Showing posts with label Kitchen Advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kitchen Advice. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bone Broth: My Two Secrets for Making Beautiful, Abundant and Affordable Bone Broth

So, in my last post, I confessed my bone broth craze.

I've put into baby's cups.  I make soups and stews with my homemade broths all winter long.  I cook it into my rices and my noodles, I cook it into rice porridge.  Bone broth is a staple in my kitchen.

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is around the corner and everyone is  comparing notes on their turkeys, whether they are going to deep fry or roast them, and whether they are buying frozen or fresh, local or organic.  Whatever you choose to buy, I'm begging you:


Don't throw away those bones.

Nothing breaks my heart like the sight of bones in the trash.  It makes me cringe to think of all of the beautiful soups and broths that could. have. been. 

So, today, I'm going to give you a step-by-step plan so simple that it will take just a few minutes, and you will be rewarded with days of delicious brothy soups in December.  So do yourself a favor and put aside that turkey frame, and after the festivities have died down, and everyone has recovered from their pie-and-turkey coma, come back here and follow my steps to making easy and delicious bone broth.

Over the years of making broth, I have been able to save time and money using two simple broth "secrets." I have shared these tips with many of my friends and even my mother! Here is how I streamline this practice in my kitchen so that I have a steady and simple way to keep an abundant supply of beautiful bone broth.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bone Broth: Why I Turned My Kitchen into a Bone Broth Factory

I wanted to share with my readers something that I am passionate about.

It isn't beautiful.

It isn't a shows-stopper.

But it is a game-changer in the kitchen, and for your health.

I'm talking about broth.


Yes, broth.  Bone broth, that magical stuff, nourishment in a bowl, made from nothing but bones and water.  If you have never made your own broth, this kitchen routine might seem elementary, but really, it is the backbone of your kitchen.

See what I did there?

I promise to stop.  Maybe.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to Stock a Kitchen for Healthful Eating in a Busy Season

There are times in life when you just can't spend much time in the kitchen.

Right now I have a sweet little baby who, added into an already full day of caring for a family and a home, makes kitchen prep time pretty limited.  But there are other reasons we find ourselves in survival mode.  Maybe you are packing up a home and moving (we've done this many times), or in an intense school season (like when my husband studied for the bar exam), or work season (like my first year of teaching).  Maybe someone is ill or pregnant.   Or maybe it's just holiday season!   No matter what the reason, it is suddenly challenging to keep up with your kitchen routines, even if they are simple.

In these seasons of survival, my husband and I  have learned how to be extra kind to ourselves, to be gentle with our expectations, and to try to do the best that we can with what we can.  Move softly, I tell myself, when I feel my heart squeeze in panic over the day's schedule.  And even as I swaddle a baby, or wipe a face, or tell a story, I try to remember that I am worthy of the same gentle care.   I accept help.  I even (swallow) ask for help.  And then I let things go.

For me, though, I have realized that I can let go of the toy situation on the floors or leave piles of laundry for later, but I cannot completely let go of feeding myself healthful foods.  After my second pregnancy, my body was so depleted that I was finally driven to search for a way of eating that could more deeply replenish my body; that is was brought me to traditional foods.  Since then, I have enjoyed a diet rich in nourishing fats, broths, and fermented foods, and my body has grown stronger and more resilient.  After this third pregnancy, then, I committed to try to care for myself as well as I could during the pregnancy and afterwards.  I packed my freezer with wholesome meals, broth and grassfed butters, stocked my fridge and pantry with as many ingredients as I could, and then asked friends to bring me home cooked meals for the first few weeks, so that I could avoid eating out.  But while dinner was brought to me, lunch and dinner were more challenging.

So, what did I do?  I spent a little more at the grocery store and a little less time in the kitchen.  I made sure that I had plenty of easy-to-grab foods in the fridge (because when the little boy is hungry, he wants to eat now, even if the baby needs to be nursed). And then I set aside either an hour (Sunday afternoons work for me right now) to prep a few things for the week, or I set aside a few minutes here and there to restock as my supplies run low (I only have three minutes at a time, so none of these require much hands-on time).

Everything listed below I was able to purchase at my regular grocery store, but I am also fortunate enough to live near a grocery store with a well-stocked natural section.  The list below is long, and I do not buy or make all of these every week, because that would be too much time and too much food for my family, but instead, rotate between them. These are the "extras" that I spring for, or the foods that I do take time to prepare, to help pull me through the rough patches.

Quick lunch - mixed greens salad with blue cheese and homemade vinaigrette, boiled egg, sourdough toast with liver pâté

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bint Rhoda's Real Food Advice for Keeping Sanity in the Kitchen

After a generation or two of shortcut cooking, we have sadly lost the art of keeping a kitchen.  We have lost the rhythms of yesteryear, when food preparation was a central part of our lives.  Now, instead we have two approaches to food:  we have either overly complicated cooking (cooking as hobby, something gourmet and worthy of Instagram shots, something that we love to talk about and watch performed for us), or we have fast-food cooking, where we attempt to produce food in our kitchen with as little investment of energy and time as possible.

We know the problem of the second approach:  Little invested, little reaped.  Anyone who has survived for more than a day on junk food and processed food knows how quickly your health begins to fall apart.

But the other problem, the problem of approaching food as hobby, has just as devastating an effect on our cooking.  It is too overwhelming to produce gourmet food every day, let alone for three meals a day, and then for a family.  Never mind adding in snacks and drinks.  It is just too much, so we are stuck.

But there are ways to get yourself unstuck.  You just have to change your approach to food.  Here are a few practical pieces of advice for how to keep your sanity in a real food, traditional kitchen.  Many of these are the things that my mother taught me to do when I was growing up, and others come from my own experiments in the kitchen.

1.  When you cook, cook big.  Since the very beginning, I learned that if I cook enough for two days, I only have to cook half as much. That seemed like a really great deal to me.  Half the prep time, half the cook time, half the clean up time. Once I got into cooking more and more real food, I found that this wasn't just a time-saving technique, but really the only way that I could manage to keep up with all of my kitchen tasks. Aim to serve every meal to your family twice, if your family is small enough.   If boiling eggs, boil a dozen.  If making rice, make a huge pot, enough for leftovers and then some.  If cooking up beans, freeze extras for later.

2.  On days that your family is eating leftovers, use your kitchen time to prep other things.  On my "leftover" days, I use the extra time to work on other tasks, like replenishing my kombucha and kefir, restocking my yogurt, making labani or kefir cheese, baking bread or crackers, or making a special treat.

3.  Empty you fridge before you fill it.  This might seem like common sense, but it can be often overlooked.  Try to use up as much as you can before you refill your fridge (or pantry).  Yes, every family has a few items that we feel we must have at all times (butter! cheese! apples!) and it may be an emergency if you run out of these items, but try, as best as you can, to make sure that you have really used up all of your food before you do a full restock of your fridge.  This will prevent less waste all around - less cooking, less shopping, less food waste.  

4.  Make a master grocery list. Type it up and organize the ingredients in a way that makes sense to you.  I have a fresh produce section, a meat and dairy section, a dry goods section, and a place to write down my week's meals.   Print it off every week (or laminate it and reuse it), and use that to help keep your kitchen stocked.

5.  Repeat after me:  Real food doesn't have to be complicated.  Real food doesn't have to be gourmet.  Focus on the quality of the ingredients rather than how "foodie" it seems.   Think of your week ahead and set limits for yourself in the kitchen.  Find a few easy, nourishing recipes that everyone in your family likes and make them regularly.  

6. Choose dishes that stretch, instead of single portion foods.  Think casseroles, pots of soup, stews. Round out dishes by serving each of these main dishes with a veggie, a salad and/or some bread.  Not only does this stretch out your food, but I also like to think of this as hospitality food.  If you have a giant casserole in the oven, you can ask that friend to stay for dinner.

7. Roast a big hunk of meat a week.  Roasts have a high yield for minimum effort.  For example, one week, make a large pot roast.  Another week, roast a pork shoulder.  The third week, roast a couple of chickens.

8.  Consider centering your meals around one cuisine.  This is the secret of traditional cooks!  I know, I know, we live in a world where we can have exotic ingredients, condiments, and flavors from around the world, and we certainly do enjoy that.  The down-side of this is that you end up with half used ingredients, and far too many ingredients filling up your pantry.  I find that as I focused on developing a pantry centered around traditional ingredients for one cuisine, made sure my pantry was stocked with those ingredients, and developed simple recipes centered around those ingredients, planning, shopping and cooking became much simpler.

9.  Keep a couple of extremely easy, or extremely fast meals in mind, and keep the ingredients stocked.  For example, I can always make mujjadara, because I always have rice, lentils, and onions, and bone broth in my freezer.  For a fast meal, I always keep a few cans of canned wild salmon.  I can make salmon cakes in ten minutes (and my children are in training to learn how to make this on their own! A woman can dream, right?).

10.  Teach your family to eat (and be thankful for!) what is available rather than what they want.  If you are only buying local, and buying what is in season, this lesson is already evident (no, honey, there are no strawberries.  It is November).  It is so easy to develop a restaurant attitude in a home kitchen, there is so much to be gained by reorienting your and your family's relationship to food.  The gains: more efficient use of food and time, with translates for us, very practically into more time to play with my kids and enough money for quality ingredients.  But even more than these practical gains, this change in attitude changes our relationship with food.  This simple stand against a me-centered consumer attitude toward food (What do I want to eat?  What do I feel like having?) is gently broken when we look away from ourselves and instead look at what we have, what is in our pantry, what the ground has recently produced, and gratefully eat that which we have already been given.

And One More Really Important Piece of Advice . . . 

11.  At least once a week, take a break from the kitchen.  This might mean take-out or a picnic lunch, or a meal with a friend, or leftovers from the freezer.  Remember, cooking real food is real work.  One way that you can honor the real work of the kitchen is by stepping away from it on a regular basis.  I find that when I don't honor this, I run the risk of burnout.

What else do you do to keep your kitchen sane and happy?   

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rhoda's Real Food Refrigerator

Some years back, long before I had children, I visited my parents' home in Bethlehem.  I saw my old life with fresh eyes and one of the things that amazed me was the content of her refrigerator.  At this point, I was used to the American way of life, when I opened up her refrigerator and saw this, I had to take a picture:  

My mother's refrigerator

What surprised me was that almost all of the contents of her fridge were fresh produce!  The sheer quantity was something to behold.  Would my husband and I even be able to eat all of that before it spoiled?  I'm not sure.  What I do know is that my mother is dead against food waste, so I am sure that she used it all.  If you had all of that in your fridge, I think it would change the way you ate.  Instead of reaching for some low-nutrient snack food, you would grab a nectarine or some grapes.