Archive for category Whole foods cooking
Travel Oregon is promoting Oregon right now with the Oregon Bounty Wanderfeast:
From the wine crush in Applegate Valley to the chanterelles hiding in the Coast Range to the fish and game that frolic in every nook and cranny of Oregon, ten top chefs will chase after ten of Oregon’s finest epicurean products. It’s ten weeks of foodie bliss, from one end of Oregon to the other. And you’re invited to come along.
During Week One, a chef visits a farm , milks a cow, picks fruit and herbs, and makes a soft cheese. Week Four features a chef, who harvests heirloom pears near the base of Mount Hood, and prepares a local fish dish with them. And check out Week Five, where my sister brews up a one-of-a-kind “Artisan Spirits” out of juniper, purple thistle, and sage she finds near the Painted Hills of Eastern Oregon.
For years, making vegetable stock sounded like a good idea, but it wasn’t something I would actually do. It seemed difficult, like something I would need to buy a new pot for. But now I make it on a weekly basis, and I can attest, it is incredibly easy. And it’s a great way to:
- Waste less food
- Increase flavor in soups, stews, and dishes
- Add more vitamins and minerals to your diet.
How to make vegetable stock:
Designate a container in your refrigerator or freezer for vegetable scraps. This is where you’ll put all of your onion and garlic skins, carrot tops, celery greens, outside cabbage leaves, etc.
You can use any kind of large pot for making stock. I love my cast iron dutch oven.
To make the stock:
- Chop an onion and saute it in olive oil until soft.
- the onion skin
- a carrot (chopped)
- 2 celery sticks (chopped)
- any other vegetable you have on hand, i.e. leeks, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.
- a tablespoon of culinary herbs. I use marjoram and thyme.
- a teaspoon of salt.
- the contents of your vegetable scrap container.
- a couple of garlic cloves (optional)
- a piece of kombu (Kombu is a savory, mineral-rich seaweed. You can learn more about it here.) (optional)
Cover the vegetables with water. (I usually make about 8 cups at a time.) Simmer for at least half an hour. Taste the broth. If it’s not flavorful enough, simmer it longer. When it’s done, strain it, let it cool, and pour it into jars. (If you’re going to freeze it, leave some space at the top of the jars.)
Stock is not just for soup
You can use stock to puree baby foods or cook rice. Or you can just pour it in a mug and sip it. It’s the perfect nourishing drink for a cold day or to build strength when you’re ill.
I’ll be away this week, so what better time for a giveaway?
If I had to own just one cookbook, it would be Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Many of Lair’s recipes are staples in my house – Whole Grain Bread, Kasha and Eggs, Mexican Bean and Corn Casserole, Sweet Squash Corn Muffins, Yakisoba, Black Bean Tostados, Split Pea Soup with Fresh Peas and Potatoes, Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons and so many more.
Lair includes information for feeding babies and tips for raising healthy eaters. But this is a great cookbook whether you have kids are not. The recipes are easy to make, healthy, and incredibly flavorful.
Lair writes in the introduction:
Sitting down together and sharing food has enormous power. This ritual is an essential element in the spiritual glue that holds us together as families and communities. Learning to prepare and eat simple, whole foods that the earth naturally provides can transform lives.
This cookbook has definitely transformed my life and my family’s meals. And I would like to give away a copy of Feeding the Whole Family to one of you.
- Leave me a comment and tell me: What’s your favorite cookbook?
Double your chance of winning by:
- Subscribing to New Urban Habitat. (And leave a comment telling me about it.)
Triple your chance of winning by:
- Mentioning the giveaway in your blog. (And leave a comment telling me about it.)
Quadruple your chance of winning by:
- Tweeting about the giveaway on Twitter. (And leave a comment telling me about it.)
Make sure you leave me your correct email address. The giveaway will close on Friday, March 26 at 6 p.m. (Pacific time). I’ll randomly choose and notify a winner by email on Saturday, March 28. The winner should reply to my email and provide me with a mailing address by Tuesday, March 30 . (If I don’t hear from the winner by then, I’ll choose a new winner from the entries next Wednesday.)
- Comments closed. Winner will be announced soon.-
*I’m taking the week off for my birthday. This post was originally published back in March. I’ll be back with new posts next week, including an update to the Hen Diaries. We’ve had some dramatic ups and downs in chicken-keeping lately, which I can’t wait to share.*
Every year I used to buy a pocket calendar – the kind people used to look important jotting appointments and reminders in before the Blackberry. I excitedly wrote everyone’s birthdays in it, marked out vacations and holidays … then ditched it, oh, somewhere around January 4. I just never seemed to have a problem remembering where I was to be or whom I was to meet. Likewise, I avoided bouncing checks or overdrawing my bank account through most of my twenties without writing any purchases down or actually ever balancing my checkbook. (My mother, who reconciles her account to the penny on the same day of each month, is palpitating and sputtering for air about now.) I also somehow excelled in college without writing half of my assignments down. So yeah, I might have became a tad cocky in my disregard for organizational tools.
Then I had a baby.
Without actually recounting the disasters that have resulted from my lack of organization in the last several months, let’s just say, I’m more forgetful these days. It could be sleep deprivation, or just the sheer number of items on my to-do list. As it turns out, a three-person household is ten times harder to keep up than a two-person household, even with both spouses sharing the load nearly equally. Perhaps it’s because the additional person is hellbent on electrocuting himself, drowning, or licking the cat unless he’s under constant supervision; goes through a load of laundry every six minutes; and has more appointments and play dates than I had all through my twenties? In any case, organizational tools are my new allies. If they can’t save my family from the mountain range of laundry in the guest room, the cavernous refrigerator, or the Leaning Tower of bills on the junk table – nothing can.
The Art of Meal Planning
Of all the organizational tools my family’s adopted in the last few months, meal planning has been the most life-changing. It’s second only to a budget in must-dos to get your finances under control. (My mom will be relieved to hear that we’ve adhered to a budget for a few years now.) For most of us, shaving the grocery bill is the best way to cut back on spending – and let’s face it, most of us are pinching our pennies these days.
A good meal-planning system can cut your grocery bill by hundreds of dollars a month. And it can also help you eat healthier, incorporate more whole foods into your diet, enjoy cooking again, stop those last-minute “let’s just get a pizza” nights, and even help you get along better with your spouse. Are you sold yet?
Meal planning is simple
You can make fancy Excel spreadsheets or Word tables, or you can just draw a grid on a piece of paper. Plan your meals as often as you wish. Most people do it once-a-week or once-a-month. Right now, my husband and I are transitioning from weekly to monthly planning, so we can buy more things in bulk from a local natural foods mail-order supplier – something only made possible with our meal-planning system. But whichever you choose, the idea is to decide what you will make for dinner each night then write the ingredients you’ll need for each meal on your grocery list.
You’ll want to have a few things handy:
- the circulars from your grocery store (probably available online)
- coupons (if you clip them – we don’t)
- favorite cookbooks or recipes
- in the summer, a list of which veggies are ready to pick from the garden, or abundant at the farmer’s market.
One way to make the planning easier is to institute a “soup and bread night” or “a baked potato night”. I divide my grocery list into sections resembling where things are located in the store, but my husband (who actually does the shopping), assures me it’s unnecessary.
Eat healthier and cook with more whole foods
Meal-planning has enabled me to make more whole-grain, whole-foods meals from scratch almost effortlessly. If I know I’ll be making chili or black-bean tostados the next day, I put dried beans out to soak the night before. So I never buy canned beans anymore. If I know I’ll need bread for a meal, I make a loaf in the morning. Sure it’s a bit harder to soak and simmer beans or make a loaf of bread than it is to open a can of pintos or a bag of Oroweat, but we’re eating healthier for cheaper than ever. Plus, that desperate frustration I used to feel around five p.m., staring into the vacuous refrigerator with a fussy baby in my arms, has entirely evaporated – so it’s a good trade off. I never end up rushing to the store to grab convenience foods for dinner, or ordering take-out at the last minute – things that used to happen frequently.
Plan for domestic harmony
You get how a meal plan can help your finances and your health, but your marriage? Well, my husband and I don’t have exactly the same taste in food. He prefers tater-tots to quinoa, sloppy joes to salads, and bratwurst to rice and beans – and I am, well, the opposite. My husband likes the same predictable meals week after week, whereas I like to mix it up, find recipes in new cookbooks, sample a new whole grain or vegetable each week, and experiment with different herbs and spices. I hate cooking meat and am allergic to dairy, so my dishes are almost always vegan. My husband makes a mean pork roast.
So, we each plan and cook three meals a week, and order take-out the seventh night – and we’re both happy. We try to please each other’s palates to some degree. He hates lentils no matter how they’re seasoned, so I keep those off the menu, and in return, he’s nixed the sloppy joes and often makes me salmon or pasta, which I love.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out that paper and pen. Let’s meal-plan our way to world peace.,
*I’m taking the week off for my birthday. This post was originally published in March. I’ll be back with new posts next week, including an update to the Hen Diaries. We’ve had some dramatic ups and downs in chicken-keeping lately, which I can’t wait to share.*
These are just a few of the headlines that blared off Google’s News feed last week:
- “World economy to shrink by 1-2 percent in 2009”
- “Unemployment rises in 99.7 percent of metro areas”
- “Rescuing the Economy Just Got Harder”.
Pass the St. John’s wort, please.
It’s hard not to despair about the state of the world these days – and not just when you turn on the news. We all know someone – if not many – affected by the “worst recession since the Great Depression.” Depleted retirement accounts, foreclosed homes, lost jobs – personal calamities and real human anguish. And the downturn isn’t just touching those corrupt day-traders, bankers, and mortgage brokers, or hitting the realtors, developers, and fresh faces on Flip This House, who were getting drunk off the housing bubble a couple years ago. It’s taking out teachers, bureaucrats, factory workers, and seemingly half the state of California too. So, we can probably all use some good news about now.
For those of us who weren’t quite so inebriated on the manic consumerism of the last few decades, it’s not hard to find silver linings. So, here goes – five reasons you might want to celebrate a little.
1. Seed companies can hardly keep up with their orders.
Philadelphia-based Burpee Seed Company estimates that $10 in seeds can produce vegetables that would cost $650 in a grocery store. When the economy started its collapse, they marketed the “money garden” – six easy-to-grow seed packs for ten dollars. Not surprisingly, Burpee’s business is up twenty percent from last year.
Burpee’s not alone. Washington-based Irish Eyes Garden Seeds is getting a hundred calls a day – a 20 to 30 percent increase over last year. At Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a small company in the Ozarks, sales are up two and a half times. They’re having trouble keeping their catalogs stocked, and their most popular seed varieties are sold out for the season. Oregon’s Territorial Seeds is experiencing the same phenomenon. It’s official – the backyard garden is the hottest thing growing this spring. Even the Obamas are doing it.
2. Americans are rediscovering their kitchens.
Epicurious.com predicted that one of the hallmarks of 2009 would be “a return to families cooking together and eating at home more than they have in decades,” and they seem to be right so far. Sales of cookbooks, cookware, and cooking magazines are up. Websites devoted to helping newbies navigate the kitchen are thriving. And people aren’t just tossing jars of pasta on noodles or popping boxes in the microwave; they’re cooking from scratch. Staples like white flour, dried beans and legumes, and eggs are flying off grocery store shelves. And according to market researcher Nielsen Co., canning and freezing supplies were the supermarket sales category with the highest annual growth rate (as of last November) – a trend they haven’t seen since the 1930s.
3. Libraries have become hip.
Libraries across the nation are reporting more visits and higher circulation. Lawrence Public Library director Bruce Flanders says his numbers are in a “rapidly ascending trajectory.” Library card requests rose 27% in San Francisco in the last months of 2008. And CBS Evening News reported that nationwide more people applied for library cards last year than anytime since libraries started keeping records in 1990.
Public libraries are awesome, not just for all the money individuals save by borrowing books, DVDs, and computers rather than buying their own, or the resources we keep out of the landfills when we share. Libraries are also refuges for the lonely-types of the world – punk teens, new parents, retired grandfathers, and information seekers of all kind. And librarians are downright edgy. They read banned books, thumb their noses at the Patriot Act, and they’ll answer just about any question in the stratosphere, no matter how bizarre. Plus, as Dale Carnegie knew, there’s no better place to retool your resume than a public library. (Now if only library budgets were also in that rapidly ascending trajectory.)
4. Craftiness is chic
According to Entrepeneur.com, “tough times tend to spur creativity”. And sure enough, crafting is cool right now. Craft and Hobby Association reported that in 2007, craft sales reached nearly $32 billion, and almost 57 percent of U.S. households engaged in crafting. Crafts – especially sewing, scrapbooking, and knitting – are just getting more popular as the economy sours. Etsy.com, a site where small crafters sell the wares, reported a more than three-fold increase in sales in 2008. And despite the general gloomy reports coming out of the publishing industry, craft books are making big profits. It’s not just craftiness – the recession is inspiring people to hunker down and enjoy other old-fashioned activities, like board games and playing music together.
5. Bike service shops are booming
Car lots might be vacant these days, but some bike shops are teeming with customers. Bike industry news is mixed. Sales for higher-end models and mountain bikes are down. But shops offering utility city cycles - entry-level, commuting, hybrid, and cargo models – are faring much better. And service-oriented shops in bike-friendly locales are rolling right along. The $4 a gallon gas last spring inspired quite a few people to dust the cobwebs off their old bikes and teeter them in for tune-ups. And recession-era frugality has kept that trend alive. People may feel uneasy laying down the cash for a new bike right now, but even with plunging gas prices, folks are discovering it’s cheaper to tune up that old cruiser than to keep the station wagon on the road.
So, let’s raise our glasses (of homebrew) to the resurgence of bikes, crafts, cooking, gardens, and libraries. They’re nourishing to people’s bodies, minds, and souls, not to mention their pocket books. The more people who love them, the better.
If you read Stay Well: 5 Winter Immunity Boosters and stocked up on garlic, lemons, ginger, elderberry, and miso, you might be looking for some recipes. Here are 4 of my favorites for the cold and flu season.
Lemon and Garlic Quinoa Salad
(Adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.)
1 c. dry quinoa
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 and 3/4 c. water
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/3 c. minced parsley
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tbl. tamari or shoyu
Rinse quinoa and drain. Place rinsed quinoa, salt, and water in a pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes uncovered, then fluff with a fork. Place quinoa in a large bowl. Add carrots, parsley, and sunflower seeds. Mix. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over quinoa. Toss. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Hot Ginger Garlic Lemonaid
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. grated ginger root
Juice of one freshly-squeezed lemon
Honey, to taste
Put ginger root in a tea ball or tea bag. Place garlic, lemon juice, honey, and tea ball or bag in your favorite coffee mug. Pour hot water in. Cover and steep. Drink very hot.
(Very loosely adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.)
3 inch piece wakame
4 c. water
4 tbs. light or mellow unpasteurized miso.
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Any or all of the following
1/2 c. chopped bok choy
5 sliced shitake mushrooms
1/4 lb. firm tofu, cut into cubes
A handful of immune boosting herbs – astragalus, echinacea root, dandelion root, or burdock root.
Soak wakame in small bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Put herbs in a large tea ball or bag.
Put water (and potato, carrot, and herbs if using) into a pot and bring to a boil.
Tear wakame into pieces, removing the spine. Add wakame to soup. Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Near the end of the cooking time, add mushrooms, bok choy, and tofu cubes if using, and let simmer a few minutes more.
Remove soup from stove. Dissolve miso in a little warm water. Remove tea ball or bag. Add miso to broth. Stir well. Ladle into bowl and add scallions for garnish.
(From Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal.*)
1 c. fresh or 1/2 c. dried blue elderberries*
3 c. water
1 c. honey
Place berries in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Smash berries. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and add 1 c. honey, or adjust to taste. Bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator. It keeps for 2 to 3 months.
*Make sure you use blue elderberries, not red ones. Never eat elderberries that have not been cooked first.
If you’ve turned on a radio or television, picked up a newspaper, or logged onto the Internet in the last month, you know it’s flu season. Like many Americans you might be trying to decide whether you and/or your kids should get vaccinated against the H1N1 and seasonal flu this year. If you’re looking for some antidotes to the widespread fear circulating this season with the coughs, sneezing, and sniffles, go here, here, or here.
Whether you decide to get vaccinated or not, boosting your immunity is always a good idea as the weather gets colder. After all, the influenza viruses are hardly the only bugs out there. Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer write in “Does the Vaccine Matter” in the Atlantic this week:
We think we have the flu anytime we fall ill with an ailment that brings on headache, malaise, fever, coughing, sneezing, and that achy feeling as if we’ve been sleeping on a bed of rocks, but researchers have found that at most half, and perhaps as few as 7 or 8 percent, of such cases are actually caused by an influenza virus in any given year. More than 200 known viruses and other pathogens can cause the suite of symptoms known as “influenza-like illness”; respiratory syncytial virus, bocavirus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus are just a few of the bugs that can make a person feel rotten. And depending on the season, in up to two-thirds of the cases of flu-like illness, no cause at all can be found.
Most adults catch between two and four colds a year and the average infant or child catches from six to ten colds a year. That means, in our lifetimes, most of us will have a cold or flu for between two and three years. That’s a lot of Kleenex.
The good news is, nature offers us some powerful immune-boosters. You may want to have these on hand this winter.
Garlic has antibacterial, antibiotic, and antifungal properties. Allicin is garlic’s defense mechanism against pest attacks, and in clinical tests, it also prevents the common cold. In one study, volunteers were randomized to receive a placebo or an allicin-containing garlic supplement every day between November and February. The garlic group reported 24 colds compared to 65 in the placebo group. The volunteers in the garlic group also recovered significantly faster if they did get infected.
You don’t have to buy a supplement. The tastiest way to take garlic is to eat it. Raw is best. But garlic’s active ingredients are also present in cooked food.
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C. One lemon contains anywhere from 50% to 80% of the vitamin C you need in a day.
Elderberry is a popular herbal cold remedy in Europe. It’s getting a lot of press this flu season, because in clinical tests its flavonoids compare favorably with the antiviral Tamiflu in treating the H1N1 flu . You can buy over-the-counter elderberry syrup at most health food stores. Or you can harvest your own elderberries or buy them in the bulk section of your local health food store and make your own syrup. (I’ll include the recipe in an upcoming post of favorite winter wellness recipes.)
Ginger increases circulation and brings warmth to the body. It excels at quelling nausea, motion sickness, and dizziness. Many people also insist it can knock out the common cold.
5. Chicken Soup or Miso
Chicken soup and miso are full of vitamins and minerals. At least one study (Chest 2000) confirmed that chicken soup mitigates the symptoms of upper respiratory infections, possibly by reducing inflammation. Plus, the taste, smell, and warmth of these nourishing soups just make us feel good.
Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar recommends adding any or all of the following immunity herbs to the broth for a bigger boost of vitality:
- Dandelion root
- Burdock root
- Echinacea root
Of course, winter wellness isn’t just what we ingest. When I look back at the winters where I came down with one cold after another, there were some glaring imbalances in my life. (Why are these so much easier to see in retrospect?) Either I’d signed up for too many college courses, I was miserable at my job, or my family had over-scheduled our days. Rosemary Gladstar sums it up nicely in her Family Herbal when she writes that wellness comes from:
Finding your joy in life. Exploring your passions. Getting up from your chair and moving your body. Wiggling. Eating good food. Playing.
Those are probably the best immunity boosters. But it never hurts to have a little chicken soup on hand just in case.
What are your tricks to staying well when the weather gets colder?
Stay tuned for an upcoming post of my favorite winter wellness recipes, including lemon garlic quinoa salad, miso, hot garlic lemonaid, and elderberry syrup.