Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bone Broth and Avoidance

While Diane is in her kitchen a few short blocks from me, making her colorful, fresh, inspired food, I am over here cooking everything to death in my bone broth soups. As similar as our journeys are--from being single women living alone in foreign countries to sharing this cancer journey--they are also different stories. I am currently working with my third tumor, second one on my spine (first was in my colon), so strengthening that part of my body feels paramount. After I had the first tumor on my spine removed in May--they went in through the front of my neck, took out the entire T-1 vertebrae and replaced it with a "cage"--I was told by a healer that bone broth would be really beneficial for me. Intellectually it made sense, but I was a bit stumped. I don't like meat--stopped eating it the day I left my parents house to go to college and never looked back, until I was pregnant at 42 and unable to satiate my hunger with beans. At the time I would indulge in an occasional grass-fed beef burger and that would do the trick. My son is now ten and I make some basic meat dishes for he and his dad, but usually from ground beef or poultry. I have made stock from chicken bones before, but beef bones were just not in my repertoire. This might not seem like a huge hurdle for the average person, but for me, at the time, it was. I have a history of becoming a bit paralyzed by things I don't know how to do, so I find lots of ways to avoid having to deal with them. Okay, so I was also dealing with my first ever radiation treatment, which was far more debilitating than I had expected, along with the myriad of other issues that come from now being a Stage 4 cancer patient. So I put it on the back burner. for months.

It was around the same time I was able to get myself up into the studio that I was ready to actively pursue beef bones. I wish it hadn't taken me six months, but it did--and this is another part of the journey: No Judgement. The time simply wasn't right. So, now I just had to find some bones, and make sure they were good ones. Even though this step had felt particularly difficult months ago, now that I was feeling more grounded it became almost effortless. Suddenly I was hearing about a local butcher shop, Sutter Meats in Northampton (20 miles from here), that sells only pasture-raised local meats. Maybe I could just ask them. Like so many of us, I am still learning how to ask for help, especially about something that I feel like I should already know about, but I was finally ready to ignore my ego. "Everyone knows how to cook meat, except me. I'll look foolish," was the voice. Turns out that the guy behind the counter could not have been any nicer or more helpful. He was happy to share all kinds of information, which has become the basis for my bone broth. He told me that they roast their bones first, and even though I can't recall exactly why (which I am happy to blame on my steroid-induced brain fog), I notice that it helps gets some of the fat off them. So I roast the bones, then add a little apple cider vinegar to draw out the minerals, which an herbalist friend told me to do. He said that they cook theirs for 48 hours, but that 24 is really sufficient, which I've seen confirmed elsewhere so that is also what I do. Sometimes I add seasonings and vegetable scraps if I have them, and other times I just cook the bones and leave the seasoning until later, in the soups. Louise Hay and Heather Dane have just written a new book entitled The Bone Broth Secret and they suggest using a combination of beef and pork bones, which I did for this batch. Plus, if I'm going to the trouble of cooking something for 24 hours, I might as well make a large batch, right? Although I just discovered that my pot might be a bit small for two bags worth….. I also know I massage therapist who adds immune boosting chinese herbs to her bone broths, which is next on my list to pursue. 

I bought a similar sized bag of pork bones, also $2.99 lb.

Before roasting for an hour at 400 degrees

After (see all that fat that I will just pour off?)

My new stock pot is almost too small now!


  1. Thanks for the great post. As you know I have also been making bone broth, but I just couldn't bring myself to point a camera at the bloody things.
    You could throw a piece of kombu in with the bones for added minerals- like iodine- which we both need.

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  3. Oh, and I have some kombu in my pantry and didn't put it in! I have been putting it in with the beans I've been cooking, that then go into the soups, but I forgot that I could put it in with the broth too. Thanks for the reminder!