I post recipes here the way that I make them, so of course you should feel free to adapt these to what your family likes!
To make this blog user-friendly, I put tags for each major ingredient of each recipe, as well as for type of dish, and ethnicity, so you can go to the list on the side here (scroll down) and search for specific things.
If you like a recipe, please comment! If you have a yummy adaptation, please leave that in the comments as well!

Some Notes on Beans

Here are a few basic tips about cooking with beans (specifically dry beans):

Beans are very easy to prepare, so long as you allow enough time and use enough water. Don't be scared of them!

There are a lot of kinds of beans, but most of them are pretty interchangable. For example the classic "beans and rice" that is served in most of Central/South America is prepared similarly in most areas, but different regions use different beans, according to what grows locally. In Sao Paulo they use pink beans, but I've used the exact same recipe with pinto beans, and my sister prefers it with black beans. SO, if the recipe calls for one kind of bean and you don't have it, get adventurous and substitute in something that you do have!

Use LOTS of water. Having a bit extra won't hurt anything, but having too little can make a scorched, stinky mess. The recipes rarely give specific measurments, so I just put in the beans, then water to twice the height of the beans, then check in on them every so often, and add more water if it gets below the level of the beans.

Beans take a loooong time to cook. I prefer to cook them overnight in the crockpot, but if you want to do them in one day make sure you allow at LEAST 3 hours for preparation. I still recommend letting them soak overnight beforehand, but there are "quick preparation" methods which can be done in just a few hours.

Beans grow a lot when cooked--the average bean (or lentil) will more than double in size...so 1 cup of dry beans will go a long way!

The average bean is fairly bland, which is why you can get away with making them into foods ranging from a main dish to a dip to even pie! As a main dish, I like to serve them with something more flavorful--either some kind of sauce, or something cooked in a good bone broth. When I make beans and rice, I cook the rice in broth which adds flavor to it. I suppose you could cook the beans in broth but I've never tried it.

I do hope to learn a bit more about the various types of beans, and when I do I will add those specifics to this post (which ones are best for various recipes, etc)

Finally, it IS on my blogroll, but if you're interested in more bean recipes, visit my friend Katie's Beans & Rice blog. ☺

Bone Broth

(I originally posted most of this here, and you might appreciate some of the comments that were left there. However it's still worth reading here as this post has additional information and links.)

The best broth in the world comes from bones, not from meat. Bones are full of nutrients, and even when the meat is gone, bones can provide several more meals if you know what to do with them. At our house, bones never end up in the garbage can!

The best part of the bird, really!
Here's a short overview:
  • Bones (in the marrow) have lots of vitamins in them. The best way to get those nutrients out is to leech it out into broth. You know how you always heard that chicken soup was good when you're sick? Well, if it's made with real bone broth, it actually does have immuno-boosting properties! If you add 1 Tbs or so of vinegar to the water, it helps to get the nutrients out of the bone and into the broth. (This is in a 6-7qt crockpot)
  • Add 1 Tbs salt (ideally unrefined sea salt!). It will taste really weird without it, I know it seems like a ton of salt, but good unrefined salt is actually really good for you--your body needs it for blood production and adrenal support.
    Adding onion, celery, garlic, or other herbs can make for a richer broth, but they are optional.
  • Putting fat and skin in the broth will make it nice and fatty, and it does taste good, but those parts of the animal (especially poultry) tend to hold toxins, so many people prefer to avoid having them in the broth.
  • Putting meat in the broth will not add to flavor, and it will suck the flavor out of the meat...so strip off the meat, then make the broth with just the bones. After the broth is done, strain it, and then if you want to make soup go ahead and put the meat back in at the end.
  • Feel free to use bones that have been nibbled...after all, 12 hours of boiling will destroy any germs...
  • If you don't have enough bones to make a broth yet, just save them in the freezer until you do have enough.
  • Once made, bone broth can be canned in a pressure cooker and kept in the pantry, or it can be refrigerated or frozen. My mom puts it in a jar in the fridge to cool, then freezes it in ice cube trays. Once it's frozen into cubes, she stores it in a big ziplock bag in the freezer. Anytime she has a recipe that calls for broth, she can easily grab a cube or two or five and toss them in!
  • Oh yeah, real bone broth tastes better than that canned stuff or *gag*choke* MSG-laden bullion. Use it for soups, sauces, graveys, or even cooking rice.
  • "Broth is Beautiful" (published by the WestonAPrice Foundation)--this page has lots of information about the health benefits of bone broth, as well as specific recipes for chicken, beef, and fish stock, and how to use your stock to make sauces (the recipes are at the bottom--just scroll down).
  • "Why Broth is Beautiful" is a lengthy article (with lots of references) explaining more of the health benefits of bone broth.

Chicken and Turkey Put the bones in a crockpot, cover them with water, and let them simmer at least overnight (they can stay as long as 2 days if you don't get to them sooner, but we find 24 hours to be ideal) . If you don't have a crockpot, you can let them simmer on the stove for at least 4-5 hours (ideally 8-12). At this point the bones will be bending, breaking, and literally falling apart. This is good--it means you've gotten all the nutrients out of them! Strain out all the solids, and voila, the best broth you've ever had.
Beef Same as chicken, just stick the bones in a crockpot or stockpot, and let them simmer for hours...
Ham Take that hambone and stick it in the pot along with any bits of leftover ham, plenty of water, and lots of beans. My mom always used pinto beans, my mother in law uses white 'navy' beans. You can pretty much use whatever you like. Add some onion, garlic, celery, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Let it simmer all day...
Fish I confess that I can't stand fish broth, but it's mostly because I don't care for most seafood...if you like seafood, or even a good clam chowder, try making fish broth! The whole heads can go in, so this is an especially good option if you catch your own fish, or buy them with the heads on. ☺
Pork (ribs etc) Honestly, we usually give these ones to the dog. She loves them. However pork bones can make a stock just like any other bones.

Mmmm, nothin like real broth!
(I know it looks ikky, but I just wish you could smell this picture!)
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