodle Salad

by The Particular Kitchen

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 5 mins

Keywords: saute boil salad entree gluten-free vegan vegetarian wheat free

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 cup organic peanut butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 14 oz extra firm tofu, cut into bitesize blocks
  • 1 lb wide rice noodles
  • 1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced
  • 3/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
  • handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Instructions

Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Make the sauce: combine the peanut butter, boiling water, vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey, tamari/braggs, crushed red pepper flakes and sesame oil in a small bowl. Whisk well and pour over the noodles.

Toss the cucumber, pepper, and scallions in with the noodles and sauce.

In a large frying pan, heat some coconut or sesame oil and cook the tofu for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Serve the noodles with a few cubes of tofu and a generous sprinkle of peanuts and cilantro.

Keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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