Heal Your Life with A Cow Bone and a Chicken Toe

Know what’s on my mind lately? I’ll tell you.

Everything is split. Not just into FOR or AGAINST, but a million different shards of opinions.

There is no pleasing everyone, in any situation. Also, it’s very difficult to change someone else’s mind. And no amount of angry arguing with an un-like-minded individual is gonna make it happen. I wish I could give that word “angry” a spiky font to illustrate how uncomfortable it makes me.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t stand up for what you believe in and work toward change. That is a wonderful and powerful thing, and that’s how change happens.

But I do wish there was less anger everywhere. I can feel it’s spikes jutting out from people as I pass them on the street. Spikes poking through my phone as I scroll through facebook conversations between people I love. Heck, the spikes are even manifesting in the weather patterns these days.

I wanted to do my part to bring some shiny light into the internet world with some happy little blog posts about positivity and health and looking forward to things. Because these are what I want my life to be full of. But I can’t help but fear that I’m going to say some little thing that’s going to offend someone looking to be outraged. “How can you be so positive when the world is ending?! You are selfish to think you can enjoy life while so many terrible things are happening! Rainbows cause cancer and smiles killed my Dad!”

These are the words of the imaginary dude who lives in my head and proofs my writing before it gets typed onto the page. Seriously though? F this guy. I never even hired this guy. He just started showing up every day, that was four years ago. (Any High Fidelity fans?)

I don’t write for that guy, I write for anyone who is looking for a little softness in their world. Anyone who has a suspicion that joy is beyond powerful and changes worlds. Anyone who is open to the idea that joy is born from joy alone, and multiplies exponentially when practiced often.

If this doesn’t apply to you, then you may go read some more angry words and let this little blog float off on its lily pad, never to intend harm on anyone.

ANYWAY the whole point of this post is to share with you how I make bone broth. But when I went to brush up on my research, amid all the glowing reviews of bone broth, there were a couple articles that couldn’t wait to tell everyone that bone broth is a HOAX! Like “First of all, IT’S NOT EVEN BROTH. It’s STOCK. NEXT, Everyone who thinks bone broth good for you is A PSEUDO HIPPIE IDIOT (and yes, technically it does have amino acids that help build your skeletal structure, and it has lots of electrolytes and sodium so it’s good, like, after a workout) but IF YOU REALLY THINK DRINKING COLLAGEN IS GOING TO GROW COLLAGEN IN YOUR BODY, THEN YOU ARE SO MUCH DUMBER THAN ME!”

I’m exaggerating obviously. Perhaps I feel a bit defensive when it comes to this sort of thing, mainly because it appears to me that these folks are just getting worked up over people drinking home-made stock. The tone of these articles do feel condescending to me and even made me feel like I’m an idiot for wasting time on bone broth. It may not be a cure-all miracle tonic, but it’s a good source of amino acids and has been proven to improve joint flexibility, and most importantly it’s a home-made food that’s ingredients can be traced back to your own kitchen cupboards.

So the title of this blog post, “Heal Your Life With A Cow Bone and A Chicken Toe” is me having a bit of satirical fun. Sorry if I got your hopes all up for a quick-fix witches brew, but alas, healing seems to only come from within ourselves.

From my Pollyanna-silver-lining perspective, the spiked interest in bone broth is a happy sign that people are becoming more drawn to the natural, the original, and the organic. Since the Green revolution in the early aughts, more people have been turning their cheeks to processed foods, chemicals, and the like.

Yes, there is more knowledge of health sprouting up in people, and corporations are having to adjust to fit us! That’s what I’m most excited about! There was once a time when we could be convinced by a simple magazine ad that we could eat fried food every day  with a clean conscience as long as it was fried in Crisco, because “medical tests” prove it’s healthy!

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And to show how far we’ve come, let me tell you about this Panera Bread commercial I saw. They were bragging about how their food is REAL FOOD, no chemicals or dyes. (Who the heck knows if it’s true or not, but I’m just happy to see that that’s what is testing well in their focus groups!!)

 SO getting back to the whole point, here is how I make bone broth.

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First, I go to the Rochester public market and buy a bag of bones from the nice guy, you can usually get two big bags for $6. Then I pick up some chicken paws. That’s right. The feet of a chicken. They have them at Price Rite. They add the gelatin you’re looking for when you make bone broth, but are not essential. They are… difficult to look at. The bones aren’t great to look at either, hence this crisp pot-handle and blurry carcass parts pictured below!

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So first things first, I dump the bones and feets in this big ol’ pot. I fill it with water, just covering the stuff (these were frozen in a log shape but fell under the water when they defrosted), and bring it to a boil and simmer for an hour. And surprise! This isn’t going to be the actual broth! Tricked you!! Aw man. You were like “but you said crockpot, not STOCKpot!” Shoulda seen your face. Anyway, there are WAY more steps involved. This is just to get rid of all the “scum” that will mess up the taste in the end.

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Here is the scum-water, looking pretty appetizing, but trust me, it smells kinda weird in here. And then this gray foam forms on top that you have to skim off.

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So next, preheat your oven to 400. Once your scummy hour is up, drain the bones. I usually just pour out most of the water because there are too many bones for a colander to hold. Then, get a 9×13 baking dish. Use tongs to put the bones in the dish. I don’t roast the chicken feet, because I dunno what the hell would happen to those freaky things in the oven. God, they’re gross. I’ve heard recommendations to roast the bones, but not the feet, so I just let them chill off to the side for this part.

Roast the bones for apx. 1 hour, but the longer the better tbh. The roasting gives the broth more flavor.

Once they’re roasty toasty, let them cool a bit before FINALLY putting them into the crock pot with the chicky feet. Cover everything with COLD water, and add a splash of the good stuff:Bonebroth4

Now you gotta let it sit in the cold water for ANOTHER hour. You pretty much need a free day to do this, by the way. This step sucks minerals from the bones that otherwise would be missing from the broth!

K, it’s been an hour. Now you can add any aromatics and flavor-boosters you want, although I’ve read it’s best to keep it simple with just some onion, garlic cloves, and black peppercorns, so that’s what I do. But feel free to add carrots, celery, etc.

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Next, switch the crockpot dial to “low”, go to sleep, wake up the next morning, and discover that you never plugged the thing in. This IS an essential step!!! (JK, Mommy messed up) PLUG IN, make sure it’s set to “low”, come back in 24 hours.

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Ah, yes. This time I woke up to find broth.

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The next step is to get a bunch of big glass jars, a strainer, a bowl for discard bones, and a few shallow glass containers, like the pan you used to roast the bones in. Ugh, you have to wash it. Sorry.

The reason we need shallow containers is because at this stage, the broth needs to cool quickly, or it’s in danger of growing bacteria. Also, have a few ice cube trays filled and waiting in the freezer, too. Here’s my little set-up.

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Now begin ladeling the broth through the strainer and dump the strained bits in your garbage bowl. Or your recycling bowl if you want to re-broth the bones, which you can do by all means.

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Once all the broth is ladel’d, drop a bunch of ice cubes in to help cool the broth faster. This is a pretty potent broth, so adding water won’t dilute it too much.

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Then, carefully ladel the broth into your mason jars (I always make a mess everywhere so don’t feel badly if that happens) and pop them in the fridge, careful not to put them next to anything that might spoil with a little extra warmth. When they cool they will have this layer of fat which isn’t harmful, but you can scrape it off if you want. If all goes according to plan, it should have a jello-like texture. This broth will be good for about 5 days in the fridge, months in the freezer.

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So there you have it! That’s how I make bone broth, and I use it to make rice and quinoa and soup, and sometimes I drink it by itself! Make it or don’t, but please don’t shame the broth-drinkers. We’re just trying to figure out way to be better to our bodies.

Softly,

Your Peacefriend

Cyclical Advice and Being Your Own Best Friend

It’s mid-February and I regret to inform you that I’ve contracted a totally harsh case of the drearies.

Normally around this time of year, the sky remains a dim gray overcast, denying everyone the essentail vitamin D and general, you know, colors that sunshine brings.

But the past few years the weather has become more unpredictable, and this year is a real show off in terms of fluctuation. One day, it was 40 degrees and the sun shone until warm rain melted away all the snow. Two days later, I could barely brave the cold.

I’m not sure which is worse… a predictable stretch of depressing gray sludge, or a bi-polar roller coaster (note: possible band name?) of icy-cold-stingy-needles-of-frostbite tag teaming with mild-goopy-mud with a side of DECEIVING sunshine? And then the full moon happens and LOOK OUT.

In short, quit frontin’ on us, nature!

It’s easy to become negative when you’re getting thrown around like this. Luckily for me, I have a level headed Alex who is great at keeping his cool when I’m melting down. He’s the best kind of partner, because he does this cool trick where he listens to me when I’m feeling my best, and then gives me my own words back when I need them most.

This is what I mean by cyclical advice.  It is so wonderful to have someone in your life who can remind you that you’re a shining light by using your very own words, be it a relative or friend. But what about when that person’s not around?

I often find myself giving advice to friends when they’re in a predicament, but feeling clueless when I’m in the same predicament later on. Why do we forget what we already know so often?

It’s easy to read a motivational quote when you’re feeling great and think “Yes! I get that. I can feel that and reach that and be that. I am this quote on Drew Barrymore’s Instagram.”

But then when you read the same thing when you’re feeling down, it just doesn’t break the skin and get in there like it did before. It might even sound dumb, or empty this time around.

Also, your favorite song sounds worse somehow.

Anything too cheery is just uncomfortable.

Does this sound familiar? Yeah, that’s me right NOW, you might be saying. Shoot, me too, girl.

I’m no expert on feelings, and I didn’t do college so good, but I’m going to try something and you can feel free to join me in this experiment. I am going to begin to treat myself like my own best friend.

You would never tell your best friend she looks ugly. You would never tell them things are only going to get worse from here. You would never tell them everyone thinks they’re selfish, or that they suck at the thing they love doing. So I suggest we treat that part of us that is saying all this nonsense like our best friend. OR a small, confused, baby animal. Tell it what you know to be true: It’s so cute. It’s still learning. It’s not the end of the world. It is loved.

This is that voice in your head saying “Man, I suck! I’m the opposite of fluffy! I’m never going to be as cute as that other bird. Everyone probably thinks I’m annoying.”

Here’s something I believe that you can take or leave:

(that sounded like lyrics from a 90s rap in my head)

The part of you that is spouting off janky crap isn’t the true you. You can actually, with some practice, take a step back and observe these thoughts as they come in from a separate consciousness.

This separate perspective is the true you.

Or… The Trou.

I’ve done this a few times. Something in my brain might be telling me, for instance, that I hate my apartment and how small it is. I do my best to actually look at that thought as something that doesn’t belong to me, and think “Focusing on this is making her feel worse and worse. She doesn’t deserve to feel bad! I’ll talk to her (taps mic) Ahem! Hey, Alison. Higher consciousness here. It sucks that your apartment is so small, yeah. Just wondering, though, what do you like about your apartment?

And then I look around and say “Well, I like that I live here with just Alex and no roommates.”

Yeah, that’s really lucky, not many people your age can do that! What else?

“I like that even though it feels cramped sometimes, it has an upstairs and a basement and attic… and I like that I decorated it with cheerful colors, and that there’s a bath tub, and I love the new fridge, and blah blah blah…”

And before I know it, I’m feeling a lot better. And my higher consciousness winks at me from the clouds and mumbles “Tricked ya.”

I think the key here is reaching for the best feeling thought at that particular moment. Whatever makes you feel a little better than you did. It’s like a ladder, with each step up, it will be easier to reach the next rung of the ladder. You don’t skip 4 rungs when you’re climbing a ladder!

Try it if you want. Let me know how it works for you.

 

Before I go, I’m going to share a couple pictures from the painfully cold, but suuuper pretty walk Alex and I took the other day. The sun was setting and throwing pink gold light over everything. The Moon had risen on the other side, and it was all duality-ish and symbolism-y.

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“Marco”
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“Polo”

 

Giving it the old college try,

Your Peacefriend