I have been working on several different recipes using items from my freezer and pantry. During the stay-at-home situation that we find ourselves living through, I am trying to use the food items that I have in my pantry and my freezer to avoid trips to the grocery store. I head to the grocery store when I need vegetables and perishables (and of course anything that I don’t have while developing a new recipe!). Although to be fair, I love the challenge of using what I have in the house. It is like an episode from one of my favorite NPR radio programs called the Splendid Table.
Even when I go to the grocery store, I try to be very intentional about what I need to purchase so that I can get in and out quickly. I usually enjoy lingering while shopping to discover new ingredients, but for the past year that has not been an option. I even miss the samples from Costco! I make my shopping list, check it twice, go to the store, grab my items, self-checkout and leave. Simple, quick, and straightforward.
I have been making casseroles, chili, soups–using pasta, rice, grains, legumes, beans (dried and canned), broth/stock, vegetables, etc. While using what I have in my pantry, I have tried to be creative and make enough to extend for several meals. A big pot of soup with a salad and some toast makes a lovely meal. It’s even nicer when I have leftovers! I have been baking, braising, roasting, sautéing, and steaming whatever I have in the freezer. I start fresh each week and then alternate the dishes during the week. Adding a can of beans to a soup for the second meal changes things up. Using roast chicken or pork from one meal I create a chili or stew with beans, canned tomatoes, onions and spices.
The most creative part is delving into my spice cabinet (which needs some serious COVID Clean-out as jars practically jump out of the cupboard when I open the door!) because that’s where the magic can happen. The flavor profile can be turned up by adding different herbs and spices. The spice level can vary too. Everyone in my family loves spicy…except for me! So it seems that half of the refrigerator is filled with condiments that can increase the spice level. I can prepare a dish that is mild and the rest of the family can add a hot sauce to increase the spice factor.
I have made a valiant effort in the exploration of my pantry and freezer. I have found items that I forgot I had. I have combined ingredients in mostly successful dishes. I have tried to cook healthfully, although sometimes comforting food (that is not so healthy) has been prepared. I try to balance all of it out with daily long walks even if it is rainy or drizzly. I find it hard to believe that I haven’t been to the gym since all of this started and so walking has become my main form of exercise (in addition to indoor stretching and yoga exercises.)
I am not one to create resolutions for the new year. I am so glad that 2021 is upon us and I hope that by this time next year I will have had the vaccine. It’s been hard to be home all the time and cooking all the time and doing dishes all the time and sweeping up the kitchen all the time. But I have made peace with all of that because we have had family dinner at home every single night. Together. That’s a blessing.
I decided to post a recipe that is not mine but is from a colleague who writes wonderful books to help folks with health issues. I have posted this recipe before, but I believe it should be repeated because in belongs in everyone’s repertoire (and therefore in their pantry ingredients). It’s quick and easy to make. It’s the perfect antidote to any excesses from eating or drinking too much. It’s great if you are not feeling well, have a cold, an upset stomach, feel under the weather, weak or just “not quite right.” It can be frozen in small containers and reheated. It’s a great broth to use if you choose to fast for one day. It’s a great broth to sip when the cold seeps into your bones. It’s a cleansing and nourishing broth for anytime of the day. Make it once and it might last you the cold season. If you had COVID and are recovering this broth should help you get stronger. Sip the elixir and let the magic happen.
Here’s to a new year full of promises, hope, peace and hopefully some adventures a little further away from home. Blessed be.
Magic Mineral Broth
Magic Mineral Broth was developed by stellar chef Rebecca Katz. Here is what she has to say about this wonderful concoction: “This is my Rosetta stone of soup, a broth that can be transformed to meet a myriad nutritional needs, serving as everything from a delicious sipping tea to the powerful base for more hearty soups and stews. So, no matter what a person’s appetite, it can provide a tremendous nutritional boost. This rejuvenating liquid, chock-full of magnesium, potassium, and sodium, allows the body to refresh and restore itself. I think of it as a tonic, designed to keep you in tip-top shape.”
Please note: You may have to venture out to the store to purchase a few ingredients. Also, many people have asked what to do with all the vegetables once you strain the soup. I compost them. Most of the nutrients from the vegetables are in the broth and what remains does not have much taste nor benefits.
Makes 6 quarts
6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
2 unpeeled yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes, quartered
1 unpeeled garnet yam, quartered
5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (8-inch) strip of kombu seaweed*
12 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries
2 bay leaves
8 quarts cold, filtered water is preferred
1 teaspoon sea salt
*Kombu is a mineral-rich seaweed (in the kelp family) that adds an umami or savory flavor to stocks and broths. Kombu is usually found in the Asian section of a grocery store near the nori (seaweed sheets) that are used for sushi. Store dried Kombu in a cool dark area in your pantry.
Rinse all of the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 12-quart or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries, and bay leaves. Fill the pot with the water to 2 inches below the rim, cover, and bring to a boil.
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted.
Strain the broth through a large, coarse-mesh sieve (remember to use a heat-resistant container underneath), then add salt to taste.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 to 4 hours
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for 4 months.
Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at email@example.com.