I have mentioned before that my husband is a student. He's studying to be a therapist, and part of his graduate program is a mandatory meditation retreat each semester. He's away on his last one of the program since he graduates in May (yay!) and this time he's only gone for a week, but all the retreats that have preceded this one have been two weeks each. Time usually flies by pretty quickly since I have work and other things going on, and for the most part I really don't mind a week or two of alone time. BUT, each time he leaves there is always one really weird thing that happens. It's never anything bad and sometimes even I learn something new, but it's always something out of the norm. Like the one time I taught myself how to change a bicycle tire after getting a very inconvenient flat (picture me frantically googling on my phone "how to change a bike tire" on the side of the road). Another time, the doorknob on the front door actually fell of in my hand as I was leaving the house. And this was no ordinary doorknob. It was a vintage one, and when it fell off there was a hole in the door the size of a cantaloupe. And of course this happened during a huge snowstorm and snow started falling into the house through the hole in the door. You get the picture.
This time, all was going well! After all, he left on Saturday and we are already Wednesday so I figured I was in the clear this time since every other time the weird thing always happened within the first two days of him leaving. But I guess it wouldn't be normal if something not-normal didn't happen while he is gone this time. Yesterday, I started noticing that our 7 month old puppy, Buster, seemed like he had a cold. Green snot and all. I called our vet and she said it's not strange for dogs to get colds, and since it's most likely a virus which antibiotics won't work on I would just have to wait it out and to call her if it got worse. I had never heard of dogs getting a cold, so there you go - weird.
I started researching what to do for a dog that has a cold and it turns out it's pretty much the same as what you would do for a child that has a cold. Lots of rest, make sure they stay hydrated, give them vitamins and minerals to help their immune system, etc. So, I decided to give him some of my homemade chicken stock because that makes everything better when you are sick. I don't have any photos of stock in the making, so I'll make up for that with a bunch of cute photos of Buster.
Now comes the HomeEc part of this post. Why is chicken stock good when you are sick? First of all, it's super hydrating. There are lots of vitamins and minerals that not only are good for you (especially when you are sick), but they also act like an electrolyte, providing something for the water to grab onto when it's making it's way into the cell. Another benefit is the gelatin & collagen from the chicken bones used. These are great healers because they contain amino acids which help break up mucous, support blood sugar regulation, repair tissue, boost immunity, and can be calming for the nervous system. There is also the simple fact that ingesting something warm when you are sick helps to raise your body temperature which kicks your immune system into gear to get rid of whatever bug you've gotten. Lastly, the additional ingredients such as carrots, onion and celery are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine which are extra beneficial when you are sick.
I always keep chicken stock in my freezer. Stock is great to have on hand not only to have when you are sick, but also to use in place of water in recipes to increase the nutritional value and flavor in the dish. About once a month I buy a whole chicken to roast, and I save the bones to make stock with. I usually throw everything into my crock-pot but you can also make this on your stovetop. The trick is to use an acid like apple cider vinegar to get the minerals out of the bones, and to let it simmer for at least 24 hours which increases the flavor and richness of the stock. You can throw in whatever you have on hand - the recipe below can just be a guideline. I've thrown in ginger, dandelion greens, and nettles before. Part of the fun is to experiment!
Chicken Stock (Bone Broth)
1 Chicken Back and Bones, most flesh removed
1 Large Onion, large chopped
4 Stalks Celery, large chopped
4 Carrots, large chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, large chopped
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
Any sprinkling of healing and flavorful herbs that you’d like. I use:
Bay Leaves, dried
1 Bunch Parsley, roughly chopped
Filtered Water, as needed (usually around 4 quarts)
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker or a large stainless steel pot, and cover with water.
Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12-24 hours.
Once you feel it’s ready to go, strain ingredients from liquid.
Allow to cool and divide as needed.
Something to keep in mind is that the first step before freezing should be to allow the stock to sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. I fill mason jars (leaving 1 inch of room at the top), cover and put in the refrigerator. Once they are cooled to the refrigerator temperature, skim off the fat that has risen to the top. From here you can either put the mason jar directly into the freezer, or divide into smaller jars or even pour into ice cube trays to freeze smaller amounts. I like to have different sized jars of frozen stock so that I can pull out exactly the amount I need rather than having to thaw a whole big mason jar for a small amount of stock.
An American Gentleman
Buster is sleeping (and snoring) the cold away, and I'm sure the broth will help him heal quickly. Let me know if you decide to try your hand at homemade stock!