Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cilantro...The New Love of My Life

Last week I got my copy of From Scratch by Shaye Elliott of The Elliott Homestead. I bought it on sale from Amazon for just under $16 and, let me tell you, it is worth every penny of it! And I have only made one thing from it!!
Shaye's type of cooking is plain and simple, all from scratch, good for you food. There are no exotic ingredients, nothing weird. You can pronounce everything and find it all locally, probably in your own pantry. It does, however, require just a teensy bit more time than most people are probably used to, at least in the beginning.

This type of food is most beneficial to our bodies when as much of each component is made from scratch as possible. For example, chicken stock. Yes, you can buy it at the store pretty cheaply but then that is exactly what you get cheap, unappetizing food. Store bought stock isn't going to nourish your body the way your own homemade stock will. Why? Because food manufacturers have(?) to put in all kinds of preservatives, additives, colorings etc. in order to make a product that can sit on the shelves for years without ever decomposing. If it can last that long in a package, imagine what it will be doing in your intestines! So you want to make as many of the ingredients yourself as you possibly can.

The recipe I made for lunch today was Chicken Soup with Coconut and Cilantro. Oh my word, it was sooooo good. I never knew I liked cilantro until today. The smell is just so fresh and the taste...Oh!

This recipe actually started yesterday with some chicken stock making. This is an extremely easy thing to do but it does take a little bit of time. First, you want to get you a good chicken. I didn't use my own because my hens are more valuable to me for their eggs than for their meat. Plus I haven't ordered my "meat" chickens yet:) So I used a pastured chicken from the store. Yes it is more expensive but I won't compromise on meat for my family. So I cut the chicken up. This is a bit more tricky than I thought it would be. Hubby is going to have to sharpen my knife after I sawed through the bones! There are supposed to be joints you cut through but I never found 'em. So you cut up the whole chicken and put it in the crock pot (put in the neck and gizzards too) along with a couple of cut up carrots, celery and onion. Add 8-12 cups of water, depending on the size of your crock pot. You want it to be about 1 1/2 inches from the rim. Add in 1/4-1/2 c. apple cider vinegar and then put the lid on it. Cook on high until it starts to boil then turn it down to low. Let it cook for 12-24 hours. Once your house is smelling so good that you can't stand it, turn off the crock pot and get to separating the good stuff in there. Put all the meat in one bowl and all the cooked down veggies, bones and skin in another. Feel free to give the veggie/bone bowl to your pets. The bones have softened from the long cook and they are no longer dangerous. I gave mine to our pig and I have never seen her focused on eating in all the time we have had her!

Next, you need to strain the liquid to get out any other bits and pieces. You will need a fine mesh strainer or use come cheesecloth in a colander to strain it all out. Put the broth into a couple of containers and put in the fridge. You want the fat to thicken up on top of the broth so that it can be skimmed off. Once it is skimmed off, you can portion your broth and freeze it or put it into canning jars and can it. Here is a great tutorial for canning broth.

Once, the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the rest of the bones and skin. Shred the meat and portion it out however you need to. I just put a bit in the fridge to make the soup I mentioned above and then put a couple of cups into some freezer bags for future meals. Helpful hint, freeze the bags flat so that you can stack them once frozen to save space in the freezer.

Okay, now that you have some liquid chicken "gold" put up and some shredded chicken set aside, it is time to make this nummy soup!

Into a stockpot, put 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1 can full fat organic coconut milk, about a teaspoon fresh grated ginger (buy a root, keep in the freezer, grate as needed. Trust me on this!), 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. liquid aminos (like soy sauce but better for you), 1/2 - 1 tbsp. sweetener (such as raw honey or sucanat. NOT SPLENDA!!!)1 cup shredded cooked chicken and 1 cup egg noodles. Bring all of it to a boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer until the noodles are cooked al dente. You will need to salt the soup so check it now and add what you need. Serve with chopped cilantro (do NOT leave that out!) and some chopped green onions. This recipe made enough for 3 big bowls of soup and you can double it if needed.
(I tweaked this recipe a little so it isn't exactly what is in the cookbook)

Try it. Soon. By the cookbook. Now. That's all.

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