Category Archives: Real Food Chronicles

Homemade Crockpot Chicken Stock from a Crockpot Roasted Whole Chicken

Another fun adventure has been making my own chicken stock! I roast a whole chicken in the crockpot for about 8 hours on low in just a little filtered water and with salt/pepper on the chicken. For now it’s an organic “free-range” whole chicken from Trader Joe’s but eventually later this summer will be a truly free range chicken from the farm I also get my beef and eggs from.

Once the chicken is done, when the meat is tender and falls off the bone (but is not overcooked and dry),  I take all the meat off the bones (enough meat for a couple meals!) and throw all the bones and other leftovers back in the crock pot. Then I fill it up about 2/3 full with filtered water (I have a 6 quart crockpot, I believe) and add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps draw out all the healthy stuff from the bones. I leave the cold water and vinegar for an hour and turn on the crockpot on low for ideally 24 hrs. The last couple hours I throw in a couple carrots and celery stalks (cut in half) and a couple onions (cut in fourths) and let it cook on low for the last couple hours.

Then, I strain out the bones, veggies, and other goodies using a large stainless steel mesh strainer with a bowl underneath. Next I pour the stock in some quart sized canning jars and let them cool a little before placing in the fridge. You can also freeze the jars, but make sure they are completely cooled first and that you leave an inch of space at the top of the jar for expansion. There will be some fat on the top once it cools. I read somewhere to leave that there until you’re going to use the stock, and then you should spoon it off and discard before using the stock. You could use the fat for cooking, if you desire.

The result? VERY healthy chicken stock and also, might I add, SUPER cheap and easy!

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A First: Homemade Bread

For someone who has little experience at even the simple baked goods of boxed cake mixes and frozen pre-made cookie dough cookies… I am proud (yes, even though pride isn’t good, I’m proud of myself for this since it’s good!) to say that I have successfully made homemade bread!  My first loaves, four of them, turned out beautifully! YAY!!!

During the mixing of the ingredients, I was a little freaked since my lovely wonderful new Bosch mixer started making some scary noises, but lessons were learned (i.e. Don’t use the regular mixer thingies (nice name huh?) but use the dough hook to mix in everything, especially the 10+ cups of flour!).  Here’s a picture of the loaves getting put in the oven for their second rising.

Hooray! I bet my husband is even more excited than I am, since he’s been wanting to see that new (and yes, expensive!) mixer get put to good use and make it worth it’s dough (ha, I just love stupid puns!). My next step is to plan ahead a little better and SOAK the grains overnight, along with using freshly milled flour using the 50 lbs (yes, 50 pounds…) of grain berries I purchased last month from Azure Standard.

The recipe for this bread came from here and although it’s perhaps geared a little bit more towards at least somewhat experienced bakers (which, remember from above, I am NOT in any sense!), it was not too hard to follow. I did have to refer to the bread recipe instructions that I got with my Bosch mixer (from Pleasant Hill Grains, a great online store!), especially when I started hearing scary metal clanging sounds as I was mixing in the flour. But alas, it all worked out! :) Praise God!! No more store bought bread for hopefully… ever!  And especially with all those wheat berries in buckets waiting to be put to good use!

Hopefully in the near future (I really do try to post more often, but it always gets pushed back!) I’ll post about some other exciting adventures in the kitchen, like making homemade kombucha tea (and the scary scoby that floats in it!), making homemade chicken stock from a whole roasted chicken (and veggies), making homemade sourdough (have yet to use the sourdough starter that’s growing!), and making homemade kefir!  So much fun!

(P.S. Sorry for the weird placement of pictures in this post. I’m struggling with it and will hopefully figure it out soon!)


Goat’s Milk

This past week I checked out a co-op a couple miles away from our town in Stillwater after an employee of the Trader Joe’s that I frequent recommended I check out the non-homogenized cow’s milk that they offer. I was so excited to find this, since I’m planning to start making our own yogurt and also kefir (along with sourdough bread and kombucha… I’ll try and keep these adventures documented on here!).

BUT, the most exciting thing for me was actually when I noticed that the co-op also sold goat’s milk!  I’ve learned lately how goat’s milk is much better for you than cow’s milk. How it’s much more similar to human milk and is much easier to digest and assimilate. People who have allergies to regular (cow’s) milk tend to not be allergic to goat’s milk. Did you know that more than 60% of the world drinks goat’s milk, not cow’s milk? Interesting, huh?

So I bought us a quart of this goat’s milk, which happens to be from a local goat dairy farm only 45 minutes away from where we live. This thrilled me! I checked out their website as soon as I could and was even more excited to see that they offered raw (unpasteurized) goat’s milk at their farm. I sent them an email to inquire more information regarding their milk and was told to give them a call. Right away I called the lady and she was SO nice and informative. The raw cow’s milk we had bought about a month ago was from a farmer who was so hard to get ahold of to ask questions…. made me not want to buy from them again since I questioned their safety and credibility.

Flash forward to today. My husband and I drove up to the dairy farm and visited to see for ourselves how this dairy farm works and if we want to try the raw goat’s milk they offer. We were pleased to see how well they run the farm and how happy the goats are! (THEY ARE SO CUTE!!) Not that we know much about goat dairy farms or anything, but to our knowledge, right now this is the absolute best milk we can get for our health. Local… raw (unpasteurized and non-homogenized, both which make milk actually harmful to you), from happy and healthy goats…  :)

I’m hoping and planning to take a drive up to the farm (which happens to be a very pretty drive along the river!) every couple weeks to pick up a gallon of the raw milk, and once it’s June-October I’ll also be picking up our CSA share of vegetables in Stillwater along the way. The final amazing plus of all of this is that this milk also happens to be cheaper than if I bought the same milk (but pasteurized) at the store!

Here’s one of their goats!


Meet Your Food

Over the last several months I’ve learned from documentaries (like Food, Inc. and King of Corn) and reading many many online articles/blogs about the dangers of eating corn-fed beef. If you haven’t checked into this, I strongly recommend you do. Not only is the meat bad for you but also very bad for the environment and the poor cows. Outbreaks of e.coli in spinach are strangly enough linked to this practice of feed-lot industrial cattle raising, among many other concerns.

So I mentioned a couple posts ago that we recently started buying grass-fed beef and pastured eggs from a local farm a couple hrs away in WI. Yesterday, my friend Priscilla and I decided to take a little road trip (got lost along the way!) out to the farm to see for ourselves how and what they do to raise their cattle and chicken layers (the meat chickens aren’t there yet). We were delighted to see some happy healthy looking cows who have free roam of grass and eat grass hay during the winter, and some beautiful happy healthy roaming chicken layers. They were all so cute, not to mention all the cute barn cats and the black dog who happened to have found a dead cow leg across the road and brought it to show us… :)

We are planning to save up to buy a 1/2 cow this fall to split with Priscilla and her husband. Also have planned to buy 12 chickens for the next year from them later this summer and fall. They are trialing some new types of chickens this year, called freedom rangers (? something like that… sorry we learned a lot yesterday!) which are supposed to be more apt to roaming the grass and eating bugs than the Cornish (fast-growing) breed of chickens (the white ones you usually see).

The farmers were so sweet and knowledgeable at Farm Sweet Farm, and I’m excited to support them! They are young, probably 25-30 yrs old but both grew up farming and have degrees from the UofM in agriculture and engineering, so I trust them.

Have you seen where your meat/poultry is raised? Don’t just trust whats written on the package, since terms like “Free range” and “cage free” are not regulated and those chickens could very well be given access but not ever take a step in the grass and sunshine! I challenge you to meet your food for yourself so you know what you’re eating and supporting with your money.


Noticing a Difference Already… from just a Powder & Milk?

I know this may sound silly, but I can’t help but think that a couple recent additions to my diet have been the key to how well my body feels today! Over the last 3-4 days I’ve started to take and drink:

1. Antioxidant Omega-3 Greens from Tropical Traditions , an organic/natural powdered mix of greens/seaweeds, omega-3’s from flax seeds, probiotics and enzymes. You mix a scoop with a glass of cold water and drink up! It doesn’t taste all that bad actually, but I’ve found it’s easier for me to tolerate on an empty stomach (since I kind-of gulp it down). And I love that I never forget about it since it’s right inside my fridge and that it’s not a big honkin’ pill to take! (P.S. If you go to tropicaltraditions.com for the first time and order something, make sure to put “referred by friend” and my userID 5920420 to get a FREE book about Virgin Coconut Oil!! Great huh? I also LOVE that this company is Christian and look to have solid theology too!)

and the other…

2. Raw milk. So far I’m liking it! There is definitely a different taste than the pasteurized skim milk I’m used to, but it’s not bad taste. It’s probably the cream I’m noticing, but also, it’s not as thick as I was expecting. I haven’t noticed the cream separating at all, which I hope isn’t a bad sign? I recently discovered a great blog post here that made me see again how great raw milk can be for you!

So my point being, I have never felt so clear-minded and just plain “well” before, that I can remember. It’s weird. I haven’t been working out, I haven’t been sleeping much (4-6hrs at a time, and not every day…), but somehow I feel good! I thought my Melaleuca vitality supplements were supposed to do that, but (sadly) I never really noticed a difference. (Granted, I didn’t take them every day like I’m supposed to and only have tried them for a couple months.)

I’ve tried some other vitamins/whole-food supplements over the last couple years, some of which I loved but just couldn’t afford or were too hard to take (or remember to take!) (Like JuicePlus, great quality product but I hate taking pills/capsules and I always forget!)

I hope this weird “well” feeling continues, and I’m sure it will. Don’t take this the wrong way, but this reminds me of how my body/spirit feels when I’ve just worshipped the Lord with my whole heart, how you have that peace and restful feeling… (BUT don’t worry! I’m not replacing worshipping the Lord with powdered greens and milk, and nothing can compare to the peace that comes from the Lord… this is just a very little tiny taste of it that I’m feeling!) I’m sure that cutting out so many potentially toxic or harmful foods has also helped, but then adding in foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, the way God created the, is bound to make you feel good!

I’m curious, what supplements or super-foods (if you can call raw milk that, which I think you can!) have you noticed have really impacted your health?


Recent Steps as a new “Real Foodie”

WARNING: NOVEL POST AHEAD. TAKE FREQUENT POTTY AND SNACK BREAKS! (I know I need to work on posting more frequently with shorter posts… trust me, I know! I hate long posts too!)

As my husband and I go along this real food adventure we began recently, I thought it would be fun to chronicle the steps I’ve taken and continue to take and share them with you! It will be fun to look back on all I’ve learned and remind me to take this one little step at a time. It can definitely be overwhelming otherwise! This list may sound like a lot (and honestly, it has been), but these are changes we hope to stick with for years and years. Many of these steps have cost us a pretty big bag of change, but since we’ve started budgeting (using pearbudget.com) these last few months, we’ve been able to save, plan, and not overspend despite all these new things we’ve bought. It also helps knowing that pretty much every purchase I’ve made to be healthier will also save us money over time as well. That’s the plan… healthier yet frugal!

– Cleaned out our kitchen of anything with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG, refined white flours/sugars, and most foods with any type of soy. This actually wasn’t too much work for us, but I was still shocked at how many foods we had that have at least one of those ingredients! Basically anything in a box, wrapper, or processed…
-Stopped buying and drinking pasteurized/homogonized milks, along with most pasteurized cheeses. Trader Joe’s sells some raw milk cheeses, hooray!
-Started buying pastured eggs and grass-fed beef from a “local” farm. (They are a couple hours away but make stops in our town every couple weeks, how convenient!) Helps too that the farmers are so incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and young! http://www.farmsweetfarm.com is their site, check it out! We plan to buy 1/4 of a cow from them (in mixed cuts) later this year once we save up for it and get ourselves a chest freezer off of craigslist to store it!
-Stopped using canola oil and all processed vegetable oils and now cook/bake with primarily coconut oil (I bought from mountainroseherbs.com ) and/or butter (discovered organic butter at Costco and Kellygold Irish butter at Trader Joe’s and Costco!)
-Started making homemade salad dressings! (I know this is a no-brainer, but I’ve never done it!) First one was simply a mix of red wine vinegar and EVOO! Needs some salt/pepper but we liked it. I also learned to not store your olive oil in sunlight since it will go rancid quickly. My olive oil was probably over a year old and was sitting on our counter that whole time, so I got us some new organic EVOO from Costco. Yum! We eat organic spinach (also from Coscto) salads probably every other day.
-Stopped using our microwave and use only our toaster oven or oven to reheat foods. Takes a little extra time and planning but tastes way better (and more evenly heated) while still retaining the nutrients!
-Bought foods in bulk from a great co-op in Oregon called Azure Standard (www.azurestandard.com) such as some flours, beans, oats, sugar (sucanat is yummy!), baking soda, arrowroot powder. They deliver once a month to a drop site in the Twin Cities. Fun to go pick up a big order each month and to maybe meet some other real foodies!
-Replaced our teflon cookware with some ceramic glazed eco-friendly cookware (www.xtrema.com). So far we like it, although we do miss our teflon non-stick skillet for making eggs. Also, learned that even our cast iron and stainless steel cookware is probably not the best, but still using it for now. Thankfully we already had a couple ceramic pots of our own (a nice big 6qt LeCreuset one from my sister- THANKS AGAIN! …and a smaller Martha Stewart ceramic pot. Cooks some amazing soups/chilis!)
-Stopped storing or reheating foods in our Rubbermaid plastic containers and bought some Pyrex glass containers. This is what I bring my food to work in and what we store almost all leftovers in. I had a thought on the way home from work tonight to buy our break room a small toaster oven so I don’t have to use microwaves to heat up my food…
-Bought a whole organic free-range chicken from Trader Joe’s and cooked it in a crockpot all day. Shredded up the meat and use in salads and other meals. Froze most of it. Kept the bones and juices to make homemade chicken stock (which I haven’t done yet and probably should soon!)
-Bought us a drinking water filter system (brand: Berkey) that will sit on our counter and filter out the usual nasties PLUS fluoride (researched fluoridation in our town and it looks to be high). This should arrive today in the mail, can’t wait to drink water worry-free again! Also, bought us a cheap shower filter to get rid of chlorine as we shower to protect our lungs and skin. Coconut oil does work great for that dry skin this chlorine has created!
-Started meal planning every two weeks and grocery shopping only every 2 weeks as well to save time/gas/money! (We do have to plan for bi-weekly banana/spinach trips to keep stock since we go through them quickly. I do this on the way home from work to save gas/time as well, thanks TJ’s for being open at 8am now instead of 9am!!) So far the first two weeks went great but we have a lot of leftovers! I didn’t realize how much each meal would last us and how much we usually eat salads rather than “meals”. With my work schedule making me stay up from 4pm-9am most days, I found that we really don’t need to have a full dinner planned most nights, especially since I somehow manage to have it done at 11pm when John is heading to bed and doesn’t want a full dinner served to him! Working on this…
-Soaked lentils overnight for the first time (with water and apple cider vinegar to start breaking them down for better digestion)… I’ve never soaked any legumes before!
-Soaked flour for the first time as well. Made some spelt biscuits (first time having spelt AND making biscuits, too!). Made some blueberry muffins using whole wheat pastry flour, coconut oil, and sucanat sugar (and the usual other ingredients). Learned that mixing melted coconut oil with frozen blueberries does NOT work well, since the oil hardens right away! Still tasted great even without good mixing!
-Stopped buying canned tomatoes due to BPA leaching. Now buy either paper-box strained or chopped tomatoes (brand: POMI) or glass jars of either organic strained tomatoes or organic tomato paste (brand: Bionaturae). Check out vitacost.com and tropicaltraditions.com for good prices on each, respectively. Returned the ones we got at Costco. LOVE their return policy! We’ve been able to afford most of this stuff from returns we’ve made lately!
-Just yesterday, bought our first 1/2 gallon jug of real raw milk from a local farmer! My first taste was not bad, but different. I was nervous!! This is coming from someone who has loved skim milk for years, and also I had just eaten half of a bar of dark chocolate… so nothing tastes too amazing after that! We’d prefer to buy raw goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk, but it is much more expensive and so far we haven’t found a local source for it. Wish we could have our own goat (and chicken) in our backyard. (We checked our city ordinance and it’s not allowed… also they only allow 3 dogs, strange huh?)

Plans for the near future…
-Start planning how to grow a simple garden in our backyard this summer to supply us with hopefully some tomatoes, different lettuces, and maybe some peppers and cucumbers, too! I found a book I plan to read to help me get started.
-Learn to knead dough by hand so I can start making our own homemade bread. There’s some great mixing/kneading machines out there that I’d love to have but can’t afford quite yet (or for awhile since we are also trying to pay off our debt gazelle style now too!). Eventually want to grind our own grains to have fresh flour for these breads and other baked goods. Much tastier and healthier and cheaper, so I’ve heard!
-As mentioned above, make our own chicken stock. This is easy but I just need to do it. My motivation probably isn’t there since I have 5 quarts of organic chicken stock from Costco in our pantry! (Have I convinced you of my love for Costco yet?)

Coming up… the big long list of steps we’ve made in using safer and more natural cleaning/bath/beauty products…