Happy Monday, All!
The sun has returned with a vengeance after Mother Nature decided to remind us all that she has the ultimate power over when winter finally ends. Headed out for lunch this afternoon it was great to see packs of our colleagues out walking, bundled up against the wind, swiftly moving in the sunshine. This is a very good practice to get in to – one we can all benefit from, including myself.
On my travels last week I picked up a new book to pass the time I didn’t really have available – The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This is a great book ladies and gentlemen. Over the next few weeks I will probably be outlining a chapter or two for our collective pleasure. Rubin takes an entire year of her life and dedicates it to becoming happier. What is interesting is her first admission that she was not unhappy – nor did she suffer from depression. But she found that through making a few changes at a time she could become happier than she was originally. I look forward to reading of her adventure and perhaps taking on my own happiness project. Anyone want to guess what her first two steps were? Get to sleep earlier and exercise better! She used walking breaks at work as one strategy as well as wearing a pedometer for that instant credit of hitting the 10K-a-day goal. All CNH employees will have an opportunity to compete company-wide in a walking challenge later this year, but why not start now?
Which reminds me! I’m going to let Bonnie take over the rest of today’s email. Her most recent post on The Naked Kitchen started on a lunch walk…
Nutrition Tip of the Day: Do something – Anything! – that’s been waiting in the wings. Now is the time.
Today while on my daily lunch break walk I saw the heads of tiny crocus' popping their cheery little head through the soil, the trees are starting to pop buds, and the birds are chirping bright in the morning as the sun is coming up earlier and earlier.
A change of seasons can be a great opportunity. Take this time to change, too. Use this weekend to tackle that mud room that looks like a hurricane hit it and turn it into something Better Homes and Gardens worthy. Change your morning routine to add 10 minutes of yoga (best season change I've made yet!) to get that flexibility you had as a kid. Go through your closet, get rid of anything you only like, and replace it with something you love. Try a new cooking method you've just been dying to learn. Remember, when it comes down to it, your life is all about you. And if you aren't happy with it, do something about it. This is your excuse to do so.
So start that new home organization project, roll out that mat, donate old clothes, and master the art of broiling... Click the link above to get this great recipe!
Perfected the art of broiling? Try the lost (and wonderfully healthy) art of fermentation… Recipes are attached – teasers below.
Workout of the Day: Warm-up: 2 rounds of 15 reps – Jumping Jacks, Shoulder Mobility, Push-ups, Walking Lunge, Samson Stretch, Squats. Work-out: 5 rounds for time of 50 squats, 20 push-ups, 200m run (approximately 45 to 60 seconds).
“Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.” – Samuel Johnson [In other words, I can give up something all together, but I can’t indulge occasionally. –Gretchen Rubin, p 254. The Happiness Project]
To making real changes. And sticking with them.
Posted: 18 Feb 2011 07:28 AM PST
Homemade ketchup – it sounds complicated as though you’d spend all day in the kitchen pounding your way through vats of tomatoes and slowly simmering them away in kettles on a wooden stove. Making homemade ketchup from scratch seems complex, almost unfathomable in an era when quick-fix, all-in-one bagged skillet dinners constitute “cooking from scratch.” It’s sad day when we’ve forgotten our collective culinary heritage.
And as difficult and complex has preparing ketchup from scratch may seem, like most traditional foods that we seem to have lost along the way, it’s not. Much like rendering lard, curing olives or making a good pot of chicken broth to chase away the flu, preparing a traditional homemade ketchup requires only a few simple steps and easy techniques that even a small child can manage with little effort and great success.
Don’t expect immediate results. In a time when meals can be ready in minutes, we’ve forgotten the value and lesson of delayed gratification. Some things, you see, are worth waiting for, and this homemade ketchup is one of them. Like most condiments, homemade ketchup originally derived the bulk of its complex flavors through the slow process of microbial action – fermentation a practice that is still used to age raw milk cheeses, cure meats and make yogurt. Fermentation used to be much more common and it wasn’t unusual for our great- great- grandparents to serve up meals in which every dish presented was bettered through the lost art of fermentation: cured meat and naturally aged cheeses on sourdough breads with brine-pickled relishes and lacto-fermented condiments served as an adjunct to improve digestion.
And our forebears were right: the process of fermentation and culturing foods not only improved their shelf-life, but dramatically increased the nutrition they gleaned from every bite. You see the traditional art of fermentation – the deliberate and calculated introduction of beneficial bacteria into food – increased each dish’s vitamin and enzyme content while preserving the food for long-term storage. Moreover, fermented condiments like this homemade ketchup and the other condiments and relishes you can learn to make in Nourished Kitchen’s newest cooking class Get Cultured! How to Ferment Anything provided a wide array of beneficial bacteria which help to populate the gut, working interactively with the immune system to keep pathogens at bay and make for resilient and vibrant health. It’s a beautiful art, fermentation.
Posted: 06 Mar 2011 11:47 AM PST
Homemade potato chips find their way to our kitchen only very rarely, but what a heavenly indulgence when they do appear. You see, I’m a potato chip addict. I may blend a killer kombucha, spend my afternoons brewing water kefir and culturing raw milk yogurt, but it’s the humble potato chip: salty, crunchy and wonderfully greasy that will always have my heart.
I take after my mother that way. That woman never met a potato chip she didn’t like, and in the summer on the tiny island where I grew up we’d file into a rusted out banana-yellow sleeper van and ride from the air base to the beach at the other side of the island. And while I’d muster all the grade-school patience I could, that drive seemed an eternity though the island, tip-to-tip, was only seventy miles long. Those were the long days of summer, hazy and hot and wet. We’d spend hours in the water only to come to shore and eat peanut butter sandwiches gritty with coral sand. At night time, we’d stay up late playing Shanghai Rummy eating potato chips slathered in French onion dip. For me, the humble potato chip evokes these memories so strongly that in one bite, I can remember the darkened bungalos at the beach, the briney smell of the sea and the rhythmic washing of the waves as they crashed upon the shore just outside our room.
We’ve given up potato chips, more or less; they’re loaded with nasty stuff: refined vegetable oils, genetically engineered ingredients, MSG, refined salts. I still can’t help myself, though. I crave them: the crunch, the salt, the greasy fingertips. It’s not so much that the potato chip is an unhealthy food, but, rather, what we’ve done with it. A potato, on its own, is a beautiful thing – capable of sustaining life in the Andes until it was brought from the new world to the old and found itself welcomed all over Europe, but perhaps in Ireland and Germany the most. The challenge then is the processing. The use of unhealthy, solvent-extracted genetically engineered vegetable oils like soybean and cottonseed oils that are used to make snack foods instead of the traditional fats that have nourished humans for thousands of years like butter, lard from pastured pigs, tallow from grass-fed cattle, coconut and palm kernel oils.
So when I attended the Weston A Price Foundation conference last year and the year before, I found a substitute to satisfy my cravings without sacrificing my adherence to a truly whole traditional diet: lard-fried potato chips. Ah! The joy! And I committed myself to making them at home, too. It’s not a dish you’d make quickly – two pounds of potatoes produces only five ounces of chips, about the same amount that you’d find in a modestly sized bag. Nevermind the time it takes to gently fry each batch of chips, eight to ten at a time, in a cast-iron skillet full of hot fat. This, dear readers, is a recipe for the true potato chip lover. It is not for the faint of heart.
Lard gets a bad rap. It’s an unloved fat, but one that deserves cherishing. When the lipid hypothesis of the mid-twentieth century took hold, lard was on the outs and still remains on the outs despite our new-found (and well-deserved) infatuation with tropical oils like coconut oil. It’s a shame. At the turn of the twentieth century when diabetes rates were low and cardiovascular disease was almost unheard of and before the processed vegetable oil industry skyrocketed, lard and butter were the darlings of the home cook, the primary source of fat in the diet. Indeed, no one had heard of cottonseed oil, canola oil hadn’t yet been invented and folks were thriving in good health on eggs fried in bacon fat, fruit pies with lard-crust and foods fried in grass-fed tallow. The only liquid vegetable consumed in any quantity was olive oil. Lard nourishes, it’s potently rich in vitamin D and an primarily composed of monounsaturated fat – the very fat that makes olive oil and avocados so healthy. So give it up grapeseed and canola oil fans, and learn to use traditional fats. They taste better anyway and you can render lard at home easily.