Sunday, March 18, 2012



Nourishment comes in many a form and soup is an easy way to conjugate economy with ecology. Sumptuous velvety concoctions or interesting flavors can be achieved in one large pot...add water and spice—savor slowly. Here are ways to reach 'Zero-Waste' and 'Maxi-Taste' in one simple bite.

These three recipes demonstrate the possibilities and adaptations of my most prized mixer. Vitamix came into my life at a time when using every bite was essential to my family's nutrition; its power could reduce fish bones and eggshells to smooth and assimilable liquid minerals in seconds of pulsing.
Basic ingredients can be changed according to regional and seasonal availability, or as a way to use neglected leafy vegetables in garden or refrigerator; an excellent excuse to take someone on a foraging or fishing trip through the countryside.

Green soup..Soupe verte:

1 quart of water.
A of your choice of leafy greens:
cabbage, beet , turnip greens, lettuce, dandelion, sorrel..or a mix of all; flavors blend very well as they are mitigated by the root vegetables and onion.
2 unpeeled potatoes.
2 parsnips or turnips.
2 small onions cubed.
2 cloves of garlic.
2 tsp each of parsley flakes.
1 tsp sea salt, ground black pepper to taste.
2 Tsp sweet cream or butter.

Wash greens under running water or in a bowl of cold water with a spoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
Cube potatoes and onions, cover with water in large pot, bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes.
Add chopped greens and minced garlic to large pot, simmer for 5 to10 more minutes, till greens are limp.
Allow cooling period; then ladle into the blender, pulse to a rough texture..
when potatoes and onions are white specks in a verdant velvet are ready.

Serving suggestions:
Sour cream or butter, gently stirred in hot soup help to absorb the pro vitamin A and other fat soluble components of the vegetables, plus, one single spoonful of it tastes so rich against the calming effect of the greens.
Croutons or Melba toast slices are always welcome in liquid soups or floating atop with chopped parsley..

Fish soup: faux bouillabaise.

To use whatever fish is available and make a one step nutritional experience, consider the powerful calcium and protein boost of less commercially desirable water creatures..Never waste a single trout skeleton or fish head again, you can reduce the valuable leftovers of a good meal to a tasteful creamed soup. You can use less expensive species or prolific ones such as carp.

1 quart water.
1 Tsp olive oil.
2 fish heads and bones or whole fish. Any type.
1 large onion, 1 small head of garlic.
2 large tomatoes or 1 small can of stewed tomatoes.
2 celery stalks.
2 green peppers.
1 sprig each of parsley, oregano and dill. (or use 1tsp of the powdered herbs).
1 tsp curry powder. (or cumin, clove and turmeric)
1 tsp sea salt.

Wash fish in cold water with 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar, lay in deep pan with herbs, cover with water , bring to boil, simmer on low for 30 minutes.
Chop onions, and garlic cloves, fry swiftly in olive oil 5 minutes till transparent.
Add cubed tomatoes and peppers.
Pour over fish and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Allow to cool then blend thoroughly; bones will be melted into the smooth rusty colored broth.

Serving suggestions:
Again, adding a spoon of sour cream lends a creamier taste and aids in the absorption of the essential nutrients, lycopene, Omega 3s, trace minerals and calcium..
Croutons rubbed with a garlic clove bring a Mediterranean pungency to the 'one bowl' meal.
Fresh parsley sprinkled on top tempers the aroma.

Watercress soup; faux vichyssoise.

A creamy cold soup for springtime celebration, quick and easy, and oh so sumptuous!

1 quart water.
1 large bunch of watercress.
2 large potatoes.
1 onion, 1tsp sea salt, pepper to taste.
½ cup plain yogurt or sweet cream.

Scrub and cube unpeeled potatoes, bring to boil, simmer for 20 min.
Cut off stringy roots from cress, rinse very thoroughly, chop stems and leaves. Add to potatoes, simmer for additional 5 to 10 min.
allow cooling period, add yogurt or sweet cream, blend till light unctuous green.

Serving suggestions.
Cold or hot, this simple soup is refreshing and mineralizing. Provides iron and tastes like a vege smoothie.
Pour icy cold in glass bowls for a European flair. Decorate with parsley sprigs and sesame cracker crumbs.
 A  side bowl of macademia nuts or cashews lends a contrast to the so-smooth-so-soft texture of the cress soup.

Bon appetit! With gratitude to the Green family from My Zero Waste blog and Little Green blog. for their steady influence toward healthful living.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring' sGreen Cure.

Spring Green Detox:

Following seasonal changes, body and mind experience a resurgence of vitality as days get longer; it is essential to prepare for the physical and spiritual renewal ahead. After a more sedentary period, cells may be laden with toxins, intestines and organs are clogged with digestive residue; this is the time to take advantage of plant life to gently cleanse our systems and to add minerals and vitamins in their original interactive properties.

As winter ends, I pull out bags and baskets to gather herbs and greens which some may view as noxious invaders. Foraging tools include light colored clothing, water resistant shoes, hat, hand shovel, small knife or kitchen scissors, paper bags, I also recommend a field book of wild edibles for novice students of nature.

Roadsides may be contaminated with heavy metals from traffic dust and emissions, so I avoid harvesting within 40 feet from any street. The risk of pesticide residue presents real danger along sidewalks or farmer's fields, due to current agricultural practices I must remain at safe distance of cultivated areas. This leaves only woodlots, open range and known neighbors. The sight of an abandoned lot or untended hedges provides comfort to the forager or hunter-gatherer; I skip along wood sides with eye trained to familiar new leaves, secure in the promise of wild foods a turtle or a hare would be fond of.

When the first dandelions peak from cracks and leaf mats around the house, I use a small weed-puller tool to dig up the whole plant. Salads and omelettes benefit from the addition of fresh greens. Stews, sauces, dips and purees can hide the less presentable ones. Add onions or garlic for healthful flavoring. Smooth the taste with a spoon of sour cream and yogurt if not yet accustomed to plain vegetable taste. After a long winter of preserves or processed foods, the digestive track may need tender input.

Chicory begins to bud as a rosette as soon as sun warms the soil, the veins of this dandelion family are reddish then, and make a fine addition to soups. They are diuretic and exert a cleansing action on the biliary ducts, liver and gallbladder, as do the vegetative cousins; artichoke and thistle.

I collect sorrel rosettes by inserting knife below center and sever the tap root, or cut with scissors. The tart oxalic acid is milder than spinach but vibrant in a perky romaine lettuce salad. Iron and multiple trace minerals in this enriching vegetable are absorbed with the aid of its vitamin C content.

I begin munching on all sorts of violets, Viola papilionacea is astringent, I can sense the cleansing properties within the anti-oxidants enhancing vision and immune system. Sautéed in stir fry or added to salads and deserts, they are a welcome texture, leaf and flower. (Note; only harvest the tops) the roots are emetic, could cause some unpleasant vomiting.

Plantains are best picked young, you can identify the flat lanceolate leaf and rosette spread flat on the ground. All species of plantago contain mucilage, a beneficial fiber which lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; used as herbal teas or boiled for greens, they have a soothing and anti-inflammatory effect.

Daylilies are plentiful, not on the gourmet list, but seasoned with scallions or butter, they provide ample fiber and minerals. Young sprouts make great company for a fish platter. Very young spikes moisten an omelette. Sprinkled with vinaigrette like a bland leek, they can be wrapped with cheese and ham. Steamed, they assume the role of companion to potatoes or rice dishes, thicken vegetable soups when pureed and make .

Chickweed' s long wispy strands add excellent nutrition to salads. these plants are best snipped with scissors( unless you enjoy tedious hours untangling them at the kitchen counter later). The mild herb provides much needed vitamins and minerals. I eat most of them on the spot, and may share with the chickens if plentiful.

Matricaria, also called pineapple weed, a chamomile, can provide soothing relief and it tastes as its common name. the fine lacy leaves add visual appeal to humble salads, or as garnish next to fish or squash..yes, it is polite to munch on the decorations in this case..

Within a few weeks of incremental addition of greens, the body will feel scrubbed and rinsed within. There is no magic pill to improve clearer function and motion, the solution to dietary overload lives in the whole plants, ask any cat. Animals instinctively know which herbs smell just right to purge processed pet foods or winter silage out of their systems...i wonder if they feel as good as i when crunching on fresh greens.

The anticipation of pure relief and rejuvenation surges through glands, and i wait for sunshine to coax familiar herbs from the rich loam of the Midwest...If foraging is not on your schedule, perhaps a farmer's market is on your path.
I hear spring coming in the kitchen.