Making Health in My Kitchen
I wrote this blog in May and just found it again today. I can’t believe it has been only 3 ½ months since the election. It feels like a year has passed! Interestingly though, I worked through my white space and rest recently and have succumbed to a sniffle. This morning, as I struggled with fuzzy head and some Monday-itis, I spent two hours in the kitchen, making stock, prepping my cultures of sourdough and kefir, making bread and soaking grains.
There’s a huge caterpillar eating my silver beet, a chainsaw going next door, three out of four of us here are sick. The 4th is just holding out, but she has year 12 exams in 2 days. With her building stress, I don’t like her chances of avoiding this virulent cold. There’s washing all over my kitchen table, my office is a mess and I am SO Calmly, joyously, satisfyingly HAPPY today.
The sun is out, I’ve been for a walk to buy chicken bones and I’m now in the kitchen making HEALTH for my family. Chicken stock is simmering on the stove while my trusty 16-year-old thermomix is cooking vegetable stock concentrate. These are two health elixirs that everyone needs to know how to prepare – at home and fresh. It is the ONLY way to ensure you are getting the goodness you need. But there are more reasons to do this yourself:
- Home-made produce like this is economical: Chicken stock 3L = $2.30, vegetable stock concentrate 2L = $0.80.
- Environmentally friendly and waste conscious: carcass or saved bones used for chicken stock, stems and ends plus garden herbs or even garden weeds for stock – very little left to compost or feed the chooks.
- Healthier: gut healing glucosamine is released from the bones when they are cooked for a long time, gelatin from tendons and cartilage also heal leaky gut to support the immune system as well as your ability to extract nutrients from food without having a sensitivity issue. Minerals present in leafy vegetable stalks – especially the increased presence of preservative type antioxidants etc. when a grub is eating the plant – are essential for nervous system signalling, muscle contraction and release, brain function and they are alkaline thereby reducing acidity related inflammation and histamines.
- Convenient: vegetable stock concentrate can be used to make a simple soup with hot water if you’re time poor. It also improves the flavour everything from bolognese to paella to soup.
I have fallen into the slipstream of our society lately – continuing to push through scheduled rest days as I hadn’t completed my To Do list and feeling unworthy because I hadn’t achieved enough. Do you get that way too? Can you see already where it has gotten me? Rather than getting to a place of completion, I ‘lost’ 2 nights of decent sleep tending my little one as she choked and snorted in her fevered sleep, then a day nursing her and now two days myself needing to sleep, plus at least another day slowed by mind-fog. A smarter woman (should have been me) would have finished work on time and taken that scheduled ½ day rest.
Well, there’s nothing much else I can do today other than make chicken soup, air the house, mix up some more immune support and sore-throat herbs and write you a little love-note to maybe help you remember too! Maybe I’ll see this again before I agree to a 15-hour day in the cold next year, or work right through my next scheduled white space. Nobody’s perfect and I firmly believe that we grow in a widening, and upward moving spiral, revisiting areas of required learning again and again until we have perfected that lesson.
Vegetable Stock Concentrate
I have a recipe which calls for specific quantities of this and that vegetable. It is not a seasonal recipe, nor does it take into account what I have in my fridge, freezer and garden. So here is the enviro/econo/household/health – friendly version:
800g – 1kg mixed vegetable stalks, ends, leaves, lumpy bits*
You know how kids won’t eat the bit that looks like a bird had a taste? Or the carrot from the garden is a bit wriggly and thin and hairy at the bottom? These are the bits you save (in the freezer for a few weeks if necessary to accumulate) and use in stock. Also use stalks of kale, beetroot, silver beet, any leaves if they didn’t go in your breakfast already – think beet, celery, carrot stalks, broccoli and cauliflower outer leaves, cabbage, outer tough lettuce leaves…and more. Then the stalks of broccoli – cut the leathery ‘bark’ off and use the rest like carrot or potato, cauliflower leaves, parsnips, even a few radishes, parsley and coriander. This is all the good stuff, covered with healthy, local pre- and pro-biotics, filled with enzymes and antioxidants, full of essential oils that the plants develop to kill bugs, and which will help you too.
Even skins – if you haven’t already drizzled them in oil and salted to make chips – so long as there’s no dirt on them, they’re fair (and Vitamin-C-rich) game for stock! Yep, my stock is responsible for depriving chickens of scraps!
Of course, some of these nutrients are sensitive to heat, but most foods can tolerate low cooking temps and in the thermomix, I’m cooking at 100oC or less.
1 onion, 2-3 cloves garlic, fresh herbs as you have them, or chuck in a couple tablespoons of dried herbs.
200g quality, non-iodised, sea salt
50g olive oil
Chop all the scraps to sizes small enough for your thermo or blender to blitz… and blitz. Then add salt and oil and cook for 23 minutes on 100oC. If on the stove top, you’re going to have to cook on very low heat, stirring often until fibres are soft broken up – maybe 30 minutes. While still hot, carefully transfer to sterilised jars. Once cool, store in the fridge for up to 6 months but know it will never last that long!