I hate starting bone broth. Oh, it smells terrible. I sure tastes great (when done). Bone Broth Recipe

  • Bones (beef shanks frozen and well-gnawed lamb bones)
  • A small pour of cider vinegar (60mL-ish)
  • Two whole onions, quartered, not peeled
  • The left over bits of a garlic, not peeled
  • Then I scrape the veg ends from some recent meal out of the compost bowl
  • Top with water in the crock pot.
  • Set to warm, let it be.
  • Top off with water as needed

The first day is tough. I start late on purpose. I’d far rather sleep through those first hours.

When I peed at some random hour of the night, I swear the dog farted.

At 1:40am, gunshots woke me (and the dog). She barked, I laid still. Crack – damn, that’s close. Not as heavy as a 45acp, and certainly not a .22. My best guess was a 40cal or a 9mm shot within 100 meters of the open window. One shot very close, four down the road apiece, nearer the next corner (our property’s southeast corner). That’s a quarter mile walk down the drive and to the left. The shots banged on for a bit more. It seemed like the bastard walked. I heard no car. Tough to drive quietly at 1:40 in the morning on a rural gravel road: stones pop, engines idle.

Bill woke, turned a light on. That caused me to yell: “Turn out the light!”. He’s rather deaf. The small-arms-fire (SAF) woke him, yet he wasn’t aware of it. Who needs to become a target or backlight your-own-self. Off goes the light. When I walk to the bathroom, I am stunned by the smell of dog feces. I walked up and back exploring the air with my nose.

That’s not a common smell here. That’s a city smell (well, it used to be anyway before all these ‘curb your dog’ laws). Nothin’ quite like stepping in fresh DS while on a sidewalk, then walking into a clean kitchen. That’s the odor I smelt in our upstairs (a no-shoe zone).

As the shooting abated, I returned to sleep.

On day two, the bone broth matures from putrid-gray to a gentle brown. The smell fades too. That other odor faded by dawn. At the end of day two, the kitchen smells more like beef.

During the walks and drives of the next days, we both looked for brass casings. Tough to find on a gravel road. I carried two questions: how close was he? what was he shooting? I found nothing. Neither did Bill.

On day three, the bone broth blossoms. My goodness, that’s a smell so rich and fine. I use long handled lobster forks to prize the marrow from the bones letting it drop back into the broth.

After supper, I cull broth from solids. This cools in a metal bowl. The dog gets a bit of marrow and a soft bone end. These bones pit and discolor while cooking. In my anatomy classes, we learned of the soft bone at joints. After three days of slow-cookin’ these bones can be crumbled with a heavy knife or a mortar. The solid hard bone found mid shaft is tougher. That hold together better.

Telling a story of food that smells like feces when starting and ambrosia at the end ought not be done in someone else’s living room (I tried this week).

Telling a story of small-arms-fire at 1:40am at the town’s clambake does fine. It opened up a neighbor to another story: sadder and more troubling (not for public consumption). It served as reminder that no walls, no doors keep secrets, even in the thick green forest of New England. Trouble exists nearby – systemic and long term.

I know also, every action changes the face of a problem. Can’t know if I’ll make it better or worse.

I do know that when I hear gunfire at night, I dowse the light and lay still (wondering why I am smelling something so very horrible). A near-neighbor opted to arm himself and walk towards it.

Before heading to Iraq, someone thought it wise to send our little team through some training such as “Advancing Towards SAF”. I studied the gentle distinction between cover and concealment. We reviewed the skills involved in a low-crawl and the odd technique of dropping to the buttstock of an M-16 as you hit the ground (humm, with so many M-4s and their collapsible stock, not something worth practicing in my book).

I’ve been responding to 911 calls off and on for 30 years in big white ambulances. What I do know is that I am better off following the basic rules:

1 Stay away, 2 Know the caliber, the distance, and direction of gunfire (these will prep you for injuries), 3 Maintain cover and concealment, 4 Let the gunfire stop before approaching.

Cooking bone broth and exploring the mysteries of a late night shooting have little in common – savin’ the author who explored both at the same time.

When the broth is cools, filter it through a coffee filter. I pour 500mL into ziplock baggies – labelled and prepped for the freezer. When lucky, I put my newest broth on the wire shelf. This leaves rather deep scores in the frozen broth. When I need a bit for a sauce, I break off one strip. If I am making full soup, I use the full bag.