Sunday, March 12, 2017

Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings


“We live by faith; and if that faith be weak, trust God that weak faith is faith, and that weak faith is true faith… It’s not great faith that is essential to salvation but faith that links the soul to Christ, and that soul is, therefore, saved.” —Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Power of Ghee

Ghee has no power whatsoever but man, it tastes so good. (In other news, I have been getting walloped by this season’s totes mcgoats cold viruses. Red, yellow, black, and white, they’ll get Whimsy sick, alright.)

Ghee is a type of clarified butter, yeah? It can be made from ordinary (organic/grassfed preferred) stick butter. What differentiates ghee from butter is that the butter is simmered until the milk proteins and stuff separate from the lovely, golden goodness and then the liquid gold is strained to leave a substance pretty darn close to being lactose free. Close. Very close.

The foam simmer stage

Anyway, I have been reading about this for months and could never find it in a grocery store (I found out two days ago that I was looking in the wrong place. It’s on the cooking aisle next to the coconut oil.) so I finally decided to make my own. Couldn’t be that hard, right?

                                              
   The straining stage 

It totally isn’t!!! Maybe twenty minutes of time and the result is what butter should be. Like, if cows weren’t affected by The Fall, or something. Unadulterated, pure and concentrated goodness. You ever had homemade salted caramel? Oh yeah, baby. Slather some of this ghee on your toast, add a sprinkling of sea salt, and the same taste profile is there, minus the cream and sugar. The richness explodes in your mouth, robust and bright—if you use the right amount, ghee adds an extra dimension.

                                             
                                                                  .... From a different angle. 

While I do use my ghee on toast occasionally, I especially love drizzling it atop steamed broccoli, a baked potato, or other types of cooked vegetables, following up with some freshly ground sea salt, of course (unless you have kidney/heart issues then, you know… I wouldn’t recommend it).

                                            
                                                                                                                Repeat after me: this is not pee.

So, why exactly should you try ghee?

Gosh, if the description alone doesn’t convince you, then I’d move on; ain’t no waxing poetic on its health benefits here. My inner epicurean recommends it purely for sensual reasons.

List of reasons you should (if you, ya know, want to) at least try ghee:

  1. It’s easy to make
  2. It’s about 49345x tastier than butter
  3. It sounds fancy
  4. Oh, and it has a higher smoke point, so there’s a legitimate reason to use it

(Silly purple pretend border here)
Homemade Ghee

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb UNSALTED* butter (preferably grassfed/organic)
Equipment:
  • Metal sauce pan
  • Wide-mouthed, jarring funnel
  • Wide-mouthed bowl 
  • Colander
  • Cheesecloth (a coffee filter will work in a pinch)
  • 16 oz glass mason jar
Instructions:
  • 
Place butter in the saucepan (dicing the butter leads to quicker melting time) and turn stove on medium. Wait until butter melts completely and begins to simmer.
  • After beginning to simmer, reduce heat to medium-low or until the butter is simmering throughout  the pot but not at a rolling boil. Stir occasionally.
  • Continue to simmer. You will begin to see the liquid brown as the milk products begin sinking. Continue to stir occasionally.
  • The butter is ready to pour when the simmering quality of the butter begins to look like whipped egg whites (it took me around 20 minutes to reach this stage). At this point, I placed the colander atop the wide-mouthed bowl and coated the colander with coffee filters, ‘cos no cheesecloths in this here joint.
  • Slowly, pour the butter/ghee over the coffee filters. The filters are so fine that this process will take a little bit. After the ghee had drained sufficiently, I placed the jarring funnel into the mason jar and poured the lovely goodness inside (it really does look like pee, huh).
  • Toss out the toasty milk curds. Let ghee cool a bit.

ENJOY! Be sure to salt as you spread!! Unless… You know. :)

(/Silly purple pretend border here)

*Using salted butter yields an awful, salty ghee, so I’ve heard.


Loves!


P.S. As the interest goes, so does the blog. The lovely Francis Schaeffer and his trilogy will be front and center the next couple of weeks unless squirrel. Also, here is an Auggie burrito.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Christian Cosmo


When I first began thinking about writing a weekly blog (please ignore the lack of update last Saturday. Dang those resolutions), I surfed across a website called Phylicia Delta. I have NO idea what I was looking for or why but I read the article that I read and went “huh, this girl loves Jesus and theology and is pretty much solid” and subscribed and have been meaning to go back and troll the archives but, well, sickness, time, ADD, squirrel, work, sleeping, you know…. stuff… trounced upon my good intentions and I forgot.

So fast forward to like yesterday or Tuesday, or something, and I get an email from Phylicia about Christian Cosmo.

Thought #1: Man. Maybe this is a drink recipe that’s different from other Pom Cosmos

Thought #2: What makes a Christian Cosmo drink “Christian?”

Thought #3: Hahahaha, I’m so funny

Thought #4: And mature

After gleefully snickering to myself for a goodly amount of time, I proceeded to read the (very obvious, okay, Whimsy) sub-heading: The Sex Talk You Never Had.

Confession 1: Until later, I was totally ignorant that the “Cosmo” referred to the magazine “Cosmopolitan.”

My curiosity was piqued.

I’m a single, twenty-something (six, okay) year old female. I grew up in a super tight-knit family, was homeschooled until college, grew up in the church and became a Christian at a very early age. I was totes steeped in church culture.

From my earliest rememberings, my spiritual constitution had a distinctly legalistic leaning; although I was definitely the turbulent child of the family, internally I created for myself a nice system of checks and balances for outward and inward behavior (disclaimer: mother might argue against my assertion of outward conformity and obedience. heh).

Fast forward to middle school and high school and I was the grandest pharisee of them all. Parable of the Prodigal Son? I was the older brother, to a T. So when I was confronted with sexuality, maaaaan, it was so gross and disgusting. And kind of awkward, you know? And embarrassing. And, yeah, let’s not talk about it.

(Proceeds to be emotionally infatuated with anime guys, because reasons and totally legit, right? And besides, he’s pretty; brooding selfishness notwithstanding)

                                     
                                                 http://www.socwall.com/images/wallpapers/19104-1920x1358.jpg
                                     Bless his poor, tragic heart, if he has one. Disclaimer: Sasuke is still the best evah.

Currently, I’m definitely older and maybe more comfortable in this concept of sexuality. By the Lord’s grace and through the wise mentoring of older women, I have grown to recognize those places in my life where I have absolutely believed lies regarding biblical sexuality and its place in the Christian’s life, regardless of celibacy, marriage, or widowhood, among others.  My great desire is to continue to grow in the knowledge and experience of the Gospel, that it may continue to reform and conform every area of my life to the person and work of Christ, because He has set His children free so that we may be free, that we may live free. Lies of any sort—whether brought about by religion, ourselves, the culture, the devil—weigh down the light heart. Instead of looking to the heavens, we begin looking to the earth; we trade wisdom from above for wisdom of dust.

Nowadays, I find myself in the curious position of serving as a leader in our church’s high school group (What even!).

Youth group is a difficult and often under-appreciated and misapplied form of church ministry, I have found. Both from my own experience as a youth grouper in past churches and from observing other groups, it can often devolve into a zany club that may or may not feature the Bible (or Jesus) but provides a safe space for games, friend time and… questionable activities like goldfish swallowing (why… Just. why…..).

This should not be so. We can not, should not, be a place of entertainment but of hope, the true hope of the Gospel that can redeem and save, and make free the burdened and weary heart! These girls and their souls are so precious to me. And like it or not, we live in our culture. Which is secular, if you haven’t noticed. Hope, or a bastardized form of it, is rampant, as are lies.  Unfortunately, these lies inform the hopes, and these hopes often lead to disillusionment, confusion, anger, a sense of loss, feelings of abandonment and of being forgotten, insecurity, capitulation, hardening of tender hearts and consciences, and the list goes on and on.  In our culture, sexuality is the meaning of life, our own Aphrodite. At least, she’s one of the meanings, because there are too many to name and too many please.

While my church firmly espouses parents to be the primary disciplers of their own children, we also absolutely believe that the greatest single thing these kids (and us adults. and everyone!) need is the Gospel. We believe that the Gospel permeates every aspect of life; mind, body, soul. This includes sexuality, too. I so wish in my younger years that I had been given more mentorship in this area!

As I have read, mused, and prayed over this book, I am so excited to grow in my own God-given sexuality and be more equipped to walk alongside and disciple the young ladies whom I am privileged to call my sisters in the fellowship.

Christian Cosmo: The Sex Talk You Never Had by the dear, the beautiful Phylicia D. Masonheimer will be released on March 1, 2017!!! So basically coming super soon, so be excited.
                                                        
                                                                   http://phyliciadelta.com/christiancosmo/
                                                                In which the cover of this is so freakin' brilliant

Disclaimer 1: please note that when I’m conversing about sexuality with my highschool gals that the parents are absolutely privy to these conversations and encouraged and/or harassed to participate in them (the harassment part was a joke, okay). Safety of our young ones is a priority that we do not take lightly and we absolutely respect the parents of our kiddos to know whether their child is mature enough to think through and/or interact with such a topic in a group setting.

Disclaimer 2: putting down a  disclaimer is so freeing and dang will I be using this in the future.


  Also, Voltron.
http://cdn2us.denofgeek.com/sites/denofgeekus/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/2016/05/voltron-legendary-defender-cast.jpg?itok=5reQYD2q
 Best. Pic. Ever.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The ACV Effect


Ah, Apple Cider Vinegar.

Where should I begin? You’re the cure-all (like bone broth).  Perhaps you don’t taste quite as good, but that’s probably ‘cos your just misunderstood and people don't understand that it takes a  refined palate ingest your go-go juice.

You’ve been heralded as one who helps prevent diabetes and insulin resistance, promotes weight loss, whisks away acid reflux and heartburn, melts away warts. Among other things. Many, many other things (natural deodorant anyone? Anyone…? Well…).

But dang, sister, those are some braggadocios claims, there. You’re brand isn’t pulling any punches either (Bragg. The spelling doesn’t fool anyone).

But do you actually do what people claim you do?

~oOo~

I first heard about the wonders of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) a year or so ago from my dear Older Sister (https://christinelife.wordpress.com).

Warts, unsightly, disgusting, horrible, nasty little body invaders, have been a battle since I have been in since my middle school years. Literature (so scholastic. much knowledge) states “Most go away within months or years.” (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/warts-and-plantar-warts-topic-overview#1 <——Wow, Whimsy, such reputable reference).

Well, okay, then. It’s been fifteen years. So I guess they could still be right. Frickin’ time frames of ridiculous and unhelpful proportions…

Anyway, I had been complaining (not out of the ordinary) about how this one periungual wart (that’s fancy jargon for finger wart, in my case) just wouldn’t go away no matter how many times Dr. Derm(atologist) froze it.

PSA (not the prostate test): freezing around nail beds freaking hurts.

This particular viral bed (the word wart is disgusting and I am disgusted by it. Viral bed ain’t much better) had been frozen no less than six times and I couldn’t stomach going back to have it done again… And again… And again… And—

So I tried duck tape.

I tried carving that sucker off with my mini pocket knife (PSA: I don’t recommend this).

I tried some sort of cream used for skin cancers that Dr. Derm(atologist) prescribed for me. 

And the durn thing wouldn’t go away.

Then, D-Day struck.  A massive offensive. Massive.

A hard area the size of a pea had manifested on my foot and had been rather bothersome to me.

Uh-oh.

Oh, yes.

The Plantar Virus had struck. When my mother used to wax on about the woes of plantar warts, I’m afraid my reaction was mostly “Ma, please” (I never said this to her face).

But now I understood. Viscerally, deeply, personally, I understood.

I was peeved.

I was angry.

I was peeved again.

So Older Sister suggested Bragg’s ACV as a method of clearing up the buggers. And since I was desperate, I tried it.

Here’s the process (my process, that is. I recommend nothing):

-Carve down the wart as much as you can stand with a knife (I still don’t recommend this)

-get part of a cotton ball that exactly matches the size of the growth, moisten with ACV, and squeeze out excess so it is damp just so.

-Cover with bandaid

-If on foot, cover with duck tape; anywhere else, I use silk tape

Lather, rinse, repeat indefinitely.

So basically, months go by. I fell off the bandwagon (because, putting acid on raw skin hurts, you know) and I had made up my mind to ask my PCP for a referral to a Big City Dr. Derm(atologist)  #2 instead of my small town one. The plantar’s wart had grown from one wart to seven; the peringual was simply and painfully stubborn and was too deep to dig out with my humble pocket knife (let it be known that I, uh, don’t recommend the use of knives around ones finger, necessarily. That’s, uh, my disclaimer. Is there an echo in here?).
So off to the Big City I go, filled with hopes and dreams of this alien invader finally being blasted from the face of my bod. Or the finger and foot of my bod.

Dr. Derm(atologist) #2 walks in. She looks at my plantar. She looks at my finger. She looks at me.

“Well, we can freeze the one on your finger, but can’t do anything about the ones on your foot. You could scrape them down at home, I guess, and maybe use over-the-counter acid.”

………….

Freaking what?

……..

“Dr. Derm(atologist) #2? Are ya kiddin’ me chick?” (<——I said that in my head)

So we freeze my finger for the seventh time.

“We’ll make a follow-up appointment for a month to see how that is doing.”

“Oh, okay,” says I, intending to do no such thing.

Back to Bragg-adocio I go.

Now, concession number one: the ACV had been helpful to destroy the virus superficially on my finger but couldn’t touch the deeper tissue. This time, the freezing destroyed the deepest parts of the tissue (until now, a year later, but that’s why I’m writing this post ‘cos I’m weaponizing Bragg again).

The plantar warts, however, I resolved to kill with fire. Or at least acid. Okay, a weak acid.

So man did I go at it.

Pocket knife in hand, I dug and scraped off the callouses and applied ACV obsessively, not going a day or night without it unless the sting was too great and I needed a mental rest. I was at it for months.

But, you know what? They went away.

Well, “went away….” Those suckers died and didn’t come back (yet)! Their horrible bodies turned black, burnt to a crisp (Don’t mess with Bragg’s Mother, you…. mother….).

So now to the present.

The familiar spots of broken baby capillaries once again showed up peringually. I attacked it with zest a week ago, skipping only a day or two. And the familiar black of dead, dead, dead, dead wart (or something) has been realized.

Oh, yeah, baby.

~oOo~

So, does it work?

Yes, I would say. But not unequivocally. It isn’t the cure-all to every wart out there, like some swear. BUT. I think it is almost always worth a try to try on things. Most things. Well, some things.

~oOo~

Anecdote Two

Long story short. I have heartburn. I don’t wanna be on Omeprazole (or other PPIs/acid reducers) indefinitely. I was desperate. I heard about ACV as being able to help with heartburn. I was skeptical. I said, “WTH(eck), man” and tried it, a capful every morning and night with 10 oz of water.

And you know what? You know freakin’ what?!

After a week, I felt relief and improvement. Go figure. But I don’t figure with this anymore because it helps when I do it, so…..

Take it, leave it, there’s my story. Can’t argue with that (‘cept you can and some might but you know, whatevs, man).

Much Love!

Anyone try Braggs ACV for their maladies? Did it work, did it not?



                                               Raw. Unfiltered. With the Mother. Well, if the shoe fits.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Bone Appetit: Round Two


Beef Bone Broth. The natural successor to Chicken Bone Broth. For real broth-ers, right? A commentary. Well, basically a play-by-play.

 The Stanky Leg
  • 1 whole onion quartered with skins
  • 2 lbs beef bones (roasted) 
  • Skins of 1 red onion 
  • 2 carrots, chopped roughly 
  • 1 celery stick 
  • Leaves from 1 celery heart 
  • 1/2 bunch (washed) parsley 
  • 2 chicken feet (I blanched them?) 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • A spattering of peppercorns (probably less than 1 teaspoon) 
  • 1 gallon water 

There are peeps that are persuaded that too much plant matter can alter the flavor, so there’s that. There are peeps that argue for waiting until the last hour or so to put plant matter in. So, there’s that.

But I’m experimenting. So there’s that.

The Soak
  • 2 T vinegar 
  • 2 lbs beef bones (all bone and marrow, baby) 
  • 2 chicken paws 

 I let the bones and paws soak in a cold vinegar bath for like 30 minutes.  

 The Blanch

Still debatable as to whether its helpful or not. Used water from The Soak and crank up to a boil for 20 minutes. One may or may not scrape off the scum. The Broth Whisperer said that the scum is merely proteins, not toxins. But it sure looked skanky.

AND OH THE SMELL.

OOOH.

NOT GOOD.  

The Roast

400* for 1-2 hours. It smelled fine.  

The Cook
  • 5-6 qt crockpot 
  • Approx 1 gallon of water 
Fearing the smell of the The Blanch, I cooked this outside. I added the bones/ingredients plus water (I warmed to just below a boil on the stove before adding to the crockpot). Cooked below a simmer (I read to never let it boil!) for 8-48 hours… Everywhere I looked said that longer tends to be better. So baby, I did that.

Update 1: I am 16 hours into the cooking stage. As stated before, I placed the crockpot outside JUST in case. But it smells heavenly.

 Update 2: 36 hours into cooking; it hasn’t gotten above a baby simmer. No smells emanate from the pot.

Update 3: Pretty darn excited about all of this! Despite my skepticism, visions of health dancing in my head!  

The Eats

After 46 hours of nail-biting, I brought the treasure of dark brown goodness inside; it was fishing time: Two pounds of bones and two chicken paws. All crumbly goodness, haHA. Bro 2’s look of disgust when I presented an atrophied, crumbling chicken paw was priceless.

 It was disgusting.

 Stomach slightly roiling but still determined to try the magic elixir la delicatesse, I fished out everything and noted with pride the way those bones crumbled. Oh, yeah. That’s how it’s done. Fist bump to me, baby.

I carefully poured the soup into my mason jars and set them in the fridge, leaving a cup of soup to be my cuppa. I salted it generously, took in its dubious golden depths, and took a sip and nearly spat it out.
Oh. My. Goodness.

It was AWFUL. AWFUL!

Down the rabbit hole we go….

 Naturally, I began troubleshooting.

Okay, okay, I had 2 lbs marrow bones with no joint knuckles or crap that might make it taste better. One post suggested I overcooked it. More searching swore to my method of “longer is better.” The broth didn’t get above a bubble-simmer (that is, one bubble that “ploops” every three to eight seconds. roughly. It’s a technical term).

 Okaaaaay, no worries, I’ll save that broth for soup stock. I probably didn’t salt it enough, anyway.  

Day 3 post bone beef broth (PBBB)

French Onion Soup, calling my name. Hey, man. I’ve got some (supposedly) awesome-sauce broth in the freezer. Let’s get that sucker out and make some ah-mazing French Onion Soup. (Mothers are smart. Mother advised me to dilute the recipe rather than add 8 cups of straight up BBB. So I did).

Sldkfjlkjasdf.

Pffffffffft.

The onions smelled heavenly, the broth looked beautiful, a roasty-toasty golden brown that, when mixed with the caramelized onion fond, yielded an even richer, mouth-watering future for my dinner table. I added, yes, quite a bit of salt. To, uh, cover up the “beef flavor” (that’s a lie. It didn’t taste like beef at all!).

All of this (probably 3, irretrievable hours of my life) and the soup is “meh.” “Meh.” MEH.

And that’s when I began to realize, yet again, that this is going to be a long, long journey. Not bad….. necessarily. I am of the Gratification Generation of the Instant Now and am slowly learning that learning takes time. And journeys aren't usually short but that's not bad, it can be interesting, and probably will lead back to chicken bone broth cuz that was like totes easy and delish.

 So to drown my irritation at not having an amazing, good, conquered recipe to share, here is a simpler, but still tasty, soup which will not be as likely to hold your emotions in limbo as you wait for the taste to bloom in your mouth. I actually cooked this several weeks ago when I was faced with the prospect of fending for myself for a week on the food front.

“I need lunch food for work! “

Gasp.

Roll up those sleeves, Rosie the Riveter; batten the hinges, to the battle stations, darn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

So this was my companion recipe during the Chicken Bone Broth fiasco.


Roasted Cauliflower Soup
(Adapted from SkinnyTaste)

 Ingredients:
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets 
  • 3 garlic cloves 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil + 1 tbsp for cooking in pan 
  • 3 medium sized carrots, thinly sliced 
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups broth of choice 
  • 1 key lime, sliced 
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional 
  • Kosher or sea salt salt, to taste 
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk 

  • 1 red onion, sliced very thinly 
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
Equipment: Blender
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro   

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Crush the garlic. Mix cauliflower florets, crushed garlic, turmeric, and olive oil together until cauliflower is covered. Salt with a couple grinds of sea salt, or equivalent Bake cauliflower for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat a pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, yellow onion, and thinly sliced carrots and cook high and fast until caramelized, stirring frequently to scrape fond from pan to prevent burning.

Add the broth, roasted cauliflower, key lime, red pepper, and salt and simmer for 15 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

Meanwhile, take the thinly sliced red onion and place in pan with 1/2 T olive oil. Cook on high until just beginning to caramelize to golden color. Add balsamic vinegar and cook until it is reduced and/or evaporated; Add to soup.

 Stir in coconut milk; use blender to roughly blend 3/4 of the soup, leaving some chunky-chunks for interest. Serve topped with cilantro.

Verdict: Win

Taste: I really liked it. Good taste with the turmeric, the caramelized red/balsamic onions lent it a nice undertone and rounded the flavor. Light heat at the back of the throat from the crushed red pepper flakes, a subtle brightness from the key lime. So good!!!

***A Brief Note: ***

Most recipes I totally change because I don’t have all of the ingredients. No curry or whatever? WELL, LET’S JUST NOT PUT IT IN, THEN (because I probably forgot to get what I needed at the store. Yeah, that totally happened with this recipe).

What are some amusing cooking mishaps that you have had? Or have you ever saved a recipe that seemed doomed to failure?

Much love!


P.S. Okaaaaay, so if ya dilute the Onion Soup with a couple cups of water and let it sit in the fridge for a day… It is actually pretty good. Okay, okay, really good. Don’t mind the swollen ankles from the amount of sea salt I added; that stuff is smooth.  


Source List: 

http://www.paleohacks.com/bone-broth/my-house-smells-horrible-with-bone-broth-brewing-am-i-doing-something-wrong-4782 How to troubleshoot the stanky broth.

https://ohhellopaleo.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/holy-crp-is-bone-broth-supposed-to-smell-like-that/ An amusing look at the woes of stanky broth.

http://www.skinnytaste.com/turmeric-roasted-cauliflower-soup/#GFXXMVxbCRo4SwVL.99 The original recipe.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bone Appetit


I am, have always been, a haphazard person. For better or worse. I chronically neglect to read recipes in their entirety before thinking “Hey! That looks good!” and proceed with cooking until I reach that one….  Necessary… Ingredient… That I don’t…. Have….

Or, when I am desperate to try something but in order to make that something I need to make something else to go along with it and instead of it only taking like an hour it takes 3 but it was worth it in the end because I finally scratched that obsessive brain itch.

Or how about this:  I’m in the middle of preparing a recipe and have a sudden curiosity of Why did they choose to do it this way? Does everyone do it this way? Well, yes it seems that they do, but why? They sort of give answers but not really, so is it important?

And then there I go, chasing the white rabbit down that internet hole and mucking around for answers until I get irritated and give up.

Well, thank goodness for my smart, go-to people who are cooks and can help out when I’m tunnel-visioned in a pinch.

And that’s where Bone Broth waltzes into this conversation.

~oOo~

Heralded as the healer of like everything, the darling of nutrition, the diva of the DIY cooking, etc etc, etc, Bone Broth is the It Girl. Basically, it’s magic, I guess.

Well anyway, I decided to try my hand at this because I have been feeling under the weather for the past bit. So all I need is bones, right? A-ok. Stop the butcher’s shop on Sunday. We usually have them but we’re out of bones ’til Monday. Ok. Stop by the ol’ K-Roger’s, let’s get some cheap bones instead of grass-fed. Yeah, we usually have ‘em but we’re out ’til Monday.

Cue grumpy face and full-on Well let’s try something anyway ‘cos I am totes motivated to Do This Thang.

I bought the cute, 5.63 lb roasting chicken not quite sure if I was to stick its raw, nude bod in the cooker or if I needed to cook it before hand. Naturally, this led to Step One of the rabbit hole: how to roast a chicken super fast so that I could get to the recipe I actually wanted to make.

Some notes

1. I did not read the whole recipe over. I am a notorious skimmer, right? So the part about Mr. Chick being at room temperature? Yeah, didn’t happen.

2. Let’s just say (Angie Tribeca? Anyone? Anyone?) Mr. Chick went skinny dipping in a super hot water bath for 15 minutes and that did the trick (not advisable, I’m sure, related to bacteria growth, probably. But it’s almost been a week and I haven’t gotten sick yet after stuffing my face).

3. Make sure to actually note the weight. My chicken was 5.63 pounds. I only cooked it for 50 minutes as opposed to the suggested 57 minutes. Uh, it makes a difference.

4. I definitely did not see that you were supposed to roast the chicken breast side up until, yeah, today. But did it make a difference? Uh, no.


How To Cook A Whole Chicken on the Fly

Sort of modified from Claire Trost (original recipe: http://www.scratchmommy.com/how-to-cook-a-whole-chicken-fast/)

Ingredients:

    1 whole chicken at room temperature (be sure to note the weight, as it will be needed for the cooking time)
    Olive oil (generous splash(es))
    Sea salt (kosher sea salt, if desired), generous sprinkles
    Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
    Optional: 1/2 lemon, 1 key lime, 1/2 regular sized lime; garlic cloves (I used 4)

 Instructions:

 Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Optional: trim fat and remove giblets. (Note: I was using this chicken for the bones so I skipped this step because I reasoned the giblets would be added nutrients for the broth. I threw them in the cavity with the lime/garlic)

    Cover the chicken in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If lemon or garlic is desired, place in cavity.

    Place chicken on a roasting pan. Cover with lid. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes per pound of the chicken, or until the juices run clear. (Example. If using a four pound chicken, roast for 40 minutes.)
 
  Let chicken rest ten minutes upon removal from the oven.

Result: Crispy, tasty, yummy…. It is best served fresh because that luscious skin is soooo fine.

Recipe 1: Win.

~oOo~

Now onto the bone broth. Cue rabbit hole number 2.

Is it really all that it is cracked up to be?

Well, there is an incredible lack of peer-reviewed studies out there regarding this nutritious darling; not that studies don’t have shortcomings, but its nice to be informed where one can be. I did come across a study  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23375414) arguing that bone broth from organic chickens contained levels of lead.  Uh, okay. Some snooping around yielded a helpful response article here (http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/soy-alert/bone-broth-and-lead-contamination-a-very-flawed-study-in-medical-hypotheses/) in which the author argues that the methods used in the study were faulty and led to false conclusions. Uh, okay.

The take away points from both of these articles, for me, is the importance of using pasture-raised, organic, healthy sources of meat (confession: totally did not do that with Mr. Chick.).  Lead, particularly, is sequestered away mostly in bone (Hutchinson TC and Meema KM.  Lead, Mercury , Cadmium and Arsenic in the Environment,  (Wiley, 1987)  pp. 53-68.), so—common sensically—it would be a good thing to get meats that are as healthy as far as it depends on you.

So what about the benefits of bone broth? Well, lots, if you read the blogs.

Here’s the thing. I’m totally not against anecdotal evidence; conversely, I’m not 100% for its use as the be-all-end-all of why I should do something, same thing for studies (As my father says, “Any text taken out of context can be a pre-text for a proof text”). Basically, anecdotes and studies can be useful, helpful, and truthful…. To an extent. Don’t try to make its usefulness go beyond its intended limit.

PHEW. It’s a wonder I get anything done at all!

For this recipe, I’m making it specific to chicken bones because beef bones are a little more tricky, so I’ve been told. I’ll follow up at a later time.


Chicken Bone Broth

(Modified from multiple sources: see source list)

Step One: Soaking

Bones
4 T Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
1 Gallon COLD water (or enough to cover bones)

Put bones, water, and ACV in pot and let sit for 20-30 minutes. This step ostensibly allows the nutrients in the bones to be more available.

Step Two: Blanching (optional)*

2 lbs of organic, pasture fed/grassfed chicken bones
1 gallon cold water

Place bones in water and let boil for 20 minutes.

Step Three: Roasting

The flavor improving stage!

Preheat oven to a raunchy 450*. Place bones onto baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until bones are roasty-toasty golden brown.

Step Four: Cooking

Previously soaked bones and water
1 onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots

Add roughly chopped vegetables, cover, and bring concoction to just below a simmer.  Now cook. And cook. And cook. Can be anywhere for 8-24 hours for chicken bones (I cooked mine until most of the bones crumbled between pinched fingers, roughly 20 hours).  Monitor closely to make sure liquids don’t run dry. I added water once and it did not affect the flavor at all.

Once done cooking, cool quickly. Or until its cooled enough to handle (it will still be hot), place in appropriate containers to freeze or refrigerate. Please note: According to this dude (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/dining/bending-the-rules-on-bacteria-and-food-safety.html), “it’s always best to strain, cool and chill it as rapidly as possible” in order to prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing. Food poisoning ain’t fun, folks.

Step Five: Eating!!! Or Freezing

Drain the bones/other stuff (I squished everything to make sure I got every single drop I could) and discard. Place in the refrigerator immediately or drink (if you want to add salt, add just before consumption. Keeps 5-7 days in the fridges.

Notes:

*The jury is out on whether to blanch or not blanch.  Proponents argue that blanching helps remove impurities from the bones.  Based on my understanding of how toxins are stored in bones, I’m not sure how much good this step would do since you’re getting ready to cook the crap out of the bones, anyway. But I may be wrong!

On this same vein, others (like this blog post) say that it is for a clearer broth.

On re-heating: different people have different opinions; some say that using a microwave converts a good amino acid to a bad one so DON’T USE IT LIKE EVER (emphasis mine). I personally re-heat mine on the stove at a low temp.

On storing: Visit the BrothWhisperer (https://brothwhisperer.wordpress.com/storing-freezing-and-reheating-bone-broth/) for an excellent step-by-step process of keeping broth.


I was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed drinking the broth.  Very rich and luscious (and works quite well as a lip moisturizer as you sippy-sip its wonderfulness.  Warmed, salted with freshly ground Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (so fancy) and poured in a cute lil pottery mug…. Ahhhh.

Alas, my body didn’t revert to my pre-25 body-of-perfection as they were saying it would (basically), but it wasn’t bad (and I only had enough for like 3-4 days, so there’s that).

I didn’t use the broth for a soup base but I’m sure it would Rock It Out Of This World.

Recipe 2: Satisfactory Accomplishment

Done (for now).

 ~oOo~

Who has tried bone broth? Loved it, hated it, ambivalent?

OH MAN P.S

I’m currently making bone broth from beef bones right now.  With “chicken paws.” I feel like a witch.



When I blanched the bones, OMG THE SMELL. IT WAS AWFUL. So basically, there will be a follow-up post to this post regarding bone broth from beef bones.

Peace.

Source List:

Wellness Mama (https://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/): Very helpful for the basic recipe for both chicken and beef bone broth recipes. The comments are helpful, too!

Holistic Squid (http://holisticsquid.com/making-chicken-bone-broth-from-basic-to-adventurous/): As the name states, bone broth from basic to adventurous. Chicken heads, chicken feet!!

Casaveneracion (http://casaveneracion.com/homemade-bone-broth-ultimate-guide/): “The Ultimate Guide.” Oh, yeah!

Brothwhisperer (https://brothwhisperer.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/myths-about-cooking-bone-broth/): Entertaining (“Welcome to the broth-erhood”), educational, and great for troubleshooting.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

When Blogging Becomes "Blah-gging:" Five Ideas to Motivate Your Writing


Blogging. Writing. Journaling.

As a child, I was enamored with the romanticism of writing down my thoughts in “Dear Journal” fashion. I received my first journal when I was eleven (It had a lock. Totally essential.). Now, over a decade later, it lies somewhere in my cluttered room half-written with musings on The Lord of the Rings and how-to’s on constructing a red solo-cup turkey call (No joke. But I think I was the turkey.).

So you could say that it never really stuck, this journaling. Call it laziness, the scattered squirrel of a child beset with ADD, or maybe I just wasn’t mature enough (we won’t talk about that time in college when I tried to actually blog. Pretty sure my last post was in 2010.).

This is where things get squirrelly.

The title of this post seems pretty darn conceited and presumptuous with me admitting to my dark and sordid history.  But, just between me and you and everyone who may read this, I had an epiphany last summer. Writing is fun.... Or, rather, writing can be extremely fun and freeing when approached in a novel way.  Here’s the rub: I always knew that writing was fun. Journaling? Not so much. Gathering thoughts in a cohesive manner? Eeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhh no.

What changed? The realization that writing a lot leads to a lot of fun opportunities; writing a lot leads to fun, new opportunities with different creative mediums (ahem, such as songwriting which, if done well, is like poetry to music). As Linus, that philosophical soul, once wrote to Santa Claus, “How are all your reindeer? Are they well-fed? Is your sleigh in good shape? Are the runners oiled? Then go, man, go!” ( A link to this delightful clip is here for your enjoyment.)

In other words, satiated reindeer and oiled skids lead to well-oiled cogs that are more apt to churn with creativity and execution! Remember that stuff in Physics or something about static friction? No? Well, anyway...

Without further ado, here are five ideas to rejuvenate your blogging and chip away the rust on those old skids.


1. Take Up a Hobby. Or Two. Or Three.

Watch videos, read books, or better yet talk to people who are knowledgeable about your interests. Depending on what you take up, youtube is a freakin’ treasure trove of tutorials from crocheting to cooking to bullwhip making (shout-out to NicksWhipShop youtube channel for providing multiple kick-butt tutorials on how to make a nylon bullwhip!). Obviously Pinterest is a good resource.

Newness has a delightful habit of whetting the appetite of inspiration. If you find yourself thinking about it, excited about it, talking with others about it, odds are you will probably have a good time writing about it (Pro tip: no one wants to hear anyone talk nonstop about whipmaking. FYI. Not from personal experience. Just, ya know, if you were curious.)

I do want to make a caveat that I am not an infallible authority on anything and in fact tend to be rather monobuttockular in my creative endeavors. So I do not vouch for the veracity of any one of these sources of information. I peruse multiple sources of information before landing on a particular idea. Google, obviously. ;)

2. Write. A Lot. Like, Every Day.

What I mean by “a lot” is actually more of “be disciplined to make your fingers type something--some thing--daily or make the pen/pencil touch the paper every night with a particular thought, not simply responding to a tweet or comment.” Keep those runners oiled!

Note: It’s freakin’ hard to write every day.

Note: On some days, writing 100 words is like pulling a blasted novel out of your tailhole.

3. Have a Cool Thought? Write it Down! Now. Or you won’t rem--SQUIRREL.

Or have Siri take a note from you... Or find another way to remind you of that cool idea you had. Whether it’s a new hack for your hobby, a different technique, a novel thought that you dredged up.... Don’t trust yourself to remember. You won’t. That’s how about a million of my grocery trips go down.

Write down your step-by-step process of initiating your new idea. Don’t trust yourself to remember. ODDS ARE YOU WON’T (all-caps to convince myself of this indisputable fact).  Note what works and what didn’t. Knowing your errors and results will help you (and others) in the future with troubleshooting.

4. Build a Rapport Among Like-Minded People

Whether that’s friends in RL or on social media, be in contact. Keep up with their projects, be involved.  We are individuals who learn until the day we die (or, you know, not). We will never exhaust every single bit of the knowledge in our chosen interest. Get to know people in the same path, those ahead of you and those behind.  It is wonderful to learn and then turn around later on and teach it.

How does this help writing? It’s like a University brainstorming session without worrying about the grade! New people, new ideas, and probably most people like what they are doing if they are posting about it. Probably.


5. Don’t Sweat the Details

Proof reading is good. Great, in fact. Fact checking is better especially when dealing with, ya know, hot topics.  But here’s the thing, most likely there is always someone smarter or more in-the-know than you on any topic.  Or--as is the case on the internetz--there will inevitably be someone who is confident that they know more than you do and tell you so in a nice and pretty, encouraging way. SO VERY NICE AND ENCOURAGING, YOU STUPID PERSON WHO PROBABLY VOTED FOR THAT STUPID PERSON FOR PRESIDENT. (<---that was probably written by a troll).

So when you get your tail bitten, learn from it. Learn from the feedback even if it isn’t nice. ‘Cos even not-nice people can be smart and can have a point. 

Basically, don’t get bogged down so much by the what-ifs and the desire for perfection and wanting to be everyone’s friend that you simply don’t write.

~oOo~

My whole outlook on journaling/blogging changed when I began consistently journaling in last year. The benefits were incredible. Not instant, but incredible and hopefully long-lasting. Keeping the cogs oiled regularly, as it were, gave me a foundation so that so that I was able to dabble in songwriting for the first time in my life; the words were there, the imagery was there! IT IS SO FREAKIN’ COOL. 

What are hacks/tips/tricks/exercises that have helped you keep writing/journaling/blogging exciting?

Much Love!