Tex Mex Veggie Soup and a Little Soul Talk

Reminiscing today about our little Indians, Thanksgiving 2014:

Levi with his Great Grandma Thomas

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(Check out the crayons jar and white butcher block paper. Our little ones colored, creating pumpkins and turkeys, while the adults lingered over the Thanksgiving meal. Actually, the big people got into drawing as well!)

Owen with his Mama and Uncle Jack~

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I delight in cooking Thanksgiving dinner for family. There’s just something about getting up before sunrise and the rest of the family to begin preparing our meal. I love the quiet with coffee and time to reflect and rejoice.

I find it a bit sad that thankfulness and gratitude have been popularized to the point of best-sellers and study guides. According to Webster, gratitude is a feeling. What happened that people have to work at feeling thankful? Can we truly cultivate it with a six week program that promises a new attitude?

Today I discovered an organization Greater Good, The Science of Meaning and Life, that guarantees school teachers that once they implement its gratitude curriculum, their students will manifest thankfulness for at least the next five months. Alrighty then! At Greater Good, you can participate in a variety of initiatives to produce thankfulness.

Certainly carving out intentional time for thankfulness activities is a wonderful and important activity. Making thanksgiving explicit is good for a number of reasons. I just wonder if we’re missing out on doing a little inner exploration at why thankfulness is natural for some and a struggle for others.

Straight up, when I am in a controlling or perfectionistic mode, gratitude goes out the window. I know that I need transformation.

And that isn’t from a book, a program, or the latest TED video. It’s between me and Jesus. Perhaps that’s another reason to love Thanksgiving. It points me in the right direction, becoming more like Him.

Well, if you were looking for a recipe and not a devotional, here you go.

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Food-wise we’ll be “turkeyed out” in no time, so moving forward with some new meals.

With my recent pantry and fridge purge, I was able to put together eight dishes. Some were directed by foodie bloggers,  others I basically made up as I went along, including this Tex-Mex soup recipe.

                                                              

Love the turkey stock for the base. It gives great flavor to a soup. Go here if you have not tried making homemade stock before and want to learn more. I think you’ll be pleased with the taste.

I could eat this soup at every meal. Add a piece of  bread such as sourdough, Einkorn, or Ezekial 4:9 with almond butter and you have a nutritious, (low carb if needed), offering.

Tex Mex Veggie Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsps. butter

1 minced garlic clove

1/2 cup of diced celery

1/2 cup of diced onions

4 cups of turkey stock

2 ounces of diced mild green chiles

13 ounce can of diced tomatoes

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cups of pre-cooked black beans

1/2 cup of frozen corn

1/2 cup of julienned carrots

dollop of sour cream or shredded cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in a stock pot. I only have an 8 quart size, so that’s what I always use for soup. Add garlic, onions, and celery. Saute on medium heat until vegetables are softened.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the sour cream or shredded cheese.
  3. Bring to boil. Turn down heat to simmer until tomatoes are broken down a bit, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Put a few cups in a bowl and top with sour cream or shredded cheese if you’d like. Season with pepper and salt as needed. (I love pepper, so I almost always add it to my dishes. Jim can’t tolerate it because it makes his ears ring, so I have to make sure I only sprinkle it on my own servings.)

Okay . . .  just one more picture of my grandson, post Thanksgiving 2014 meal. Owen loves to create!

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See you next year, backyard friends~

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Stocking Up

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Today we celebrated with Jim’s mom and sister. I used homemade turkey stock I had on hand in the freezer for the turkey gravy (gravy recipe courtesy of Pioneer Woman.) More on that later . . .

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If you haven’t embraced making your own chicken, turkey, vegetable, or beef stock, now is a great time! Save that Thanksgiving turkey carcass, or ask your holiday hosts if they want to part with theirs. Stock is healthy, easy, delicious, and economical.

I got hooked on making homemade stock thanks to Lisa Leake’s encouragement on her  100 Days of Real Food blog. Basically, real food to Lisa means bypassing food purchases that boast more than five ingredients on the label. Anymore than that and, Lisa contends,  you will probably be eating chemicals. Homemade stock requires only real food ingredients which is a necessity for Jim and a cooking goal for me.  I really like her approach; implement one new healthy choice at a time until “real food” is the norm in your daily menu planning.

Lisa’s blog introduced me to a simple homemade chicken stock recipe in the crockpot, and I’ve been doing vegetable, beef, chicken, and turkey stocks from scratch ever since. She’s into cutting out refined sugar, eating organic when possible, and frugal food shopping. I’ve done some of her challenges to cut out processed foods from my cooking. Very fun and motivating!

 

Katie Kimball at Kitchen Stewardship offers a quality stock recipe as well. Her blog covers a wide spectrum of topics, going beyond recipes and meal planning. If it’s healthy and homemade, she’s game to talk about it. Interestingly, her technique for stock is a bit different from Lisa’s as she focuses on pulling the most nutrients possible out of the bones. Her stock is made in a large pot on the stove and requires a few more steps. Katie is a bit more into the science of cooking, providing explanations to how her methods may be more nutritional. What I appreciate about Katie’s blog is when she learns something that improves the nutritional benefits of her recipes, she doesn’t hesitate to share these findings and the rationale behind the changes. She’s always trying to do better in the kitchen, and so am I.

Keeper of the Home, an quality blog of frugal living, also has an excellent homemade stock recipe. It’s similar to the one at Kitchen Stewardship. What these two blogs have in common is the emphasis on adding vinegar to the stock water to pull out nutrients and the importance of creating gelatin with your stock.

For specifics and steps to making homemade stock, check out any of the blogs above. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at what I do to get you started.

Crockpot Method (Lisa Leake et al)

  1. Place bones of a beef roast, chicken, or turkey carcass in an 8 quart crockpot. Or if you are making vegetable stock, place vegetable scraps such as the ends of celery and carrots, skins of onions, tips of snap green beans, and the outer covering of garlic. For the meat stocks, add celery, carrots, onions, and/or garlic. It doesn’t matter how much or how many.
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Just throw the whole chicken carcass or other leftover bones in the crock.

2. Fill crockpot with water, vegetables, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Use whole fresh veggies, scraps from a recent meal you made, or odds and ends that you saved in your freezer.

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I pulled these veggie scraps out of the freezer. Save those scraps for stock!

 

3. Cook on low for 12-24 hours.

4. Strain broth into a bowl.

5. Pour into glass jars. Leave a good inch from the top of the jar.

6. Freeze or use some immediately for a soup or casserole. My crockpot makes 8 cups of stock.

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Heads up on the gelatin: if you don’t crack the bones or add vinegar to the water, you may not get that gelatinous goo that’s so good for you. Also, the vinegar draws out good stuff from the bones that is touted to help keep the body healthy. I would encourage you to do a little research on this gelling thing and it’s benefits. Kitchen Stewardship and Gnowfglins are good sites for info.

For my inspiration on the crockpot method, see Lisa Leake’s crockpot recipe.

 

Stock Pot Stove-Top Method (Katie Kimball et al)

  1. Place bones of your choice, or assorted vegetable peels and scraps, in an 8 quarter stock pot. Fill with cold water.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and let sit for 2 hours. Simmer on low for 24 hours.
  3. Strain broth into a bowl. Let cool.
  4. Pour into glass jars. Leave a good inch from the top of the jar.
  5. Freeze all or save a few cups in the fridge for soups and casseroles. For a more detailed recipe, see Katie Kimball’s recipe. 

Besides using homemade stock for extra nutrition in your recipes, I’ve never considered that just drinking the bone broth straight is also good for you.  Personally, I haven’t given it a try. I just got used to oil swishing, for Pete’s sake! Sigh . . . maybe after Thanksgiving and my next batch of stock.

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One of our Autumn backyard visitors. And no we don’t eat our wild turkeys. They’re our friends!

 

Cooking Craze!

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I’m in one of those Chopped cooking show moods. For those of you unfamiliar with this Food Network hit, contestants get a basket of random food items and must make an appetizer, main course, and dessert with the selected foods plus items they choose from the Chopped pantry. Well, my pantry and fridge are overflowing with ingredients that need to be used so I pulled a semi-Kondo* closet move and here’s what I ended up with on my kitchen island.

view from one side of my island
view from one end of my island

a bag of lentils, the last of my garden potatoes, leftover chopped broccoli, a block of cheddar cheese, homemade turkey broth, leftover chives, a cup of quinoa, millet, random spices, cans of garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, and a bag of uncooked black beans . . .

And then there’s the other side of the island~

Einkorn flour, sour cream, ginger, ripe bananas, brie, oatmeal, ginger snaps, unsweetened chocolate, assorted flours, rolled oats, zucchinis, agave syrup . . .

Some items didn’t make it out of the pantry, but I enjoyed using the ones that have been hanging around for a while now.

I wonder if I’m the only crazy person that does something like this and thinks it’s fun.

Here’s what I decided to make after surveying this mess of ingredients:

Cheesy Potato Soup with Broccoli topped with Chives and Sour Cream~ homemade stock and real cream make the difference

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Chocolate Banana Zucchini Bread~ throw in some oats and dot with chocolate chips

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Bartlett Pear Flatbread with Brie and Carmellized Onions~ my copycat recipe of our local wine bar offering; Jim’s favorite from The Happy Grape

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Pumpkin Muffins with Einkorn Flour~ substituting einkorn for whole wheat makes for extra moist and light muffins

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Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole~ so easy since you don’t have to pre-cook the rice or lentils

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Tex-Mex Garbanzo and Black Bean Soup~prepare an extra batch of black beans for your next soup

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Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili~ sweet and spicy

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Not pictured: turkey noodle bake and ginger pear tart.

Recipes coming soon!  I certainly didn’t get through all of the ingredients scattered on my island, but got a few recipes accomplished. I suggest starting with a large batch of homemade stock. It’s a good staple to have available since you can use it in so many dishes such as the soups, chili, and casserole pictured here.    

In the meantime, what’s in your pantry?

*Marie Kondo wrote the popular best seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She suggests you pull everything out of your closet before  making decisions on what to put back and what to discard. If an item brings you joy, then you keep it.

 

                                                                                       

 

 

Cooking with Kohlrabis

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Picking kohlrabis and eating them right from Grandpa Tabar’s garden is a favorite childhood memory for my husband, Jim.  So I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of our grandson Levi in our own garden when he found a coveted kohlrabi for his Grandpa.

 

Sadly, the season for fresh vegetables and berries in our backyard is over.

But fortunately for Jim, I did have a little kohlrabi victory last week!  A farmer in our Local Roots Market co-op brought some in to the Ashland store. Kohlrabis are like dessert to Jim, and he thoroughly enjoyed these.

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Behold the kohlrabi.

As I said, Jim loves them raw and gladly eats them before they even get from the garden to kitchen, brushing off as much dirt as possible. I definitely prefer NOT to do that. Peeling off the tough stems and outer layer is strongly advised. But throw them in a sauté pan with other vegetables or shred them into a slaw and I’m good.

Here are three easy recipes I created for kohlrabis. If you haven’t sampled this small green nutritional veggie yet, I hope this encourages you. Kohlrabis are a bit cabbagey in taste and texture. Give them a try!

It’s so hard to suggest serving sizes. Just depends whatever else you are making. We have a tendency to eat a lot of what we like, no matter the serving size. 

Kohlrabi Green Bean Sautee                                                                                   Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. oil (I prefer refined coconut oil.* Use refined because of it’s high smoke point.)

3 tbsps. aminos**

2 tbsps. brown sugar

1 minced clove of fresh garlic

a couple dashes of freshly ground pepper

1  chopped carrot

1-2 sliced small kohlrabis

handful of fresh or frozen green beans, cut in thirds

1 medium onion, cut in chunks

Directions:

Mix oil, aminos, brown sugar, garlic, and pepper together to make a teriyaki sauce in a small bowl. Coat bottom of the pan with a bit of the sauce (I use an enamel coated cast iron) and heat up on medium high. While sauce is heating, put vegetables in the small bowl to soak up the remainder of the teriyaki. Saute veggies on medium high for five minutes.

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Serve over brown rice, noodles, or as a side dish.

*This link boasts an interesting article on cooking with oils and fats.

**I would encourage you to go to the aminos link and learn about the benefits. Aminos may be too naturally salty for you; if so don’t hesitate to water it down a bit. And make sure not to add salt to your dish.

 

Creamy Kohlrabi Slaw                                                                                               Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

4 medium shredded kohlrabis

2 shredded carrots

1 tbsp. dill weed

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 part mayonnaise and 1 part sour cream~ just enough to coat the vegetables

Directions:

Mix everything in a bowl together. Chill before serving.

 

Poppy Seed Kohlrabi Slaw                                                                                    Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

2-3 medium shredded kohlrabis

1/8 cup chopped red onion

1 small shredded carrot

2 tbsps. olive oil

5 tbsps. white vinegar

3 tbsps. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1 tsp. poppy seeds

Directions:

With an immersion blender or food processor, mix all ingredients except kohlrabi and oil. (I use an immersion blender.) Gradually add oil and blend. Coat shredded kohlrabi with dressing. Save any leftover dressing for a green leafy salad or cabbage slaw.

Obviously, any of these three recipes can be adjusted to your taste. Have fun getting creative with them!  The green beans, kohlrabis, and onions came from my garden, so it was great fun for me to make these dishes. To fellow beginning gardeners: these three veggies are easy to grow so they are good ones to try. I haven’t attempted carrots or garlic yet. Maybe next year. Any helpful hints?

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yes, my onions are small this year; kohlrabi is in the center

 

 

Recipe Rehabs for Tinnitus Sufferers:

If you or someone you are cooking for (like my husband) suffers from tinnitus, ringing in the years, I suggest you adjust your recipes to reduce salicylate from your meals. It’s naturally found in lots of foods and can increase the volume of the ringing. For a list of foods to avoid, see salicylate sensitivities.

Here’s what how I would change up the recipes for Jim. He says it helps.                         Omit carrots and pepper. The creamy slaw may not be a good choice at all for those with ringing in the ears. Substitute ghee or butter for the coconut oil. Substitute malt vinegar for the white vinegar.

I’m constantly substituting ingredients for Jim. Got to take care of our special Grandpa!

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Levi, Jim, and Owen at Five Guys