Cooking Prep Work on Various Days
I hope I remember all of these accurately. Regardless, everything listed here was done a day or more in advance of when it was required.
Sunday May 12
Three chickens were roasted. I think all three girls helped pick off the meat. The carcass, skin, and pieces that were determined to be less than desirable for enchiladas got put into a big stock pot. I covered them with water, added a glug of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to the pot, and let it sit for an hour or so before turning it on to cook. The ACV helps break down the bones so that the calcium and other minerals get into the stock making it more nutritious. Ideally you would want this to be from organic free-range chickens, and not conventionally-raised birds. Eggshells are another great addition for minerals and calcium, if they are from farm-fresh organic eggs rather than commercial grade.
We also mixed and baked and then froze the meatballs in preparation for the meatball stew later in the week. The onion skins got added to the stock pot.
At home when I cook I keep all onion skins (yes, the dried parts) and ends and other veggie scraps in a plastic bag in the freezer. When I have bones ready to be turned into stock I then add all the frozen bits for extra flavor and nutrition. I don’t use potato peelings, though they might be fine, I just have never tried it. Carrot ends, celery leaves, ginger peelings, tomato cores, etc. are all good additions. Sometimes I will add whole garlic cloves and a slice or two of ginger to the pot for extra yumminess. It’s important to cook slowly! I get it to a boil, then turn it down to low, cover, and let it simmer for at least 24 hours. Sometimes I will strain off some of the broth and put it into glass jars at this point and then add more water and let it go another 24 hours. Another option is to use a large crock pot on the low setting, but still let it go a full day.
I started a gallon of Nourishing Traditions ginger ale. In the past I made this per the recipe with Rapadura, and I much prefer the flavor with honey. It sat atop the fridge to ferment for three days before we had some. It was pretty, and fun to watch the lime and ginger pieces “dance” up and down the jar during the process. When it was time to serve, it got diluted with 1/3-1/2 water.
Monday May 13
Salad greens got washed and then spin-dried. We borrowed Stephanie’s mesh laundry bag, put some of the greens in it, and then someone took it outside and swung it around to shake off the water. Kind of fun. 🙂
Wednesday May 15
I had a turkey roasting all morning, and in the afternoon Caroline got to pick the meat off the bird carcass, which then went into the largest pot with more onion and veggies scraps to make more broth. This pot stayed on the stove top for several days, scooping out broth as needed and topping off with fresh water each time, and adding more scraps.
Andrew, one of the workshop helpers, brought his own food for meals, and was so good about sticking to a Weston A. Price–Nourishing Traditions and GAPS diet. I wish that we had the funding to cook that way for the entire workshop crowd, but I did the best I could with what was available. One of the items he brought was raw sauerkraut (purchased at a store) that was garlic dill pickle flavored. Oh my, did that smell and taste wonderful! This inspired me to start some homemade kraut.
Kim brought home 4 heads of cabbage and I got busy chopping and squeezing all of it. I divided it into two separate gallon containers, leaving one plain. To the other I added sliced garlic and cucumbers and dried dill, in an attempt to replicate Andrew’s. (It was good, but not quite the same.)
Homemade kraut is really very simple to make. One head of cabbage makes about a quart of kraut. Start by slicing or chopping the cabbage into the size you want. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle liberally with sea salt, and start squishing it. If you have liquid whey it can be added, but it isn’t necessary; you will still get all the good enzymes and probiotics. You can pound it, but using your hands to squeeze it is actually more efficient, plus it’s kind of fun. Your goal is to get enough liquid to cover all the cabbage. Most fermentation processes, including kraut, require an anaerobic environment. This means that you want the kraut to be completely covered with liquid, nothing sticking up into the air. Whatever isn’t covered is likely to get moldy. This doesn’t mean you have to dump the whole batch, however; simply carefully scoop off the offending part and throw it away.
I put each half into glass gallon containers, so they were about half full. You will want to press it down firmly, using a knife or something to get any air bubbles out. If you don’t have enough cabbage juice to cover it you can make a salt water solution to supplement. Then the cabbage needs to be weighed down with something to keep it submerged. Since I don’t have a real crock with weights I use glass jars. I then take a clean large plastic bag bag, ziplock works great, and add water to act as a weight. One tip is to use salt water, so that if your bag springs a leak you aren’t watering down the kraut. Don’t fill to the top of the jar, though, because as the cabbage ferments it will bubble and possibly overflow. Another good tip is to set your jar atop a towel.
The jars got set on the fridge and left alone for a week before we taste-tested, and was served after 9 days total at the final dinner.
My notes say that I was supposed to boil eggs for Thursday, but I don’t remember if I did it, or if that happened the next morning. I did 3 dozen.
Breakfast was prepped this night to go into the oven Thursday morning.
Thursday May 16
I’m pretty sure this is the day I started soaking pinto beans and white beans (separate containers) for about 12 hours. They then got rinsed and drained 2-3 times a day until I was ready to cook them.
Before bed I prepared two crocks with oats for the next morning’s breakfast. It only requires 6 hours of cooking, so hubby set the alarm for 2am so I could get up and turn them on.
Saturday May 18 and Tuesday May 21
Two more nights where breakfast was prepped ahead of time, though technically it was all done on the 18th. We just made enough for two meals.