Another ‘H’ one – food humility…

The best definition of humility I’ve heard come (paraphrased) from my Catholic faith tradition – “True humility is knowing what you can do, and what you can’t.” And, I might add, being Ok with it.

So, ‘food humility’, is  knowing what you can do with food, and what you can’t, and being OK with THAT.

What I want to focus on today is, “what I can afford?”

I’d love to buy all organic veggies, grains, fruits, and dairy. That would be incredibly great. It would be meeting my values, my desires, and my health.

Can we afford to do that? No way! (and look to Wed for a post on a few ideas of how to deal with that practically. But today is about the philosophy of the thing…)

It is sometimes a struggle for me to know what I can’t do – and this was brought up again in a conversation with a good friend, as we talked about where we draw the line in our food purchases. THIS conversation came up, initially, because I wanted a double-check: were we spending too much on food? Hub’band and I were looking through a year or so of financial data, and noted that our grocery spending was more than we thought it was! We order milk directly from a farmer, participate in a monthly food co-op of organic products, buy a lot from the natural foods section of our grocery store, and also do things like buy half a cow or a pig, chickens from a local farmer, feed our flock of backyard hens, buy local honey -etc, etc.

As my friend and I candidly discussed our budgets (and, I know our goals for healthy eating were very similar), we found that we were spending about the same (and we both felt the ouch-ie factor on that number) – and also still had areas where our *lack* of food humility continued to gnaw at us.

We both couldn’t afford all-organic dairy. We both had to draw the line at certain veggies or fruits. Grains were also hit and miss. We both talked about ways to do our best with what we have – with an eye on the bottom line (and even on decreasing that bottom line wherever possible!).

Food humility has affected me in different ways over the last decade. Our family has participated in the WIC program. We have bought all-organic. We have purchased discount food boxes from Angel Food Ministries (which, sadly, is now not operating), and organic and biodynamic produce from a CSA. We’ve also shopped at Cheep Foods for ALL our groceries (another store that is, sadly, closed) at different times, or for just a few items here or there at other times.

Each of these decisions has come with different struggles as related to food humility. Food humility is like the virtue of humility. The growth in life and spirit comes when you accept and embrace it – rather than fight it.

The times when our cupboards have been bare (either by choice or necessity) remind me of those that don’t have a cupboard, nor anything to put in it.

The times when they are overflowing (due to an influx of funds, or a big super-saver deal) remind me that I’m not to hoard, but to share. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we don’t pray, “Give us this day our extreme couponing cupboard full of creamed corn and toothpaste that I got at a very good price and will last me through coming apocolypse (because, really, why else would you buy all that creamed corn??)” – we pray,

Give us this day our daily bread. (And let us be reminded to be thankful for it.)

And give us food humility.

What are your reactions to the above? If you didn’t call it food humility, what would *you* call it?

Lost and Found: A Way to Use a Whole Chicken X 3

This post is both a lost AND found.

When was the last time you made a whole chicken? I would challenge you to try it, or to do it more often. It is economical, and really healthy for you. I never really thought much of buying a bag of frozen chicken breasts, but as I started contemplating having backyard chickens, and looking at pictures of chicks on the internet (ha ha), I noticed something:

They had heads, legs, thighs, and backbones.

My hot chicks, last summer. Even though small, I hope its clear to see they have many parts.

Now that I’m a caretaker of a flock of chickens, I feel even more convicted that using the whole bird is better for the world, and for our diets. Being good stewards means, at times, learning about what we’ve lost along the way. One of those things is how to use a whole chicken.

Cooking a whole bird is so easy, and so delicious.

What I’m doing lately is using the crockpot to cook my bird (shhh — don’t tell my backyard hens). So, so, very, very easy.

Take a  4 to 5 lb fresh or defrosted chicken, preferably from your local farmer. Take out your slowcooker. Grease the inside. Cut up an onion or two, and put on the bottom. Make up a spice blend, or use one your like, such as the Wildtree Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Blend. Place the chicken on top of the onions, and rub about 2 Tbl. of spice blend all over it. Set crock to high, and in about 5 – 6 hours (when chicken temps done and juices run clear), cut up to the best of your ability, and enjoy. Thank you to Lisa Leake at the 100 days of Real Food blog, where I found this recipe!

Important: Save the skin and bones! Even if someone has nibbled on it! Save it!

After dinner dishes are done by your husband, put all the bones and stuff back in the slowcooker. You don’t even need to clean it out (you could, if you want. But you don’t really have to, in my opinion). Fill up with water. You can add additional cut up veggies, like celery and carrots. Before you go to bed, turn the slowcooker on low, and in the morning,

take cheesecloth or a flour sack dishtowel and then put a colander over a large bowl or other broth-catching receptacle. Strain out the skin, bones, spices and veggies (you can use the veggies, but keep in mind their nutrients are now in your delicious broth. They still have some fiber, though).

I do like to squeeze the flour sack towel at the end to get out some more fat.

I like to then put the broth in a pitcher, and just put it in the fridge.

Broth, and you can see the layer of fat, even while still lukewarm, starting to rise to the top

Within a couple of hours, you’ll see the top of it hardening – that is chicken fat, or schmaltz. If you want to read a really wonderful, interesting, at times heart-wrenching book (that expounds succinctly on the highly valued schmaltz), check out 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, by Jane Ziegelman. Review to come. Use the broth when you boil pasta, make rice, or steam veggies. Broth is good for your bones, because it comes from bones. Makes sense.

I skim off the schmaltz

Hardened schmaltz, ready to be skimmed off

and put it in a capped jar which I keep in the top back shelf of my fridge. Its great for greasing a pan when I’m going to make something savory. You could also fry with it, though I don’t know what the flash/smoke point is, and I do keep it on the low side so it doesn’t burn, smoke, or destroy the nutrients present.

1 chicken – 3 ways.

For dinner, for broth, for fat.