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Bone Broths: Cathy’s method vs. Sarah’s method

The first signs of spring are evident here in northern New Mexico: wind, mud, swelling buds, and the first bluebirds. But it is still cold, and folks are still battling illness. Bone broths are a very old remedy for colds and flu as well as recuperation from any illness, general debility, and digestive problems. There are many ways to make your own bone broths: here is my favorite, which can be done with any animal bones. The best are from free-range/organically raised animals that were humanely butchered.

Cathy’s recipe:

First you need a big stainless steel soup pot.

Into that pot you put as many bones as will comfortably fit. If chicken, you can use just the backs or whole carcasses from which the meat has been imperfectly removed. If beef, a variety of soup bones is great, especially ones with lots of marrow.

Fill the pot with cold water; add a half cup of apple cider vinegar; and let sit for half an hour.

Simmer (that means about 175 to 185 degrees: you want tiny bubbles around the perimeter, but NOT a full boil) for at least 6 hours and if possible 12 hours (or anything in between). After the first hour or so, skim off any particles that float to the surface that look dubious. I often skip this step, as it is all going to be strained at the end.

About 2 hours before I’m finished I add a couple of bay leaves, an onion or 2 cut up into eighths, several carrots and sticks of celery cut into smallish pieces, and if you are feeling wild go ahead and add some cut up parsnips, rutabaga and/or your favorite greens (stems and all).

About half an hour before I’m finished I add a lot of garlic and maybe some thyme. The last 15 minutes dump in coarsely chopped parsley. All these amounts are to your taste, so please experiment. Each batch of broth will be a bit different and ALL will be scrumptious.

After the broth is done, let it cool for a bit; then fish the big stuff out with tongs. Last you will strain the liquid into canning jars (or whatever) and if you plan to freeze some, be sure to leave an inch of head room. Cool first in the  fridge before you freeze, and use wide-mouth jars. I, of course, speak from experience…

When the broth is fully chilled, you may find (and probably will) that the broth has “congealed.” This is not the fat (which some folks skim off from the top) but rather the gelatin from the bones, and is a very easily digested source of protein, colloids, polysaccharides, and other nutritional goodies.

The broth may be heated and eaten alone (and that is when I add salt and pepper) or better yet, add freshly cut vegetables, meat and rice or potatoes, and you have a home-made soup that makes your whole house smell good and tastes great. That soup can also be frozen and turned into healthy “fast food.”

Bon Appetite! ~C


Sarah’s recipe:

Cathy’s recipe sounds delightful but my bone broth works great for those of us on a tighter schedule, and makes use of the Crockpot so you can be off conquering the world while it does its magic.

I typically will cook a whole (organic & happy!) chicken for my fiance and I during the times I have a few hours to hang out next to the oven. Since it’s just the two of us, that amount of meat can last us for several meals…so again…time saver! As we’ve picked the meat off the bones, I put them in a freezer safe bag or storage container until I have accumulated enough for my broth. Obviously, keep the bones frozen until you are ready. The same goes for any kitchen scraps you may be adding: onion, carrots, etc. These can all be tossed into the freezer and added to the broth when you go to make it.

When the day arrives that you’re ready to make your broth, place the previously frozen bones into your Crockpot (if adding any onions/veggies/garlic, add these now too) and fill the rest of the pot with water. Add a few tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (it should be considered essential as it pulls calcium and other minerals from the bones into your broth!)

I often make this plain, no added veggies or seasonings, as it makes a nice base for other soups I may make throughout the week. It’s also a nice treat for our four dogs who really look forward to “cereal” – – broth poured over their dry food.

Set your Crockpot to high for 4 hours, or low for 8, depending on how long you plan to be away. When you return, strain out the bones, other meaty bits and veggies if you have added them. I rarely need to freeze my broth as it seems to disappear so quickly, but if you need to, it’s best to follow Cathy’s advice on that part! I find that a few half gallon mason jars is all I need for storage in the fridge.

Be well! ~S

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Some Good News Re Health and Hospitals

If you’re dreading to read the paper (in print or online) because of the tsunami of bad news; here is a great respite:

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New Data On CO2 and Plant Nutrition

Several years ago I was reading somewhere that nutrient levels in plants had declined over my lifetime (last 66 years). I thought it probably had to do with declining soil fertility, the over-reliance on the chemical additives of industrial agriculture rather than the regenerative practices of organic agriculture…..and maybe that contributes to declining fertility. Many food plants have also been bred to increase growth rate, pest resistance, or “shipability”, not taste or nutrition. Also, numerous species of fruits and  vegetables are picked a little before ripeness to keep them from spoiling en route to stores.

Well, here’s new data from scientific studies (what few there are) that shows that rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are negatively impacting plant’s nutritional profile; i.e., they contain less protein and minerals. And this is happening with WILD plants as well.

I consider this info crucial to the current debates on both climate change and public health. Please read and spread the word.


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Amazing and Hopeful Article on “Aquaculture”

Every once in awhile I read about something extraordinary. This fisherperson is a pioneer with a vision not just amazing, but “grounded” in science, practical, and benefits many. Please share.

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Wood Stove Baking

A few weeks ago I was staring at my nightly fire as it was turning into coals, and wondered if I could “bake” in the wood stove, using it like an oven. I chose not to load another log that evening and instead pushed all of the coals to the sides leaving an empty space in the middle. I wrapped a homegrown squash in three layers of recycled foil. Then I put it in the center of the wood stove, closed the damper and went to bed. In the morning was a still warm, soft winter squash tasting slightly of wood and very sweet.

Click on images below for larger slide show view

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New Organic Egg Scorecard

Once the Farmers’ Market closes down for the season, and the local chickens take their (well-earned) winter  rest, one has to buy eggs at the grocery store. How do you tell which organic eggs to buy when most of them advertise free-range, and humanely raised? How can we get beyond the hype? Cornucopia’s Scorecard to the rescue!


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It’s Complicated (and Amazing)

It’s been a longish hiatus since I last wrote, and teaching and gardening are boiling away on the front burners.

So much of what we’ve been learning in our class on anatomy and physiology is the stupendously intricate complexity of the human body. And that science is still figuring us out. New hormones, proteins, enzymes, etc. are still being discovered. Ways everything interacts is still being parsed. Really intelligent people can read the same data and draw very different conclusions. Our own journey affects how we understand the concept of being a human…

In studying the digestive system and now adding nutrition, we are learning not just the basics, but the basics from a variety of viewpoints. The concept of a “calorie” turns out to be incredibly “loaded” with politics, belief systems and which scientists/studies you trust. Who knew!? And hardly anyone except “radical granola types” pay any attention to the primary basis of all health: the health of a country’s soil. And yet studies are showing up even in the mainstream that state that our food today is less nutritious that it was even 50 years ago. When we “mine” our soil, and don’t “put back” the minerals and organic matter and healthy microbes, then the plants don’t have the same nutritional content  in their cells, because the soil is deficient. Add the GMO, herbicide and pesticide issues, not to mention processing whole foods to death, plus artificial chemicals….well, it becomes tremendously difficult to find quality food in an average supermarket.

And that, dear reader is the crux: quality of food is the basis of health.

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Traditional Foods and Fermentation PlayLab

If you live in New Mexico or southern Colorado, and want to learn more about traditional food preparation, including fermentation, please email me asap :, and I’ll send you the color flier and ingredient list. This super hands-on “workshop” is Saturday April 26th from 1pm to 4pm in Questa, NM. Come experience adult learning at its best.

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Do You Shop at Farmer’s Markets?

If you want to continue purchasing healthy, fresh , local produce from family farms, this issue is critical. It takes a few minutes, but essential to allow small farms the freedom to continue growing the best food.


FDA DEADLINE APPROACHING: Please Get Your Proxy in the Mail ASAP Your Voice Could Make the Difference in Saving the Family Farms Producing Our Best Food‎ You can make a difference. Please help save our nation’s diversified produce farmers from potential ruin! The FDA’s proposed food safety rules threaten to ensnare many of the country’s safest farmers in a tangle of expensive, misdirected regulations that may force many of our best farmers out of business.

Download, sign and mail back to us the linked proxy-letter today! The public comment deadline closes in a few days.

Thousands of you have already made the effort to mail your proxy-letter back to Cornucopia for hand delivery to the FDA. If you have yet to do so, please act now.

If you have already mailed your proxy, let your friends know they can help too by sharing this message via email, Facebook, Twitter and whatever other options you use.

Better food safety oversight of factory farms and giant agribusinesses is needed – and appropriate – but it appears that the FDA and corporate lobbyists are using these food safety proposals to simultaneously crush the organic and local farming movements. Together we can defend those farmers producing local, fresh, safe and nutritionally superior food.

Cornucopia will hand-deliver the thousands of proxies we have collected directly to the FDA. But time is growing short. If you want additional background information, please visit our food safety page.

It is critical for the good food community to come together right now. We know you enjoy the bounty of nutritious, healthful food produced by our nation’s best farmers. Please help protect family-scale farmers and maintain this alternative in the marketplace. It is worth fighting for.

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