Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We are in the Mulch


I’m in love with my mulch. Fr and I harvested our compost recently, and I was astonished at how well it turned out. From the outside of the bin, it seemed to be stratified and not decomposing into a happy wormy compost-dreamland.  But, as the Lord does amaze, my mulch astonished me.

North Carolina has been enjoying a very temperate fall. These past few December days have seen highs into the 70s. We benefited by the nice temperatures and pulled out all the contents of the compost bin on to large tarp, tossed it around, and covered it up with the sides of the tarp and let it cure for two weeks. Finally, we brought the finished product out to mulch our front garden bed.

So dark. So moist. So dreamy. It’s amazing that 6 months of coffee grounds, paper towels, chicken shavings and miscellaneous vegetables peels would result in a finely aerated topsoil. I am already looking forward to Spring.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Go Green with your Chicken Stock


Buying chicken stock at the grocery store can be expensive. Sold in many forms, as a concentrated paste or in cubes or cans. It’s an oft called for ingredient that both takes a chunk out of your dollar and causes a lot of waste in the environment if you prefer liquid broth which comes with wasteful cans or cartons. My method is an environmentally friendly way of creating your own chicken stock from items you obtain naturally in your kitchen.

If you cook, you may frequently have left over bones from roasting meats. I suggest that you look upon these bones with purpose. They can help form the basis for many future meals! They will provide great flavor and save you money, too.  If you roast a chicken every month and use the carcass for making stock, you will always have free stock (unless you make soup everyday).  It also makes the house smell lovely.

Just add your bones in your biggest pot and add some halved onions (even leave the peels on them!) maybe throw in a carrot or some celery and toss it all in the pot, and fill the pot up with water. Add 1 tsp per quart of salt, a couple bay leaves, and about 8 peppercorns. Let the pot simmer for a few hours. Drain, and allow to cool for a couple hours before transferring into Tupperware and into the freezer.

You’ll be set with free chicken broth in your freezer ready to defrost in the microwave and add to your dish. You can even freeze the broth in muffin tins or ice cube trays for miniature portions when you just need so much.  Do you make your chicken stock at home, yet?