I like to pretend money is not a thing. I have sometimes not asked for payment because I thought that might be rude. I have accepted payment lower than I should have at times because I didn’t want the other party to think money was my primary motivation. I had problems charging people for legal work because it was something so necessary to those people.
This is all well and fine if one is independently wealthy. This one is not independently wealthy.
When the crossroads inevitably arise on the horizon, I hope and I pray and I want for a clear path to be, well, clear. I’m at one such crossroads now.
Amanda Palmer, a singer/writer/other, has written about the art of asking. She is not the first to highlight both the task of asking and the fruitfulness thereof.
It’s hard. And I want to think people will pay for my art and writing without my asking. I want to think if I work hard enough that people will notice and want more.
But I am at a crossroads.
After tomorrow, May 2nd, 2016, this website will go away if I don’t renew it. I thought I would be able to, but I’m not.
I can, of course, reopen a site that is free. But I’m tired. In this moment, I am tired of pushing into a dream that seems to stay as far away as ever. I’m tired of waiting to be a provider for my family. I’m tired of wanting this creative life so badly that I would risk so much.
My throat constricts and my eyes burn as I type this. Because I want to do it all on my own. And I cannot. No one can. And I never ever have.
So I’m setting aside my unworthiness and my guilt and my independence, and I am begging tonight.
Begging is unseemly. Most of my neurons are funneling me to the exit. But I am reinventing myself. And begging is merely asking. Asking is what we all need to do more. I tell my boys – actually, it’s a posted family rule: Ask for help. Instead of mentioning Patreon and saying my time is running out and hoping you understand and respond, I’m going to practice my own rule.
Lovers of the arts and creation, will you please help me? Will you please help me to transform my efforts into more art accessible to more people? Will you please help me to choose art over other vocations? Will you please help me?
Thank you. Regardless of your answer, thank you. I don’t always help my boys when they follow the rule. Sometimes, I know they will succeed without me. Tonight I question whether I will. I question how much longer I can hang onto my words and line, to my art.
None of this is your problem. And I don’t want it to be your problem. My job is to make and keep making. My task is to ask for help. Yours is to answer, however you may.
And, if I don’t see you before I’m gone – mad love to you all!
So, there are lots of ways to art. I’m sure there are more than I know and more than that, but those aren’t invented yet.
Broth is a medium of my artful life. Part food. Part history. Part future. Part marrow. Part ends. Part beginnings hoped to be. Broth is a slow, patient art that requires investment of resources and time. It is an art that gives at every step – the quick breath as you walk through the door, the sip to check flavor, the subtle invocation of meals to come from meals already enjoyed.
Broth is useful art, too. Nutrient dense. Delicious. Healing. Relieving. Uniting. Unwinding. Broth is a thing to be admired and appreciated as it is utterly spent.
On the 9th of July, I bought food. I buy my meat at WholeFoods almost exclusively. I can find grass fed beef. I can find a ready supply of amazing beef bones, too. I can find lovely hens and tender lamb. I can discover rabbit or quail or pheasant or duck, or even just duck fat, if I’m looking. And later, after I’ve carried it all home to prepare and to store, the meat smells the way I remember my Uncle Stacy’s butcher meat smelling. It smells like a thing born of care and protection and living things. It has not one whiff of chemicals.
On this particular shopping trip, I bought three hens, a 3-lb leg of lamb, and beef marrow bones, among other things. That night, I nestled the hens in my electric roasting pan with a few ingredients, and I arranged the beef marrow bones in a big cast iron pot. Last night, I roasted the leg of lamb. Now, the wee lamb’s bones are brewing in my kitchen, reminding me of dinner with my lovees and all good things.
Bones, water, mysterious sundry ingredients. A pot over a low bloom of heat. Time. Skimming. Willing. Tasting. Allowing. Straining. Cooling. Packaging. Freezing. Thawing. Or not. Adding. Or beginning. Remembering. Planning. For more. Again. Always. Simple enough, yes?
I like to imagine a surgeon looks into the human body with muddled awe and purpose. That she sees the blood and flesh and veins and bone and recognizes what once was, what is now, and what can be. I imagine she sees an art where some may only see anguish, pain, harm, decay. And she can restore all that to a state of perfectly imperfect wholeness.
This is the way I see bone broth. And I imagine that the ingredients do not fill everyone with purpose. Do not whisper of the divine to some. Perhaps intimidate, irritate, or sicken others. But it is an art I see. An art I feel. An art I must share because art beckons the sharing.
I invite you to find the means, if you can, to make broth. And if you have never had broth – not bullion cubes diluted or a pantry good purchased in a can/box – do. Do try some. At your first opportunity. Or swing by the house, I have lots.
Chicken Bone Broth
1 whole chicken
2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic
skin of one onion
1 carrot, unpeeled and uncut
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Separate the meat from the bone of your chicken, if you have roasted it. Place the bones (you can use a whole raw or even frozen chicken) in a pot (on the stove or in a slow cooker). Add all ingredients and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Taste the water; add salt until it tastes delicious. Skim any scum off the top (don’t be alarmed; most every hen will have some) and reduce the heat to a low setting. Allow to simmer 24 hours to magically transform water into broth. Feel akin to miraculous. Taste often. Skim often. Replenish water. Adjust salt or seasoning as required. After 24 hours, allow the broth to cool completely (you can use the refrigerator) before straining. To strain, pour broth through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Your broth should be a lovely amber or golden color with no bones or plant particles. Package in suitable amounts. I tend to place 2 cups of broth in each quart-sized sealing freezer bag and lay on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen, I transfer the quart bags to share gallon bags and reclaim my cookie sheets, though not for cookies, which I do not make, though I enjoy immensely.
Once you’ve marveled at the ease and use of broth, experiment with different seasonings and incarnations. Broth is intentionally versatile; it is purposefully driven by what you have at hand.
Now, what to do with frozen broth? Well, what do you want to do with it? You can heat it for a nutritious and body-salving breakfast. You can use broth as a base for soup, risotto, beans, or other meals. You can add to dried-out meat for revival. You can build a broth bowl by adding it to spare bits of meat, vegetables, and grain. You can drink, sip, slurp, gulp, spoon, savor, and enjoy.
As long as I have broth in my house, my family will be fed. At times when I may not be able to afford gorgeous cuts of meat or pounds of organic vegetables, I can add rice or lentils or grains of any kind to rich, lovely broth. And we will eat. Well. We will be sated. We will feel much richer than we are, and that will prompt us to a certain thankfulness we miss in unsatisfying, soulless foods aplenty.
Broth is both a luxury and a staple. It is a luxury because we have such open access to convenient food. It is a staple because it is essential to eating well. It is a way to honor the food we have – all of it: the tops of peppers and skins of onions and ends of carrots and bones of meat. It is a way to carry forward the nutrients and the work and life of these things. It is a way to make any meal more satisfying and whole.
After my July 9th shopping, I have stored 15 cups of vegetable broth, using only the peels and ends and cast-offs of my purchases (do not be deceived: I adore vegetable broth, too). I have stored 18 cups of beef broth, 27 cups of chicken broth, and 18 cups of lamb broth. I’ve stored meat in small portions to add to broth and grain and vegetables in the days and weeks to come. The process has been intensive, and I will smile each time I open my freezer to the golden bricks on which I will build our meals.
The hummingbird picture hasn’t come far since the 9th. The next book has grown by stir and bubble of broth rather than by sentence and paragraph. This is my art and it is beautiful to me.