Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries Soup Season, Bone Broth, why we all need it

 Bone broth is everywhere, the newest trend, everything from bone broth stocks to bone broth juices, supplemental bone broth powders and bone broth in capsules, but what is all the rage?

I sat pondering this clear broth and understood it was as old as time just repackaged and renamed for better marketing, so that all those who would could cash in on the new buzz word of our consumer culture.

Your mother's chicken soup is bone broth. It's that simple. Any soup made with the bones and connective tissue and fat simmered over two to three hours is bone broth. 

What's the fuss all about? Here's a few concise facts about what bone broth does and why it is said to support digestion, boost the immune system, act as a probiotic restoring the gut and reverse signs of aging like collagen loss and inflammatory responses. 

  • It is rich in a protein called gelatin made from dissolved collagen. Collagen is found in connective tissue and digested in this way boosts collagen production in our bodies
  • It is rich in amino acids called glycine and proline, neurotransmitters that have anti inflammatory properties and immune system support. Proline helps support joint health and collagen production.
  • B vitamins: Niacin and riboflavin both of which play a role in metabolism, assisting in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and boosting the gut microbiome, it is a probiotic.
  • rich in glucosamine and chonodrotin two nutrients that support joint elasticity and health.
So whatever your age, or gender, physical state bone broth has key roles to play as the fountain of youth from skin to gut to joints to immunity. 
Make sure you are giving yourself a broth made from humanely pasture raised animals as we carry the energy of that which we eat into our own cells, so making a broth from a chicken that hasn't run free and has been pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones will impart these traumas to you as well. 

I make a bone broth and like to add the umami to it, a few different ways today I'll give you one to play with. 
To increase the trace mineral content to your broth add ginger, and scallions, an onion and at the end you can saute' mushrooms, bok choy to give it a Ramen twist as I did. Just remember, good old chicken soup is also a bone broth!!

Ramen Broth

  • 2.2lb pork soup bones or if you can't find I used country ribs 
  • 1 onion , peeled sliced 
  • 3 shallots/scallions green part only
  • 3cm/ cube ginger , cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic

 Ramen Broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
  •  tsp mirin
  • salt to adjust flavor
  • 2 cups Ramen Broth in this recipe , boiling hot
 Ramen Noodles and Toppings 
  • 80-100g/2.8-3.5oz fresh thin buckwheat noodles cooked separately and held until ready to compose soup
  • a few shredds of the boiled pork or if you want to work harder, thinly sliced sautee'd pork (prettier)
  • shredded raw red cabbage
  • 2 baby bokchoy sautee'd with 6 shitake mushrooms sliced in sesame oil, garlic and chili, for a little kick. Add soy or aminos to steam slightly at the end. 
  • Instructions
Ramen Broth
  1. Bring 4L/8.5pt of water in a pot to a boil. Add pork bones and boil for 10 minutes. A lot of scum will surface.

  2. Drain and wash the bones under running cold water one by one, removing coagulated blood.

  3. Add the cleaned bones, the rest of the Ramen Broth ingredients excluding bonito flakes to a large pot with 4L/8.5pt water, and bring it to a boil.

  4. When scum surfaces, occasionally scoop it off gently using a ladle (note 5). Do not mix the broth with the ladle when removing the scum as it will cause the broth to become cloudy.

  5. After removing the scum 4-5 times, turn down the heat to simmer gently.

  6. While simmering, remove scum a few more times in the beginning if required.

  7. Simmer for 2 hours with a lid on but allowing for slight ventilation

  8. Turn the heat off. Put the broth through a sieve and collect only the liquid.
  9. Makes about 1.6L/3.4pt of soup 

Making Soy or Amino Ramen 
  1. Place soy sauce or aminos and mirin in a serving bowl. 

  2. Boil water in a sauce pan and cook noodles and drain.

  3. Add Ramen Broth to the bowl, mix. Taste test the soup and adjust with salt.

  4. Add the noodles. Place topping of your choice and serve immediately. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Stinging nettles, shaman plant medicine and mustard green salad with rainbow trout

The change of season always reminds me my body needs different attention. The shamans of Northern American tribes used plants to treat everything, some of our modern day medicine has its roots, literally, in plants as well. 

Stinging nettles (urtica dioica)  are one such herb I have added to my anti inflammatory arsenal of weapons to fight the big fight against the stiffness and soreness that threatens to invade my joints. 

The indigenous people of America would use this fantastic plant leaves, stems and branches in one of three ways. They discovered that the fine hairlike prickles on the stems of the nettle plant released a natural antihistamine that blocks histamine production in the body when literally flogging the skin. Histamine is a protein that causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. It is produced in response to environmental or dietary proteins. 

If you shy away from modern day flogging no worries, you can make a tea of the dried leaves and roots and this is readily available online or if you’re in Philly, Penn Herb sells it in bulk!

I absolutely love Gold thread tonics as well, for a super hydrating body and brain pick me up, they are always in my cabinet, they don't contain any sugar either but have just a tad of sweetness from erythritol.

If you can find fresh nettle you can use it as you would spinach, make a nettle soup with miso or a risotto with stinging nettle. 

I’ve chosen tea for our purposes and am cooking with mustard greens which are more readily available, fresh, during this season and contain polyphenols and flavonoids also responsible for anti inflammation and anti oxidation in the body.

Mustard greens have a bite stronger than arugula ( rucola)  when eaten raw which I love! 

Simply dressed with an avocado as dressing works best to temper their peppery nature.

Butterflied broiled Rainbow trout and mustard greens

1 butterflied rainbow trout 

Za’atar seasoning (see quarantine diaries day 5)

Himalayan sea salt

Campot pepper ground with a mortar and pestle

1 bunch Mustard Greens

Roasted beets ( Beets done three ways post) 

1/2 avocado 

juice of 1/2 one lemon

Olive oil extra virgin, cold pressed to taste

Heavily pepper, and Za’atar season the butterflied trout, place on parchment and on a cookie sheet to broil.

Roast beets even a day earlier and slice, bring to room temp.

Roughly chop mustard greens and massage with 1/2 avocado, lemon, olive oil salt and pepper.

Broil trout for 8-10 minutes, it’s thin you don’t want to dry it out.

Serve next to beets and dressed mustard greens and a cup of nettle tea... find and feel inflammation melting away.

And a playlist to heat up a practice you choose, yoga, choose your healing.

Indigenous vibes

Friday, September 25, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries, Lists of Joy, Emoto's Water Study and Happy Birthday Cake

 It's a simple practice, not complex, but it does require discipline. I sit up in bed as soon as I wake and write a list, somedays it's five things, somedays it's two but I write it everyday, that's the discipline. I write a list of things that make me smile, that persuade the edges of my mouth to turn upward from inside reflecting outward. 

A dense foam atop a well balanced cappuccino 

the smell of the crisp outside on someone when they walk past me

sun warming my skin on a chilly autumn morning

a fire in the fireplace

coconut cream 

the softness of a dog's ear

The brain is organized into a pattern of joyful thought as it's first job of every morning by doing this, it sets the tone for the day. So, as we continue are day whatever may present itself you have half a chance at the brain trying to find a way back to detaching from drama and focusing on simple joys. 

Dr. Masaru Emoto was one of the first individuals to conduct a scientific experiment on the power of positive words versus negative criticism or bullying words on glasses of water over time. He wrote a book and published these studies called, The Hidden Messages in Water. Dr. Emoto's study took bottles of water and taped pieces of paper with words of praise on some and words of criticism on others and taped the words facing the inside of the bottle. These bottles were frozen and the crystallization of the water in each of the bottles repeatedly formed beautiful symmetric crystals in the positive intention bottles and disorganized "ugly" crystals in the bottles written with criticism and mean words. The intentions we have and the words we use hold power to change how an individual looks and feels and Dr. Emoto's experiments are the physical manifestation of this. 

He went on to create more experiments like this and others in the field have followed showing over and over again the power of intentions and words. I choose to give myself positive thoughts in the morning to breed beauty from within. We can't always say the right thing, avoid a criticism but we can auto correct, we can apologize for harsh words and realize the impact they have had.  And we can choose not to engage with those who cannot see the damaging effect of words.

I made my birthday cake, because I love to share and cook, because I had a new cake to try and wanted to, and that is the other thing about intention and positive thought, when cooking that love can be felt and tasted in the food that is made from that state of being, equally if you're in a terrible mood or arguing while cooking I guarantee the food doesn't taste good. Give it a try, conduct your own little experiments proving the power of intention.

Clementine Madeliene Cake

4 clementines 

1 1//4 cup sweetener ( I used coconut sugar but it does turn the cake darker )

6 pasture raised eggs

1 2/3 cup finely ground almond flour 

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Wash the clementines well and soak for one hour in cold, clean, water, drain. Add the whole fruit peel and all to a saucepan, cover with water, cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2- 2 hours to soften.

grease and flour ( I used the almond flour) a 10" spring form pan, preheat oven to 350F. 

Drain and remove any seeds from the clementines before putting in a food processor. Add sugar, eggs, almond meal and baking soda and lemon juice in that order. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about an hour, checking periodically with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. Mine was done in 50 minutes!

Dust with powder sugar. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries Birthdays and Autumn Kale Salad, Avocado dressing and Smoked Chili Pepitos

I’m two days away from another birthday, I’m in grad school for mind body medicine with a specialization in healing foods, I spend my days teaching yoga, inventing new recipes and reading literature on the mind body connection.

What could be better?

Can you believe I have teenage girls who absolutely hate me? It’s true, the cliche’ has finally hit me too. I’m not exactly sure why I thought I could avoid this rite of passage with my specific brand of mothering, clearly it makes no difference whatsoever.

Though my evolution to extreme presence and mindful behavior is a daily discipline I am not surrounded at all times by those doing the same, nor was I always so acutely aware and mindful. So here I am watching the cycle of the human condition and trying to pay attention, stay present and see from all sides, though my feelings are hurt. It stings. 

Interaction always has two sides and hurt builds

up over time. Children are little souls with little life experience but great big overwhelming feelings peppered by hormonal surges and the hearty development of the ego for sense of self apart from the family.

It’s all necessary development for separation but as a mother who is an empath and disciplined to living intentionally, it  can feel like fingernails down a chalkboard.

So I cook. 

I cook to nourish my body, to soothe my hurts, I walk wounded back deep into my sanctuary of a kitchen to heal because there is not always an answer, or a should’ve or could’ve, there is just what is and the hurt that makes way for the fertile soil of new growth.

I’ve decided massaging kale with avocado, olive oil and salt will be therapeutic.  A recent trip to a nearby farmer’s market has me left me with a giant bush of perky red kale and some tiny sweet potatoes. The oven is on, I’ve stacked a small 1/16 of a cord of wood on my balcony and I’m making the first fire of the season.

I pop the sweet  potatoes in the oven and kneel to pay the reverence deserved to the healing energy a fire can offer. 

I soaked my kale to let free any critter that might have been chameleon like, hid amongst the lacy edges and deep purple veins

And I let the tears roll. 

Pema Chodron says the beauty is in letting their be room for everything, the joy, the pain, the grief and the mundane, the healing comes from the room you leave open to all of the experience. She says there is no real fixing things for good, that things come together and then they fall apart and they come together again, it’s just like that. And it’s ok.

Autumnal Kale Salad

1 bunch organic red kale ( shred into bite size pieces, de vein)

1 avocado

1-2tbsp olive oil ( depending on how big your avocado is)

1/2 juice of lemon

3 -4 tiny sweet potatoes ( mine were like ginger roots they were so small) 

1/4 of a red onion thinly sliced

1/2 cup of cooked quinoa

2/3 cup Pepitos 

1/4 tsp turmeric 

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

A dash of chili oil or chili powder 

Salt and pepper

Roast sweet potatoes skins on until soft.

Dry off washed and shredded kale ( I make bite size pieces not a slaw) .

Boil quinoa and set aside, I put a piece of kombu seaweed in my boiling water with the quinoa as it imparts iodine , vitamin A and manganese all the nutrients hard to get into the body otherwise. 

Sprinkle Pepitos onto a parchment lined baking sheet and dust with the spices listed above, coat with chili oil if you have it, if not use chili powder or even cayenne and coat with olive oil, finish with salt and pepper. Try the small seeds before putting them in the oven and see if your taste buds want to adjust the balance of flavor!

Roast just until the spices start to perfume in the oven, any longer and they will burn and taste bitter. 

My oven was on at 350 for the sweet potatoes and it took 10 min. 

Find a big bowl and place kale, olive oil, the avocado, lemon juice , salt and pepper in it and begin massaging. Literally squish the avocado into the leaves of kale, this is your dressing! 

After the kale has relented it’s stiffness and become softer you’re ready to add in all the other ingredients. Sweet potatoes, onion, quinoa, Pepitos and toss maybe adding a dash of smoked paprika, salt, and pepper as well as a touch base more olive oil !

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries, Metal Season, Amaranth Porridge and Baked Peaches


The mornings feel crisp, I open the balcony door and breathe in the beginnings of fall, throw a wrap around my shoulders and decide to bake my ripened peaches for breakfast. A bag of unopened amaranth sits on my kitchen counter and I think about making soft and grounding  warm porridge today. 

Soaking amaranth overnight is better but I decide I’ll make it directly and let it cook longer. The measurements are 3:1, 3 parts water and 1 part amaranth.  So you can adjust the recipe according to how many bowls you need. 

We are almost at the fall equinox the 22nd- 23rd of September when the day and night are equal before the night begins to chase the day in the following months and darkness is greater than light. 

Fall is metal season in Chinese element theory where each season is represented by an element.  Metal is represented by decay and grief,  it is a time when the leaves begin to change and fall along with last fruits on the trees to lay at the base of the tree and decay. Though this may sound macabre it’s actually a necessary passage to ensure a rich soil  which will in turn provide new life after the long restoration period of winter. 

And such is the cycle of our lives. Things begin and end and begin again but not before a period of loss and grieving. It is just this process of grieving that lays the richness to the soil of our souls from which springs forth new life, and wisdom. This process however only occurs if we become aware of the beauty of loss and change, of the ending of things as the start of new things.  If we become moored in the past and hold onto what was then often we miss the opportunity for growth from loss. 

The discipline of looking at both having and losing as integral parts to a whole begins this beautiful process we call awakening.  Fall reminds me of this more than any other season, I am reminded to hold things and people  I cherish with an open hand instead of a tight fist so that they are free to come and go, and how much I have learned and grown from loss. 

The metal element is also associated with the sense of scent and light, the kind of light seen in early fall that holds suspended particles in the air that look like fairydust. It is called cathedral light and occurs only when the sun is at a particular angle to the earth, only in fall. 

Scent is a powerful trigger of memory and metal individuals associate memories with particular scents, they are drawn to or away from places and people due to scent as well.

Being a metal myself and a chef I am acutely aware of spices used in cooking and love to play “guess what’s in this dish”.  I am drawn to foods that are aromatic and delight the senses.

My peaches are almost baked, a crumble of coconut sugar glazing the deep red center of each slice and my amaranth has just about soaked up all the water.  A dollop of butter, a splash of oat milk and I’m ready to sit with a bowl wrapped in a cozy blanket and soak up the morning sun.

Amaranth Porridge and Baked Peaches

serves 2

1/2 cup amaranth

1 1/2 cup water

2 chopped dates

1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut 

pinch of salt

dash of non dairy milk, oat, almond or soy

1 tsp knob of butter

2 peaches quartered and pitted

1 tbsp coconut palm brown sugar

Set the water and amaranth to boil once boiling add dates and coconut and reduce heat to simmer covered for 30 min. 

Uncover and add butter and dash of oat milk ( non dairy milk) and stir. Let set up about five minutes.

Place cut peaches on parchment and sprinkle sugar on top, place under the broiler at a good distance away do the peaches will warm through but not burn instantly!! 

Arrange peaches atop the porridge, garnish with mint, toasted pecans or whatever will give a little crunch to the texture!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Farro: Ancient Grain Salad and The Sound of Silence

 My day starts in a similar way to how it ends, I check on the people I love and let them know how much they are loved. Some days pass with a gentle exchange of I love you's and goodnights and good mornings, and others bring with them the opening of old wounds, or the unveiling of things in our character that need attention, or a new drama. 

I am given the opportunity to practice my discipline on these days. I challenge myself to avoid past behaviors and look to put to use what I preach. The first step is to be quiet and listen. Quiet is a space so many of us feel uncomfortable inhabiting, but oh how it can leave room for understanding, relating and simply creating a peaceful environment for the other person talking. We here another's problems and usually jump immediately into rescue mode, fix mode, pity mode. Thich Nhat Hanh once said, 

"All the wonders of life are already here. They’re calling you. If you can listen to them, you will be able to stop running. What you need, what we all need, is silence. Stop the noise in your mind in order for the wondrous sounds of life to be heard. Then you can begin to live your life authentically and deeply."

We all need this space, this breathing room that silence offers us to slow down the wheels of thought and learned behaviors, to instead sit and remove ourselves from the emotion attached to a story or event so that we might see it better. I often think about interactions or conversations like a many faceted cube. If I can sit for a moment I can take the words said and those not said and see all sides of the conversation like a three dimensional cube. When more than just one side of an event is seen then compassion can be practiced in the most difficult of situations. When silence and the breath are used then even listening can be a form of meditation. The compassion found in the silence of listening is the second step, having an open enough heart to hear and in turn feel compassion for another. 

It is with the authenticity of compassion that conversation can become liberating, space creating, eye opening, but only from a place of compassion achieved through true listening. We already really know what we are asking of others, and it isn't a solution or their pity,  it is simply that we are looking for support or compassion to gives us the strength to make difficult choices and decisions. All we need we already have. Those of us that would want to offer guidance are really only offering tools to use, but we each have to wield the tools ourselves we can't do it for someone else. 

These are the musings in my brain as I sort and rinse this powerful little whole grain called Farro, or Spelt. I don't eat much gluten, certainly never refined white flours, I am not celiac but am incredibly sensitive to flours that have been manipulated in anyway, if you are in tune to the vibration of your food you may begin to notice you are too!! Farro is the Italian term used to define one of three ancient grains, Einkorn, Emmer and Spelt. These grains originated in Mesopotamia and are packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants,  making this grain a crucial component for  a mainly plant based diet. 

In the summer I run the gamut of room temp salads and I eat way less meat protein as my body seasonally craves lighter brighter more colorful foods of the season we are in rather than dense meat and starchy veggies. My kids will tell you I say, "eat a rainbow" or "make sure your plate looks like a rainbow of color"  and I mean it. I tend to make this salad as a main dish, not a side to another protein because it is complete in and of itself. After sorting the farro grains, ridding them of possible debris in their gathering, like stones or hardened soil put them to boil in water, 1 cup farro to 2 cups water with a pinch of salt. When the water begins to boil, cover and simmer for 20 min or until tender which will depend on whether you have bought husked or unhusked farro, so after ten minutes lift the lid and check to see if they taste nutty, not done, or springy, done. 

The full recipe is below, but I'll offer one last practice to use while cooking. Imagine that what you are doing is just as important and nourishing to yourself and others as a conversation or hug. The effort and care with which you curate and compose a meal brings that energy with it for the person who enjoys eating it.  

Fruited Farro

serves 2-3 as a main course

1 cup Farro
2 cups water
one plum chopped 
1 bunch arugula
1 bunch basil julienned
1 cup toasted and chopped pecans
1 Persian cucumber chopped
Balsamic glaze
salt and pepper 
zest of one lemon

Prepare farro as instructed above in the body of the text, set aside to cool to room temp
put in all other ingredients, toss with Evoo, balsamic, salt and pepper and lemon zest all to taste. You can add a dash of umami by using a little toasted and ground coriander as the "fifth" flavor.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Watering Seeds of Joy While Making Seafood Risotto, Quarantine Diaries Day 140 Something

    All of us suffer, each of us has a story in our past, or present that creates potential for our suffering, every last one of us. If you have witnessed individuals or listened to yoga or philosophy teachers, spiritual teachers and the like and seen them full of joy and serenity it is not for lack of past or present  trauma in their personal lives. 
I had had a particularly trying day so I did what I do best, I went food shopping and began my moving meditation of cooking. You see to clear my head nothing works better for me than cooking a meal, the repetitive nature of washing, chopping, searing and stirring in perfect silence somehow provides insight internally. As I sifted through mussels and emptied squid bodies of their internal organs and odd plastic like spines, I thought about the fact that no person lives a life without emotional trauma whether past or present, myself included.  The key to inner serenity is our relationship or attachment to this negativity in our lives. We are born and accumulate both seeds of negativity and seeds of joy within our consciousness, those individuals we see as calm and serene have simply disciplined themselves to water the seeds of joy in their lives and detach emotional energy from the seeds of negativity and suffering. 
I chopped a quarter of a white onion and two cloves of garlic, a handful of Castelvetrano olives and three anchovies. The pan heated the olive oil and I slid the ingredients in, listening to the sizzle my brain continued to make these beautiful synapses between how joy is created, how serenity is achieved through active participation in cultivating attention to these seeds and not those of our suffering. 
The onion became translucent and I added freshly grated lemon zest, the scent filled the air for a brief moment and I mentally jotted down another thing that created joy in my brain, the scent of lemon. 
Though we take a daily dose of our individual dramas, it is not necessary to attach emotion to them, that is an option.
Better I think to attach emotion to the scent of lemon. 
The par boiled Arborio rice is sifted into the pan and quickly followed by mussels, shrimp, and calamari, seconds later a generous pour of dry white wine, and a generous drink of the same for me. Timing is everything in cooking, in life. Things take time, and then it feels as if time has run out and things must be done swiftly, it's this beautiful give and take of allowing for each thing in life to take the time it needs and without judgement honor it.
Just as soon as the wine evaporates the fish stock I had been boiling on the back burner is ladled in one at a time, instead of all at once, paying particularly close attention to when the risotto calls for more. After the first ladle two quick ladles of sauce I had prepared earlier, simply whole tomatoes, white onion, basil and salt. 
A dash of pepper, saffron fronds and a moment or two covered and left to steam through each grain of rice before the next stir and ladle. It's like that in life, a constant agitation of an event or trauma stirred in the consciousness is never the right answer, rather a balance of letting things rest and settle and open on their own, intermittently between stirring the pot is always a better balance I think to myself while leaving the risotto to do it 's thing alone. 
Cooking a simple risotto, making an avocado toast, whatever it is if you listen closely has so much to teach about who we are and why we do the things we do. My thoughts about nurturing and watering seeds of joy have come from this risotto. I wonder if that will be imparted through it's eating to those I feed it to? Hmm....the power of thought.

Seafood Risotto 

1 lb of mussels 
2 squid, cleaned and cut into rings and tentacles
1/2 lb of peeled deveined shrimp ( save the shells for stock )
3 anchovies
1/4 cup chopped fennel
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 of a white onion minced
7-10 chopped Castelvetrano olives
1 tbsp capers
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 handfuls Arborio Rice ( parboiled 5 minutes)
1 can whole tomatoes ( made into sauce with onion and basil and salt) or tomato puree
2 cups or more shellfish stock ( made from scratch)
1 knob of butter
a handful of fresh watercress 
Parmigiano to garnish

Parboil rice for five minutes and drain. Make sure timing is correct, boil water and let boil until you are ready to put seafood into the pan, then pour rice into subtly salted water for 5 min.
Put shrimp shells and a slice of additional onion and onion skin, ma few stalks of fennel and the garlic skin into 4 cups of water and set to boil.
Meanwhile in a wide open pan place EVOO and onion, garlic, fennel, anchovies, capers and olives on medium heat until onion is translucent. Add the tomato paste and seafood, drained rice and turn up the heat,  quickly add the wine and let it evaporate, maybe 2 min, follow with fish stock and scrape the bottom of the pan, ladle in two ladles of tomato sauce or puree and cover. five minutes later lift lid and add more stock and repeat the craping of the bottom of the pan. repeat until the rice accepts no more liquid, about 15 minutes from start ( adding of rice) to finish.
Arrange mussels around the pan, add the knob of butter, stir in and let sit for another 3 minutes. Add, watercress, Parmigiano, and lemon zest and pepper. 
Buon Appetito!!