Sorrow and mourning can take many forms, as death and loss can come in so many different guises. Sometimes it isn't the physical death of a loved one that we mourn, but the end of something we cherished. The loss of a job, or a friendship, or an intimate relationship, or even a lost pet. So many experiences tear holes into us, and we have to practice a fair bit of self care in order to heal those wounds so they don't grow and fester.
I've mentioned that one of the most nourishing foods I've come across yet is bone broth, as it isn't just a soothing internal hug, but also replenishes a body right down to the cellular level. It can be used as the base for a heavier soup, or just enjoyed on its own by the mugful; something that I try to do as often as possible, especially during the autumn and winter months. Quite often, a cup of this broth first thing in the morning does more to wake me and replenish my spirits than half a dozen cups of coffee ever could.
When making a healing bone broth, it's important to use bones from organically raised (preferably grass-fed) livestock, as you're aiming for the most nutrient-dense, healing food possible. Antibiotics and heavy metals are drawn into bones and marrow through the animal's bloodstream, so if you make a broth from conventionally raised animal bones, you'll be ingesting all those chemicals as well.
In addition to avoiding those chemicals, there's another vitally important reason for choosing bones from ethically raised animals, which was described so perfectly by my friend Cat Lane that when I asked, she granted me permission to quote her directly:
"There's another reason for this choice - because the bones of animals raised in hell and killed in anguish are not good medicine, not for our bodies and not for our souls. I make grief soups and teas as well, and for myself they don't contain animals at all, but plants raised with love and harvested with gratitude. That's not because I'm vegan - I'm not - but because no matter how hard I try, I can't not feel the animals' journey, when I am taking it's body into my own. And even 'happy cows' probably didn't want to die. That said, I make bone broth for dogs and all kinds of cat and dog foods with other animals, and the process of nurturing others soothes my own chronic spiritual pain. As long as it comes from animals that lived and died reasonably. We can't change the cycle of life, but we can engage in it with gentleness and wisdom and respect."
- 3-4 pounds of beef, bison, elk, deer, or moose bones (an assortment of meaty and marrow bones is ideal)
- 1 medium-large onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 small leek or 1 large bunch of green onions, washed and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 generous pinch of summer savoury, either dried or fresh
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
- Good salt (I use pink Himalayan salt, but sea salt works as well)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange the bones in a baking dish, and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until the marrow softens and begins to melt.
Place the bones in a large soup pot (or crock pot, if you have one). Cover with water until they're submerged by a couple of inches, add the vinegar (which will help to draw the nutrients out of the bones) bring to a boil, and then reduce to a low simmer.
After about 4 hours, add the rest of the ingredients, and add more water until everything is just covered. Let this cook for at least another 8 hours, though I'd recommend letting it simmer for another 12. Basically, the longer you let this simmer, the more nutritious the broth will be, and the more flavour will be developed therein.
To strain your stock, use a large, slotted spoon to remove the bones and the larger vegetables, then strain the liquid into a large bowl. Add salt to taste, but try not to make it too salty: you're aiming for nourishment more than just flavour content.
The broth can be transferred to glass Mason jars or even a large pitcher, and transferred to the refrigerator once it's cooled to room temperature. Once cooled, a layer of fat will have accumulated and hardened on the broth's surface: you can scrape this off and keep it in the freezer to combine with seeds later to feed wild birds.
Don't freak out if/when your broth turns gelatinous: this is a good thing, as it means that collagen has been drawn out of the bones. That collagen is immensely healing for everything from sore throats and stomach ulcers to leaky gut, arthritis, and other types of joint inflammation. As soon as you heat the broth, the gel will dissolve back into liquid so you can sip it to your heart's content.
I've found that the best way to enjoy this broth is to do so mindfully: to sit quietly and focus entirely on each sip, appreciating the nutrients that are being drawn into my body without any distractions like TV or music or anyone else around me. Doing so brings a sacredness to this ritual, and that, as well as the broth itself, is immensely healing.