Sunday, April 29, 2012

You Call It Trash, I Call It Chicken Stock

 Homemade chicken stock is easy and VERY nutritious. Additionally, it is made with everything that is generally thrown away. Each time I cut up onions, garlic, parsley or carrots, I put the peelings and stem ends in a gallon Ziplock bag that I keep in my freezer. After we roast a chicken, I put the carcass and the contents of my freezer bag into a stock pot.
 Here you can see the veggie waste on top of the carcass. This batch includes carrot peelings, onion and garlic skin, celery ends and parsley stems. 
 Fill the pot with cold water. Some people say to use filtered water but I really can't be that complicated when I cook. I just use water from the tap. You should add a little vinegar to assist in pulling the minerals from the bones but I almost always forget to do that. 
 Simmer the mixture for as long as you can stand it.
 The water will evaporate and the vitamins and minerals from the chicken and the veggies will be added to the liquid. 
 If the liquid gets too low just add more water and keep simmering. It's best to let it simmer until the bones from the chicken are brittle and break easily. This means you've gotten all the minerals from them and your stock will be very nutritious.
When the stock is finished simmering, strain it into a container or two. I use these glass Ball jars. I generally get between 7 and 8 cups of stock. The fat will rise to the top and the stock may become gelatinous when it cools. You know it's really good if you get a gel. MIne doesn't always gel but it is always good. 

Why is it important to make your own stock? First, take a look at the ingredients of the chicken stock in the grocery store. Here's the list on a Swanson Chicken Broth container:

I don't know about you but I don't find that list very appetizing. Additionally, my broth didn't cost me anything more than time (ok, and the water and the electricity to heat the stove). I used only those items that were left over from cooking something else.

Finally, the nutrition. Homemade stock has so many nutritive values that I hesitate to list them all here. You'll think I'm an infomercial. Kitchen Stewardship has a really good article that explains it all better than I could. Additionally, the Nourished Kitchen website (which is where I learned to make stock) has some great information about stocks, broths and the like.

Today I'll be using the left over chicken and some wonderful veggies from my Market trip on Friday to make chicken soup. The wonderful thing about this kind of soup is that depending on the time of year and the contents of my garden and refrigerator make each batch of soup just a little different. Todays batch will include leeks, sweet potatoes, garlic, carrots, chicken and parsley. Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Flour Sack and Fabric Napkins

We had a Confirmation party for Nolan last Sunday. Confirmation was on a Monday night. Not such a great day for having a get together. Of course, no one asked me how I felt about this so we went, he was confirmed and it was beautiful. Sunday was not such a beautiful day. It was cold and rainy but we were happy to have some of our family here to celebrate Nolan's saint (St. Pascual Baylon) and his Confirmation. 

We have a very small house (just over 1,000 sq. feet) and not much space to store things. I do love to entertain and would love to have a monthly get together with friends to talk about life, politics, music, art, education, faith, etc. with a stew and bread type get-together. What I don't want is plastic ware. However, we just don't have the amount of dishes necessary to host a party. So I decided to make a thrift store run to find some dishes and napkins. I was lucky enough to find some gorgeous china and some vintage fabric. Here's a little tutorial using this fabric and some flour sack towels to make some reusable napkins.
 1.Iron your fabric to smooth out the wrinkles. I used flour sack fabric and also some end of bolt pieces I bought for WAY cheap at the fabric store. To be honest, the flour sack was much more expensive than the end of bolt fabric!
 I found that the flour sack towels I bought about a year ago at KMart was much softer than those I bought this week. They are both 100% cotton. Who knows the difference?

 3. Depending on your fabric piece, I just lay out the flour sack fabric or cut the fabric to about 18x18 or so and the flour sack to a little larger. If you have a small piece of vintage fabric that you love, just use it and lay out the flour sack so that it is a little larger than the fabric piece. Pin it like crazy. The flour sack fabric can be a little stretchy so the pins are kind of important.
 4. Here you can see the pins a little closer.
5. I use my walking foot to keep the fabrics feeding evenly. It isn't necessary to have a walking foot but it really does help to make the fabrics feed evenly and keep from bunching up. Sew around the edges (fabrics right sides together) with about a 1/4 inch seam. Sew the whole way around but leave at least a four inch space to turn the napkin right side out.
 6. Cut close to the seams.
 7. Cut diagonally across the corners.
 8. Turn the napkin right side out. 
 9. I use a chop stick or this little pointed dowel rod with a pointed edge to turn the corners. 
 10. Iron the edges of the napkins. Sometimes I use my chop stick to push out the edges of the napkin prior to ironing.
 11. Top stitch using 1/4 inch stitching. I recently learned that top stitching means you stitch twice around the edges. If you only stitch once it's actually called edge stitching. I just love reading those sewing books to learn such things!
 12.Your napkin is finished! Now just make some fabulous food and invite your friends or family over to share the meal!
 Here is my new dish cabinet (taken from our shed) with our dishes and mish mash napkins!
 This whole cabinet: dishes and linens, cost $20!
 I'm just so happy about this addition. I hope you enjoy making something simple that can enhance your entertaining with a minimum of work!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vintage Sewing Fun Finds

I went out today to find a substitute for plastic plates and bowls. I do hate throwing out all that plastic but I don't always have enough of my regular plates and bowls when we have people over. I decided to see if I could find some fun dishes that I can keep in the basement for those moments when I need them. I went to a few thrift stores that aren't as expensive as some closer to home. I also stopped at a new re-use it shop that I've passed quite a few times and always meant to check out. Boy, am I glad I did! I found the above adorable little sewing box. I'm assuming it's vintage but I really don't know. I did a preliminary internet search and found similar looking large sewing cabinets called Priscilla Cabinets. Apparently they were a piece of furniture made in the 1930's during the depression. I love the idea that sewing used to be such a common occurrence that people had a piece of furniture dedicated to the art! My box looks similar but is more the size of a little tool box. 

I also found the two swatches of fabric but I don't think they are vintage. I want to make some more table runners and napkins and may use them for that purpose. I have a few other pieces laying around that are vintage that I've been meaning to use. I think tonight is the night! 

Finally, the quilt you see in all the photos. My dear friend Amy and I went to a local flea market and I bought the quilt top for $15. I wanted it because of all the original feed sack fabrics used in it. The top isn't very flat, nor is it pieced together very exactly but that is part of what I love about it. Originally I was going to tie the quilt but I intend to use this quilt and I wanted to make it a little sturdier than tying would do. As I was pinning the layers together I thought about hand quilting the whole thing. I realized that it would take too much time and since my time is going to be very limited in about a month and a half, I thought I'd better stick with diagonal machine quilting. I'm about half way finished and I'm really glad I decided to machine quilt. It's looking very good and I'm able to keep it fairly flat with my walking foot.

Well, it's a beautiful day today but the weekend is supposed to be rainy. I don't really mind except for the little Confirmation party we're having here on Sunday. I don't want to complain because we do need the rain. My garden is growing nicely and I'm looking forward to getting my tomatoes and peppers in the ground in a few weeks!s

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

Holy Week was a busy blessing. I wish you all the Joy of the Easter Season!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Focus or Obsession?

I love it when I can focus on something for several hours at a time. I'm not one of those people who thinks multi-tasking is a good thing. I'm not saying I don't do it, I'm just saying that I don't think it's very productive. 

Sometimes my focus can be a little obsessive but it certainly gets the job done. One of my spring projects has been to work on decorating our sunroom. We spend an inordinate amount of time in this room and we'd love to someday make it a four season room with new windows and hardwood floor and heat. We certainly don't know when that someday will be. So in the meantime I've been sprucing it up a bit. I bought curtains and new chairs which helped brighten things up and then I wanted to focus on our "dining corner." I hate the table we have in there, it's a plastic IKEA table that worked well when we were homeschooling but isn't so wonderful as a dining table. One of the chairs fell apart and so we just added in an old dining room table chair. Someday (are you sensing a theme here?) I'd love to find a wooden table and chair set. I keep looking but haven't found anything that is perfect. I'm in no rush.

In the mean time I worked yesterday all day to make the quilt you see hanging on the wall and the table cloth, runner and coasters. I do ADORE the fabrics. They came from a local quilting shop. Our JoAnn Fabrics is expanding and I am not too pleased with the result. It is starting to feel like WalMart to me. Some of it may be that I'm not good with change. All the fabrics are in a different spot, EEEK! I guess I'll adjust. In the mean time perhaps it'll keep me from buying more fabric.

Oh my, I sort of got off track there, didn't I? Well, my focus isn't too great this morning, I guess. Anyway, I was so grateful to have a day that I could spend in the sewing room and I'm really pleased with the outcome. I have a few other projects for the sun room that I hope to complete before June. I'll have to show some photos of the whole room when I get a little more accomplished. Of course I'm also working on a major quilt (it's bigger than my design board right now) and I've agreed to whip up an Easter dress for a friend's daughter. I guess sewing is really an obsession!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...