whole foods and beyond....nourishing the body, spirit and soul

Thursday, December 29, 2011

turkey broth

oh the christmas season....sigh....it comes and goes so fast.  and what is there left to do once all the hustle and bustle have died down, the presents have been opened and the egg nog has been drank?  make delicious broth of course!  our christmas morning was rather quiet this year.  we only had ourselves, and our plans included nothing more than watching dimitri tear through his presents, and eat my homemade gluten free cinnamon rolls while lounging in our pajamas all day.  it was a very successful christmas!  so my number one priority once all the fun was had, was to get the bones from my beautiful christmas eve turkey boiling away on the stove top.  our christmas smelled delicious:)

so what's so great about making your own broth?  why not just buy broth from the grocery store?  if you ever ask me these questions, ill slap you across the face and tell you to snap out of it!  not only is homemade broth filled with much more complex flavors than the can of mass production could ever offer, its nutritional density is matchless.  broths have been a staple in traditional societies around the world for centuries.  before western society harmed the purity of these civilizations, these people instinctively understood the life giving nutrients in homemade broths.  according to sally fallon, our modern science has proved that broth made properly with meat, bones, vegetables and herbs is loaded with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, gelatin and trace minerals.  although there are lots of nifty supplements on the market today to receive these nutrients, consuming homemade broth is the easiest way for the human body to assimilate all this magic.

our modern lifestyles have robbed us of the goodness that comes from slow boiling a broth all day long on the stove.  although broth from the store may seem like a great way to save time, or even sound healthful as it boasts "organic" or "low sodium" on the label, it will only be doing harm to the body in the long run.  MSG has been used in foods in the U.S. since the fifties, when food companies discovered how to use it to produce a meat like flavor in foods, with out actually using meat.  it is found in almost every store bought soup, stew and broth (not to mention all the crackers, chips, snack bars, boxed meals and frozen meals etc.).  this is extremely dangerous for the customer, but profitable for the companies who can extract a meat flavor by just manipulating inexpensive proteins from grains and legumes, to trick the tongue into tasting meat like flavors in flavorless processed foods.  MSG is usually disguised on the ingredient label as "spices," "natural flavoring," or "hydrolyzed  proteins."  making broth yourself is the only way to ensure this harmful substance is not sneaking its way into your body.  if you are not familiar with MSG and it's dangers, here are some sites to help you gain more understanding:


the greatest thing about broth is that it doesn't require a  specific recipe.  there are endless possibilities of wonderful deep flavors just waiting to be born in your kitchen once you have the basic formula down.  here are the basic steps i take to make a nourishing broth:

*i take my whole turkey or chicken (i don't like fish, so fish broth is a no go in our house, but by all means knock yourself out. i haven't made beef broth yet, but its certainly on my to do list!) and cut it loose from its packaging.  while washing the little guy off in the sink, i take care to find the package of "giblets" and store it in a ziplock in the fridge until im ready to make the broth.
*at this point i prepare the bird to be roasted. i usually stuff the skin with butter and fresh herbs and lay the bird on top of a "roasting rack" of any vegetables i have on hand, including carrots, apples, onions, celery, broccoli, sweet potatoes... just follow your heart's desire:)
*when the meat is done roasting, my family and i enjoy fall off the bone tender meat along with vegetables that have soaked up the rich flavors of the marriage between the meat, fat and herbs:)
*the day after our feast, i place the bones in a large 12 quart stock pot, along with the giblets, any scraps of meat that we won't be eating as leftovers and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. (the vinegar draws minerals out of the bones.) i then cover it with water and let it sit for a half hour.
*while the vinegar is working to begin pulling minerals out of the bones, i prepare my vegetables.  i usually use about eight carrots, six stalks of celery, one onion, one head of garlic and a bundle of parsley.  all i do is wash the vegetables, trim off any bad spots and cut them in half.  my mom swears that the skins of the onion and garlic add extra flavor, so i always leave them on.
*next i turn the heat on high as i add all my prepared vegetables to the pot.  then i add about two tablespoons of sea salt, two or three bay leaves and a cinnamon stick.  i learned on the food network that a cinnamon stick in broth adds depth of flavor:) you can't taste it in the broth, but it lends a hand in the background to meld flavors together.
*once everything is in, i add more water if necessary to reach the top inch of the pot. when the broth comes to a boil, i skim off the foam which is impurities floating to the top.
*finally i put the lid on, turn the heat between low and medium and let the broth develop into a nourishing miracle for at least the next six hours.  i check on it occasionally and add more water if necessary.
*when it's done cooking, ill take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.  using a medium sized mesh strainer, i dip all the solids out of the broth.
*and now im left with delicious broth!

one turkey and three chickens later.....and this is just a portion of the broth i made this week!  i already used some up making quinoa, mushroom soup and lentil soup. yum!  

having broth on hand at all times, makes your cooking possibilities limitless.  once my broth is done cooking, i like to divide it into two cup portions and store it in ziplock bags, labeled with what type of broth it is and the month and year it was made.  if broth even lasted six months in my house, i suppose six months would be the longest i would feel comfortable keeping it in my freezer.  whenever i cook beans or grains, i can just pull a bag out of the freezer to use as the liquid in the recipe and its ready to add deep flavor and nutrition to our dinner.  when im feeling like a fancy upgrade to a meal, i know that i can always boil the broth down to a gourmet souce.  when im feeling a sickness coming on i help my body regain strength by sipping on warm broth.  and of course, on days when i go all out and make big pots of soup i always have broth to pull it all together with ease!

now is the perfect time to start loading your freezer up with broths as there are still plenty of long and dreary winter days ahead of us.  get in the kitchen and experiment with meat and vegetables to find your winning combination!

not only is the week after christmas for broth making, but it's also the week for yummy raw chocolates! come back next week for this insanely delicious recipe!

Monday, December 12, 2011

egg nog: christmas in a glass

christmas day will never be complete until i have my glass (or too many to count) of egg nog.  end of story.  i am lucky enough to have never had the misfortune of drinking store bought egg nog from those scary cartons that show up every year after thanksgiving.  i dont even want to know what kind of chemical mess these companies are trying to pass off as a traditional holiday drink.  so, i apologize to any of you reading this who have ever had the unpleasant experience of drinking said concoction and coming to the terrible conclusion that you dont like egg nog.  but not me...i have lived a life filled with hope, because every year on christmas eve my aunt would serve us homemade egg nog.  you can often find me on my knees thanking god that this tradition was always a part of my life;)  as we would walk into her house every year on christmas eve around 7 pm, paradise beckoned from the kitchen.  a crystal punch bowl filled with that oh so creamy and sweet drink was serene and peaceful as it waited on the center of the table for my siblings and i to get busy.  and to top it all off, my aunt would float huge chunks of french vanilla ice cream in the punch bowl to keep it cold.  genious!

now stay with me.  although the egg nog of yesteryear holds a special place in my heart, this egg nog will never find its way into my own kitchen, and certainly not into my child's mouth.  no, dimitri is far more lucky...not only will he grow up enjoying his egg nog, but it will actually nourish his body too!  miracles do exist!  leaving the SAD (standard american diet) world and entering one of raw foods or even whole foods may have you down, thinking that egg nog is just a memory of your past.  but i challenge you this year to make egg nog with real ingredients and enjoy it for the healthful drink that it was originally created to be.  if you prefer one that is vegan or raw, try this recipe, which i enjoyed through out the holiday season last year.

i tried out multiple recipes for egg nog, and after some adjusting and fine tuning, this is the recipe that comes straight from my egg nog lovin heart:

8 organic egg yolks
7 c raw milk (if you dont have access to raw milk, organic whole milk from a reliable source is your next best option, and if you are completely dairy free, half almond milk and half coconut milk should yield the same consistency)
2 c raw cream (if you dont have access to raw cream, buy fresh pasteurized, never ultra pasteurized.  a dairy free option would be coconut cream, although youd probably have to play around with the spices a little bit more)
3/4 c raw honey
8 cloves
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
1-2 tbs cinnamon
2-3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

*gently heat milk and cream over medium heat.  add in cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg and warm on low heat for around twenty minutes stirring every couple of minutes.

*beat egg yolks until light and fluffy.  gradually beat in honey.

*with one ladle full at a time, temper the warm milk into the eggs while continually whisking. once the eggs have come closer to the temperature of the milk, very slowly add eggs into milk while continually whisking.

*once all the eggs are in the milk, take the mixture off the heat and keep whisking for a couple of minutes.  if the egg nog is on the heat for too long, or not continuously whisked, it will get too thick and more resemble a very loose custard.

* dip out the eight cloves and stir in the vanilla.  let cool completely before storing in the fridge.  letting it sit overnight will let the flavors really collide:)  this egg nog will last four days.

now go ahead and sit back while drinking your christmas in a glass!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

hello there

well hello there old friend:) its been quite some time hasnt it? a lot of things have changed since we last sat down to chat.  lets start with the big stuff!

as of now i am 28 weeks pregnant with our second child!  if it werent for the circumstances i would not have received an ultrasound with this pregnancy either, but since the doctors needed it for their peace of mind i gave in.  and found out that our next angel will be a GIRL!!! we are so thrilled that she will be joining our family in february:)

i no longer live among my people.... yes, i am now a foreiner ;)  my husband and i, along with our two year old son packed up and said good by to the good ole' U.S. of A. two months ago to move to germany for his job. we were so excited to move on and see what was in store for us in this big adventure. heck i was just excited to move to a place where they still understood the greatness of bakeries, butchers and markets! my dream came true when we found our house about twenty minutes outside the city, in the german countryside. for the first time ever im surrounded by rolling hills, farms, fresh air...and i couldnt be in love with it more! dont get me wrong, we miss home alot, but i couldnt have asked for a better place to have to be, if i had to be without my usual comforts and my awesome family.  (dont tell anyone, but we actually miss stores like target and bed, bath & beyond...NEVER thought i would have such a thought)

now heres another shocker.  i no longer consider myself a raw foodist. now this one sorta hurts to say and i guess its because it usually feels good to identify yourself with something you are proud of.  my journey started to change at the beginning of the summer when i visited my sister in florida.  our new obsession came to us in due time.  fermented foods rock our world!!!  i used to feel guilty when i ate something cooked, as the voice inside my head would be telling me that i wasnt getting any nutrients and that i was doing more harm than good.  this must be a phase that many raw foodists go through, because so many preach the "epic dangers" of eating cooked foods.  however, i tunneled through this phase right on out to the other side....and i decided to stay. my new outlook on food is "whole nourishing foods."  although some nutrient content may be destroyed while cooking, if you prepare foods properly using ancient wisdom like fermenting, soaking, sprouting and slow cooking, your food will become more nutritious and easier to digest.  my favorite book, Nourishing Traditions pretty much sums up my life right now.  i enjoy things i never thought i would...and its great!  i look forward to getting raw milk at the farm each week, i eat cheeses made naturally from goat or sheep milk, i soak grains before baking delicious things like pancakes or muffins, i dont feel guilty about cooking vegetables and i always have homemade meat broths on hand.  i think i was granted the oppurtunity to go through the raw food stage to study things more closely, but now i have a view that lets me see the bigger picture.  i will always put extreme importance on eating raw veggies, fruits and nuts/seeds, but ive opened new doors that have let more nourishment into my life:)

so what to expect of these changes? well you can bet there will be some really great photos of a cute little baby girl all over this blog come february:)  i cant wait to show you more pictures of germany! its such a beautiful country and just driving through my everyday landscapes takes my breath away. our camera broke and the new one will be here in two weeks!  and for my blog, i would assume that you can expect to see more posts with recipes that are cooked.  ill still try to lend any tips ive learned and other tricks that have made my life easier while nourishing a family.  no matter what, im still me, and you can always expect that!

Auf Wiedersehen!