soup, broth, bone broth, cup of soup, healing broth, healing bone broth

Bone Broth: A Nutrient-Dense, Healing Elixir

By Catherine Winter

Many people are discovering the wonders of bone broth, and with good cause: not only is this soup immensely soothing when you’re under the weather, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Bones from animals that have been raised ethically (namely on organic feed and grass, and free-range living conditions) contain a startling amount of vitamins and minerals. By first roasting and then simmering those bones in water, all that goodness is leached out of them, and in turn, can be consumed by you.

Among the many benefits of bone broth, which include strengthening one’s immune system and promoting overall gut healing, it’s also ideal for reducing stress. When consumed mindfully, savouring each sip and picturing it healing one’s body, it becomes more than just a nourishing drink. It helps one stay in the present moment, which is as good for one’s emotional wellbeing as one’s physical health.

soup ingredients, soup vegetables

Ingredients:

3-4 pounds of beef bones: assorted meat and marrow bones are ideal. You can also toss in chicken bones, chicken feet, turkey wings… whatever you have on hand.
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large bunch of green onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 pinch of summer or winter savoury
1 teaspoon parsley
Sea salt

soup, soup recipe, bone broth, bone broth recipe, healing bone broth

Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the bones in a heavy glass or ceramic baking dish and roast for about 45 minutes. The marrow should have softened or melted by this point, and that’s good! Pour the bones and any melty drippings into a large stock pot or slow-cooker.

Toss in the vegetables and herbs, and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add in the cider vinegar and a bit of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 6-10 hours. If you’re using a crock pot or slow-cooker, you can leave it for up to 24 hours. The longer you let this simmer, the more nutrients will be drawn out of the bones, and the flavours will develop beautifully.

Once done, allow to cool slightly and then strain through cheesecloth into another pot. Place this in the fridge until the excess fats and oils congeal into a thick mass on top, and scrape that off. (Reserve that fat: you can mix it with seeds and set it out in mesh bags for your wild bird friends.)

If your broth has gone gelatinous, don’t worry! That’s a good thing. It means that a lot of collagen has been drawn out of the bones, which is great for your own bone, joint, and muscle health. The broth will return to a liquid state once you’ve heated it up, and you can adjust the salt to taste before drinking it.

 

saving seeds, holding seeds, preserving seeds

How to Save Your Seeds

By Catherine Winter

As desperately as we try to cling to summer, especially since it’s so fleeting here in Quebec’s zone 4, the signs of autumn’s arrival are all around us. Trees are losing their leaves, and the temperature has dropped down to near freezing at night, so we’ve had fires blazing in the woodstove almost every evening. Summer is indeed coming to a close, which is prompting me to get off my arse to collect seeds for next year’s garden.

If you’ve grown some varieties that you really love, be sure to save a bunch of their seeds, both to grow again next year, and to trade with your friends/family. One cannot have too much biodiversity in one’s own vegetable garden, and it’s always wonderful to discover new varieties that those close to you have grown and love.

tomato seeds, heirloom seeds, heirloom tomato seeds, saving tomato seeds

Tomato Seeds

To save seeds from both cherry and full-size tomatoes, scraped the seeds out and place them in a very fine sieve. Rub gently to remove as much pulp as you can, and alternate between that and running them under water to rinse the pulp away. After you’ve done that, put the seeds in a clean jar filled with about half a cup of room-temperature water, and seal with the lid. Place that in a cool, dark cupboard and shake gently a couple of times a day. In about a week, you should see bubbles forming, and most of the seeds will have sunk to the bottom: those are the viable ones. Any of the floaters will be infertile, so toss those into the compost bin.

Rinse the viable seeds in your sieve again, then place them on a piece of paper to let them dry. After a day or so, you can either remove them from the paper and store them in a paper or glassine envelope, or store that entire piece of paper in a larger kraft paper envelope: come springtime, just tear or cut the paper into pieces with the seeds left in place, and plant the seeded paper directly into your soil.

saving beans, saving peas, saving dried beans, dry beans, dried beans

Beans and Peas

If you’ve discovered some fabulous varieties of beans or peas and would like to grow them again next year, that’s awesome: they’re incredibly easy to save. Just let some pods mature fully and dry in the sun as much as possible. Once the skins have started to shrivel up a bit, pick them and put them in a basket or paper bag for a week or so to dry out a bit more.
Then pop the beans/peas out of the dried casings and store them in paper envelopes or glass jars until next planting season. If they’re climbing varieties, you can even grow them indoors over the winter on strings or mesh hung over a sunny window.

Related: Create a Community Seed Bank

pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, saving pumpkin seeds, saving seeds

Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

You know those slippery, gooey innards that squash and pumpkins have? Pick as many seeds as possible out of that mess, and then place them in a colander or other strainer. Rinse them as clean as possible, then spread them on a screen (like an old, clean window screen) to dry in a warm place for a week or so. Place in a paper bag and store in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them again.

(Be sure to save extra if you’d like to roast them as snacks, because who doesn’t love those, really?)

melon seeds, saving melon seeds, how to save melon seeds, cucumber seeds, saving cucumber seeds

Melon and Cucumber Seeds

Use the same technique as for the pumpkin and squash seeds, but try to harvest them from a plant that you’ve allowed to mature for as long as possible out in the garden. Seriously, wait until the thing is close to rotting before you harvest them. Why? Because the seeds within actually get more fertile and viable the longer leave the fruits attached to their stems. If you elevate the fruits on rocks or bricks (or even suspended via some fetching old stockings), the air circulation will delay their decomposition. Once the skin hardens, you’ll know the seeds are at their best and are ready to harvest.

dill seeds, fennel seeds, saving dill seeds, saving fennel seeds, herb seeds, saving herb seeds

Herb Seeds

Since herbs—whether medicinal or culinary—tend to have tiny little seeds, the best way to collect them is the brown paper bag technique.

Let a couple of plants mature and go to seed, and once the seed heads are drying nicely in the sun, pop paper bags over them and tie them securely in place with some twine. Use scissors or a knife to sever the stem a handspan or so beneath the twine, then hang the bag upside-down in a dry place. As the plant dries within the bag, the seed casings will shrink, releasing the seeds into the bottom of the bag.

 

After a couple of weeks, shake the bag well to release as many seeds as possible, then cut the bag open and pour the seeds into envelopes.

Keep your seeds in a cool, dry place away from direct light and any form of moisture, and you’ll have a plethora of plants to play with next spring!

 

Photos via Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

FTW Kitchen: Creamy Clam Chowder

By Catherine Winter

Another in our Souper Sunday series, this clam chowder recipe has been in my family for years. I recently made a batch of this with potatoes, carrots, and a bit of parsley from the garden, and it’s just gorgeous for a chilly autumn or winter evening.

You can alter some of the ingredients to suit your particular culinary preferences/possible food allergies, and play with the recipe to make it your own! I’ve made this a full seafood chowder by tossing in chunks of whitefish, some crab or lobster, and a few handfuls of shrimp, for example. I’ll often make a batch of this a day in advance so all the flavours have had a chance to meld beautifully, but it’s difficult to refrain from having a small bowl (or three) as soon as it’s done.

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Ingredients:

Part 1: Broth
4 cups water
2 cups firm white potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 cup white onion, diced (or 1/2 cup onion, 1/4 cup thinly sliced leek whites)
3/4 cup carrots, peeled and diced
Bring the water to a rolling boil in a large soup pot, then add the potatoes, onions, and carrots. Bring the heat down to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender (usually 8-12 minutes).

Part 2: Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (standard or gluten-free, your call)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk, 1 cup half-and-half cream if you’d like this soup to be really rich and creamy)
2 cups extra old cheddar cheese, grated

Begin part 2 once you’ve set the vegetables to simmer. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat, then whisk the flour in bit by bit to make a good, thick roux.
Slowly add the milk, whisking quickly the entire time. Add pepper and mustard, then add the grated cheddar in small quantities, using a spoon to stir the mixture in order to blend it evenly.
Once it’s completely mixed, pour this mixture into the vegetable broth.

Part 3: Clams
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free if required)
3 cans (10 oz ea.) baby clams, including the juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
Combine these three ingredients in a bowl, and then add to the soup pot. Use a large spoon to stir everything thoroughly, then allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes longer.

Serve accompanied by really good, crusty bread and a crisp white wine.

CupOChowdah

FTW Kitchen: Good for What Ails ‘ya Ugly Carrot Soup

Market season, for me, really begins in Autumn. Autumn has been a bit finicky, of late: not showing up at all two years ago, and quite delayed last year. But this year, frost has already come to Ontario and I immediately lined myself up at the market this weekend for bags of ‘unwanted’ carrots.

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My favorite stall is run by Fiddle Foot Farm, about twenty minutes from here. They plant heirloom varieties of all vegetables, and have the sweetest beets I’ve ever eaten. They also sell their ‘unwanted’ produce by the bags full for just five bucks.

When that happens, I make a big batch of ugly carrot soup. Made with a few peasant ingredients from all around, this soup is yummy, reduces inflammation, is soothing on the throat and pleasing to the eye. If you’re into balancing chakras, the yellows and oranges are vibrant and well suited to a balancing diet.

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Now, if you don’t have access to ugly, unwanted carrots, I am so sorry. Regular straight n’ narrows will work too, but they won’t make you laugh, or taste as sweet. You can also substitute Yukon Gold or another starchy tuber for the purple sweet potato, if you can’t find those. If using regular sweet potatoes, though, keep in mind the flavors will be different, and the texture a little runny.

Ingredients
About 1.5 lbs ‘ugly’ carrots. This was ten for me.
2 large cloves garlic, diced
1 large yellow onion diced
2 stalks celery, diced, plus leaves
1 large purple sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 TBSP grass fed, or best butter you can get
1 TBSP coconut oil
1 – 2 tsp ground turmeric (or more, if you are like me and staving off the sicks)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 can coconut milk (plus 2 cans water)
Himalayan salt, or sea salt
a few grinds of pepper, or 1 tsp
10 sage leaves, or other herb, roughly chopped
Splash of runny honey, or maple syrup

Method
Warm butter and oil on medium low heat, in a large stock pot.
Add turmeric, and cook with the butter for about a minute.
Add onion, garlic and celery, and cook another two minutes.
Add carrot, and potato, along with salt, pepper and ginger, stir thoroughly, allow all veg to saute 5 minutes on medium, stirring here and there.

Add sage leaves or herbs, splash of sweetness and stir.
Add coconut milk, and water.
Bring mixture to the boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer at least 30 mins, but preferably an hour.

Blend soup in a blender, or use hand blender. Season again to taste.
Serve with some roasted root vegetables, garlicky greens, and whatever else you like. Enjoy the beauty of Autumn, and the delicious flavor of being different.

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Exploring Montreal’s McGill Farmers’ Market

By Elizabeth Ann Keenan

Local farmers markets have been enjoying resurgence as of late as we become more conscious of environmental, sustainability, and health matters. Montrealers are no exception to that trend, and have been turning to local markets to answers those needs. These markets have been a long-standing tradition in Montreal, from the large-scale Jean Talon and Atwater markets, to the many smaller markets all over town, including the “Solidarity” markets that can be found at the entrances to many of our city’s metro stations; some of which are even open 24 hours for all your 3 a.m. produce needs!

McGill Farmers Market, farmers market, market stall, farmers market stall, McGill, McGill University

Joining Montréal’s vibrant local market scene is the weekly McGill Farmers’ Market, which can be found every Thursday, smack dab downtown on McTavish Street in the heart of McGill University campus. I had the good fortune to stumble across it one beautiful afternoon this summer for its inaugural summer season. The market team consists of only four individuals bringing all this local goodness together.

I had the pleasure of chatting with both Claire Kingston (finance coordinator) and Kelvin Mansaray (market co-coordinator) in person while visiting the market. Zoe Garyfalakis (market co-coordinator) and Monica Allaby (promotions and outreach coordinator) round out this years team who have made their mark through expanding McGill’s market season by launching their first summer season market.

McGill Farmers Market, farmers market, market stall, farmers market stall

Related post: Victory is Sustainable! Local, Seasonal Food is the Way to Grow

The market was first conceptualized in 2008 at McGill’s annual Rethink conference, which focuses on local and campus environmental and sustainability issues. It was very quickly brought into reality the following year with their inaugural fall season. More than simply a collection of stalls offering fresh local produce and products, the market is the distribution point for “field to table” style weekly produce boxes, as well a hub of other grassroots & food security projects and partnerships loosely coordinated through McGill’s sustainability office.

McGill Farmers Market, farmers market, market stall, farmers market stall

But the stalls! Those are what really bring us to the market! Local growers are nestled in side by side with local producers of jams, baked goods, beverages and even tasty ready-to-eat snacks and meals, all of whom are focused on keeping the environment and sustainability at the heart.

McGill Farmers Market, farmers market, market stall, farmers market stall

Looking for more information? Check out the following:
The official McGill farmers market website includes a listing of their vendors, information about their weekly produce boxes, and opportunities to get involved and volunteer.
The McGill Rethink Conference website, where the McGill farmers market was born.
And finally, the link to the official Montreal Markets website to help you expand your exploration of Montreal’s vibrant local market scene.

 

Lead photo © Jardins Carya. All other photos by the author.

Close Enough

My hope is green, eternally, like my tomatoes.

The first year I grew tomatoes, it was a year of perfect weather. The last of its kind. A unicorn summer of bursting, fleshy sweetness and easy breezes. For the seven years hence, it’s been one Farmer’s Worst Case Scenario after another. Aphids. Surprise frosts. Early blight, late blight, middle blight and Elevensies blight. Locusts. Okay, not that last one, but instead, we’re having a summer with no sun.

And yet, despite no sun, too much wind and barely 20 degree days, I have somehow grown tomatoes. They are glossy, and green, and they come in many different sizes, though their shape is mostly the same: roundish and mottled with water filled veins. They are affixed to their waning stems, who are giving up on summer, like me. They spend the remainder of their energy on the fruit hanging below, sending what energy they can glean from an eternally cloudy sky to their product.

Like the tomatoes I’ve grown in impossible conditions, in spite of all the things that are ‘wrong’ with their spot in the yard, the dirt where their roots spread out, or the timing of their growth, my hope has grown too. So today, I am bringing them inside to ripen in our sunniest windowsill.  To reach their full potential, they must be removed from their crumbling foundation and brought in, where it’s warm.

I am counting these as one of my successes.

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pickled vegetables, pickle brine, pickled eggs, pickled beets, pickle brine, pickling brine

Let No Pickle Brine Go to Waste

By Catherine Winter

During the Great Depression and WWII, people lived as frugally as possible and let very little go to waste. Everyone struggled with the lack of resources, and so conscious efforts were made to use all they had to its greatest potential:

Buy it with thought
Cook it with care
Serve just enough
Save what will keep
Eat what will spoil
Homegrown is best

pickles, homemade pickles, home-canned pickles, pickle brine, garlic pickles, dill pickles

People were encouraged to grow vegetables in their own gardens, and to preserve as much as they can. One of the best ways to preserve vegetables like cucumbers, beets, and carrots is to pickle them… and you know what’s awesome? Once you’ve eaten the vegetables from the jar, you can re-use the brine! Our society has become startlingly wasteful, but it’s time to get back to a mindset where every morsel of food is appreciated, treated with reverence, and used to its fullest potential.

Let’s say you’ve made dill pickles, and you have most of the brine left over in the jar. You can make a fresh batch of “fridge pickles” by slicing cucumbers into rounds or wedges, and packing them into the jar. If there isn’t enough brine left over to cover them, add a bit of vinegar to top it up. Let them marinate for at least 24 hours before devouring. You can keep these in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but chances are they won’t last that long. You can also pickle carrots, asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, or any other veggie of choice.

Once this second batch of pickles has been eaten, use the leftover brine in dressings for potato or pasta salad, or even for regular green salads.

pickled eggs, pickled beets, pickled beet brine, making pickled eggs, pink pickled eggs

If you’ve made pickled beets, you can use that glorious pink leftover brine to make pickled eggs or onions. For the former, hard-boil some eggs, let them cool completely, peel them, and immerse them in the brine. If there isn’t enough to cover them, mix some vinegar with a tiny bit of water, some sugar, garlic, and onion powder, and top up the liquid with that. Let the eggs marinate for 2–3 days to really flavour and colour them before serving them. Just note that if you’d like to preserve pickled eggs, you need to make a fresh batch of brine, and process the eggs with a proper boiling water bath.

Yet another way to reuse these brines is to add them to soup. Pickled beet brine is pretty much ideal for adding some beautiful acidity to borscht or cabbage soup, while dill pickle brine is wonderful in potato or vegetable soups. Be creative!

canning, home canning, home preserving, depression era canning, full pantry, frugality

carrots, root vegetables, roots, rehydrate, rehydrate roots, rehydrate root vegetables

Rehydrate Your Roots!

By Catherine Winter

If you’ve ever bought a large bunch of root vegetables like carrots or beets (or grown them yourself and kept them in the fridge), you’ve undoubtedly seen how they can shrivel up and shrink a bit over time. Most people toss them into the compost heap at that point, but you don’t have to! They’re not bad: they’re just dehydrated. You can revive them very easily by immersing them in water in the fridge for a few days.

root vegetables, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, onions, potatoes, lemons

Look for signs of rot or discolouration, and toss any that have black or moldy spots on them. Place the roots in a container and cover completely with water. Keep that in the fridge for 3-5 days, checking on the vegetable’s texture and density daily. Their skins are very porous, and by soaking them like this, you give them the opportunity to plump back up again. Remember that fruits and veggies are really just water and fibre, so if they dry out while in storage, they just need a good, long drink and they’ll be just fine.

Related post: Rainbow Carrot Salad Recipe from the Farm the World Kitchen

Once they’ve rehydrated, you can cook with them or eat them raw, as per your usual preparation. You can also use this technique for citrus fruits, celery, green beans, onions, and potatoes, though you have to peel your potatoes before placing them in water.

Mindfulness: “When You’re Eating, Eat”

By Catherine Winter

You know someone is worth keeping in your life when they hold a mirror up to your hypocrisy so you can learn from it. Recently, a friend (whom I shall refer to as “Sensei” henceforth) said to me: “If you want to encourage others to consider food as sacred and be mindful of what they’re eating, you should probably start by doing so yourself.” This was in reference to me cramming a sandwich into my mouth one-handed while typing feverishly on my laptop, paying absolutely no attention to what I was eating because, well, I was working. I had more important things to do, right?

As long as I didn’t get mustard onto my keys, I really didn’t care what lunch consisted of. In that moment, I could have been eating rat sphincters doused in Tabasco sauce and it wouldn’t have registered as weird: I was eating to end hunger, not to nourish myself. How many of us do this on a regular basis? Staring at our phones while shovelling some type of food product in our faces, or mindlessly moving hand to mouth as we gawp at the latest Netflix release?

eating while on the phone, smartphone, smartphone and food, phone and eating

Mindful, not Mind-Full

I asked Sensei what it is I should be doing to be more mindful while dining, and he just shook his head. “When you’re eating, eat.” That’s it. That when food is being eaten, that is literally the only thing that’s happening in my world; the only thing I’m honouring with my attention. No phone or iPad within reach, no TV or radio on in the background. Preferably not even speaking to others for a few minutes: just. eating.

He suggested that each bite be approached with reverence, with full appreciation of where the food came from, and the effort that went into preparing it. As I eat, attention should be paid to subtle flavours, textures, how each bite makes me feel, what subtle differences exist depending on which morsels came together in that particular forkful. Make each dish as appetizing for all the senses as possible, and then honour it by giving it my full, undivided attention. Chew thoroughly instead of gulping, and imagine the nutrients then flowing through my body, nourishing every cell.

That’s a beautiful way to approach nourishment, isn’t it?

chopping onion, food preparation, onion, chopping onions

Mindfulness Begins During Preparation

I’m taking steps to ensure that mindfulness doesn’t just begin when I sit down to eat a meal, but when I begin to prepare it. Since I often gather bits from my garden to incorporate into dishes, I try to step barefoot out into the yard so I can connect properly with the earth beneath my feet.
When I harvest vegetables or snip herbs for seasoning, I take a moment to give thanks to the plant: I attune myself to its energy, and appreciate its growth, and how its form will help to nourish my own body.

As I prepare the ingredients—chopping, grating, slicing, sautéeing—I don’t have music on, nor any shows blaring in the background. I feel the vibration in my knife as it thunks through a carrot or onion, or the “shusshhh” sound that happens when I slice through a head of lettuce. I can tell that my onions are caramelising properly based on the deep, gold-brown scent they release, and I know when to turn the heat down beneath my soup pot when I hear the liquid dance into a rolling boil.

I wipe down the table, set it with beautiful dish ware, maybe some flowers or herbs in a vase. Whether I’m eating alone or with others, I try to set the stage as for a special event, albeit a small, gentle one. The food is plated or ladled with care, and garnished in appreciation. After all, these beautiful ingredients deserve to be showcased.

goddess bowl, green goddess, hummus, vegetable bowl

Some people have a “no phones at the table” rule, others discuss the food with other diners so everyone has a chance to express what they’re tasting, what they appreciate about the meal, etc. Do you try to cultivate mindfulness with regard to the food you eat? What techniques do you use?

Let us know!