Making and Canning Healthy Broth

Whenever I cook a naturally raised chicken or turkey I want to make the best use of it. After the turkey (or chicken) has been carved and served I save the bones to make broth.

The procedure is simple. I put the bones, a few vegetables (a carrot, an onion, a couple stalks of celery), slices of lemon, garlic cloves and fresh herbs (parsley and thyme) into a large crockpot. The lemon provides acid that will leach calcium from the bones.

Then I add water to cover. It is important the crockpot lid does NOT have a vent, because the broth is going to cooks for 20 to 24 hours. All the ingredients contribute to a mineral rich broth.

Throughout the day the crockpot is set at high, and then overnight at low. 

Around 24 hours I turn the crockpot off and ladle the broth through a strainer. The bones, vegetables, lemon and herbs are discarded. The broth goes into a large pot  and is allowed to cool down. If there is fat in the broth, I place the broth in the refrigerator for several hours and skim the fat off the top before beginning the canning process.

NOTE: If you don’t want to can the broth, you can freeze it. Pour the broth into a canning jar, leaving head space. (The broth expands a little when it freezes.) Place it in the refrigerator to chill, and then place it in the freezer.  

Berries and applesauce can be preserved with water bath canning, but broth requires pressure cooker canning.  A couple years ago I wrote about my first experience with the pressure cooker.

I read the farm journal cookbook’s information on canning broth. I read the pressure cooker user’s manual from beginning to end twice. I read the directions for using the pressure cooker to can. I washed the canning jars in the dishwasher and the canning lids by hand in soapy water.

Then I placed the lids with their rings in hot water (that had recently boiled). While preparing the lids and jars, I reheated the broth on the stove top. Then I filled the pint size canning jars with hot broth leaving one inch of headspace. I put the lids on and tightened the bands and then did a quarter turn to loosen the band a little.

I placed a wire rack at the bottom of the pressure cooker to keep the canning jars from touching the bottom of the pot and put 2 + ½ inches of boiling water in the pressure cooker. Then I put my 3 jars on the rack—the water was just under 3 inches deep with the jars on the rack. 

Following the directions that came with the pressure cooker I put the lid on and set it to pressure-cooking, making sure that pressure lock button was set. I turned the burner on high under the pressure cooker. When the button on the lid of the cooker indicated that the pot had achieved pressure I began to time the process. The broth needed to be processed for 75 minutes with 10 pounds of pressure. (The Fagor pressure cooker reaches 15 pounds of pressure.) 

I stayed in the kitchen the whole time. Occasionally the pot began to hiss with lots of extra steam escaping and I adjusted the burner a little, feeling a little anxious. I like to see what is happening, but the only thing I could see was steam escaping from the safety valve. Were my jars breaking? Were the lids allowing extra air to escape and no liquid? I had to just wait and see.

When the 75 minutes was complete the pressure cooker needed to cool down on its own. The directions warned me not to open the cool down vent, not to try opening the lid. It took a full half hour for the pot to cool down and the pressure button indicate that the pot was no longer under steam pressure. With a little trepidation I opened the pot and saw that I had successfully processed my jars of broth.

Since then I have become comfortable with the process. I am able to insert the steps of this process into the day as I accomplish other things. The benefit is having a broth that is healthy—I know what is in it. I can to add it to soups, to chili, and use as the liquid for preparing rice.

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The Best Blueberry Pie

Blueberries are appearing in the grocery store. They are from the southern states–it will still be a while before the Michigan berries are ripe. Even though they are not from Michigan the blueberries are lovely, and so I made a family favorite pie.

Pastry:

1 cup flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter (5 +1/3 Tblsp.)

1 Tblsp. + 1 tsp. vinegar

Cold water

Mix flour and salt. (I sometimes will use 1/4 cup rice flour and 3/4 cup unbleached white flour to reduce the amount of gluten.) Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Mix vinegar in 1/2 cup of cold water. Add water with vinegar a tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork. You want the dough to just hold together. Roll out and line a 9″pie dish. Preheat oven to 375°.

Filling

4 + 1/2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon minute tapioca

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup honey

Mix the blueberries, sugar, tapioca and lemon juice. Pour into pastry lined pie dish. Drizzle the honey over the berries. Then prepare topping.

Topping:

¾ cup flour

1/8 tsp. salt

¼ cup brown sugar

5 + 1/2 Tablespoons butter

Mix flour, salt and brown sugar. (Rice flour works well in this topping.) Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle this over the pie. Bake at 375° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and berries are beginning to bubble.

Blueberry Pie

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Practice Makes the Perfect Pie Crust

Meals and special desserts are a part of family life. In our home we enjoy pies, especially fruit pies. I have practiced and tweaked my recipe for pie crust until I was satisfied. The shortening in pie crust should be 1/3 the amount of flour. (I don’t remember where I learned that.) 

So when I am making a two crust pie I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1 + 1/2 cup of flour. Then I cut in 1/2 cup of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. A little bit of vinegar acts as a conditioner to the pastry dough, so I add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup of cold water. As I add the water slowly to the flour, I am mixing it in with a fork. It is important to add just enough water—might not need the full 1/2 cup— mix only enough to have the dough hold together.

Then roll out half the dough on a lightly floured board to line the pie plate. Roll out the remainder for the upper crust. My mother would always fold the this top piece in half twice (so it resembles a triangle) and then make decorative cuts in the dough before laying it in place. And so I do too.

Once the pie is ready for the oven I brush the surface of pie crust with a few drops of water and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over it.

You can find a recipe for the best blueberry pie here.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: PRACTICE

Spring is Here : Looking Forward to Flowers and Herbs!

It is the first day of Spring and I am looking forward to the appearance of flowers and herbs. The snowdrops are up, and the robins have returned. The hyacinths are beginning to poke through the thawing soil.

Before long the violets will be blooming. I plan to gather these delicate flowers from an area of the yard that has not been sprayed with any chemicals to make candied violets. See a recipe here.

Every year I add another herb to my gardens. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that support health. Rosemary, thyme and sage all grow easily. Here is a recipe for potatoes with rosemary and thyme.

I have planted some stinging nettle seeds in a container. I hope to plant them in a corner of the yard that has little traffic. The leaves of this plant sting—similar to stinging ants. The young leaves must be harvested carefully (gloves). When the leaves are boiled they lose their sting. The benefit of this herb is the rich mineral content. Nettle tea is sold in health food stores. I first noticed a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cook book. Here is an on-line recipe for nettle soup.

In a time period when many worry about infectious disease, it is a good idea to think about ways to improve the nutritional support of our immune system. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. At one time I thought the purpose of herbs was flavor, but now I know they enrich our food.

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Coffee and Warm Cinnamon Rolls for the Melody of Life

On New Year’s Day we like to sip coffee and enjoy cinnamon rolls while we watch the Rose Parade on TV. I have a recipe that allows me to make the dough the afternoon/evening before, and then in the morning I shape and bake the rolls. 

My dear husband makes the coffee, flavored with cardamon. See the recipe in this post.

This year the theme of the Rose Parade was The Melody of Life. The great array of flowers, seeds, beans and vegetables used to make the beautiful floats are a testament to life created by God.

From my perspective mothers have a significant role in the melody of life and I was hoping that there would be some reference.  Towards the end of the parade a float sponsored by Mrs. Meyer’s natural household products went by.  I have used Mrs. Meyer’s lemon verbena and lavender scented dish detergents.

The ABC commentator mentioned that Mrs. Meyer, mother nine children, was on the float. I was pleased, but it didn’t dispel the sadness that we are missing so many children.

Babies and children are also part of the melody of life. Life News has reported that abortion was the leading cause of death in 2018. It is a great tragedy. Education about abortion will continue through organizations like Students for Life. The March for Life will take place again this month.

Here is my recipe for cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter (10 tablespoons)

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot mashed potatoes

1 cup milk (almond, coconut or rice milk)

1 Tablespoon dry active yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 eggs well beaten

5 -6 cups unbleached white flour (sometimes I reduce the amount of white flour, substituting one cup of spelt, barley or oat flour)

Add the butter to the mashed potatoes and mix to melt and combine. Add milk, honey and salt. Set this mixture aside and add the yeast to the warm water. Allow the yeast to begin to bubble and then add to the potato mixture (which should be lukewarm). Blend thoroughly and add the eggs, mixing well. Add flour to make a stiff dough.

I mix the dough in a large bowl and test the stiffness by kneading with my hand. If the dough is too sticky I add a little more flour. The dough should become elastic, a little sticky but holding together.

Then I place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl (with room to allow the dough to cool rise). Cover the bowl with a plate or waxed paper.

Ingredients for preparing cinnamon rolls:

1/2 cup butter

6 Tblsp. brown sugar

6 Tblsp. maple syrup

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. 

Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Roll out 1/2 of the dough into a rectangle—approximately 16” x 9”. Melt butter and spread 2 tablespoons over dough. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar. Roll up the dough, beginning with long side of rectangle. You will have a roll-up that is 16 inches in length.

Prepare three 9” round cake pans for rolls. Place 1 + 1/2 tablespoon melted butter in each pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in each pan. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to each pan and gently spread and mix.

Cut the rolled up dough into 2 inch pieces and place them cut side up in the prepared pans—about six rolls per pan. Repeat process with 2nd half of dough to fill the pans. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until rolls are beginning to brown. Turn out of the pans right after taking them from the oven. Let cool for as long as you can wait and enjoy!

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Rosemary and Tansy in the Herb Garden

Spring seems to be on hold as cold temperatures persist in Illinois. But I am beginning to think about my herb garden.

I recently read that Tansy is a deterrent for Japanese beetles. I have seeds to plant, hoping that it will help get rid of the throng of beetles I have seen the past couple years. I have also read that tansy is invasive–so I will have to plan carefully where I plant it.

Herb Garden
Tansy

My rosemary plant seems to have survived the winter in a sunny window, but it is looking somewhat listless. It needs more sunshine! I am hoping it will revive.

When we were in New Mexico in March the rosemary bushes were in full bloom. New Mexico has the perfect climate for this herb.

Rosemary Bush
Rosemary Bush

I have become particularly fond of rosemary and enjoy the legends about it. A story in Spain claims that the Virgin Mary was fleeing from soldiers on her way to Egypt. She spread her cloak on a rosemary bush and hid behind it. When she lifted her cloak the flowers had turned blue.

Rosemary flower
Rosemary flower

Fresh rosemary has many uses.   I  like to make  Rosemary & Thyme    potatoes. When ever I am adding fresh herbs to a recipe I mince them into little pieces. Here is my recipe:

Potatoes with Rosemary and Thyme

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

5 medium size potatoes

Combine the thyme, rosemary, salt, lemon juice and olive oil.

Peel potatoes and steam them until fork tender. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cut each potato into several pieces. Pour the herb & oil mixture over the potatoes and cover.  Allow the potatoes to marinade like this for 2 hours or even overnight.

Spread the potatoes on a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered at 425° for 30 minutes.

I came across this site with 39 ways to use rosemary.

Do you have a favorite recipe with rosemary? Have you had any experience with tansy?

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently I have been going through some old folders and found a copy of a recipe with a story. According to the distributor of the recipe, she paid $250 for the Neiman-Marcus Cookie recipe. Did I ever try the recipe? I couldn’t remember.

I had the ingredients on hand—well, most of the ingredients. I made a few changes (adding barley flour & raisins, reducing sugar). After softening the raisins in hot water and draining them, I chose to put the raisins and walnuts in the food processor with a portion of the oatmeal. My husband loved these chocolate chip cookies!

So here is my adaption of the cookie recipe:

1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 + ½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup barley flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 + ½ cups instant oatmeal
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add the eggs and almond extract. Beat until smooth. Then add the flours, salt baking powder, baking soda and 1 cup of oatmeal. Mix, forming dough.

Place 1 + ½ cup of oatmeal, the raisins and walnuts in the food processor and process until you have coarse crumbs. Combine the raisin & walnut mixture with the cookie dough mixture. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop a tablespoon of dough and form into a ball—place each ball 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375°

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sweet Potato Casserole: A Side Dish for Fish

When we are in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, about as far north as you can go in Michigan, we enjoy getting a meal at the 4 Suns Fish & Chips. Sometimes we get fish & chips to go.

Sweet Potato Casserole: Side Dish for Fish

At other times we sit outdoors with a view of the Quincy Mine.

A Side Dish for Fish

At one time the restaurant offered a layered sweet potato bake. You could select it instead of French fries. But it is no longer on their menu. I liked it so much that I have come up with a recipe based on my memory of this dish.

Ingredients:

3 small or 2 medium size sweet potatoes

½ apple, peeled and grated

½ Vidalia onion, sliced thin

2 tsp. coconut oil

2 or 3 slices of Swiss cheese

Bake or steam the sweet potatoes until they are fork tender. Sauté the onion in the coconut oil, until translucent.

Then peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into rounds. Place half of the rounds in a small casserole. Cover with half of the grated apple, then half of the sautéed onion. Place a slice of Swiss cheese on top, and repeat the layers.

Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I like to serve it with tilapia.

Sweet Potato Casserole

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Abundant Berries: a Recipe for Black Raspberry & Blueberry Pie

The berries in my backyard are abundant . . . and so are the Japanese beetles. The upper leaves of my cherry tree were eaten, just the skeleton of leaf veins left. We have the Japanese beetle bagger up and I am still picking them off foliage. So pretty but so destructive!

Japanese Beetle

I have even been up on a ladder, shaking the branches of the tree. The beetles fall like rain. It no longer bothers me when they fall on my clothes (or down my shirt). I pick them off and put them in my bowl of soapy water. My husband watches with amusement. He is content to manage the beetle bagger. (Last year we saw the amazing results of the beetle bagger.

As I walked through the yard today I realized that I have been obsessed with getting rid of the beetles. The garden needs my nurture—watering, fertilizing. I can’t just focus on the pests.

Life is the same way. It is easy to get so distracted by the bad things happening that we can forget to nurture the good.

The joy in my yard comes from the beautiful berries. The red currant bushes are laden with strings of bright red currants. The black raspberries are ripening and I am making pies with them. The combination of black raspberries and blueberries makes a nice pie. Here is my recipe:

Prepare the pastry.

Add ¼ tsp. salt to 1 + ½ cup flour. Cut in ½ cup of butter using a pastry blender. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to ½ cup of cold water.   Gradually drizzle  the  water over the flour mixture, mixing it in with a fork.  Add just enough water for the dough to hold together. Do not over mix the dough. I like to place the dough in the refrigerator, letting it rest, while I put the filling together.

For the filling:
2 cups black raspberries
2 + ½ cups blueberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup tapioca granules or tapioca flour

Combine the berries, sugar and tapioca.

Then take out the dough and divide it in half. Roll out one piece to line a 9” pie plate. Roll out the other piece to make a pie cover. I like to fold the dough for the top crust in half twice, and then make some decorative slits—it is like the way you make cuts on folded paper for paper snowflakes.

Place the filling in the prepared pie dish. Lay the top cover on the pie and seal the edges. Brush with water and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour. The pastry should be golden and the filling bubbling.

Black Raspberry-Blueberry Pie

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The Health Benefits of Dates and a Muffin Recipe

Dates have some surprising health benefits for expectant mothers.

Women often receive a prescription for iron during pregnancy.  During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume increases by 50% and the red blood cells increase by 30%. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen; iron is a component of hemoglobin.

Iron is a vital mineral during pregnancy. A low hemoglobin level is associated with fatigue and is a risk factor during childbirth.

I looked up iron-rich foods in my nutrition almanac and found this list:

Organ meats and meats, eggs, fish and poultry

Blackstrap molasses

Cherry juice

Green leafy vegetables

Dried fruits [including dates]

 

A research study, published in March of this year, looked to see if eating dates in the last trimester of pregnancy had an impact on a woman’s     labor, childbirth experience. The study demonstrated that women who consumed dates had less of a need for medication to augment their labor.

Here is a muffin recipe that has iron-rich ingredients, including dates. Brown rice flour or a gluten-free blend works fine.

Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 + ½ cup flour
½ cup almond meal
2 + ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup pitted and chopped dates
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup honey
3 Tblsp. unsulfured dark molasses
2 eggs
½ cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Stir the chopped dates into flour mixture until well combined.

Mix together the melted butter, molasses, honey, lightly beaten eggs and milk.

Then mix the liquid ingredients into the dry. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fill the muffin cups—I had enough batter for 14 regular size muffins.

Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Date Muffins

You can find the study about the effect of date consumption on labor here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286995

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