Let’s get real

close-up shot of pot full of soup stock ingredients

True confession:  Until I was well into high school, I didn’t know you could make a cake without using a mix from a box.

My friend and I were planning to cook a meal for our boyfriends, and looking through a cookbook I discovered recipes for cakes.  That just blew me away–first, that one could make a cake without a mix, and second, that I’d lived 16 years without knowing that.

Here’s another one:  Until last weekend, I’d never made my own soup stock.  I’ve bought chicken broth in cans, I’ve bought it in boxes, and I’ve made it from little, green-foil wrapped cubes, but I’ve never made broth from an actual chicken.

All I have to say now is:  OMF (insert your favorite “F” adjective of choice that means “amazing, unbelievable, wow!,” etc.) G!  It was so good.  So much better than anything that’s ever come from a can, carton, or cube.  And it was easy. And I can’t believe I’ve lived 40something years without knowing that.

Making stock

I’m not sure what possessed me to make chicken stock.  I bought a chicken to roast, and I think I was just tired of wasting so much of it. Throwing out that carcass goes against a lot of things I believe in.  So I did a quick little internets research and found this great post by RecipeGirl.com that told me everything I need to know about how to make stock from a carcass.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I didn’t have leeks or parsnips (and, more confession time:  At the grocery store I couldn’t tell by the signage which rooty-looking vegetable was which and I didn’t want to confess my ignorance so I decided to leave those out) and I had slightly different herbs. I bought a package of fresh herbs labeled “poultry herbs” and used that. Don’t remember exactly what was in it, but know I didn’t have any dill. (You can see what my pot looked like in the photo above.)

Although I didn’t use exactly the same ingredients,  I followed her directions on how to make it to the letter, and it was amazing.  OMFG amazing.

Which in itself doesn’t really justify a whole blog post (even though Cane is dilly-dallying on finishing one about our latest lighting ventures and it’s not ready to run yet), but I’m writing one because it got me thinking about more than soup stock.

Taking stock

I’ve read a plethora of posts the past few days about new year’s resolutions and goals and new directions, and as I mentioned a few posts back, I’m not much of one to make resolutions.  Since reading Leo Babauta’s ideas on giving up goals, I’m not real inclined to even set formal goals much any more.

However, I do like the idea of declaring intentions.  Late last fall, in a different blog, I wrote about the idea of choosing a theme for this stage of life I’m in.  I pretty promptly forgot about it, but recently I looked it up and saw that two of the three words I’d considered had absolutely guided my actions in the time since I wrote:  comfort and unity.  I declared my intention to let those ideas help me make choices, and somehow they did–even though I wasn’t particularly conscious of it at the time I was making many of them.

Pondering that and my foray into chicken stock, I started thinking about a notion I’ve had for a while now to get more intentional about food.  I often feel sort of helpless and hopeless about food.  I know there’s tons of stuff in most food that I don’t want in my body, but I don’t have the time or money to buy all local/organic.  Still, my adventures in cooking this weekend have shown me that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do.

A simple way to start:  Eat as much real food as we can.  Instead of buying chicken stock, make our own.  Make our own biscuits instead of getting the frozen ones.  Learn about other things we can make to replace foods that have been prepared/processed by some company somewhere.  We can start doing this, and see where it takes us.

The more I thought about the idea of real food, the more I started thinking about the idea of getting real in other areas of my life:  finances, relationships, work.  I started thinking about what that might mean.  I began thinking it would mean some good things.  And so, an intention was born.

Getting to real

That’s how an urge to make soup stock has led me to think that, perhaps, “real” will be my guiding word for the coming year.  I don’t plan to do anything more active than I did last year. Somehow, just thinking and writing and saying my words set things in motion.  I’m hoping it will be the same this year.

How about you?

What would be your guiding word for the coming year?  How do you feel about resolutions and goals? Any thoughts about what a “real” life might look like?


Linking this post to Sorta Crunchy’s Green Resource links.  Great place to find lots of green ideas for living real.  Check it out here.