Living Without Expectation

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There is the five year plan, the ten year plan.  It is all well to plan if we find joy in it, but what if we did so without expectation?  What if we lived altogether without expectation?  What does that look like?  

It means joy in the action-taking, not in the preconceived idea of the outcome.  It means doing work that has joy in the doing, not in the outcome of the work once done.  It means creating truly from our souls without thought of who else will like it, who may judge it, or how many ‘likes’ it may receive.

The sculptor who sculpts in joy, the painter who paints in joy, the artist who creates in joy, will not quit the activity if they are dissatisfied with their piece when it is finished because the point of creating was the joy of creation, not in the object created.

If we run to lose weight, if we only work for money, if we only garden for the blossomed flower, then we will not stay with it, unless we ultimately find joy in the doing. 

What is an expectation of success to you?  Is it money or affluence?  Is it power?  Is it freedom?

Or what if the idea of “success” did not exist at all?

What if we had no idea of success as an outcome, but as a doing in joy and in love?  If we live through our hearts, this is possible.  If we live through our minds, there is always a problem to solve, a finished project to accomplish, a waiting of something to improve the present, for that is its job.  If there was no issue, no future goal envisioned or to obtain, then it knows no purpose for its survival.  

But if we live from our heart.  What does it look like to live from our heart? 

It looks like the runner running because they love the action and feel of their legs moving, their heart beating.

It looks like the caregiver loving their patient while taking their blood pressure.

It looks like the chef creating a dish for the love of nourishment and flavor and tasting sensations.

It looks like the parent loving watching their child play the sport they love, win or lose, college scholarship or one year of playing and finished.  No expectation.

Several minds are now saying, does that mean we do nothing that sounds like something we do not want to do?  Does that mean we only do things that always bring us joy?

This is a problem of the mind.  There is always joy in the present moment if we allow our minds to stop pushing us into the a different place than we are right now.  It could also be a conditioned thought that we must do work we do not find joy in to attain what we need.  Or that the activities we find joy in can not sustain us.  These are all false beliefs that our mind loves to hold on to.

When work is done solely through the mind, for an achievement or an imagined date of  ‘success’, it is all done for the receiving of love, of acceptance, of approval.

But when we live through our hearts, our mind has already received all of the love and acceptance and approval it will ever need.  And it is free to live in the experience of joy in doing, not in a future imagined date of accomplishment.

An Opening for Something New to Be Born

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When faced with a time that is full of change – a time of shift and rotation and unexpected turns of events – life can seem to have almost taken over and put us on a course that has taken us by surprise.  Change is a certainty, but we sometimes cannot prepare ourselves for what it is and how quickly it can occur.

Some words for souls going through this shift.

There is no need to worry.  For those of you who have space where there used to be none – a child growing and needing less, a career or relationship that is taking less time than it once did or coming to a close, a sudden or unexpected opening – take this, dear one,  as a time of rest.  Life is making room for growth. There is peace in this space if we choose it.  There is joy within and in the space you are currently residing, incubating the next phase of life that will find its way to you.

This is not a time of loss.  The love and energy that was there still is and will manifest itself to you in another form, for energy cannot be destroyed.  It is all available to you right now if we are open to the other forms it can take.  We choose whether to worry and block ourselves from the love and blessings that are preparing to flow in in other forms when we attempt to hold on to life the way it was.  What lived has run its course and is transitioning to something else.  Let it go.  Make room.  Beauty and love flow in in other forms.  Relax and accept.  Accept what is, accept yourself, accept your beautiful and honored place in the Universe.

Feel your breath.  Feel your heart beating.

See how they work for you without thinking, without effort.  They both continuously work for you, from the life force that continues to flow through you.  Know that goodness and love and joy will flow to you in this open space as though its your breath, as though it is the blood flowing to your fingers and toes.

Do not see lack or scarcity.  It is an illusion of the mind and not true.  Thank your mind for its effort in trying to solve the problem of its creation.  That it can rest.  All is well.

There is beauty in this space.  It is all for your highest good.  Allow the flow of life to carry you to this present moment, the love that resides there always, and the fullness of what is to come.

 

Golden God Nectar, or How to Make Chicken Bone Broth

I remember living on Indiana Avenue my sophomore year at Indiana University.  It was one of those sweet, little off-campus houses with a kitchen mostly used for holding cereal boxes and milk and reheating take-out Indian food.  I shared it with three other girls, and while we had a lot of fun together, sous chefs we were not.

That spring, I came down with the most awful cold.  I still remember it.  It was one of those colds that you begged your roommate to take a note to your Accounting professor because you were too ill to go to class on a day you knew you had to be there.  And it was also the days of no email and running to the computer lab at 11:45pm to print your paper before they closed at midnight, but whatever.  Go-ahead and bask in your Inkjet at home while I date myself over here.

Back to the story – I had a cold.  And one of my sweet roommates generously offered to make a bowl of chicken noodle soup for me.  Which is to say, she opened a can, plopped it into a bowl, pushed a few buttons, and brought it to me in bed.  To say I was thrilled is an understatement, because anyone loves being taken care of when they are sick.  But now, after all these years, I truly understand the “chicken noodle soup while sick” situation.

The broth.

It is so chockfull of vitamins and minerals- so much goodness.  It is good for joints, for your immune system, for your gut.  Homemade bone broth is truly the golden nectar of the Gods.  And once you have soup made with it, the stuff in the can or in the box at the grocery store pales in comparison.  I will sometimes have a hot cup of broth in the mornings, especially during the winter, if a scratchy throat presents itself.

So, here is my recipe for homemade chicken bone broth.

You will need:

-1 chicken carcass – I leave the neck attached, but if your is separated, go ahead and put that in the mix as well.
– any vegetables you want to throw in – I like to use carrots, celery, and onions.  No need to peel anything.  Simply wash and toss in.  All of those outer layers have goodness, too.
– garlic, about 4- 6 cloves
– chicken feet – not necessary, but a great addition.  If you buy your chicken from a local farmer, or go to a farmer’s market, there is a good chance they will have feet to sell you.
– herbs of choice – I usually just add thyme
– a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar.  This aids in pulling the goodness out of the bones.
– filtered water

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Optional first step – If you do use chicken feet, they need to be prepped.   Our hens are free range, which means their feet get gross. The best option is to remove the skin.  So, we do a quick ten minute simmer on the stove to clean them and and loosen the skin so it can be peeled.  Place your chicken feet in a small pot on the stove, bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes.  During this time, get a bowl of ice water ready.  At the ten minute mark, remove the feet and blanch them in the cold water.  Then, once cooled, peel the skin.  It should come off fairly easily.  Below, another pic of feet now peeled and vegetables ready to go into the pot.

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I know, the feet…gross, right?  But it’s SO good.

Now, we put all of it in a large stockpot or 6-qt slow cooker.  I prefer the slow cooker – this way, you can put everything in at night after you eat, set it on low, and let it go for the 24 hours it should have for maximum bone broth goodness.

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Now fill the pot roughly two inches below the top with water, put the lid on, turn on to low, and let go until the next evening.  Note:  Make sure to fill the pot as much as you can.  As the cooking progresses, some of the water will evaporate, so you want to make sure you have as much as possible in the pot.

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And that’s it until 24 hours later.

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Pull out a large bowl and scoop out the large pieces of veggies with tongs and a slotted spoon for small pieces.  (If you don’t currently compost, now is the perfect time to start!  These veggies are a perfect way to begin…maybe that should be a future post?)

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Then, I use my 2-cup measuring cup with a spout to pour the broth, through a sieve, into a large mason jar.

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And there you have it.  Delicious bone broth.

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So good.

I usually keep one large jar in the fridge for the aforementioned morning hot mugs or if I plan to make soup within the next couple of days.  Otherwise, I buy freezer quart bags, fill them with 1 cup of broth, lay the filled bags out on a cookie tray so they lie flat, then stick in the freezer for a day.  This way, they freeze evenly and thaw easily.  Then remove from the cookie sheet and keep in your freezer to store for future use.  Side note:  when pulling these bags out of the freezer to thaw, it’s always good to place the bags in a bowl.  Occasionally, a bag will pop a small hole and once thawed, your broth will be a puddle on your counter top.

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And there it is!  And here is to all of the delicious broth and chicken noodle soup in your future!

 

On the Life of a Chicken (and how to roast one)

From this…

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to this…

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We didn’t know it would lead to this when we first moved here.  I mean, I guess we should’ve known.  When two people move their children to the country to have a deeper connection with the land and a deeper connection with their food, it’s not a far stretch to imagine us eventually butchering our own animals.  I’d heard tales of my grandmother killing a chicken for dinner, insides turning a little bit at the details of it.  I still couldn’t picture myself doing it.  When we moved here, we knew we would garden, we knew we would have chickens for eggs.  But the more I desired to know what was in our food, how it was raised, I personally had to come to terms with the fact that I ate meat, but wouldn’t raise and process it myself.  It’s not for everyone and I get it.  That is what farmers are for.   But just like building a house or writing a book, some feel perfectly fine about outsourcing it and others wanting to do it themselves.  Joe and I both felt it was something we wanted to be a part of, and so here we are – chicken farmers.

Like all new adventures, we have had our share of ups and downs.  There was the time the chicken tractor (a coop on wheels, so we can move the flock frequently for fresh grass and bugs) broke off the tractor and rolled into the ravine.  Luckily, it’s heavily treed, so it didn’t go that far down.  I remember just standing in the field, watching it happen like a car crash…Joe running after it, me standing there two hundred feet away with my mouth agape.  No chickens injured, though lots of stress-induced feather loss, thankfully.  Coyotes, hawks, name the predator and we have dealt with it, have all gotten the best of us at least once.  But the benefits – having animals on pasture, rotationally-grazing them, actually pulls carbon out of the air we breathe (good for the environment!), delicious meat, raising food we know lived their best lives before nourishing us – makes any struggle worth it.

Having said that, you don’t need to kill your own chickens.  If you have the choice and are able, buy from a local farmer.  They work hard to ethically raise food that is good for you and good for the environment.  It’s not inexpensive, but if you are willing to buy a coffee-to-go a few times a week, then you have the money to buy a locally-raised chicken.

So having said all of the above, we eat a lot of chicken.  We raise them, bring them up to the barn, thank them for the life they are giving us, then, well, you know.  I’ll spare you the details (if you want them, I am happy to share on a later post!)

I now have a lot of practice at roasting our birds and how to get the best out of them.  What follows is my favorite way to use a whole chicken, with tips and tricks gleaned from several different sources.  The more time we live here, being new to so many practices,  I feel like the way I learn best is to listen to the people who have done it for several years.  I have learned that anytime someone with more experience than you offers up the lessons they learned the hard way, you listen.

Okay, enough talk.  What follows is my favorite way to roast a chicken.  And in my opinion, a really easy way as well!

Roast Chicken a la Woods Edge Farm 

1 – 3-5 lb whole chicken
1 lemon, quartered
3-4 cloves of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme (dried thyme works as well, including from a spice jar)
1/2 yellow onion
4 medium sweet potatoes (optional)
kitchen string

Heat your oven to 425 degrees.

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If you love sweet potatoes, start here.  Wash and cut into 1/2″ cubes and cover bottom of roasting pan.  Roughly chop the onion and toss in with sweet potatoes.  (I give my friend, Sarah Tosick 100% credit for this idea.  It has become one of my favorite parts of roasting a chicken, so thank you, Sarah!!)

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Next, rinse the inside of your chicken and dry with paper towels (these can compost if you compost).  If the neck is still attached, it is up to you whether or not to remove it.  Either way, do not throw this away.  This is valuable for broth, which will be in the next post.

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Salt and pepper the inside of your chicken, then stuff with lemon, cloves of garlic and thyme.  Now truss that baby up, salt and pepper the outside of the bird, and you are ready to place in the oven.

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Note:  Some recipes call for butter or olive oil rubbed into the skin.  This isn’t necessary when buying a fresh, grass-grazed chicken. The skin is tender enough without the added fat.  But, if you are dead set on giving it a good butter bath (like my husband is – and I have it admit, it is really good.  But not necessary if you are trying to avoid butter or oil), then feel free to do that as you like.

Roast for 90 minutes, checking doneness around the 60 minute mark and every thirty minutes after that.  The smaller your bird, the quicker this goes.  Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, you are ready to pull her out of the oven and let her rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

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Yum!!!!

All of the yummy juices from your chicken will drip onto your potatoes and onions underneath and make for a delicious side dish.  And if there is any left after supper, an amazing side with your eggs the next morning.

 

Important note:  once you eat your delicious chicken, save the bones and the neck from earlier.  The soup and broth post is coming up next!

I hope you love this recipe.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!

Blessings
Seja