Healthful Habit 5/52

Healthful Habits is a way for our family to intentionally implement a more wholesome style of living one small step at a time. The process of executing these small changes over the course of a year enables them to become lifelong habits.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit this healthful habit sorta "grosses me out". Not the making of the chicken stock, but the preparation of the raw-chicken-that-must-be-cooked-in-order-to-have-the-bones-to-make-the-stock. However, I am fully convinced of the wonderful properties this food item has to offer and so will endure the disgusting task* of raw chicken carcass preparation* *. Plus, pastured chicken makes for some really tasty burritos and chicken gumbo soup.

We've made it a habit to cook two whole chickens each month. I use a beautifully simple crock pot method for cooking the whole bird {minus strong spices so the finished meat can be tailored for Baby Girl}. Once the meat is pulled, I pop 'dem bones* * * back in the crock pot and place them in the fridge overnight. The next day I follow this easy recipe to create fantastic homemade chicken stock.

Chicken Bone Stock
organic, pastured chicken bones* * * *
onion {roughly chopped}* * * * *
celery {large pieces}
carrot {unpeeled, in chunks}
salt, to taste
1 bay leaf
1-2 TBS raw apple cider vinegar* * * * * *

Place all ingredients in crock pot. Fill pot with filtered water, leaving about an inch of room at the top. Place on "low" setting and cook 12-24 hours {I dislike leaving my crock pot on overnight and thus will usually cook the stock from early morning until right before bed}.

Strain finished stock into glass pint jars, leaving about a half inch of room at the top. Place jars uncovered in freezer overnight, adding covers once the liquid has expanded and fully frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator or by heating in a pan of water on the stovetop. Use stock in recipes that require chicken broth or substitute for liquids when cooking legumes and rice.

I have yet to try making fish stock, but I'm thinking the cooking of fish-bones-with-head-still-attached-and-eyeballs-looking-at-you might trump raw chicken carcass.

It's a good thing I wasn't born in the "Little House in the Prairie" days; beheading and plucking a live chicken might have put me over the edge!

As a former classroom teacher I adore this delightful children's book.

Feel free to throw in any other chicken parts deemed unfit for direct consumption. I like to include as much of the cartilage and tendons as possible.

I came across a frugal stock-making tip, the source of which I can't recall. Keep a glass jar in the freezer to store the unattractive bits and ends of celery, onions, and carrots used in other recipes. When you go to make your stock, use these "leftovers" in place of the vegetables in the recipe. I consistently do this and always have more than enough vegetables to flavor my stock.

There seems to be mixed opinion on the addition of vinegar to stock. Some claim it aids in gaining calcium from the bones while others say it has no effect. There is also varied opinion on the use of acidic substances in a crock pot due to the potential of lead leaching from the pot into the food.