Kitchen medicine

February 18, 2011

Prepare healthy meals with organic ‘kitchen medicine’

“A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes.”

– Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating

Today, my beautiful wife Annette offers recipes using healthful organic produce.

From Annette:

In traditional Chinese medicine, many ordinary herbs and spices are used in cooking to produce what is called “kitchen medicine,” or foods that promote wellness. Kitchen medicine is found in all cultures. One caveat: Eating is no substitute for seeing a health professional.

Here are some delicious “kitchen medicine” recipes of various cultures that we enjoy during winter months.

Beef Tagine

This dish is Moroccan, and is traditionally cooked in a tagine, a special ceramic pot. I don’t have one; the stew comes out well if cooked in a covered pot on the stove, or a Crockpot. It smells wonderful when cooking, and the warm spices help to cheer the winter-weary.

Ras el Hanout is a complex blend of spices that can be found at the Aladdin grocery in Fondren, or approximated by making this dry mix: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom, ginger and a dash of cloves and hot pepper.

1 pound or so organic, preferably grass-fed organic stew meat, (beef, bison, lamb, venison …)

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 cup pitted prunes,or unsweetened unsulphured apricots, mangoes, sour cherries

2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout spice mixture

2 cups broth (approximately)

Saute the chopped onion, meat and Ras el Hanout in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the fruit and broth, cover and simmer gently for an hour or so, or until meat is very tender. Check every now and then and add more broth if needed.

Some people like to add a spoonful of honey at the end, and/or reserve half the fruit to add 5 minutes before serving. Taste and decide, adjust to achieve just the right balance between the many flavors; it should not be primarily sweet or salty. Serve with basmati rice, quinoa or cous cous.

Winter Greens or Vegetables with Northern Indian Spices

3 tablespoons or more good olive oil

2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon chili pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Sea salt to taste

Cook and drain chopped greens, or green beans, or carrots, or broccoli, then set aside. Saute the mustard and sesame seeds in a covered frying pan over medium heat until they start popping. Quickly add garlic and saute for a few seconds, then add cooked veggies and salt to taste.

My Time-Tested Double Broth Chicken Soup

Chicken rule: Everything pink stays; anything yellow, icky or hanging goes (unless you need the fat).

Ingredients:

Chicken

Water

Onions

Celery

Carrots

Brown rice

Fresh ginger and turmeric if you can find it

Allspice

Fresh garlic

Fresh lemon

Fresh herbs (any kind)

Hot pepper flakes

Tomatoes (fresh or canned)

Other herbs, veggies, spices

Sea salt

Simmer chicken slowly in water to cover, add chopped onion, celery, garlic, a few slices of ginger, a dash of allspice, some herbs, the tomatoes and no salt yet. Crockpot is OK for this step.

When chicken is falling off bones, remove all solids from broth. Chop up the chicken and squeeze the liquid from the veggies back into the pot.

Chop chicken into bite-size pieces and add to the broth. Add some rice – or other starch – potato, squash, hominy, noodles, whatever. Chop up some more onions, lots more ginger, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, hot pepper flakes and any other veggies (peas, green beans, cabbage and greens of any kind) and add to the broth. Simmer until everything is done, but not overcooked. Tip: Add chopped greens in last few minutes of cooking.

Add before serving: Fresh squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh cilantro or parsley.

No time for that? Try this:

To any kind of chicken broth, add more cloves of crushed garlic than you think is sensible, a dash of hot pepper flakes, allspice, cloves, lemon, a few chunks of fresh ginger and chopped green onion. Simmer slowly for 5 to 10 minutes.

Reader response: Jim again:

Had a delightful phone conversation with a reader from Colorado who now lives in Las Vegas and misses her garden, but doesn’t know what to grow with the heat and lack of moisture.

Well, actually, folks in the Southwest are in luck. There’s a wonderful organization in Arizona that is dedicated to preserving Native American seeds that thrive in desert conditions. (Alas, it’s too wet and humid in Mississippi for the ones we’ve tried.) Check out Native Seeds SEARCH: http://www.nativeseeds.org; 3061 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson AZ 85719; or (520) 622-5561.

Annette and I will be at the “Sustainable Living” conference (www.ggsim. org. ) Saturday in Hattiesburg. Come see us!

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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