Basics of Making Homemade Broth

– johanna | November 2nd, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad, THE BOOKSHELF

I began making homemade broth a resourceful way to utilize the  remnants of the Thanksgiving turkey. Boy, did it make some tasty soup. Thus my resolve to never buy canned soup again; and, I have held to that resolve. Brewing broth used to be a once a year rite of Thanksgiving. Then throughout the year each time we baked a whole chicken the carcass and innards went into the stew pot with water. Over the years I started buying more whole chickens. I roasted them whole or cut them into the various parts to use in dishes throughout the week. The theory being they are cheaper that way. It was like a buy one, get one free kind of deal by making broth from left over fryer chickens.


Most often a whole chicken is boiled in water to make homemade chicken soup. Adding vegetables will give both flavor and depth to the broth. The chicken is virtually robbed of all its flavor when boiled. The best way to use boiled chicken is in soups or heavily seasoned dishes like casseroles or chicken salad.

Whole Chicken Broth:
1 fryer chicken
2 onions
1 carrot cut into large chunks
1 celery stalk, whole
2 tablespoons salt

Remove the chicken from the wrapping. Rinse throughly with water (run the water through the inside of the chicken also). Rub both the outside and inside with course salt. In a large deep pot add the fryer, vegetables,neck and gizzards (no liver) from pouch that comes inside the chicken, and salt. Add just enough water to cover by 1 to 2 inches.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours or until meat falls off the bones and the bones look pale and clean. Skim the foam off the top.

Strain broth through a large mesh colander into a large bowl. Allow broth to cool. Skim the fat from the top of the broth.


Rotisseri chicken purchased from a restaurant or a chicken baked at home can be utilized to make chicken broth. Even though the wing pieces do not have much meat they will add more flavor to the broth than using just the bones. I like to add every part of the leftover chicken that has not been gnawed on.

Chicken Pieces Broth:
1 chicken carcass with bones (Include and leg and wing pieces)
Neck and gizzards (excluding the liver), if available
Vegetables: onions, celery, carrots, leeks

Place bones in a large deep pot. Add enough water to cover the bones by 1-2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours until the bones are pale and clean. Skim the scum off the top.

Strain stock through a mesh colander into a large bowl. Allow broth to cool.


– Use the broth in recipes that call for chicken broth.

– When using homemade broth in soups flavor with fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables.

– To make chicken stock simmer broth 2-4 hours to reduce the liquid. Broth will become thicker with a more condensed flavor.

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A Touch of Sun Kissed Nectarine Preserves

– johanna | August 24th, 2012


There is something so rewarding about reaching in to my pantry for a jar of homemade jam. Last summer I made certain to stock the pantry well. We ran out of jam in the spring. So I made double batches of strawberry, raspberry, and nectarine. The jam lasted us well into this summer.

For raspberry jam see the post Beginners Raspberry Jam 101.

Making jam can seem daunting at first. But after a couple of tries the fear subsides. It is always easier to make jam for the first time with a friend. Preferably someone who has some experience. So grab a buddy and a bushel of fruit before the season is over.

Large canning pot, with insert
Small sauce pan for sterilizing lids
Large pot for cooking the jam in
Jar funnel
Canning Tongs
4-5 sterilized 1/2 pint jars with lids and rings

4 cups of peeled, pitted, and chopped nectarines or peaches (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1 package powdered Pectin

Fill canning pot, sauce pan, and stock pot with water. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, wash jars, rings, and lids.

Lower the temperature of the canning pot to a simmer. Set jars in canning pot.
until ready to use.

Put the lids in a small sauce pan with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Leave the lids in the hot water until ready to use.

Wash the fruit removing any mushy fruit, stems and leaves. Cut a shallow X on the bottom of each nectarine. Place fruit in the boiling water of the stock pot. Let process for a minute (if ripe) or longer (if unripe). Drain water. Pour ice cold water and ice gently over nectarines. Cover with a lid for 1 to 2 minutes. The skins should easily peel off.

Remove the nectarines from the pot. Rinse pot.
Cut fruit into quarters and dice. Place back in stock pot. Mash fruit slightly leaving some whole bits.

Combine nectarines, pectin, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat (stirring often to prevent burning). Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a boil (it continues to boil even when stirred). Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Turn off heat and remove from stove. Remove jars and lids from the water and place on a clean dish towel.

Skim off any foam from the top of the jam. (*Use the sugary foam to sweeten popsicles or smoothies.)

Place the funnel in the mouth of a jar. Use the ladle to pour hot jam into prepared jars; filling up no higher than 1/4-inch from the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a warm wet cloth or paper towel to remove any syrup.

Cap with the lid and screw on the ring. Return the filled jars to the canning pot of water. Adjust the water level to cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Return the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and process (boil) for 10 minutes. (**boil longer if at higher altitude*)

Turn off the heat. Carefully remove the lid. Use the canning tongs to remove the jars from the water bath. The lids should immediately make popping sounds. This indicates that the jars are sealing. Test each lid by pressing down in the middle of the lid. If there is a slight bump that is raised and pops back up when pressed, the jar is not sealed. Let the jar sit for an hour. If the jar has not sealed store the jar in the refrigerator. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.

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Family Togetherness: A Random Act of Kindness

– johanna | June 15th, 2012


Photo: property of Heath Brandon via Flickr

One Tuesday morning I was waiting at a stop light when I noticed the van in front of me was none other than my friend Ednelle. She was on her way to grab her morning coffee from Starbucks. She texted me to tell me that the person in front of her paid for her coffee. The person in front of them had paid for theirs. Apparently the chain had been going on for much of the morning rush.

Ednelle’s kind act reminded me of a similar random act of kindness on the Florida Turnpike. Many times I was the recipient of a free toll. In turn I happily paid for the person behind me. It is a simple thing that amazingly brought a smile to an ordinary day.

The attribute I love most about my kids is their passion for life. They are so excited about the world around them. I decided to harness that joy and put it to good use. This summer to pass the time away we will perform random acts of kindness in the community. Our first victim was the pest control guy. We gave him a gift certificate for an icy treat at the frozen yogurt shop. He was a bit confused and suspicious at first. Once he realized it was a legitimate act of kindness and nothing fishy he smiled and graciously accepted the offer.

Our goal is to target the people in our community who tend to get over looked (like the hard working pest control man) and could use a little appreciation. In return I hope my children will see that it is far better to give than receive.

1. Leave a gift of appreciation for the mailman in the mailbox.
2. Take a tasty thank you treat to an area fire station.
3. Make lovely artwork to take to a local assisted living residence.
4. Make tissue paper flowers to take to patients at the hospital.
5. Take balloons to the kids at the children’s hospital.
6. Hand out flowers to cashiers at a grocery store or other place of business.
7. Put coins in several parking meters.
8. Mow your neighbors lawn.
9. Leave a small prize for the waitress.
10. Pick up trash at the park and in parking lots.
11. Donate food to an animal shelter.
12. Pay the toll for the car behind you.
13. Hold the door open for patrons entering a business.
14. Volunteer at a blood bank passing out water and fruit.
15. Deliver notes of appreciation to all your doctors. (including the Pharmacist.)
16. Take dinner to someone who is alone or financially strapped.
17. Send a homemade thank you gift to someone in the military.
18. Do an hour of yard maintenance for a preschool/daycare.
19. Donate several small stuffed animals, and coloring books with crayons to the police department to give to traumatized children.
20. SMILE!
21. Tape a thank you note to a police car window.
22. When going to the store call a friend to see if they need anything.
23. Give a flower to the receptionist at your next appointment.
24. Help an overwhelmed mom.
25. Help a co-worker.
26. Pass out tissue paper filled saches of candy to people at the park.

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Homemade Grout Cleaner

– johanna | June 1st, 2012


Photo Source: Property of Flooring Liquidators

Grout can become dingy pretty fast. It is important to seal grout, with a penetrating sealer, to help keep bacteria and grime out of the pores. Sealing the grout also helps to make it waterproof. Grout sealer stops the water from seeping through the pores of the grout and underneath the tile. To keep tile and grout looking it’s best here are several homemade cleaners that are affordable and actually work.

For Basic Cleaning:

Combine equal parts table salt, baking soda and white vinegar into a bowl. Mix to form a paste. Use a sponge to scrub the mixture into the grout. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe the grout clean with a damp rag.

Mold and Mildew:

For Colored Grout: Dampen a rag with white vinegar and scrub. Let sit for a few minutes. Wash grout with soapy water and rinse.

For Light Colored Grout: 1:1 ratio of bleach or use Hydrogen Peroxide. Spray the peroxide onto the grout. Let it sit for five minutes, then wipe the grout clean with a wet rag.

Hard Core Grout Cleaner for Floors and Bathrooms:

Combine 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup household ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 7 cups warm water. Scrub grout with mixture using a toothbrush or grout brush.

If this does not work, use Ajax Oxygen Bleach Cleaner Heavy Duty Formula. (This is the magic ingredient in the Magic Eraser.) Sprinkle Ajax on the grout. Use water to work up a lather. Let sit for 30 minutes. Wipe up cleaner. Mop the floor to remove any leftover residue.

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Summer Travel: Fly or Drive?

– johanna | May 22nd, 2012


Clipart: courtesy of

School officially ends in four days; although, my summer vacation will not start until 12:00 pm June 15th. I am so ready for relaxing days at the lake. What I really want is to take a road trip. We have family in neighboring states that we have not seen for ages. The plan is to take the car enabling us to stop along the way and explore the sites.

The big question when planning any long distance vacation is, is it better to drive or fly. I found this really great site that does all the travel calculations for you. The fly or drive calculator calculates the cost of the trip in addition to the amount of time it takes to fly and drive to a selected destination. For instance, air travel from the central valley in California to Seattle Washington will take us 5 hours and about $1400 in fees. This amount includes travel to the airport and parking fees. On the flip side, the drive is 14 hours and only $500 with an estimated cost of $79 for wear and tear on the vehicle. I can’t vouch for how accurate the data is, such as the fluctuating cost of gas, but it is a pretty nifty tool to give you a guesstimate to which is better: fly or drive.

**If a road trip is part of your summer plans be sure to log onto Road Trip America for planning advice to get the most out of your trip.

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Spring Home Fragrance

– johanna | April 10th, 2012

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF

Photo: Property of Morgan Moore

Spring has finally arrived. I love being able to open the windows to air out the winter. Problem is we all have allergies making airing out the house impossible. On the days the pollen and mold count is too high to open the windows this home fragrance adds a pleasant clean aroma without the congestion.

Source: Morgan Moore

Fill a small stockpot about 2/3 full with water. Add 1 lemon, sliced, and a few sprigs of rosemary, and 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla. Simmer, adding water as needed.

Discard after second day.

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April Website Review: Still Tasty

– johanna | April 3rd, 2012

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF

Photo: From website

Ever wonder if that package of ground beef is still good? How about the shelf life of oil and honey? Certainly if the product smells funny, has mold or a funny texture toss it. For all other inquires check out It is the ultimate website devoted exclusively to the proper storage and shelf life of both store bought and homemade foods.

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February Website Review: Dollar Store Crafts

– johanna | February 7th, 2012

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF

I have been dying to make this chandelier for my daughter’s fairy garden bedroom since last fall. With my husbands crazy work schedule and my number rule- never go shopping with kids, I have yet to make it to the dollar store to see if I can find the items. The chandelier is only one of all the amazing crafts on Dollar Store Crafts that can be made from dollar store items, scraps from home or other cheap finds.

Here are a few of my favorite lastest posts on Dollar Store Crafts for Valentine’s Day:
Duct Tape Rings– Duck tape wallets and such are the latest teen fashion. Add an accessory like a duck tape ring to compliment any outfit.
Valentine’s Day Gumball Machine– A cute V-Day gift for a teacher.
Leftover Candy Cane Mints– a perfect save to make for Valentine’s Day hot choclate.

If You:

  • Love to craft and write about it
  • Write tutorials that are easy to follow
  • Love to find great craft projects and share them
  • Shop often at a dollar store near you
  • Take great photos
  • Can contribute one or more articles a month

And are Interested: in working for Dollar Store Crafts

Then Email:Heather at with answers to the info from here.

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December Website Review: Dianne Craft

– johanna | January 3rd, 2012

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF

Clipart Source: Unavailable

Dianne Craft was the key note speaker at a local two day conference for educators back in July. Many had not heard of her before. Surprisingly after the first 15 minutes she had everyone mesmerized and enthusiastic, so much so that attendance had doubled the next day.

Dianne (with two N’s) holds a Master’s Degree in special education and is a Certified Natural Health Professional. She has 35 years of experience working with children of all strengths; many of whom are labeled Autistic, Asberger, ADHD, ADD, OCD, behavior problems and those with sensory dysfunctions. Rather than mask the problems these children experienced with medication or excuses, she looks for viable methods of treatment to help them succeed.

Dianne discovered there was more going on in the little brains of each child she worked with. Slowly she started to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Children who hate to write or read. Children who seem lazy or too tired, who refuse to sit up in their chair to do their work, those labeled difficult or lazy, and those deemed a problem child. Dianne realized that these children through no fault of their own, or their parents, lacked the normal sensory input/output that enables us to function in normal everyday routines.

When we go to tie our shoe the action is automatic. The act of tying ones shoe is a struggle and usually takes longer for someone with a sensory deficiency issue. Many times a child who appears to have great difficulty with focusing and attending to a task is really struggling with a sensory processing problem. Examples of errant signals due to sensory dysfunction would be a bothersome tag on a shirt, the line at the toe of a sock, bright sunlight, covers ears to block out noises, the inability to focus, hates to read or write, and transitions. Dianne notes that instead of learning to compensate for the before mentioned struggles we can all learn to make sensible corrections that will inadvertently open up a that particular “learning gate” thus reducing the stress.

The Four Learning Gates:
A. Visual Processing
B. Visual/Motor (Writing)
C. Auditory Processing
D. Attention/Behavior

Dianne works with children all over the country teaching them how to correct these glitches, rather than focusing on methods of compensating. Dianne refers to a compensation as, “making learning a task easier while the correction reduces the stress in the child’s learning system so that learning can flow.” Dianne calls this “opening up the child’s learning gate.”

A child who hates to write has more going on inside his brain than we realize. While we may see defiance, Ms. Craft believes the child’s mixed eye/hand dominance inhibits their “ability to easily think and write at the same time.” The writing process is not automatic, therefore the child is forced to think about letter formation rather than the subject matter he or she is writing about. A child who struggles with writing is taught to compensate by using a keyboard, oral dictation or limiting the amount of required writing. A correction exercise would include perceptual motor skills that strengthen the essential muscles along the spine and shoulders, in addition to a daily writing exercise, as seen below in the picture. Neural-pathway exercises teach the brain how to write the letters requiring less energy.

Dianne’s Daily Exercise: Use a large sized crayon, paper removed, to trace the figure-8 three times. Place three fingers on the bottom center space marked with the picture, lining the center line up with the midline of your body. This allows the hand to cross the body’s midline. Motion must be slow enough to stay within the 1/4 inch space between the circle line and the arrow. Beginning at the dot in the center line move the crayon up and to the left, around and up to the right around and back to the dot. Repeat three times for one set. After each figure-8 set practice writing a letter following the samples given on the top and bottom of the page. Write the letter three times then move back to the figure-8 three times. Play calm classical music during the exercise. Duration- 15 minutes.

The Dianne Craft website has available to purchase nutritional supplements (also found in local stores in most cities) and books that address sensory dysfunctions. If sensory issues and blocked learning gates are a concern begin with the book on Brain Integration Therapy. It is a step by step guide to get the those neuro-pathways running like a super highway rather than a country road with potholes. There are several edited videos to view on her website and youtube. Lesson plans with exercises in the areas of reading, math, and writing are also available.

Other children thought to have ADHD or Spectrum Disorders faired well with a change of diet. The CD “The Biology of Behavior” focuses on overcoming glitches through nutrition. The book outlines recommended changes to diet to combat the residual effects from illnesses, antibiotics and a sensitive digestive system. Research is discovering that the lack of good gut flora contributes to behavior issues and sensitivities to foods. Dianne recommends cleansing the body of yeast with a daily regiment of vitamins, omega fish oil pills, primadophilus 3 times a day, and Grapeseed extract by Nutri-biotics for the yeast and fungus. To achieve the most success Dianne’s diet can be combined with the Feingold plan and must be followed exactly.

Helping these children feel more comfortable in their skin makes home life all the more enjoyable. If you know of someone with sensory, behavioral, or spectrum disorders pass it on.

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How To Quick Soak Beans

– johanna | November 8th, 2011


Photo: Source Unavailable

There are two ways to buy beans; in the can or dried. The can is great because first of all the natural chemical in the bean’s coating, that is known to give us gas, is lessened during processing. Secondly, canned is a straight shot into the pot or salad.

The benefit of using dried beans is you control what goes into them. The downside to cooking with dried beans is the need to soak them. Soaking rehydrates the bean. Hydration is necessary to cut down on cooking time while preserving all the rich nutrients. Otherwise the beans will cook unevenly, the skins will slip off and you will have a giant soupy, mushy mess on your hands. Soaking is also used to clean the beans of pesticides, bug larva, and any other contaminates attached to the beans.

Soaking Overnight: (the best way to soak beans)
1. Clean the beans under cool tap water, removing damaged beans, debris and rocks.
2. Place beans in a non-reactive bowl, preferably glass.
3. Cover beans with three times the amount of water. (About 3-4 inches above layer of beans)
4. Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. In warm weather refrigerate beans to prevent sprouting.
5. Drain the water. Rinse well.
6. Cover with water by 2 inches. Cook 30 minutes to 1 hour, until tender.
7. Proceed with recipe. Drain.

Quick Soak:
1. Clean the beans under cool tap water, removing damaged beans, debris and rocks.
2. Place beans in a stock pot.
3. Fill with three times water, about 3-4 inches above the layer of beans. (about 5 cups water per 1 cup beans.)
4. Bring to a boil. Boil beans in water for 3 minutes.
5. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside for 2 to 4 hours.
6. Drain water. Rinse beans and pot well.
7. Add fresh water. Cook until tender 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain.
8. Proceed with recipe.

Pressure Soak: (for more easily digestible beans)
1. Clean the beans under cool tap water, removing damaged beans, debris and rocks.
2. Place beans in a pressure cooker.
4. Cover beans by 3 inches of water. Bring to pressure. Process 5 minutes.
5. Remove from heat; let pressure drop naturally.
6. Drain water. Rinse well.
7. Cover with water by 2 inches. Cook 30 minutes to 1 hour, until tender.
8. Proceed with recipe.

Favorite beans recipes:
White Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Chicken Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

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