How to Make Homemade Bone Broth

Don't throw away those chicken or turkey bones! Instead you can easily make a healthy bone broth that you can use in a variety of recipes.

Last year I started to make my own chicken and turkey broth for the very first time. When Thanksgiving came around, I snatched up the turkey bones and made so much broth that I ran out of containers. I literally started to give it away to anyone that would take it. If I can do it, you can to!

What is the difference between broth and stock? I’ve read that stock is made from the bones and broth is made from the meat. I’ve also read that broth is seasoned and stock is not. I don’t think it matters what you call it, but for this post I’m calling it broth.

Why make your own bone broth?

The number one reason to make your own broth is so that you can control what is in your broth. Some store bought broth contains MSG, which is something many people try to avoid. Store bought broth can also contain a lot of sodium.

When bone broth is made properly and with pure ingredients, it is actually quite nutritious and good for you. Bone broth helps with digestion and boost your immune system. You can read more about the benefits here.

Lastly, it is good stewardship to make bone broth. You are taking bones that would normally go straight into the trash and turning them into something nutritious you can feed your family. That is just awesome.

What you need to make bone broth:

At the bare minimum you will need chicken or turkey bones, water, a large pot or crockpot, and containers to store the stock.

You can also add carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and parsley.

How to make bone broth:

Step 1: Take all of your bones and place them in your large pot or crockpot. Cover with cold water and a splash of vinegar. Let the bones sit for 30 minutes before you start to heat the water.

The vinegar is totally optional. I learned that tip from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship. She says the vinegar helps to draw out the nutrients in the bones.

Step 2: Bring the pot of water to a boil and then let it simmer for several hours. The minimum you’ll want to simmer your pot is 4 hours. If you are using a crockpot, I recommend doing it on high for 4-6 hours or on low for at least 8 hours.

When I make my stock, I like to let it simmer for at least 8-12 hours. I’ve even done it for nearly 24 hours. Sleeping with a pot simmering on the stove is not something I was used to, but there is very little risk of scorching since the pot is full of water.

Step 3: Add veggies to increase the flavor and nutritional value. Make sure to scrub them clean. There isn’t an exact science to this, so just add whatever you have.

You can add the veggies as soon as you start to heat the water or wait until you only have an hour or two left of simmering time. Again, this is a very flexible system.

Step 4: Remove from the heat and strain the broth to remove the bones, veggies, and any other floating particles. Then set aside the stock to let it cool.

Step 5: Pour the bone broth into storage containers. I’ve used plastic yogurt containers (the big ones) and glass mason jars.

It is helpful to measure how much broth you are putting into each container. Then label the container with the date and measurement. When a recipe calls for broth, you can easily see which container you should thaw out that will have enough for your recipe.

To avoid cracks and breaking jars when freezing in glass jars, cool the bone broth completely in the fridge for a day or two to make sure it is cold before putting the jar in the freezer. It is also helpful to lay the jars on their side in the freezer. Read this article for more tips on freezing in glass jars.

Another great way to freeze broth is in ice cube trays and then pop them out into a freezer bag. I find it helpful to have cubes of broth that I can easily throw into dishes. No thawing necessary! This is the only way that Beth from Red and Honey stores her broth.

homemade bone broth

Additional Tips:

Salt or no salt? Personally, I don’t season my homemade bone broth. Since I don’t salt my broth ahead of time, sometimes I need to add extra salt to the recipes I’m making. Store bought broth usually has salt added, so you might find your dishes a little bland if you don’t compensate for that.

Don’t forget to pick off any meat that is left on the bones. Sometimes you are able to get a lot more meat off after simmering the bones for several hours.

Don’t know how to use your homemade bone broth? Start simple by using it in any recipe that you would normally use store bought broth or bouillon cubes. You can also use it in place of water when cooking rice.

The next time you roast a chicken or prepare a turkey, I hope you’ll consider giving this a try. I dare you to take a large bag over to Grandma’s house on Thanksgiving and take the bones home with you!

This is the basics of making bone broth, but if you want more detailed information about the process or  the health benefits, read this post (and all the helpful links at the end) from Kitchen Stewardship.

Have you ever made your own bone broth? What are your tips?

Posted in Frugal, Green Living, Recipes & Freezer Cooking | 1 Comment

Freezer Friendly: Taco Soup

This mild taco soup recipe is kid friendly, guests love it, and it is a good freezer recipe. It is a total winner!

This taco soup recipe is totally a winner. It is naturally mild enough to be kid friendly. It is impressive enough to serve to guests. Plus it is freezer friendly!

This recipe was originally discovered by my aunt years ago. She had the taco soup at a cute little restaurant and the owner shared the recipe with her. Since then it has been pass around throughout my family and well beyond.

Taco Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lb ground beef browned
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • mild taco seasoning to taste
  • 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained
  • 15 oz can of pork and beans
  • 15 oz can of corn, drained (or 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper
  • 46 oz tomato juice (My mother is very brand loyal to Campbell’s tomato juice for its flavor and thickness.)

Additional Toppings:

  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips or Fritos

Instructions:

Brown the ground beef with the onion and drain well. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for several hours or however much time you have. It will thicken as it simmers, so feel free to add some extra water to “stretch” the meal if desired. Serve with the additional toppings and perhaps a side salad or corn bread.

This taco soup recipe is kid friendly, impressive enough to serve to guests, and it is a great freezer meal. It is one of my favorites!

To Freeze:

Prepare the soup like normal. Allow it to cool and then freeze. To eat it later, thaw the soup and reheat it on the stove. If the soup seems extra thick, add some water. In separate bags you can freeze the cheese and chips for the top of the soup, but I don’t recommend freezing sour cream.

This recipe is being linked to Red & Honey’s Sunday Soup link-up.

Do you have an amazing taco soup recipe? I want to hear about it!

Posted in Recipes & Freezer Cooking | Leave a comment

I am really trying, but… (when intentional living is met with resistance)

I am really trying but (when intentional living is met with resistance) - One mom's story of trying to make the most of the day, but struggling to embrace it.

I’ve been struggling to feel connected to my life. Perhaps that sounds silly, but I bet that you know what I mean. At times it feels like my entire goal is to make it through the day. Then I turn around and do it all again the next day.

It is like I am waiting for that moment when my real life starts, but this IS my real life. Do I feel this way because I’m still waiting to feel like a real grown up? Is it because there seems to be a lack of deep purpose behind preparing meals, doing laundry, and picking up toys? It is because my spiritual life needs a tune up? Or is it simply the constant level of stress that comes from having little ones?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not depressed. I’m not sadden with my state of life. I just feel like I’ve lost my focus somewhat. I’m living day-to-day without fully embracing it.

I want to embrace each day and cling on to these moments with my little ones. I know that in a flash they will be grown and I will desperately long for a do-over.

I don’t want to live with regrets. I want to live intentionally.

So today I tried.

Our day was wide open and I decided we would make today all about enjoying the fall season. The first stop was a pumpkin patch to pick up pumpkins we will carve later today.

Noah and the wagon

It was adorable. Noah was determined to pull the wagon.

Grace spent a lot of time looking closely to be sure the pumpkin she picked was perfect.

pumpkin patch

They smiled and let me take the classic we-are-at-a-pumpkin-patch-look-how-cute-we-are pictures. It was fun.

But it was also not fun.

There were too many choices and they struggled to pick a pumpkin. They cried and fussed when I pulled out my camera. They whined. They fought over who got to pull the wagon. Someone wanted two pumpkins when I said they could only pick out one.

Eventually we picked out the perfect pumpkins, bought some apple cider, and headed out to get doughnuts. Drinking apple cider and eating doughnuts was the next autumn activity to do today.

pumpkin patch - Grace

Once home we had a lunch of apple cider, doughnuts, and cheese sticks. It wasn’t healthy and I was proud of myself for allowing them to eat doughnuts for lunch.

Then the whining started. Someone was mad that they weren’t eating a chocolate doughnut even though they had picked out blueberry. I explained that we would all split the chocolate doughnut later when we carved the pumpkins.

Later?!?

Later wasn’t a good enough answer. There was a lot of complaining until I put my foot down and said to knock it off.

pumpkin patch - noah

Next up was a game of Candy Land. Look at how intentional I was being! Playing an organized game with my little ones that will teach them about colors, taking turns, and playing by the rules. I am such an awesome mom.

Until I won.

Then there were tears. Lots of tears.

Little feet storming up the stairs.

Gasping sobs and the awful words, “You don’t even love me!”

*sigh*

I am trying. I am really, really trying. I want to be a good mom. I want to be an intentional mom. I want to embrace the days with my little ones and cling on for dear life, but…

It is so hard.

It is hard to live with a constant level of chaos. Constantly teaching life lessons. Constantly feeling like what you offer isn’t good enough.

pumpkin patch - grace's pumpkin

One pumpkin per person wasn’t enough.

Doughnuts at lunch weren’t enough.

Playing a game wasn’t enough.

And I bet that later tonight when we carve the pumpkins, somehow it won’t be enough.

Can you relate? Are my words connecting with you? I’m not unhappy with my life. I don’t regret my children for an instant. I don’t want to wish away any of this, but it is still hard.

Parenthood is hard. Intentionally living in each moment is hard. Not taking this stage of life for granted is hard. Focusing on what is right in front of us instead of the dreams that are ahead of us is hard.

But I’m willing to keep trying. Are you?

Posted in Life, Parenthood | 25 Comments

Happy 5th Birthday, Grace!

Grace's 5th Birthday

Every year I write a letter to my children in honor of their birthday. This is Grace’s 5th birthday letter.

My dearest Grace,

I am so grateful that I am able to be your mommy. We had a lot of fun this past year and you’ve grown up in so many ways. Happy 5th Birthday, darling!

In this past year…

In December we took you to the movie theater for the very first time. We saw Frozen, which ended up being a huge Disney hit. It was also a big hit in our house! Your obsession with the characters and the songs is intense. I can’t imagine that you’ll ever let it go. (See what I did there?)

You love all things girly and anything princess related. Your favorite colors are pink and purple.

Your most favorite thing in the world used to be books, but I think that has officially changed. Your number one obsession is probably coloring and drawing. You can be hard on yourself if you go outside of the lines or don’t draw something as nicely as you wanted to. I’m trying to teach you that it doesn’t have to be perfect to still be beautiful. You love to draw princesses with  long braided hair like Elsa and Anna.

You think bikinis are called zucchinis. I hope you call them that forever. I have no plans of correcting you.

Grace, this was your first year going to Vacation Bible School at church. You LOVED it! I had tears in my eyes watching you dance to the worship music as I helped out with video from the balcony. The CD of music from the week was on constant repeat in the car for a very long time.

We had an extra long stay at Grandpa & Grandma’s house over Christmas this past year. Grandma introduced you to the curly iron and curled your hair almost every morning. We brought the curling iron back with us and used it on special occasions like Easter and your birthday.

You love eating pizza, spaghetti, and cheese sticks. You started eating soup this year despite claiming that you hated soup the year before.

Although you still crave some girl time, you have become super close with your cousin Matthew. The two of you play very well together. You are even in the same preschool class! You are also good friends with the older neighbor girls, Nicole and Amanda. We are so lucky they live on our block!

Grace and Noah March 2014

Watching you play with Noah is such a treat. I tell you that the two of you are best friends all the time and I hope it sticks. Of course you have your moments, but for the most part you play together very well. He looks up to you so much.

You and Noah have this game that you play all the time called “Hi, what would you like?” Mostly it happens when we are outside at the sandbox. You like to pretend you are a waitress and you ask me for my order. Most of the time we are at Chick-fil-A. I must have heard “Hi. What would you like?” at least 100 times from you and Noah this past year.

You love to play “baby” in the mornings before we get out of bed. You crawl into my bed with me, go under the covers, and then pretend to be born. Then you’ll take your first steps, say your first words, and take a pretend nap. Haha! It is sweet.

Nap time is over! Instead of taking daily naps, we have quiet time in your room. At times it is a struggle. You really don’t like being alone in general, so being asked to play alone in your room is a big deal.

Along with being alone, you really don’t like bugs and water splashing in your face.

All last year you looked forward to your 5th birthday. It meant that you would finally be “big enough” to go to school. In September you started preschool. So far you are thriving there, and I can’t wait to see how much you blossom this year.

Your 5th birthday also meant it was time for your wedding birthday party. I have never heard of a little girl having a wedding themed birthday, but you were dreaming about this since December! It was adorable.

Grace, you are sweet, adorable, creative, polite, and kind. I am excited to see how much you grow this year.

I love you!
Mommy

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

How Clean is Your Drinking Water? {Berkey giveaway}

Berkey Giveaway Banner from Positively Real Media

This post contains affiliate links.

My dear beloved readers, today I am super jealous of you. Why? Because you have the chance to enter today’s amazing giveaway and I’m not able to enter! I have teamed up with several bloggers from the Positively Real Media Network to give away a Berkey water filter.

I have been wanting a Berkey water filter for a couple of years now. They are super well known in the “natural living bloggers” community and seem to be the best free-standing water filter out there. I want one!

Since I don’t own a Berkey myself (yet!), I’m going to turn things over to Positively Real Media to explain the benefits of a Berkey and the details of the giveaway.

How Clean is Your Drinking Water?

My guess is that you are blessed with access to clean running water. We don’t really worry about getting parasites or other waterborne diseases when we turn on our tap.

But while we are blessed with clean water coming through indoor plumbing, are you aware of some of the environmental contaminants that are frequently found in that water? Traces of heavy metals like mercury and aluminum, pesticide residues, and volatile organic compounds can be found in our drinking water!

This is why the bloggers of Positively Real Media are so excited to be teaming up to bring to you a Royal Berkey 3.25 Gallon Stainless Steel Water Purifier giveaway sponsored by United Environmental Solutions!

About The Berkey Water Filter

Berkey water purifiers are truly unique water purifying systems. According to UES, they are able to remove red food coloring from water while still allowing beneficial minerals to remain!

As free-standing units that put the power of gravity to use, the Berkey systems don’t use any electricity. This makes them excellent systems to have on hand while camping or during power outages.

Positively Real Media is giving away a Royal Berkey

While whole house filtration systems can be fantastic solutions to the problem of residual water contamination, they are simply out of the budget for most families. However, a Berkey system is a fraction of the cost and can filter 4 gallons of water per hour, making it a great fit for families!

If you want to ensure that your family’s drinking and cooking water is as clean and pure as it can be, a Berkey may be just what you need!

Win A 3.25 Gallon Royal Berkey!

The bloggers of Positively Real Media, a network of naturally-minded Christian bloggers, are thrilled to be able to offer one of our readers a 3.25 Gallon Royal Berkey Stainless Steel Water Purifier, valued at $300! Many thanks to United Environmental Solutions for providing this fantastic prize to one blessed reader.

Just use the Rafflecopter form below to get your entries in!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Details: This giveaway is open to the USA only. This exact same giveaway form is displayed on several other blogs in the Positively Real Media Network. If you follow any of these other blogs, you don’t need to enter the giveaway again on their blogs. In fact, you’ll only be able to enter once.

You will be rewarded with extra entries for liking my blog’s Facebook page. Liking my page, or any of the other blog’s pages, is not mandatory for the giveaway, but it will increase your odds of winning. Feel free to like the pages that resonate with you and skip the rest.

I hope a Simply Rebekah reader wins!!!

Disclosure: Giveaway is open to USA only and ends on October 24, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST. The winner will be notified by email. This giveaway was organized by Positively Real Media and sponsored by United Environmental Solutions. I was not compensated for this post, but this post does contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah!

Posted in Giveaways & Annoucements, Green Living | Leave a comment