Bone Broth

The very idea of putting snail, head cheese, liver, tongue, or blood sausage in my mouth is something that repulses me beyond words.  They may taste absolutely delicious, but I will never know and it is based solely on the name. Bone broth is borderline. Kind of grosses me out, but kind of doesn’t.

Always up for a challenge in the kitchen, I decided to make some beef bone broth. Chicken bone broth was not a contender because it tends to remind me of when I stayed home sick with a fever from school as a child. My mom would open a can of chicken and rice soup and serve it with saltine crackers to help me feel better. Sweet memories of mom, but not of the soup.

I found a few recipes online and I took a little something from each and made it one recipe for myself.  M. and I took a nice drive to the country to purchase some grass-fed, grass finished beef bones from our favorite farm.  We also bought organic vegetables. I followed the directions and boiled the bones for about 20 minutes before roasting them. This is one of two trays of the beef bones roasting with the vegetables.

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I then put everything into my crock pot, added filtered water, and let it simmer on low.

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Sixty hours later – yes 60 hours – I removed the lid, drained the liquid, threw out the veggies and bones, and skimmed out any fat.  I poured the broth into glass jars – about 12 pints – and put most of them in my freezer.  I took one to school for a mid morning snack at my desk and it was just as delicious as I had hoped.

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I have since added this broth to other recipes such as my homemade vegetable soup or to use as flavoring rice or potatoes.  My favorite way is heated in a bowl or a cup. This was very good and I will be making it again.   

By the way, oxtail was an ingredient in this recipe. Trying it was out of my comfort zone, but happy to say it was absolutely delicious.  Although it was not enough to convince me to try snail, head cheese, liver, tongue, or (gag) blood sausage.

 

Open Book Blog Hop -February 12th — Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

This week we have to write about the most irritating aspect of Valentine’s Day: In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is perpetuated by the greetings card industry for their own profit (remember when they tried to flog cards for ‘Grandparent’s Day’ which never took off?). Valentine’s cards start arriving in the shops every year around the […]

via Open Book Blog Hop -February 12th — Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

Be more than an “I love you”

I wrote this post last February and it is actually one of my favorites.  Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I wanted to share it one more time:  

What does it mean to love someone or to be loved by someone?  Maybe it is the security of knowing that we occupy a place in someone else’s heart or the significance we hold in someone’s life.

Maybe it means that in spite of our silly oddities, our looks, and our imperfections someone can see us for who we are…..and they love us anyway.

We are someone who matters to somebody else.

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Once in a while the words “I love you” can be just that ~ words.

Over the years I have learned (sometimes the hard way) about love and relationships.  Not just in the romantic sense like the love I share with my spouse, but also the love I share with all my children and grandchildren, my BFF, my extended family, and other meaningful people in my life.

The most important thing I have learned is: It is the ACTION taken that can create the strength, emotion, and significance of those three simple words.

For example:

  • Supporting each other is essential in any relationship ~ marriage, parenting, friendships.  Have each other’s back.  Celebrate successes and comfort disappointments.
  • Respect one another because you each deserve the other’s respect.  Treat each other the way you wish to be treated as you express opinions, thoughts, dreams and desires ~ make these matter as much to you as it does to the other.
  • Be a safety net and refuge from the outside world.  A person you can always trust.  Strive to create an environment that is a welcoming place of comfort, joy and peace.
  • Commitment takes work, commitment is not easy, and commitment must become a priority. Become the “something that you want to last forever” every single day.
  • Forgive the forgotten item at the grocery store and forgive the forgotten birthday present. Forgive when the other lashes out because they are tired after working hard all day.
  • Forgive the other for not knowing what you needed when you really thought they would or should know. Forgive the other when they fall short even when you know they are trying their best. Forgive because no one is perfect.

Be More Than An “I Love You”

This Word – Embrace

Most of us look forward to the new year and see it as an opportunity to make a fresh start.  Resolutions are made and some people are lucky enough to actually reach their goal.  Based on an article I recently read I decided to try something different this year and choose a word.

The concept of choosing one word to focus on each day of the year is appealing to me. Maybe focusing on just one word, and letting that one word guide me each day, might help me in my approach to all aspects of my life during the new year.

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But which word?  Words like trust, simplicity, and discipline came to mind, but none of them fully satisfied or expressed what I wanted for this year.  They are all great words, but my objective is to sincerely BE as well as DO this word in my daily life, and these particular words were not settling just right.  After much thought and prayer, the word I was looking for came to my mind. “Embrace”  Yes, that’s it!

Mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally ~ there are endless possibilities to put the word embrace into action each day. My prayer time, my marriage, my children and grandchildren are at the top of the list. I am hopeful this word embrace will help me to slow down and appreciate the glorious sights and sounds of nature, read more books, and really listen to what others have to say.  I hope this word embrace will open my eyes to new opportunities and fresh starts.

As odd as this may sound, I understand that struggles will also need to be embraced ~ the trials that can sneak up out of nowhere, the heart-breaks as well as disappointments that can occur. Embracing difficult decisions that need to be made or the many temptations that will be placed in my path will be a challenge.  It is my desire to stay faithful to this word embrace.

Taking it one day at a time, I wake up every morning thinking about embrace.  Moments that might have gone unnoticed have gradually started to enrich my life.  The adorable antics of my dog, the clever ways my students challenge me daily, and the empty, hollow feeling I felt inside after attending a recent gathering are all current moments I have embraced.  It was hard to make myself embrace the empty, hollow feeling and quite honestly I didn’t at first. It was miserable, but it caused me to reflect.  I now embrace those unhappy feelings, because they brought an affirmation in regards to a decision I have been struggling to make for a while.

We usually see what we look for and I am choosing to “embrace.”  What word would you chose?

Savoring Julia Child’s…

Beef Bourguignon

For the past several years, once January arrives, I set aside a day to prepare this flavorful dish. I love to cook and not afraid to try new recipes, so after watching the film Julie, Julia I was intrigued by the challenge.  It is a hearty stew perfect for cold winter evenings and is well worth the time and effort.

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The recipe I follow provides a generous amount, so I freeze the leftovers in smaller portions and we are able to enjoy this treat for weeks to come.  I wish I could take photos of food and make it look appetizing, so please know I really did try.

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The stew simmers in the oven for about 3 hours. Then you have to carefully remove the liquid and boil it down for about 40 minutes. (Look how rich and delicious it looks!) Once this step is complete you are left with a silky broth to pour back into the stew. Placing it in the refrigerator to sit until the next evening makes it taste even better.

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I would like to say I baked this bread, but I could never get the hang of the step which required dissolving the yeast in any of the recipes I have tried.  Also, the loaves I bake lack flavor (probably because of the yeast step), so this loaf is store-bought.

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There are many ways to serve the beef bourguignon – over noodles, with mashed potatoes or maybe a side vegetable ~ anything that suits your fancy.  M. wanted to try it with noodles and this is all we had in the pantry.  In my opinion, these noodles were not a positive addition; the sauce fell through the noodles instead of around the beef.  I will not serve it this way next time. I like to keep it simple and serve it with warm, crusty bread, maybe a small salad, and of course, wine.

I am hoping Julia would approve!

Savoring the Emerald Coast

M. and I decided to spend Thanksgiving at the beach.  All of our children either had plans to spend the holiday with in-laws or were unable to travel home, so we decided to spend it with my siblings and their spouses along the beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida.

We were lucky enough to snag a deal in our favorite condo complex right on the beach for less than $100 a night so any apprehension we were feeling quickly became a no-brainer.

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We enjoyed beautiful sunsets from our balcony, fresh seafood in local restaurants and some lively card games with my siblings.

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We explored nearby areas such as Grayton Beach, Seaside, and Rosemary Beach all located within a few miles of each other.

Grayton Beach seemed to be laid back and had an eclectic kind of hippie feel.  We weren’t sure where to go, but stumbled across this cute little village (Shops of Grayton) and took a quick walk around.  We stopped in Twin Oaks Farm Stand (the blue building below) and would definitely revisit.  It was a very small restaurant and store with an assortment of jams, jellies, brines, beef and chicken stock, eggs, and an array of healthy food choices to enjoy a quick breakfast or lunch.
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We drove along scenic highway 30A and stopped at the bustling, although charming, upscale town of Seaside. This area was VERY crowded.  People were everywhere in spite of what it looks like in the photos I took!  They had a few gourmet food trucks (actually vintage Airstream trailers) from which mouth-watering aromas ascended in the air, unique $hops, and cute little water stations for your canine companions.

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After a leisurely stroll around, it was back in the car and we drove toward Rosemary Beach.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of this lovely town since we decided not stop.  There had been a Thanksgiving 10K run that morning and parking was not to be found.  I managed to locate some photos on Google that reflect what we were able to see.

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Rosemary Beach presented a similar upscale resort atmosphere as Seaside.  There are shops and restaurants in an area of old world charm which included cobblestone streets and gas lamps.  Many of the homes, either directly on the beach or within walking access, ranged in size from cute and cozy to quite large and gorgeou$.

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I have visited the panhandle of Florida almost all of my life, but had never ventured into any of these towns.  Exploring these areas was a nice surprise, a pleasant way to spend some time, and a possible destination idea for a future visit.

Kindness Rocks

Rocks have always had a special place in my heart and I have always been fascinated by the various textures and shapes.  Granted (no pun intended – granite – granted get it?) anyway…the ones I am mostly referring to are the ones painted by nature. Sometimes the beautiful color or the luster of the minerals made me happy so I kept it. I would often pick up a rock as a token or souvenir to remember a special location or vacation. Kind of like finding a shell on the beach and taking it home.  One very special rock is the one I found on a day I was terribly missing my mom not long after she passed away.  My heart was heavy and I really wanted to talk to her, to touch her and to be in her presence.  As I walked along in my grief, I noticed a heart-shaped rock lying on the ground beneath my feet.  Picking it up and gazing at the heart shape I noticed tiny sparkles of mica that caught the sunlight.  This simple rock gave me comfort, joy, and a connection to who I was missing at that moment.  I still have that rock.

Have you heard of the Kindness Rocks Project? I had not heard of this until I found two rocks in a period of two weeks in two different states!

 

On the back of each rock is a hashtag sign and the name of a city with the word “rocks” printed. For example, printed on back of one of these rocks was #WNC rocks.  After finding the second rock, I decided to look on the internet for anything that could explain what this meant.  I was surprised to learn this fad (for lack of a better way to say it) can be found all over the United States. It is called the Kindness Rocks Project.

The Kindness Rock Project was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.  Created by life coach Megan Murphy in hopes of sparking joy in people’s everyday lives.”

I found the Cat in the Hat rock on a bench outside a grocery store when we were at the beach in Florida during Thanksgiving.  After my internet research I learned you are supposed to take a photo and post it on Facebook.  So I did! The painter of the rock and I exchanged pleasantries and she was so pleased I had found it.  I have since hidden it here in my hometown.  The pretty snowflake rock was found by M. in Sylva, North Carolina when we stopped there for lunch on our way to Asheville one weekend before Christmas. Not only did the rock come with a cute penguin, but an additional surprise was taped behind the rock ~ a tiny pair of gold hooped earrings!  We decided to leave it hidden where we found it for some other lucky finder.

If you find a special rock painted by nature or painted by humans, I hope it brings you a feeling of joy, surprise, or a connection….even if that connection is to an unknown stranger who is trying to bring a smile and brighten someone else’s day.