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Rediscovering Traditions in the Kitchen

We are on a quest to eat food that nourishes. This is a hard thing to accomplish given the fifteen aisles in the grocery store that offer soybean oil, red # 40, high fructose corn syrup and enriched wheat flour in two thousand brightly packaged varieties. I’ve stiffened my resolve and we skirt around the edges of the store dashing into the middle for dog food and olive oil. The kids and I are turning this into a challenge. How many aisles can we bypass? How many things can we make ourselves with whole, healthy ingredients?

It’s busy in my kitchen tonight. The food processor whirrs and shreds. Charlie feeds the hungry machine zucchini that Claire has cut into slices. Faith writes ZUCCHINI on a freezer bag and tucks one cup packages of the shredded veggie into the bag and carries it out to the freezer. Lauren rinses cranberries and we chop and add them to our colorful pile in the freezer. I slice and process onions. Claire tries to stay and watch because she doesn’t like to miss a thing but her eyes water and she must abandon the kitchen.

Lauren pulls apart the chicken carcass from dinner. She snaps the bones to expose the marrow. The leg bones are too sturdy for our hands so we use a hammer to break them. The children laugh at the sight and Henrie dives for a stray bone. Lauren struggles frantically to wrestle it from the dog’s mouth. Eventually she is victorious. That bone goes in the garbage, the rest go into the crock-pot where they will simmer all night and most of tomorrow filling up our entire house with their rich, delicious smell.

It’s sad that as a whole our society has forgotten these traditions of the past. We have set aside labor in favor of convenience and in the process our health has been set aside as well. The number of people living with chronic disease in this nation is staggering. We search for cures that will conquer the scourges of cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression and heart disease that plague us. Doctors write prescriptions with abandon for drugs that help us manage and cope but do not cure. And all the while we wonder at the state our bodies are in, we drink our diet cokes and drive through the Wendy’s drive through and pop chicken nuggets into the oven for a quick dinner and we don’t make the connection. We are what we eat.

My family has had it with the status quo and we are looking for a better way. It’s not easy to set aside a lifetime of bad habits and lack of knowledge but just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Good health is worth the time and trouble it takes to learn new skills. Today it’s homemade chicken broth full of the minerals and calcium from the bones of tonight’s dinner. The cookbook is propped up on the kitchen table and Lauren and I read through and take the principles from the recipe and adapt the spices to our tastes. (Can’t you just picture our great grandmothers doubled over in laughter at the sight of us reading how to make broth from a book? Or might they be sad at this woeful lack of knowledge?)

This week we will build health and strengthen immunity with homemade chicken soup. If you would like to fill your kitchen with the same aroma and conquer flu season with us here is our recipe. (In case this ancient knowledge went to the grave with some ancestor a few generations back.) I have written it just like we made it and just like your great grandmother might have written it down in days gone by.

Chicken Broth

Place in crock-pot:
1 Chicken carcass
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (draws out the minerals)
A couple of chopped carrots
1 chopped onion
A stalk or two of chopped celery
1 tablespoon of dried parsley (I just poured a good amount into my hand and dumped it in the crock-pot
4 quarts water (We just filled out crock-pot right up to the top)

We set the crock-pot to cook for 10 hours. Then I will leave it on warm until late tomorrow afternoon. The longer the broth cooks the richer the color. Strain the broth through a colander and store in containers in the fridge or freezer.

Here’s to our health this winter!


Sarah Markley said…
I love this: the eating of whole foods. So much better than processed. Great recipe and I will be sure to try it. Dinner at your house must be fun and very tasty! What great things your children are learning from you and your desire to learn yourself!
Mmm I love homemade chicken soup; DH makes the best! Yesterday he made a "stone soup" recipe that was fabulous. We can be pretty hit-or-miss with the healthy versus processed foods but we're definitely making progress. Thank you for challenging all of us with this! Your kids are so blessed to have you for a mom!
ValleyGirl said…
AMEN! I'm trying to make healthy eating/living more of a habit, too. Not just to reduce my weight, but also to set a good example for my girls.
This is great!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Since Chad is training for this 1/2 marathon, I'm using this as a good reason to get us all eating smarter!

Kate, thanks for sharing your challenge! I'm so lazy - healthy eating is important, but then "life" happens and we get off track. I seem to waffle between the two extremes. You're post is very motivating to be more consistent!
Christin said…
Hey Kate! It's been a while since I've been able to make the rounds of blogdom and come over your way. ;)

I love this, though I must confess I am one of those that falls into the "convenience" category. NOT that I want to. I think the whole "from scratch" thing intimidates me. and I'm not easily intimidated! But I think...what if it gets too expensive? what if it's not good enough? what if I don't have the time? blah blah blah

But you're right. We are what we eat. And I've been mulling this whole "from scratch" thing around in my head for some time now. So I may just bite the bullet and try that recipe of yours.

My husband...who is from a homeschooling family of 8...was raised on making everything like that. So I know he'll definitely be a help and a support in this. :)
Amen to that! I love you are doing that and teaching your children in the process. I think I would like to try that recipe. We are on the quest as well.
Much love,
Alana said…
What wonderful life skills you are giving your children. I lack so much in this area. We try to eat as healthy as possible, but convenience definitely plays a huge role in our lives. Inspiring post.
lori said…
I have chicken soup on the menu perfect is your timing! I agree with you and from the back row...~ a thunderous AMEN!

I try, really try to stay on the outside of those asiles...sometimes I am pulled in by an unknown force!'s critical for all of us...we need to be healthy and food choices are a HUGE part of it, and not just the 'boxed low fat food'....back to 'real' food...good for your soul food..Hey, we are as busy as anyone and a drive thru window or frozen pizza would be easier most days...but I am committed to this one!!

Have you read Nourishing Traditions? Some of it is a bit too deep for me...but she really hits to the heart of the matter...

great post Kate...and the new picture is adorable!!
Alyson said…
whenever I read your blog I am given a glimpse into the perfect homeschooling world, that does not involve yelling and give me hope that they will indeed learn something some day ;)
Mary@notbefore7 said…
Kate - thanks for the recipe. We are on the road to being more healthy! It is hard to educate yourself and stick to it. We have eliminated hydrogenated oils and are working on high fructose corn syrup now. Everything seems to have it.

My "poor" 5 year old had her first Oreo today at a they thought that was strange :)
Anonymous said…
I'm up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep for some reason, so here I am!
I just made chicken stock recently, too, maybe on the same night you did! Some friends of mine and I found a "local" farm (within easy driving distance, but not here in town) who raises free-range chickens, so we purchase them regularly as a group. Talk about some good-for-you, immune -building broth! (I even bought the feet, shhh!) I put a bit of it up, and we ate a big pot of chicken and dumplin's last night, too. I'm hoping this will come in handy this winter.

You're right, it's so easy, it surprised me when I started making it. It is sad that we've forgotten so much! But it has been fun for us to re-learn, and it sounds like it was fun for y'all, too! Sometimes you just crave a slow-cooked, homemade meal, you know?
Alycia said…
I am so blessed to come across your blog today. I am fascinated by your posts and your whole foods eating ~ I am highly interested in the book you mentioned, Nourishing Traditions. And, thank you for this recipe ~ sounds delicious! Blessings to you from Okinawa, Japan!

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