Tuesday, December 10, 2013


What to do with those turkey bones?  Don't throw them away!  One of my favorite things about having Thanksgiving dinner at my house is being able to keep the carcass so I can make turkey soup.  I know, carcass is kind of a gross word, isn't it? :P  When I was a younger bride, Thanksgiving was at my mother-in-law's house.  When it was time to clean up after the big meal, her mother, my husband's Grandma Haugen, was the only other person other than me who was interested in those bones.  So, we each sidled up to the counter, eyeing those bones!  We usually took turns taking the bones home each year.  Now those two wonderful women are no longer with us, unfortunately, and I host the Thanksgiving dinner each year at my house.  It's a lot of work, but the payoff is - I get the bones.   
But this year I had to make two turkeys because our crew has gotten so big and my daughter-in-law took home one bag of bones so she could make soup too :)  My son is a lucky man - she is an awesome cook! 

 If you haven't made turkey soup, you're really missing out.  Some people hesitate to make soup because it feels like a big undertaking, best left to expert cooks.  But it is so easy that you don't even need a recipe.  Here is how I do it: 

On Thanksgiving Day, I remove the majority of the meat and set aside for leftovers.  I put all of the bones in a ziplock bag.  I include the pieces of skin - they add flavor and nutrition to the broth.  If I'm not planning on making soup for a while, I may throw the bones in the freezer.  This year I made soup about 3 days after, so I just kept them in the refrigerator.

You will need a large stock pot with a lid.

Put all of the turkey bones, including the carcass, the wing tips, the neck, etc. into your stock pot. Be sure and include the skin and fat - remember, this will make your broth more flavorful.

Add enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  This is the best part:  Let it simmer for 4-6 hours.  It smells so good!  The longer you simmer, the more flavor you will have in your broth.  The simmering breaks down the marrow in the bones and gives you more flavor and nutrition.  I keep a lid on the pot while it's simmering, otherwise too much water evaporates, and you want to keep that in the pot for your broth.

When you've decided your soup base has simmered long enough, turn off the stove and pull your pot off the burner.  Let it cool for about a half hour.  Using a tongs, remove all of the bones to a large baking pan to cool.

Once I've pulled out all of the larger pieces, I use a slotted ladle to remove the smaller pieces.

My dad always told me the neck meat is the best part.  It really is the most flavorful and tender - definitely worth the effort of picking through those tiny bones!

Place a sieve/strainer into a large bowl or pot to strain the smaller pieces out of the broth.

I do this over the sink because that big pot of broth is not easy to manage and I tend to spill a little :)

And here are all of the little bits you will have strained out of your broth - make sure you grab those few pieces of meat - you don't want to waste any of the good stuff! 

And here is your broth - liquid gold!  You could stop right here and freeze the broth for cooking if you wish.   I have done that on occasion.  But let's move on to making soup.

The next step is to remove the meat from the bones and return the meat to the broth.  

Here is where I messed up.  I got so into cooking that I forgot to photograph the chopping of the veggies.   I do tend to get 'in the zone' when cooking, especially when I have some tunes on.  I love to cook!   Sorry about that, I hope you can figure out this part. 

Now for the add-ins.  This is my favorite part.  You can add anything you want, depending on what your family likes.  My family likes rice, celery, onions, and corn.  If using celery and onions, I usually saute them in a small fry pan with a little butter until tender before tossing them into the soup.  

I happened to have some leftover white rice in the refrigerator and some leftover wild rice in the freezer that I added to this batch.  I threw a couple of carrots into the food processor and shredded them for a little color.  
I also add about 
1/2 cup of white wine to the soup for flavor, but that is optional.  If you decide to do so, just let the soup simmer for about 10-15 minutes before serving.   This allows the alcohol from the wine to evaporate while the flavor remains.

  Sometimes I make dumplings instead of putting rice in my soup.  You could also substitute egg noodles.  Have fun with it!  You'll feel like a pro, your family will love it and there is just no comparison between homemade and canned soup.  Everything you have put into your soup is going to be something healthy - nothing artificial, and no preservatives.  And you control how much salt goes into it.

I always have some of these little loaves of my homemade oatmeal/honey bread in the freezer to serve with soup.  To fill in the spaces, as my mom used to say.

Depending on the size of your turkey carcass and the size of your family, you will possibly have leftovers.   You've just saved yourself some serious money by making some good soup out of what many people would have thrown away.  I had a ton of soup with this batch!  So I put some into these Ziplock freezer containers and froze them for weekend lunches and for my husband's lunches at work.  

By the way, this recipe would apply to any type of meat bones - such as chicken, beef or ham.

Now, Go Eat!  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nutrition Shakes

I've been wanting to start a blog for a long time about eating.  We have such an obsession about what to eat and what not to eat in this country.  It's just sad.  What I say on this blog is in no way construed to be medical advice.  Just strictly opinion.  Take it or leave it.  Remember, I am not forcing anyone to read this blog.

I want to talk about nutrition shakes because I question the value of drinking them.  I think most people, myself included, assume that they are packed with vitamins and protein.  What a quick and easy way to take care of your nutritional needs when you're in a hurry.

However, I tried the Ensure nutrition shake this weekend.  Totally out of character for me to eat something like this, but hey, it's the holiday season, and I'm busy too.  Since I have been trying to quit eating so much sugar, my taste buds are more sensitive to sweets, and I immediately disliked the taste.  It was overwhelmingly sweet.  So I looked at the nutrition facts on the label and I was shocked.  I got out my milk carton and compared labels and was surprised and happy to find out that a glass of milk and a multivitamin was a better choice, definitely cheaper.

 I'm comparing the label on the nutrition drink to the label on a carton of Organic Valley whole milk.  Everyone has their own issues, but my priorities are protein and carbs.  I want more protein and less carbs (sugar) in my diet.  And I'm not looking for all of the vitamins, because I eat my veggies and I take a multivitamin every day.  Fat is not an issue for me, because I know that fat is good.  I need fat in my diet to help my body absorb vitamins and satisfy my appetite.

The nutrition drink has 9 grams of protein and the glass of milk has 8 grams.  The nutrition drink has 22 grams of sugar, with total carbs of 40,  and the milk has 11 grams of sugar with total carbs of 12.  They both have 30% DV of calcium and 25% of Vitamin D.  And, as I said, the nutrition drink has added vitamins, which I don't need.  

However, the nutrition drink also has in addition to the vitamins:
Corn syrup, Corn malodextdextrin, milk protein concentrate, soy oil, soy protein concentrate, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), canola oil, corn oil, salt, carrageenan, natural and artificial flavor.

Milk ingredients:
Organic Grade A milk, Vitamin D3 

This should be a no-brainer.  It was for me.  I dumped the Ensure down the drain and drank a glass of milk instead.  So healthy, so delicious, nutritious, and far less expensive.  And don't be afraid of the whole milk!  Whole milk has a higher amount of fat, but skim and 2% have a higher amount of sugar.  I seriously believe that sugar is more of a problem than fat.

Now Go Ahead, Eat!