7 March 14 • MAV

2.28.14.M1

As you know from a few weeks ago, I have been really down about feeling so cold of late. I have done everything I can to warm myself. I’ve been wearing two pairs of socks, four layers of clothing and drinking only warm water. I’m keeping my protein consumption up and my eating of raw foods (like salads) down. Up with soups and warm roasted veggies! I have felt better this past week but I have also been needing something more.

I decided to throw together a simple Chai recipe that I am in love with. This chai has been helping me greatly! I have been drinking it in the early afternoon for a pick-me-up instead of having a cookie or a large coffee. I also feel really warm, almost hot, afterward. I love that feeling!

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Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and the like, all have natural warming powers. Cacao powder (not to be confused with cocoa powder) improves circulation, gives an antioxidant boost and supplies a general blissful feeling. Black tea boosts the immune system and has less caffeine than coffee.

I hope you enjoy this warming cup of cacao chai and I hope spring comes soon!

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Warming Cacao Chai
makes two cups

1-1/2 cups water
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
10 cardamom pods
3 peppercorns
fresh ginger (I use about a 1-inch size chunk)
1 cup milk (I use unsweetened Califia Farms almond milk)
1 teaspoon raw cacao powder (Note: This is cacao, not cocoa)
honey (I add about 1 teaspoon per cup)
1 or 2 black tea bags (Use rooibos if you don’t want any caffeine)

Note: This recipe makes a very well spiced chai. If you prefer less spice, you can cut these spice quantities in half.

Pour water plus anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and ginger into a small sauce pan. Bring ingredients to a boil over high heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in milk and drop in cacao powder. Keep heat on low and stir with a spoon or whisk until the cacao powder is completely blended. Leave the mixture on the low heat, barely simmering, for 5 minutes. Important – Do not let the mixture boil; heat should be kept low. Turn heat off and drop in tea bag, as well as stir in honey. I leave my tea bag in for 3–5 minutes and then remove it. Pour mixture through a fine strainer taking out the cinnamon sticks and placing them into the mugs. Pour in your chai, add more honey if you wish, and enjoy.

7 March 14 • SCB

7march05

A few times a month, I roast a whole pastured chicken. Usually the leftover meat will be made into pocket pies or enchiladas, and the bones are always made into stock for chicken soup.

Making chicken stock may already part of your kitchen routine, but, if not, I wanted to share how incredibly simple it is to make something so delicious and nourishing. I love, too, that I am making full use of every chicken that I buy.

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Here’s my no-fuss way to make chicken stock from a leftover roasted chicken. Pick the meat off the bones and reserve it for the soup and/or other meals (I am not too fastidious about taking all the meat off the bones as I know it will add flavor to my stock). Put the chicken bones in a large pot and cover generously with water (I usually add about six quarts of water). Add some leftover raw vegetables, roughly chopped, like carrot, celery, onion (unpeeled), fennel or leek (when I am feeling frugal, I save the trimming from my vegetables throughout the week for broth) as well as a few whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic and a small hunk of ginger root. Your additions are part of the serendipity of making stock. It won’t be the same every time!

Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer gently for 3-4 hours, returning to the pot periodically to skim any foam from the top and to add more water if necessary. When you have a golden and fragrant, condensed stock, remove it from the heat. Pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove the bones and vegetables. At this point, I usually store my stock in the refrigerator until I am ready to prepare my soup. As it cools, a layer of fat may congeal at the top of your container, you can scoop this off or allow it to reheat with your stock, up to you.

We use homemade chicken stock for a variety of broth based soups  (miso ramen, tortilla soup, faux pho, etc), but this week I thought I’d share our method for classic chicken noodle soup.

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Add the stock (hopefully you have about  two quarts) to a large pot and heat it over medium-high. Slice or chop a cup or so of vegetables (we usually add carrot or celery, but we also like dark leafy greens in our soup) and add them to the stock. Once the stock has reached a simmer, add a cup of dried pasta. Fresh or homemade noodles would be wonderful, but I think soup is a great use for dried pasta!

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Once the noodles are cooked, add a cup or two of shredded chicken, depending on how much meat you have leftover and how hearty you like your soup. With all these additions, customize to your own tastes and preferences—you may have kids that need vegetables cut quite small, for example. Make the soup that suits you and those you are serving.

At this point add seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste. Tasting the soup and adjusting seasoning is crucial. My family likes a broth with a little acid to it, so I always give a good squeeze of lemon at the end as well as a grating of lemon zest.

Your soup is ready, and if you made your broth ahead of time, it should only take you 20 minutes or so! We usually serve our chicken soup with sweet potato biscuits on the side, and, if I’m lucky, I get to have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

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