What a week!
Baby Euclid is only 4 weeks old, and our last week was spent with all three kids having the same cold, in varying degrees of severity. I wasn't too worried about the "big kids," who don't generally have any trouble getting over colds (unless they're subjected to goldfish crackers in Sunday School, which seem to extend the duration of the cold by about 5 days). But I've never had a baby get sick so young before - scary!
We were blessed, though, to have a complication-free cold for the little guy, and he's recovering nicely. The most frustrating part of the experience was feeling that I could do so little for him. There was, of course, the perpetual saline-and-bulb-syringe routine, but not much else to do but wait for the cold to work itself out.
Fortunately, little Euclid is a champion breast-feeder, so, strange as it felt, while he was sick, I ate just the way I would have done if I had a cold myself. Despite repeated assurances from many breastfeeding organizations that a nursing mother's diet doesn't matter that much, that mother's milk will always provide baby what he or he needs, I am convinced that a mother's diet has an impact on the quality of her milk. If my diet can make my baby gassy, why can't it also help him recover from illness quickly? It was worth a few days of careful eating.
Fortunately, I had plenty of my favorite sick-food on hand in the freezer: homemade chicken broth!
Ever since discovering several years ago that bone-in chicken breasts are half the cost of boneless/skinless, I've been saving bones to make broth. Now, we don't buy chicken breasts very often anymore, preferring to buy whole chickens, but, if anything, the broth process is even easier now!
I used to be bogged down by my cookbook, always making sure to add just enough carrots, celery sticks, or whatever, to just the right amount of water to make stock that simmered just the right amount of time. But I'm way more likely to actually follow through with my good intentions if I simplify the process!
All chicken bones and scraps go in bags in the freezer to be saved until I have enough (or stripped whole carcasses go straight in the crock-pot) to be simmered overnight in a crockpot full of water. The next day, I have the most glorious, delicious chicken broth waiting for me on the counter! I don't even add veggies or spices to that first batch, just a little Apple Cider Vinegar, which I've heard is supposed to help draw nutrients out of the bones.
In the morning, I strain the broth into a big bowl and toss the bones right back into the crock pot with fresh water to make one more batch. If I have veggie scraps (like celery leaves, onion ends, etc.) in the freezer, those go in too.
To make the broth truly convenient, I freeze it in ice-cube trays and toss the frozen cubes in a bag in the freezer, so I can grab just as much as I want to thaw or add to recipes.
Some of my favorite uses for homemade stock:
- Toss a few cubes in a saucepan to heat up and drink straight (with a little pepper)
- Use in place of water to cook rice
- Heat up with leftover meat and veggies to make the quickest soup of all time!
- Use a few cubes to deglaze my pan after cooking/sauteing and make a quick sauce to go with dinner.
What do you use stocks and broths for? Do you have a favorite method to make them, or prefer the ready-made variety? If you make your own, do you add Apple Cider Vinegar while making stock? Any idea if it helps?
Posted at Monday Mania