Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Get Cultured! + What's Next


My oh my! I'm so excited about this upcoming class offered by Nourished Kitchen on how to ferment everything from pickles to sauerkraut to yogurt and sourdough! It's 13 weeks of in-depth learning how to bring back these traditional skills that have seemingly been lost in modern cooking. I entered this giveaway on the Cheeseslave blog to win a spot in the class. I'm praying that I win! Otherwise, I may have to bite the bullet and do it anyway--it seems like such an awesome opportunity. Now if I could only convince Alex that this is a necessary expense! Hmm...we'll see.

In other news, I'm working on a long post for you about making beef stock, french onion soup and how to render beef fat (tallow) from stock. Hope to have that up for you later this week. Hope you are feeling good this week and surviving the Chicago snow. We miss you and wish you were here to share dinner with us. Someday perhaps!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Nourishing Chicken Soup

Dear Marie,

I've been meaning to get this recipe to you now for what seems like weeks. I'm really getting into the concepts behind the cookbook "Nourishing Traditions" and would love to share what I am learning with you. As you know, I've been all over the map when it comes to eating. We grew up on the typical horrible American processed diet. Then I moved out of the house and eventually discovered vegetarianism which led me to veganism, which led me to (after a short period of better health) a state of poor health. So I started incorporating some (humanely raised) animal products back into my diet and most of my health issues at the time resolved. From then on I have always eaten a relatively healthy whole foods diets filled with lots of veggies and a moderate amount of organic animal products.

I've been hearing about Nourishing Traditions for a while now, but thought of it as yet another fanatical diet and didn't pursue learning much about it. But it just kept showing up in my life so I finally put the book on my library hold queue and it seemed to come to me at the most perfect time. A time (5 months postpartum with my second baby) that I have been feeling really run down and indeed in need of some nourishment. I was immediately drawn to the concept of making broth from scratch and have been doing this weekly now for the past couple of months. It's a simple remedy often overlooked, but the cliche of eating chicken soup when we're sick had to come from somewhere, right?

Since delving into this new old way of cooking I was thinking about Grandma Hargett and how she lived and breathed this stuff. I once had a dream (years ago now) that she passed on her magic with food and homesteading to us. Maybe this is one way to get back in touch with that--to discover and remember how food was prepared when life here on Earth was simpler. I would love to help keep her legacy alive this way. It feels important to me to pass on the wisdom of cooking from scratch and taking good care of ourselves to our children so that they always have the power to feed themselves well. This is something that our culture as a whole has lost, it seems. So I think I'll keep Grandma Hargett in my mind while I'm exploring the concepts behind Nourishing Traditions and maybe it will come together with more grace and ease. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

So I was inspired to share with you how to make your own Chicken Stock to use in soups, sauces or however else you might like. You can use this broth as the base of a soup I made a couple of weeks ago: Coconut Chicken Soup (based on the soup from NT, but modified to include more goodness!).

Chicken Stock (Nourishing Traditions Style)

1 whole free-range chicken
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
4 quarts filtered water
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & coarsely chopped
3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley

Cut wings off chicken and place the body, wings and gizzards into a large pot with water, vinegar, and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 mins to 1 hour.

Next bring to a boil and remove scum that rises to top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 - 24 hours. The longer you cook it, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 mins before finishing the stock, add parsley.

Remove chicken with slotted spoon. Let any meat you want to keep cool and remove it for other uses such as casseroles, enchiladas, etc. Strain the stock into a large bowl & reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your fridge or freezer. You can save the fat to use like cooking oil.

Coconut Chicken Soup

2 tbsp coconut oil
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 cups chicken meat, reserved from your stock
1/4 teaspoons chile flakes
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 quart chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt or fish sauce, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Saute carrots, onion, and celery in coconut oil for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Add chile flakes, ginger and chicken and stir. Add stock and coconut milk and simmer until veggies are soft. Add fish sauce or salt. Turn heat off and add lemon juice and top with cilantro.

I wanted to write more, but it'll have to wait. I've got two little one calling my name! I hope you enjoy this and that it brings you nourishment and maybe even a connection to Grandma.

Love you,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Homemade Granola, Because I'm Like That


It's true, I do actually make my own crunchy granola. I guess some stereotypes are real; like people who have home births make their own granola and such.

Anyway, I think homemade granola is SO much better than the store bought variety. Plus, I like to know exactly what is in my food. Call me crazy, but many cereals out there even the "natural" kinds have a very long list of ingredients that I cannot pronounce. So I make granola.

I adapted this recipe from the recipe in one of my most favorite cookbooks, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Do you have this book? I know I've shown it to you before. There are so many great, healthy recipes in this book. If you don't have it, I'd recommend getting it for sure. Unfortunately I lost the first edition of this book and now only have the newer edition, which is still great, but a few recipes from the first recipe were left out that I miss.

But I digress.

Back to granola. This recipe is my standby recipe. I'm experimenting with others and I'll let you know if I come up with anything good. But if you want an easy, reliably good recipe this is a good one:

Honey Coconut Granola

4 cups oats
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c coconut oil (can substitute another oil if you need)
1/2 c honey
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat pven to 325 degerees.

In a large mixing bowl, combing oats, seeds, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.

In a small pan melt coconut oil, honey and peanut butter together. Stir to blend. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour oil mixture over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. (I usually use my hands to do this)

Spread on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and bake until granola is dry and golden. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Remove when golden brown and let cool before storing in an airtight container.

You can eat with whole milk yogurt and berries for a nutritious breakfast or snack. Alternatively, you can use as a topping for ice cream or whatever you can dream up! If you want to add dried fruits you can do that too, just wait until granola has cooled and then mix in fruit.

It's always good to have something new up your sleeve for breakfast. Hope you and Drew like it!


Monday, November 1, 2010

This is What Happens When You Have Children


My brain is mush. After having two children my logical mind seems to have left me. I used to have a nearly photographic memory. I never needed to write anything down. I kept my schedule in my head. I always remembered people names.

And I keep thinking I've still got it.

But the reality is that I don't. All this to say that when I interrupted our Butternut Squash series with the chicken chili recipe, I completely forgot how I made that third butternut squash recipe. You know, the Mexican-inspired one. So, we'll have to get to that another time when I experiment with those ingredients again. Darn! That was a good one too. But I just can't remember exactly how I did it.

So instead, I thought I'd share another easy soup recipe that I know by heart. I figure when it's fall going on winter you can't have enough soup recipes. This one is super easy too, it can be made really quickly with just a few ingredients. I love simple food like that--recipes that leave you to taste the food in its natural state. No need to doctor it all up with a bunch of spices and flavors. Anyhow, I'll quit rambling and get to the recipe...

Potato Leek Soup

3-4 leeks, washed and chopped
1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin
4 tbsp butter or good olive oil (butter will taste richer)
1 box of vegetable broth
approximately 3 cups of water
salt & pepper

Saute leeks in butter for 1-2 minutes, add potatoes and let simmer for 1-2 minutes more with the lid on. Add veggie broth, water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to boil then turn heat down to simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are falling apart. Take pot off heat and use a potato masher or a large spoon to roughly mash the potatoes. Alternatively, you can blend the soup. Serve the soup with a splash of cream if you like.

Now that's a recipe I can remember! Hope you like it too.

Miss you,

Butternut Squash, Interrupted


I interrupt our Butternut Squash series to bring you that yummy Chicken Chili recipe you've been begging asking me for. This recipe was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for chicken chili, but I changed it to fit what I had on hand (and to add beans, which I think all chili should have). What I love about this recipe is that you actually roast the chicken before adding it to the chili itself. Boy, does this ever give it a rich taste! You won't be sorry you took the extra time and effort to roast the chicken. Seriously. It was so good.

I think this will be a good fall and winter recipe to have on hand. You mentioned it was getting colder in Illinois so this should warm you right up! I served this with some gluten-free cornbread and salad for a nice hearty dinner.

Roasted Chicken & Black Bean Chili

2 yellow onions, chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp salt, or to taste + more for chicken
2 28oz cans of whole fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained (Muir Glen brand)
1 large can of black beans
2 whole organic chicken leg/thighs, bone in, skin on*
Freshly ground black pepper
Corn chips, cheddar cheese and/or sour cream as topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rub chicken with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast chicken for 35-40 minutes, until just cooked. While the chicken is roasting, cook the onions over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomoatoes by hand or in the food processor and add to pot. Add black beans. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken has cooled, separate meat from bone and skin and cut into 3/4 inch chunks. Add to the chili ans simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat before serving.

*In the last two recipes I've specified purchasing organic chicken. Personally, I think meat is something we should not skimp on when it comes to buying organic. And with pasture animals like beef, lamb, buffalo, etc--we should opt for the organic, grass fed option. Anymore, if I can't get the best meat (organic and grassfed) I just make a vegetarian dish instead. Not only is this the healthiest option for our bodies, it really is the best option for the environment, the animals and our economy. But that's a whole other post. In the meantime, you should really see Food, Inc. Make Drew watch it too!

Stepping off soapbox now.

Hope you love the chili as much as I did. Wish we could share a bowl together! Soon enough, I'm sure.

Love you,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Butternut Squash Part 2

Butternut squash
Originally uploaded by adactio
Hi Marie,

We're still on the topic of Butternut Squash! A few weeks ago I bought a medium sized squash and used half of it for a Thai Cococut Curry Stir Fry and the other half for a Mexican-inspired dish. They both turned out pretty well. Here is the Thai recipe. Look out for the other recipe in the next couple of days.

Thai Coconut Curry w/ Butternut Squash

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 organic chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized chunks
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
1-2 heads of bok choy, chopped
1-2 tbsp of green curry paste
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce

Start by peeling and chopping squash. Then saute onions and garlic on medium heat until onions are translucent being careful not to burn the garlic. Add chicken and cook through. Add squash, cauliflower and the white part of the bok choy. Saute about a minute or so. Push ingredients off to one side and add curry paste. Pour a bit of the coconut milk over the curry paste to dissolve. Add the rest of the coconut and the fish sauce. Let the liquid come to a boil on high heat and then turn heat down and simmer until squash is tender. Stir in Bok Choy greens.

Serve this over white jasmine rice or long grain brown rice (for the healthier option).


Love you,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Butternut Squash Part 1


It's fall and that means we get to start eating yummy winter squash! Butternut squash is my favorite and can be added to just about anything, I think. I'm going to share with you my three favorite recipes in the next three posts. Here's the first one:

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium to large butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 box of veggie broth
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
salt to taste

Cut squash in half and place face down in a glass baking dish with about 1 inch of water. Bake in oven for 40-50 minutes on 400 (or until skin browns and bubbles). In the meantime, chop your onion and saute in olive oil in the bottom of your large soup pot (about 5 minutes). Set aside. When squash is cooked, peel off skin and discard. Chop squash into large chunks and add to pot. Add enough broth to cover squash (may need to add more later). Mix together. Add this mixture in batches to blender and blend until smooth. Place blended soup back into pot and add coconut milk, curry powder and salt. Add more broth or water if needed. Let simmer 20 minutes to meld flavors. Enjoy!

I'll be back soon with two more squash recipes plus a yummy Indian dish I made the other night!

Love you,