When my husband Dennis was in graduate school, we had a preschooler, a baby and very little money. I learned to stretch our meager family food budget by making bone broth soup from chicken bones after we had eaten a meal or two from the meat.
Dennis was intrigued to discover how tasty and cheap homemade soup was – so intrigued that he suggested we introduce our friends to the soup making process.
So, we threw a soup party.
We invited three other couples to look through their cupboards and refrigerators for any leftovers they thought might taste good in soup, and then bring their goodies to our apartment an hour before dinner would be served.
The day of the party, I baked bread and made bone broth from chicken bones, the meat from which had already fed our small family once or twice.
I let the bone broth cool, skimmed off the chicken fat, and set the fat aside.
When our guests arrived, the women gathered in the kitchen to inspect and deal with everyone’s contributions. We had rice, macaroni, and an odd assortment of various vegetables, as I recall.
We boiled the rice and pasta in the broth while we chopped vegetables and chatted.
I used the chicken fat I’d skimmed earlier to stir fry the vegetables. Then I dumped the veggies into the pot and served a meal of homemade soup with fresh homemade bread, enough for the whole crowd. It was great fun, and everyone was amazed to realize what a delicious meal we had concocted.
Soup not only feeds a crowd cheaply and nutritiously, it is so versatile you can make it with almost anything you have on hand. And you can easily modify the basic soup recipe for people in the family who have allergies and other special dietary needs.
On top of that, dieticians love it. It is beyond healthy.
Bone broth is rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus and it is very high in protein in the form of collagen, which promotes bone and joint health and the healing of wounds. It is especially good for women during pregnancy and while nursing a baby, because the rich supply of collagen aids the development of baby bones and joints.
Bone Broth Soup has four main parts:
First: broth. The first secret to making great homemade soup is learning how to make a nutritious broth by boiling bones in water to extract minerals, flavor and unrefined gelatin. You hasten the process when you add salt and a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Vinegar helps dissolve calcium and minerals from the bones, and salt draws out the juices. (The vinegar taste goes away as the broth boils.) When bone broth is properly prepared, it has more calcium than its equivalent in milk.
Broth can be made in enormous batches, but for the sake of flavor and nutrition, only make broth into soup one meal at a time. If you have a lot of broth, use what you need for your soup and freeze the rest to make more soup meals later.
Use whatever kind of bones your family likes.
Examples: chicken bones and carcass, turkey bones and carcass (after the whole turkey has been roasted and the meat carved off), hambone, ham hocks, oxtail, beef bones. Of course, you can boil bones with a lot of the meat still on it, but boiled meat doesn’t taste as good as meat that is roasted, baked or fried.
Second: “Filler” Filler gives the soup holding power. It is usually some form of grain or legume, like rice, noodles, dried peas or beans, lentils or barley. I call it “filler” because it’s whatever will fill up a teenager.
It’s easy to modify this ingredient for tailoring homemade soup to special diets.
One of our sons had allergies to legumes, potatoes, wheat and rice. I used barley as a filler when he was home for meals.
Third: Vegetables. The second secret to great homemade soup is to preserve the flavor and vitamin content of vegetables by chopping, sautéing (or stir frying) and adding them to the soup just before serving (instead of boiling them until they are limp and waterlogged and much of their vitamin content has been destroyed by overheating).
The exceptions are potatoes and dried beans.
Potatoes should boil 15-20 minutes in the broth before you add your other vegetables. Dried beans should soak for 12 hours. Then the soaking water should be poured off to make the beans less gassy in your tummy. After pouring off the soaking water, you can boil the beans along with the bones, if you wish.
Finally, seasonings. You can use salt, pepper, and whatever else your family likes. Look at soup and casserole recipes in cookbooks for ideas on combining seasonings. I usually stick to salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Dennis likes to use lemon pepper. Sometimes we like to use curry. For curry soup, cook the curry spices in oil or butter in the frying pan for a couple minutes, then add in the vegetables for stir frying.
Homemade soup is easy to make from your prepared bone broth. Teens can easily learn to make it. And Thanksgiving is a great time to give it a try because you have a whole turkey carcass to experiment with.
Here is an easy recipe for making bone broth:
Pour into a slow cooker: 6 cups of water, 2 cups of bones (or the carcass of a whole chicken), a teaspoon of salt and a couple teaspoons of vinegar. Set the cooker on low heat and cook for 12 hours. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a big pot, get the water boiling, and turn your heat to low for 12 hours. But don’t let your water boil away! Keep an eye on the pot and add water when the liquid gets low.) Pour the broth through a colander or sieve and store the liquid in glass containers. Reheat for sipping or use as stock for soups and stews.
And here is a sample soup recipe:
Boil one cup of barley in two quarts of bone broth and one quart of water. When the barley is tender (usually in half an hour), chop an onion, 3 celery stalks, 4 peeled carrots and a zucchini.
There probably won’t be room in the frying pan to sauté all those vegetables at once, so sauté (or stir fry) the carrots and zucchini in a little butter or olive oil first. Stir them in the hot oil for only two or three minutes, until they are coated and slightly tender. Add them to the soup, then sauté the onion and celery chunks until the onion is clear. Add them to the soup, season to taste, and serve with crackers or croutons.
If you want meat in your soup, chop up whatever meat you cut off the bones before using the bones to make broth. Add the meat to the soup along with the vegetables.
© 2023 Becky Cerling Powers
Use with attribution only www.beckypowers.com
Becky Cerling Powers is the author of the nonfiction narrative, Laura’s Children: the hidden story of a Chinese orphanage and a parenting guide, Sticky Fingers, Sticky Minds: quick reads for helping kids thrive.
It all started with a Teachable Moment.
Our 14-year-old granddaughter’s publication adventure began when she was 5, and her mom found a toad in the yard and showed it to her.
Kendra was excited and curious – of course.
That’s how kids are naturally – curious about the world, fascinated with new things they discover, excited and full of questions.
This was a teachable moment for Kendra, and Fernanda took advantage of it.
She made a little toad aquarium and showed Kendra how to take care of a toad – what kind of place it needed to live, what kind of food to give it, why she needed to wash her hands before and after touching it, and to be careful never to pick it up when it was shedding its skin.
Fast forward seven years to one day when 12-year-old Kendra was playing in the river with her cousin and noticed a bunch of teeny tiny baby toads hopping around.
So, she caught some.
She brought them home in a container of river water, then made them an aquarium home in a plastic container with air holes punched in the lid.
She put in dirt, rocks, plants and a wading pool, and she made places for the toads to hide.
She fed them by squashing a marshmallow and leaving it out every night to attract ants.
Then she shook the ants into a jar and dumped them into the aquarium. She set up a lamp over the toads’ home so they could sunbathe.
One of the toads started eating more ants than the others. It grew bigger and bigger, while the other toads gradually disappeared, leaving only one toad.
Kendra named it Bait.
And for two years now, Kendra has been traveling back and forth from her house to ours, often staying with us for several weeks and delighting us with the creative, artistic energy she pours out on Bait the Beloved Toad.
She crocheted strings, attached them to a small plastic box, and made him a swing that he likes using to sunbathe (or at least, lamp-bathe). She bought him fake plants and dollhouse miniatures to decorate his aquarium. She devised a clever hidey house for him by hot-gluing pebbles onto a round plastic lid and building them up into the shape of an igloo.
As Bait became more relaxed with her, she started taking him on walks.
She took photos of him in the flower bed, on a stump with a sunset behind him, in a big pile of dandelion fluff. She strictly trained the family dog to “Leave it!” so she could photograph Bait with the dog.
And then she started creating little hats from colored polymer clay and taking pictures of Bait modeling the hats. When she started posting her photos on TikTok, people began following her.
Her photos were so comical and sweet!
We all encouraged her, of course. And since I have a hobby of making Shutterfly photo books for the family, I put together some $10 small size, 20-page photo books for Kendra and ourselves, with extras to share.
Our daughter Jessica is the publisher of Catalyst Press, which publishes African authors but also includes a subsidiary imprint of science and nature related books. One night Jessica was visiting us with several of her friends, and I showed them Kendra’s Shutterfly.
They thought the photos were hilarious.
They would turn a page, burst out laughing, turn another page, then laugh and laugh some more…until finally Jessica blurted out, “You know, somebody could publish a book like this!”
Then she paused. Thought a moment. And said, “I’m a publisher! I could publish this!”
Thus, Kendra’s book of Bait photos was conceived and born and can now be purchased for $14.95 online and in bookstores.
And that is the way of Teachable Moments.
You never know when they will appear, what they might do, and where they might take a child…or you!
Kids are naturally curious learners and explorers. But tragically, many of them seem to lose that instinctive love of learning on the road to adulthood.
Not that it has to be that way for your child. But…
You do have to be alert. Teachable moments usually happen when you are doing something particular with a goal in mind. So you tend to ignore remarks like “Look at the long horns on that cow!” or “What’s that yucky smell?”
And these days, you have to make a dedicated effort to get away from screens whenever you are doing something with kids, like driving, eating a meal or shopping. Or taking a walk – unless, that is, your special kids are miles away from you. That’s when you invite them to go for a video-phone-walk and show each other what you are seeing.
Recognizing teachable moments takes practice. And you can’t force them on kids.
You also need to be careful to avoid over-teaching, because “When you try to teach everything you know about a subject at one time,” educator Ruth Buehrer told me, “it’s like shooting a fire hose into a bucket. Most of the water splashes out. But if you allow water to drip into the bucket from a faucet, the water stays inside.”
Over-teaching is a big temptation, but children retain and use information better when it comes in small doses, she said, when it builds on material they’ve previously learned, and when they see how the concepts they are learning relate to their own lives.
Because kids want and need to make connections.
They want to know “It works like this, and here’s how it can affect you for the rest of your life,” Buehrer said.
So, instead of teaching history starting with the ancient world, you begin with mom and dad and grandparents, then move to the experiences of great-grandparents. And it is from there – from the experiences of their own family – that you introduce them to stories about their country and the big, amazing world we inhabit.
Very few single teachable moments directly result in creating a young author, a young artist or a young inventor.
But if you look for and grasp the many, many teachable moments that inevitably come along when you are with kids, you will find that -- long after childhood has passed – you have, in fact, helped to raise up authors, artists, inventors, scientists, mechanics, builders, and innovators of all kinds, some in areas of expertise that didn’t even exist yet, when your curious young explorers were little.
Here’s Bait on YouTube: https://youtu.be/4Tocry3oHpk
And here’s Bait at bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/p/books/bait-the-toad-jl-powers/19797001?ean=9781733547451
©2023 Becky Cerling Powers Reprint with attribution only – www.beckypowers.com
Becky Cerling Powers is the author of the parenting guide, Sticky Fingers, Sticky Minds: quick reads for helping kids thrive
I was a wildlife officer in Creede, Colorado in the mid-1970s. One day my two-way radio crackled, “Respond to a fire at Blue Creek Lodge!”
I headed out.
As I rounded the curve at Wagonwheel Gap, I saw the canyon below already filled with thick black smoke.
Flames shot into the sky for hundreds of feet as the lodge burned to the ground.
The volunteer firemen had to stand back because the beauty shop supplies, including aerosol cans, exploded like hot ammunition. Containers of cooking oil in the lodge kitchen fueled the hot fire.
Bill and Theresa and their children watched as their home, business, and all their belongings were gone in a matter of minutes.
They literally survived with only the clothes on their backs.
The family had left their home in Kansas, bought an old lodge and lived in it for less than a year. Only a few people knew them.
I only knew them because they came to a home Bible study group at our house.
If you’re a Bible believer and want a lesson in how not to help, here it is:
As we watched the flames, I stood by Bill and assured him: “All things work together for good.”
With tears rolling down his cheeks he said, “I don’t see anything good in that!” And he pointed to the fire and smoke
My attempt at encouraging him was like going to the scene of a horrific accident and asking a person there who is screaming in pain, “Are ya hurt?”
That was not the time to quote Bible verses.
People who are in terrible pain need someone to compassionately figure out the injuries and try to bring relief.
NOT the time for me to try to wrench someone else’s focus on what I wanted.
We can’t “fix” people, the way I tried to do with Bill.
I learned a better way from others in the community, like the man who drove down from Creede and, not even knowing Bill, said: “When the ashes cool and your insurance is settled, I’ll come down with my loader and dump truck and haul all this to the landfill.”
Because meeting someone where they are in their real circumstances is the true beginning of compassion and ministry.
Since there was no bank in town, the Kentucky Belle Market immediately set up a special fund for people to donate money for the family. And by summer’s end the Creede and South Fork communities gathered around for an old- fashioned barn raising.
But in this case it was a lodge raising.
Two experienced contractors using new blueprints led dozens of volunteers to begin building a whole new lodge. Women from Creede and Southfork set up a long table with the finest mountain cuisine of their favorite delicious recipes to feed the work crews.
Bill watched in amazement as youth leaders from a local Young Life Camp, young men and women, old men, and everybody in between began the process of rebuilding.
I was standing next to Bill when a man came up and asked, “Who are all these people?”
In amazement Bill answered, “I have no idea. I don’t know any of them. They just showed up.”
It took several months to finish that beautiful structure. Most of the work was contributed by volunteers.
Years later I asked Bill, “What is the greatest blessing you’ve ever had?”
His answer: “The day our lodge burned to the ground.”
What I said to Bill the day his lodge burned was true, but my timing was terrible.
St. Paul wrote: “ We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many believers” (Romans 8:28-29 GNT).
People often quote verse 28, but they leave out the rest – that the purpose of God’s kind of “good” is to change us to be like His Son, Jesus Christ.
A prayer for today: “Lord, teach me more about Jesus today, so that I can learn to handle difficulties the way He handled the same kind of troubles. Amen.”
© Glen A. Hinshaw 2018
Reprint with attribution only https://beckypowers.com/
If you liked this story, you can find more of Glen A. Hinshaw’s stories in his books (Caregiver: My Tempestuous Journey; Echoes from the Mountains; Crusaders for Wildlife; The Adventures of a Rancher)
For all the generations seeking God together
Activities for all ages to seek God’s presence by engaging with the Bible in simple, natural ways at home.
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“One generation shall praise Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.”