Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Perfect Bone Broth - aka Hello Gelatin

It has come to my attention that the world, or at least a few people in my little corner of it, could benefit from my obsessive search to produce the most gelatiny, healthy broth possible. People say making bone broth is easy, and it is, but if you're me, it is also possible there are a lot of potential pitfalls. AKA, how can I be sure that my bone broth has the optimal healing benefits.

When I first started making bone broth, I used a slow cooker. For beef broth I would cook for 36 - 48 hours. It was a pain in the butt and the broth did not taste great and the entire house stank. I drank it because I was certain it was saving my life and improving every possible defect in my body, health. and personality. But, it NEVER gelled. Occasionally, I'd get a clump or two, but never solid gellatiny perfection. (One of the biggest bone broth benefits comes from the gelatin content of your broth.)

So I googled and read and googled again. Maybe the crock pot was too hot (never a slow burble, always a slight boil), maybe I didn't use enough bones, or the right kind of bone or I needed to add chicken feet. There were, oh so many options and potential for failure.

Then I got the nom nom paleo cook book. She is all about the pressure cooker. She cooks her broth for an hour in the pressure cooker and comes up with tasty gelatiny goodness. So, I instantly bought a pressure cooker and whipped up a batch, thinking this would solve my problems. And it was good (ie tasty), but NO GEL.

So again, I googled and tested until I came up with the perfect recipe for no fail perfectly gelling broth. And so I share with you, my little corner of the world, my recipe for success.

  • Bones: I use lots of bones. And I try to use as many joint bones as possible. If I've eaten any chicken (I eat a lot of 'bone in thighs') I save those bones and throw them in. And I use the mixture of old and new bones (ie I save my old bones from broth and use them a couple times). Sure I have no room in my freezer, but it's worth the sacrifice. 

Joint bones

  • Double cook: When I am preparing broth, I throw the bones in my pressure cooker, add 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and some water then I let them sit for an hour. Then it's the double cook.  First, 1 hour under pressure with ONLY bones. Then allow to unpressurize and start again, another hour under pressure with bones and veggies. 
  • Veggies: I use the nom nom paleo recipe without the mushrooms (mostly because I rarely have mushrooms), but the actual recipe doesn't matter, just add some onions, garlic, carrots, pepper corns, ginger, celery, broccoli stems, whatever you have around. 
  • Finally, separate the broth from the veggies and the bones (save the bones that aren't falling apart) and cool  to let the fat solidify and remove the fat: It you try to eat it before you take the fat out, it probably won't be very tasty. On the plus side, I keep the fat and use it for cooking and to keep my caste iron pans seasoned. 
That's it!  This process takes a bit longer than I would like, but it produces tasty broth with so much gelatin than you could stand the container upside down after it's cooled and it won't drip out. Not to mention, how healthy I am!

Watch the video to see gellatiny perfection!

I leave you with a picture of Hazelly perfection!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Nepo Walk Don't Run 5K

Clearly it's been a very athletic summer, as Otto and I have just completed our second 5K!

Since the first 5K, Otto has been begging me for a second one. And, after a summer of intensive training (demonstrated above), I finally agreed it was time. So we hopped on the train and headed down to the ID. The Nepo Walk Don't Run 5K starts in the international district and proceeds for maybe five kilometers (though probably not) up the side of beacon hill, ending a couple blocks from my house (score!).  Along there way there are art exhibits and fun installations to explore. It's pretty good entertainment.

The fun started with the race numbers, they all contained nouns and you got to pick your favorite! Otto picked his very special noun. I chose 'Gristle', because I like the way it sounds.

And then, we were off.... Let's do a pictorial overview.....

There was lots of stopping!

After passing a woman sitting very still in the very hot sun holding a very small egg (not pictured - art #1) we reached some beautification under I5.

Quickly followed by a tea bag toss (pictured at top are tea bags that missed, pictured below is the toss.  The second table was cups full of water that you try to toss tea bags into. ) Silliness, but fun! (neither Otto nor I got a tea bag in a cup.)


Beautifully lady on hand made and hand painted cushions! It was about 85 degrees yesterday and we were out for over 3 hours. resting on the cushions was one of the highlights.

There was a bike circling the cushions, guy on back is in a  fat suit. Guy on front is fake!!

Jana loses her soul. I lost mine too. In case you're interested in what it looks like, it's pictured below (my sole not Jana's). Otto still has his.

I can't even describe the train ride. We rode about 10 feet and we were all crammed in the train. Otto did not like it. I got the following telegram half way through.

Egg shell waterfall + Otto! Otto found thought this was the most interesting (smelling) display!

Hearts beating in a garage.

Silver haired guy on a ladder.

Yes, all of that and more.  And a very very tired pet!  As I mentioned, it was 85 and we were out of a long time. We had some, but probably not enough water. Otto was completely destroyed at the end (actually I was too). We were both probably more tired after this than our running 5k. Good thing we had lots of training. We went from a 30 minute 5K to about 3.5 hours. The summer of hard training paid off. Nice job us!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spoiled Dog!

OMG!  and WTF!  I haven't blogged in forever. In fact in my SIXYEARS of blogging I think I have never gone for this long without a blog. I wish I could blame it on summer fun. Instead, I think the blame falls squarely on work nonsense, which has sucked in my brain and spit it out, making it a completely worthless mush for anything not work related.

But never fear, I am on vacation this week and have VERY weighty subjects to blog on.

For example. I just cleaned out my closet...... for my dog.

Here's the back story (since I know you're dying for the deets). Around the fourth of July, Otto decided he had to sleep in the closet. He used to have a piece of furniture that he hid under when the firework booms started, but that's gone, so the closet became his go to spot. And really, no one but the most cold hearted of folk wouldn't think Otto in the closet is the cutest thing ever.

So he was cute. I let him stay in the closet. And he never left. Every night, about 8.30 he sets off for the closet and tucks in. This means that every time I go to my closet, all the shoes are pushed to the middle of the closet and covered with fur!

Last night, my mom was staying at my house in the room with the closet. Poor Otto was beside himself. He kept breaking into the room and sneaking into the closet. (yes, he has many other places to sleep, but for some reason between 830pm and about 3 am  - when he goes back to the living room - the closet is it.).

So today, having a free minute, I decided it was time to....

a. Retrain the dog?
b. Buy him a cushy bed elsewhere?
c. Close the closet door?
d. Make the closet an otto room?

If you chose d. you're a winner!

Now Otto has his own little shoe free place to sleep. And I might even buy a special bed for the closet (sucker!).

In other exciting news, I decided these shoes are cool again. After 20 years of lugging them around, I pulled them out of the closet and polished them up!  New shoes!

In other, less exciting news, you'll note the edge of the van in the picture??? Missing it's mate. Ack!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Big Race!!

The training: 
This week, quite inadvertently, Otto and I signed up for a 5k running race. It was a fund raiser for the Seattle Animal Shelter and a dog friendly event. So, even though Otto and I are getting a little long in the tooth. And even though neither of us has run more than a short sprint after a squirrel (Otto) or a slow 400m in a workout (me) in who knows how long, we had a long talk and decided we were up for the challenge. (Actually I made an executive decision, as usual, but I like to pretend democracy.)

And it was fun! Actually, it was crazy, but fun too.  Every dog under the sun was there......

Big dogs!

Small dogs!

Dogs wearing goofy things

And a ridiculous number of Seahawk gear wearing dogs!

Otto was quite the athlete. He ate well yesterday, rested his legs, hydrated, went to bed early. Then was up with the birds to get his race on!

Comeoncomeon!! We're gonna miss the race!
Got his race uniform on. 
I think this is where the pre race jitters started to set in.
Now I haven't run an official 5k in about 6 years. And my last one was pretty fast (somewhere in the 22 or 23 minutes range, for me that's fast)! But, Otto is 11(ish) and I haven't run him in, uhm, maybe years. So I was thinking this one would need to be pretty slow.

The race: 
Fun! Running a 5k slowly is kind of awesome and pain free. Well, it is physically pain free, mentally it was a bit of a challenge. I had to turn off every competitive bone in my body. When we stopped to poop and pee I had to breath deeply as large numbers of people and dogs swooped by. When the weak, infirm or otherwise annoying were in front of us, we has to suck it up and sit on their tails. (That group would include a rather large woman, a 5 year old, and a very annoying overly tan speed walker.) At one point I passed (they weren't running at the time) a man who was trying to inspire his son by saying, when I race, I usually find someone in front of me who looks less fit than I am and try to pass them. A few minutes later when they zoomed by us, I said 'I hope I wasn't your target'.

The breakdown: (what good is a race without an in depth blow by blow that none of your audience cares about)
The internet is telling me that Otto is around 72 in people years. And let me tell you, for an old guy he was awesome! The first mile he kept a nice steady pace (w/ only one poop and one pee break). Then, just after mile 1 a dog passed us and I don't know if Otto just decided to be competitive or thought he knew the dog or what, but he burst into a 'sprint'. We were probably going a good 2 miles per hour faster than we had been. I was all for it. Unfortunately, after about a quarter mile of that we hit a hill and both of us decided that sprinting right before a hill might not have been our best game plan.

The top of the hill coincided with the end of mile two. We stopped for some water (in a big kids swimming pool) and at that point I think Otto decided we'd run plenty far enough. This was a damn shame because the last mile was .5 miles down hill then .5 miles to the finish - a perfect recipe for fast! I kept trying to be encouraging 'good job', 'we're almost done' 'you're doing so good' 'just a little further'. But it didn't matter. I heard one father tell his small girl child, you have a cramp? Pretend you're Lebron and keep going. So I tried it on Otto, but although it seemed to work for the father, Otto merely decided it was time to pee. Even with only .1 kilometers to go, there was no speeding up (whose child is he??).

We finished in 30 something (ie less than 31 minutes). Otto was a true rock star. Maybe he even won his age division??

Robyn, Yumi, me and a bunch of tired dogs who have no time for posing!

Nap time?

Current status.
Next year we're thinking if we eliminate the poop break we can break 30 easy!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day Miracle

In honor of mother's day, I thought I'd blog about baby birds.

My regular and attentive readers will remember a few short weeks ago when I was all a twitter about some robin's eggs next to my porch.


Well, after that discovery I began to torture the poor mom bird on a daily basis, as I had to check in on the status of her eggs. She really didn't have much of a defense mechanism. I would peer into the tree and she would run (uhm, fly) for the hills, leaving her little eggs on their own, completely defenseless. But it's mother's day, far be it for me to criticize the robin mother who was probably holding down two jobs to make ends meet all the while providing warmth for her poor little eggs.

Anyhow, it wasn't long, before those little eggs turned into three teeny birds. And here is the amazing part!  It was even less time before the teeny tiny naked birds, turned into large flying birds!!!


 (Hard to see in the 5/6 picture, but they are sprouting tufts of feathers)



A couple hours after I took that last photo, I went and checked on them and caused quite a commotion. I think they must have just started flying because I saw one juvenile bird that startled and headed for a tree and a bunch of adults, who for the very first time actually wanted to attack rather than running away when I appeared!

I find it amazing. I don't know if they were born on 5-2, but I know on 5-2 they were tiny and feather free. By 5-11 they were ready to leave the nest!  How can that happen so quickly?  I am assuming they flew off and are now happily living a little robin life. I looked all around and found no little birds on the ground, so I am assuming all was well.

Nice job, robin mother. I will never again doubt your parenting prowess!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just likeToll House.
This blog is dedicated my oldest (oops, wrong term) longest (?) friend Jen, with whom I made about a zillion batches of cookies.

For much of my life, chocolate chip cookies were my very favorite things. As a kid I made endless batches of Toll House cookies. I knew the recipe by heart. I knew exactly how to make them the best -
  1. margarine not butter (too crispy with butter), 
  2. the margarine needed to soft but could not be melted (you were totally screwed if you hadn't though ahead and taken margarine out of the fridge ahead of time), 
  3. the batter needed to be stirred and not mixed in a blender. 
I ate such an huge quantity of cookie dough as a child it's amazing I wasn't huge, or diabetic, or something equally terrible. Shoot, it's amazing I didn't get salmonella with all the raw eggs consumed. I did occasionally eat the cookies, but it was really the dough I loved. 

As an adult, I learned that making cookies was a bad idea. I would still eat lots of dough and as good as it was it always made me feel extra ill (duh). I'm sure I felt extra ill as I child too, but somehow as an adult I was a tiny bit smarter. (Smarter in that I could decide to not make them, not smarter in that I could limit my consumption if I did make them.) This didn't stop my love of these cookies (and really these are the only type of cookies one should eat). Instead of making them, I would buy them. Not packaged grocery store chocolate chip cookies (yuck). They had to be perfect. Crunchy chocolate chip cookies are waste. Certain companies had (have) great ones, and probably got way too much of my money.

When I went paleo, I stopped most sugar except for some dark chocolate. And with that change, my love affair seems to have dwindled. Now, when I have the very occasional (once a year or so) cookie, they are much too sweet and I don't really enjoy them. 

Today, I have a couple parties to attend and since it's hard to split a salad, I decided to make some cookies to bring along. Let me tell you, the paleo version is an entirely different animal. The cookies I made today just had eggs, almond butter, chocolate, vanilla, sugar, salt and baking soda. Super easy and completely margarine free (can't even imagine margarine these days). The dough was less tempting. But the cookies are still extra delicious. (And extra pricey.......

Almond butter (do you have any idea how expensive almond butter is right at the moment? Well let me tell you the cheapest kind was $15 for a small jar!)
Coconut sugar (this stuff is like $6 per pound and really sugar is sugar is sugar, but whatever when in Rome....)
Theo's 85% cacao organic chocolate (okay, this was on sale and would be worth every penny no matter the price).)

Even in their new (healthy??) version, they took me on a walk down memory lane. I feel like running down Howe street and giving some to Jen. And maybe saving some for my mom for mother's day (I'm sure those were a present for a year or two (or three). 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Vacation, All I ever wanted.

Tonight marks the end of my birthday vacation week. The end of nine glorious days of sleeping, socializing, and basically doing a lot of nothing!  I had house plans. I had to do lists. But not much of that got done. Somehow I was way too busy. Allow me to give you some quick, day by day highlights. Apologies, in advance for the pictures, which seem to revolve primarily around the animals. When I was around people I was too distracted to take pictures.

Day 1.
Okay, day 1 I actually worked like a dog. I had some people over to celebrate so I spent the day cooking and cleaning. I made the most INSANEly delicious 'paleo' fudge with almond butter and coconut oil. Then it was onto the balls and sauces.  The party was a huge success! I drank most of a beer and got 'drunk', the company was great and I only broke one of my presents before I opened it!


Day 2.
Day 2 was my birthday and it was actually pretty quiet most of the day (as I recovered from my 'most of a' beer). In the evening I met up with two great friends for a little spa time. We spent several hours steaming and soaking and freezing and chatting and steaming again. All that was followed by a sugar scrub. Then dinner. Then the most brilliant nights sleep ever. (Sorry, no naked lady photos).

Days 3-4
I headed up to the cabin with three of my favorite beings - Otto and Daisy and my mom. There was some hiking, thrift storing, cooking, reading and sunning going on.  Daisy rocked the trip much better than her first time (Daisy Adventure).

Brave cat. 

Otto was brave during the day but took to the closet at night. 

This is 50% off on tuesdays!

Relaxin' in the car.

Cat ear, knee and steering wheel.
Day 5
Oh No, half way through!  I returned from the cabin around 3ish. Headed to the gym for a work out that nearly did me in because ITWAS80DEGREES!!!!! Yes, during much of my vacation week it was over 70 and sunny!  Workout was followed by dinner with a friend.

Day 6. 
No rest for the weary. Physical therapy appointment (where I almost graduated from physical therapy!), an awesome workout that involved carrying large weights up and down the street (repeatedly through a food truck line), lunch with people from my gym, AND drinks with a friend.  And 86 DEGREES!!!

Day 7
What did I do this day? Oh, yes, this was the last day of sun so it was lots of yard work (okay I lied a bit about doing nothing), then a trip to the gym and home to relax. And I met these guys.

Baby birds! (see previous blog for them in a future life.)
Day 8
Trip to the gym. Lots of slacking and some watching True Blood. Followed by a delicious dinner with a friend I haven't seen in way too long. 

Daisy helps me watch tv. 

And finally, Day 9. 
House work, farmer's market, cooking, hanging with a friend, BBQing the best pork chops ever and rain.

OMG. How does one go back? It's been 9 days of amazing and relaxing and warm and happiness.  Happy birthday me!