Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Part Deux: Acquiring More Traditional Food Skills

Fall 2011 is apparently setting up to be the fall when I learn a zillion new-to-me traditional food methods. Though I had no real planned-well-in-advance agenda to do this some of these, impromptu tutorials are just falling into my path, sometimes so spontaneously that all I can use to capture the moments is my Droid. Cases in point:

  • You know it's good bone broth when it stays perfectly
    gelled, even when held upside down.
    All that collagen, wahoo!
    Homemade Bone Broth - from Chicken Feet! I received a HUGE zip bag of chicken feet from my farmer - for FREE. I couldn't believe my luck - there were probably at least 60 feet from recently slaughtered/scalded chickens. Having read A Slim Winter's chicken feet broth post just before this, I knew that I could possibly make some decent broth. After a couple of batches I really got the hang of it, even going so far the second round as to add apple cider vinegar to help extract more nutrients from the bones and cartilage - and I used my kitchen shears to trim off the talons so that more of the bone marrow could be exposed and thus extracted during the simmering. I was rewarded with a super rich broth that was thick and gelatinous when chilled, and comforting all the way down when warmed in a mug. If you find yourself on the receiving end of some inexpensive or free chicken feet, GO for it! You will love the broth that results.

  • Mad kefir makin' skillz. I met another primal / paleo person IN THE FLESH. First nononline paleo person I've ever met! I was ridiculously excited; we happened to be buying the same creamline whole milk from our farmer when we ran into each other. It turns out that she has a couple of traditional foodie friends as well, one of whom has a way with homemade kefir. We are going to get a kefir making/storage tutorial from said expert later next week. Wahoo! (Meanwhile, this week I found out another superstrong gal at my Crossfit box eats paleo, that makes two in-the-flesh folks I know. Maybe enough momentum for a pot luck at some point! ;-p )

    Zee half cow, deconstructed.
  • Half cow freezin', with plans for tallow renderin'. Our household's first ever local, bulk bought beef purchase came home with us on Monday. We were totally bewildered by the quantity of meat from our order of half a cow. I was giddy because beside the usual offerings of ground beef, roasts, stew meat, and steaks, the butcher had made sure at my request that we received every possible scrap - soup bones, heart, liver, tongue, and (drumroll!) a huge pack of beef fat (note to self, look up tallow rendering, apparently my next on the skillz-to-learn docket...). Normally I avoid beef fat in conventionally raised animals, but the beef AND fat of a carefully raised pastured-only cow is super valuable nutritionally and a wonderfully healthy fuel.  I was keen on getting my money's worth and not letting go of any of that offal, bone, and fat nutrition (all of which, according to my farmer, is often left behind by his customers).

  • Homemade ranch dip. Delicious.
    Make it in a jar to make mixing easy!
  • Mark's Daily Apple's Creamy Ranch Dressing. We had assigned snack duty for my daughter's preschool last week, and the requested items were carrots and celery sticks and ranch dip. I was so glad to find out from Paleo Periodical on Twitter (thanks, Karen!!) that MDA had this dip - after tasting it I realized how much I had missed the flavor of ranch. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil can dress only so many salads, apparently. I'm looking forward to having this recipe in my regular rotation to drizzle on steak salads and scrambled eggs.

What new recipes and traditional food skills are you learning right now?


  1. I'm curious how broth from feet differs from the broth that I usually make: with the center bones of the chicken after the limbs and breasts have been removed. any insight?

  2. We've been rendering lard and tallow from our animals for about a year now, and it's really not hard. Since the process for both is the same, here's a link to the tutorial I posted for rendering lard: The only thing we do differently these days is to run the connective tissue through our food mill before we discard it - you get a lot more out of it that way.

    I've been so busy canning during the late summer and fall that I haven't had much time to try any other new methods of tradition food preparation. However, my next project is naturally fermented foods. Probiotics are good!

  3. Welcome Emily! The broth is much more rich when made from feet because of the extra collagen and nutrients that can be extracted from feet. This is in part because of the high collagen content of the cushy covering protecting the feet bones.

    Jan - thanks for the link!! I will be reading up later tonight when I have a peaceful moment. :) I too want to learn more about fermentation...more to add to the "to learn" project list. :-p

  4. I just bought my first quarter cow this week! I didn't think to request tallow, but I did take up the offer for liver and tongue. Now, in fact, I have like 6 pounds of liver and I'm not all too sure how to approach it. Good luck to both of us in that regard!

    Let me know how the kefir-making goes--I've been interested but not had a chance to learn yet.

  5. Your coolers of meat give me goose bumps! Lots of good stuff going on at your house. :-) About the tallow, the first time I made it, it worked but I made a lot of mistakes, so here's how not to make it! :-)

  6. THANKS Patty, I'm glad there are folks willing to share their "oopses" too!! Makes it easier for us newbs who follow in your culinary footsteps. :)


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