For Sofia B.

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There are four Sophias in my third grade daughter’s class.  FOUR out of less than 60 students.  When Josie started kindergarten with Sofia B., Sophia D., Sophia P. and Sophia T., I think even the four Sophias’ mothers wondered how in the world we’d ever keep them all straight!  Of course it didn’t take long for each of their endearing personalities to emerge–each one unique and precious in her own way–and suddenly nothing could be more clear than which Sophia is which.

“Michelle” was the “Sophia” of my class.  If you are a girl and you were born near the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, you had a very good chance of being named Michelle (or Lisa or Jennifer–just ask my good friends Lisa and Jen.)  Or, if you weren’t named Michelle, you likely know a Michelle or did back then.  In fact, I dare you to find someone who doesn’t know a Michelle… but I digress… (but seriously, we are everywhere.)

I used to wish for a more unique name when I was a child, but looking back now I guess I just did what today’s Sophias do: I made my way and soon nobody confused me for Michelle S. or Shelly B.

Any-hoo… Sofia B. (the only one who spells her name with an “f”) was over for dinner recently and she really liked my Yellow Rice.  I adore all four Sophias and am so grateful for each of their contributions my lovely little corner of the world, but this recipe is dedicated to one Sofia in particular: Ms. Sofia B.  🙂

Tumeric Rice with Vegetables (with Chicken if you like)

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp. butter (optional)
1 cup basmati or jasmin white rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 diced onion
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1-2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (for this recipe I used chopped carrots, bell pepper and kale.  Other options include celery, zucchini, cauliflower…)
1/2 cup diced cooked chicken (optional)
1-2 tsp. tumeric
Salt/pepper to taste

Directions:
In a pan, medium heat, brown the onions in olive oil (approximately 5-10 minutes.)  Add garlic and rice.  Stir together for a 3-5 minutes until rice has a chance to get to know the first flavors.  Then add vegetables, chicken and butter and stir for another 3-5 minutes for another quick layer of introduction.  Then add broth, tumeric and a dash of salt and pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.

Unsolicited Tips: I make my own chicken broth, which accounts for some of the color and, I must say, some extra yummy flavor.  Boxed/canned broth can obviously also be used.  Brown rice can also be used, but it won’t absorb as much color or flavor.

If you haven’t used tumeric before, you may want to start with 1 teaspoon.  We love the flavor but it is new to some.  Besides being yum-ola and beautiful, tumeric is known to be anti-inflamatory, an antioxidant and tons of other current healthy buzz-words.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Google it and see!

Finally, in case you’re new to my blog or my life: the day I make a one-cup-of-rice recipe is the day I serve Poptarts for breakfast.  Girlfriend, I doubled this ‘thang of course!

p.s. Once Mike–in a show of defiance over my over-zealous approach to nutrition–bought some Poptarts.  Everyone hated them, even him!

 

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Ready or Not…

bone brothMeet my new best friend: 36 hour bone broth.

Ready or not; here comes influenza.  According to the Center for Disease Control, influenza is–despite our tropical temps–making its way west.

After the traumatic months of ill health my family endured last winter, I am determined to everything in my power to shield us from the effects of all the nasty bugs that surround us in 2014.  Will we still get sick?  Yeah, prolly.  But hopefully not as sick and not for as long.  Perfection is not my goal.  Improvement.  THAT’S what I’m shooting for!

So, several life circumstances over the past year have prompted me to take a look at more ancient, homeopathic prevention/cure methods of avoiding or at least mellowing the effects of the creepy crawlies.

Enter: BONE BROTH.  I’ve always made it, but this year my technique got turned up big time.  36 hours in the crock pot, my bones sit with purified water, onion, garlic, celery, salt, pepper and a dash of cider vinegar.  When done, the gelatinous rich broth (it liquifies when heated) is filled with protein, minerals and lots of disease fighting power.  Seriously.  If you don’t believe my source, above, just google “benefits of bone broth.”

A pungent simmering of fresh garlic, ginger, onion, radish in a good bone broth is a very soothing and helpful remedy to a cough/cold/chest congestion.  I’ve tried it.  It really does help.  But you gotta use a good homemade bone broth.  The sterile rectangular boxes above the cans of soup on the market shelves are not even close.  Sorry…

Besides my brothy friend, I’m making a big batch of elder berry syrup this weekend.  Friends have requested–lemme know before I buy honey on Saturday if you’d like more too–and, like I said, I’m revving up, baby!

elderberry syrup

The final arrow in my quiver-arsenal: saying “no.”  Yes.  I mean no.  I mean I’m saying no this season.  I pride myself on my commitment to follow through on my commitments.  You can count on me!  Yesiree!  And while I don’t want to ruin my illustrious reputation, I have decided, this season, to not let obligations dictate my actions over the health of my family–including my health.  Last year I contracted pneumonia.  PNEUMONIA because I stubbornly refused to let a little (big) illness get in the way of my life.  Like a ridiculous Nyquil commercial, I wasn’t going to let the flu stop me in my tracks!

Yeah.  So instead pneumonia brought me to my knees.  Lesson learned.  Check.  (Who comes up with these slogans anyway?  No wonder all these illnesses keep getting spread around!)

This season, if illness breaks through my bone-broth-healthy-eating-exercising-elder-berry defenses I will not be a silly ding dong and just keep trudging along.  I will say “no” if I have to and feel OK about it.  In fact, I might even feel pretty great.

Better Broth–and that’s not all…

better brothOK.  Yes.  This looks gross.  But it’s not. I mean it won’t be when I’m done with it.

I recently posted a great way to make your own broth with the bones of whatever animal you just served for dinner.  You may or may not recall that one of my dilemmas was that I liked to cook the bones for a long time, but didn’t like leaving it on my stove top for multiple hours as it was using energy and I couldn’t leave it.

Well, I’m not sure why I couldn’t come up with this on my own, but–earth to Michelle–use a crock pot!  And then, go ahead and cook those bones for about 24 hours ( bring to a boil then reduce to low) after adding a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar and whatever other seasonings you like.  The cider vinegar helps to pull all the nutrients (including calcium) out of the bones.  When done and chilled your broth will be a bit gelatinous (this is good!) and all the fat will rise to the top so you may grossly and easily skim it off.

I have had a few epiphanies over the past week as my commitment to solve Josie’s not-horrible-but-still-persistent eczema problem.  I’ve taken her off gluten which is a bit pricey but in a modern metropolitan area not all that hard as there are tons of gluten free breads, crackers, pastas and more.  No more little dabs of prescription chemicals  and petroleum based products on my daughter’s skin please!  They are not working and I have hated them for too long!

One thing led to another and through my hunt for creative diet options I also began exploring natural skin products.  Long story short (is it already too late for that?) I have since made my own deodorant (I know, right. What the …?) and laundry detergent.  Then (it gets better) I traded some of my elderberry syrup to Didi who made me her homemade hand soap and body butter.  How crazy awesome is that!?

I am so proud of my wild west apothecary trading post that I’m considering making some of these all-natural-chemical-free better-for-my-family-my-pocket-book-and-the-environment  products, after having tested them on my family (wouldn’t dream of using animals!) for sale to, well, anyone who would want to purchase them.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller…?

How did I get from bone broth to hand soap?  It’s just been that kind of week…  Stay tuned folks.  I’m not done yet!

p.s. Thank you Kate Doubler (aka: realfoodrn) for starting me on this journey!

p.s. #2 Lesson learned today: grating one bar of natural soap to make laundry detergent is a lot harder than you think.  Next time grab the food processor.