Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to use the whole thing this week.
Whether you are eating turkey, ham, or ground beef, you’re likely going to consume something from an animal that is a part of a whole. Where are the other parts? Are they being utilized or wasted?
It’s a shame that things like bones, organs, fat, and feet are seen as the waste products of an animal and that traditional bone broth, rendering lard and tallow, and using chicken feet is seen as “throwback” and something only for the Amish or radical homesteaders.
I know I’m generalizing – I know there are gajillions of households in America where homemade stock is the norm and not the exception – but I don’t think pop culture and modern media would ever see it that way, and so it’s presented to our youth as “outdated” and “quaint.”
It should be “sustenance” and “nourishment” and darn it all, just being a good steward!
When One Person’s Waste is the Other’s Normal
I threw away some pumpkin seeds last week because I was roasting one pie pumpkin and felt overwhelmed with my lack of time that day (they don’t take long, really, maybe 10 minutes total, but 10 is greater than zero, and it was one of those days). I would have saved them in the fridge for another day but we kind of have a lot of pumpkin seeds around already.
I felt so guilty! Yet at the same time, I was laughing because I know that the action that just about killed me, tossing the guts of a pumpkin, is a normal action happening every day across the country about which most Americans wouldn’t give a second thought.
In the same way, I just split a quarter cow with my cousin for the first time, and I asked for everything. What I’m going to do with 10 pounds of liver, I do not know, but hopefully I’ll figure it out. I don’t think I’ll be able to do this quite enough to get rid of it all. (I’m collecting ideas for all the parts on my new “What to do with a quarter cow (beef recipes)” pin board.)
I’ve made a gorgeous batch of tallow already – and why I haven’t been frying potatoes in it thrice weekly I don’t know! (Note to self: get on that, Katie.) I barely had room in the freezers (all 3 of them) for all the parts, because the organs (heart and tongue too), suet (what the fat is called before it’s tallow), and bones just about doubled the space I’d need!
I made some bone broth immediately, and I got two batches out of the bones and seriously started running out of room in the freezer, and I had some other things I had to make for dinners and couldn’t do enough soup to keep up either.
With two more big bags of bones in the freezer, was it time to throw them away? No way! I called my neighbor and sent the pot down to her, and she made two batches (does anyone else find that their very lowest burner still boils it at a strong rolling boil all day long? She needs a better system for next time, maybe one of those burner thingys that keeps a really low simmer?).
I’ve read that folks have done a DOZEN successive batches of beef stock, and when I told my neighbor, she passed the bones on to another friend who’s on a really tight budget.
Bones: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Ok, that’s a little yucky, but let’s get over it America!
Use the whole animal.
I saw a comment from a vegetarian on someone else’s social media outlet discussing the importance of pastured animals recently, and it said something like this:
“Oh, so if the animal lived a happy life, it’s okay to kill and eat it?!?!?”
Well, yeah. Actually, that’s exactly it.
And if you’re willing to respect the animal, the earth, and most of all the God who created that animal with amazing nourishment for your body, and use the whole thing without wasting, and if the animal was raised without toxins that hurt the environment, then it’s done well.
We pray and thank God before our meals for the many blessings He gives us. We probably don’t think of Adam and Eve and the Fall with every meal, but their first sin is omnipresent in our world, affecting us whether we like it or not.
The world was not created with a “kill or get killed” mentality.
Man’s sin brought that upon us.
It’s unfortunate that our bodies are now dependent on animal products for our best health, because it is kind of gross. It would be easier in a lot of ways to never have to deal with blood on our hands (and most of us don’t anyway with all the processing our food goes through before it hits our kitchens). But that’s not the way things played out.
If we’re going to eat meat, we might as well do it right, be good stewards, and learn to use the whole thing.
The Challenge: Use it All
I’m preaching to the choir for many of you, I know – you probably regularly buy whole chickens and know what to do with all the parts. I still challenge you to take one more step, find one more part to use, or one new recipe that will help your family truly enjoy “it all.”
Tomorrow I’m sharing a reader FAQ about all those recipes for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Raise your hand if you have some that you miss now that you’re doing whole birds much of the time!).
It’s a common real foodie complaint – what do I do with all those great recipes?? Can I convert them to use the whole bird? (YES is the answer, details right here: How to Adapt Chicken Breast Recipes to Use Whole Chickens)
Here are some resources for today to help you use bones, organs, and shredded poultry that is not “boneless skinless chicken breasts,” whether that poultry is chicken or turkey (hint, hint for Thursday, hint, hint).
- Turkey and Yam Hash with Sage from Nourished Kitchen
- How to Make Turkey Gravy: from Cookin’ Canuck
- Using turkey anytime of year
- Whole Foods for the Holidays: Soup Edition
- 10 Recipes to Make the Most of Turkey Leftovers: from Kingdom First Mom
- One Turkey, Four Meals: from Simple Bites
- Recipes for Leftover Turkey: Reducing Thanksgiving Waste: from Good Life Eats
Resources to Use Up the Whole Cow
- How I mix beef heart into everything (graphic!)
- How to eat beef tongue
- Recipes for beef liver
- How to render tallow
- Homemade French fries in tallow
- Pepper Steak (uses round steak)
- From Field to Freezer: How to Buy a Cow Guide
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
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