Magic Soup

Even though winter’s winding down, we keep encountering folks who have that ‘change of seasons’ flu- especially here in the northeast right now. It seems the timing is perfect for this soup recipe sent to us by Kathy Larson, Frontier’s VP of Sustainability and Education. It might be just what’s needed if you’re battling the blahs while waiting for spring.

by Kathy Larson

Some years ago while we were in the city shopping, I started getting a sore throat, feeling achy and blah.  We had planned to eat supper before going home but I was looking forward to getting home and wrapping up in a warm blanket with a cup of tea.  However, my husband really wanted to stop at a Thai restaurant that was on our way home, so thinking perhaps some hot soup would be good, I agreed.

I got a hot, spicy and brothy soup with cilantro, mushrooms, onions, chili peppers and other goodies at the bottom of my bowl.  I like spicy foods, but this was just at the limit of comfortable eating and I remember taking careful spoonful after spoonful to avoid coughing.  Soon I was sweating and panting a bit but I cleaned up every drop of that tasty soup because it just felt healing.  And the best thing was that the next day, I felt healed!

Ever since, when I start getting that achy, sore throat feeling I make a hot, gingery soup that always warms me up and makes me feel better.  I vary this soup depending what I have on hand, as I usually am making it when I can’t plan ahead.

Magic Chicken Soup

1 small chicken (or 2# deboned, skinless chicken pieces)

Water to cover and cook chicken (2 to 3 quarts)

3 astragalus root slices

3 bay leaves

2 to 4 whole red chilies

2 large onions, chopped

1 cup chopped carrot

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms

2 tbsp tamari

1 2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbsp parsley flakes

3 cups bok choy or other Chinese cabbage, chopped

juice of one lemon

Garnish: 2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaf chopped

Place the chicken, bay leaf, chili peppers and astragalus in a large soup pot, cover with water and cook until tender (about an hour).  Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool.  Rinse shiitakes under cool water to remove any grit, then place in a small bowl and cover the mushrooms with hot water to soften (15 minutes).  Add onion, celery, carrot, tamari and drained, chopped mushrooms to stock and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove chicken from the bone and add it along with the garlic, ginger and parsley flakes to the soup and continue simmering another five minutes.  Add bok choy and lemon, stir well, taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  If soup is not as spicy as you would like, add cayenne ¼ tsp at a time.  Serve piping hot and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Kathy says: I also make this soup without chicken and add chicken broth powder to the veggies while they are cooking to get a richer broth.

 We’d love to hear about your magic soup recipes!

Homemade Salad Dressings

Today’s post is from Luann Alemao, a chef and health/wellness speaker we’ve worked with over the years. Luann hosts a TV show titled Get Fit, operates several Kids Culinary Camps and offers presentations to corporations on healthy eating.

Here, Luann offers a quick tutorial on making your own simple oil and vinegar dressings. 

Oil and vinegar don’t mix. I had heard that phrase while growing up, but as I attended food and nutrition courses and did my own experimentation in the kitchen, I recognized they are compatible on the salad plate.

When making basic vinaigrette keep in mind that it’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

From that point, the type of oil, the kind of vinegar and the choice of seasonings or add-ins are up to you.

Here are some basics.

EVOO, Virgin, Pure or Seasoned– these are referring most of the time to olive oils in recipes. Other oils, such as soy, almond, and avocado will make great vinaigrettes too and will offer a distinction of their own originality in your vinaigrette.

You can make fine vinaigrette in just a pint jar or a salad cruet; you just need a vessel to shake up the ingredients and create an emulsifier for a short duration anyway.

So let’s get started:

1) Olive oil is the typical choice of taste and rightly so, as it has a fresh taste and natural fruitiness. My second favorite is soy oil as it is clean and light and doesn’t add an oily taste to vinaigrettes.

Light and extra light refer to the color of the oil and not the caloric content – don’t be misled. Fats do have calories and so does olive oil at 120 calories per tablespoon. Experiment with different regional oils and you will notice the differences.

2) Next is the acid or the vinegar.  Balsamic vinegar is my favorite, with its sweeter aroma and sweeter taste. It is rich in color, has undergone a special aging process and may be cured 12-25 years. Vinegar, because of its strong acidic makeup, does not require refrigeration. Other vinegars such as flavored vinegars, apple cider or rice wine vinegar are great culinary choices as well. White distilled is too harsh and best used for cleaning purposes afterward.

3) The add-ins: The combinations you can create are endless. Some dried mustard or Dijon adds a savory flavor.  Don’t forget the garlic and seasonings. Beyond the salt and pepper you can flavor with basil, Italian herbs, ginger, cilantro or tarragon.

Use the zest from limes, oranges and lemons. They add a citrusy blend that is clean and fresh.

Don’t have vinegar? A lemon will work just as well. I personally use a lemon along with the balsamic vinegar as I like the aroma and the pungent taste it offers. Make sure you use some of the zest (the outside peel) for more flavor and aroma.

Making your own salad dressing is cheaper too. It costs just pennies per tablespoon and to buy will be 4-5 times more. Save and FLAV! What more could you want?

Here are some recipes for delicious vinaigrettes:

BERRY-GINGER VINAIGRETTE

½ cup of oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 squirt or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice from a real lemon

1 tablespoon berry preserves

2 Frontier crystallized ginger pieces

Shake in a tight container and serve over greens.

**********

HERBED SALAD VINAIGRETTE

6 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Frontier dry mustard

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of Frontier Italian Seasoning or Herbes de Provence

Fresh ground pepper

Shake in a tight container, let sit for about a ½ hour for flavors to macerate and pour over dark greens.

How do you use oils to make dressings?

Herbal Summer Teas

Hey, Frontier Facebook fans: we really, really like you. Every time we ask you for suggestions and ideas, you come through with excellent combinations and uses for our products that we love to learn about.

Recently we asked our fans for summer tea ideas. As usual, they made us crave a refreshing iced tea, preferably from a Mason jar. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Just plain old sweet tea with a lemon, from a Mason jar, of course!
  • Peppermint! Very refreshing.
  • Black with raspberry herbal. Green with citrus. Double Bergamot Earl Grey.
  • Just good cold well water!
  • Grandma’s sweet sun tea!
  • Frontier Raspberry green tea makes a WONDERFUL sun tea!
  • Frontier Spiced Chai steeped, cooled, iced with a little half and half. Yummy!
  • I make all sorts of sun tea…anything from a mixture of my herbs to tea bags…I love it all.
  • I go thru a gallon every 2 days!
  • I make sun tea about every other day, 2 half gallons: one, black or a mix of black & green, for sweet tea; and the other, either just peppermint or a mix of green tea, roses, cinnamon and peppercorns.
  • Peppermint tea, with leaves fresh from my yard.
  • Raspberry and just plain old green tea. I sweeten w/stevia or honey.
  • Orange and blueberry are a lovely combination.  I’m diabetic, so I sweeten with Splenda or Truvia.
  • Mint tea!

Speaking of mint tea, it’s hard to beat as a drink to help cool you down on a sizzling summer day.

Try this easy recipe for making your own, combined with juicy strawberries and lemon, for added sweetness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STRAWBERRY MINT LEMONADE ICED TEA

8 lemons, juice only

1 quart of your favorite sun tea

¾ cup sugar

4 strawberries, chopped, per glass

ice

sprigs of mint

slice of lemon

Directions:

Mix the lemon, water, and sugar to create lemonade to taste.

Mix with your sun tea.

Pour into 16 oz glass.

Add strawberries.

Add ice cubes.

Add mint sprigs.

Finish with slice of lemon and straw.

Let us know your favorite summer teas!

More on herbal summer teas on our website.

Spork Foods

Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. They offer live cooking classes in Los Angeles and online vegan cooking classes at www.sporkonline.com, one-on-one in-home healthy pantry makeovers, and recipe development/trainings for chefs, food companies and colleges.

Heather Goldberg, left and Jenny Engel, right, of Spork Foods.

Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, will be released in October 2011, with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Based on the Spork philosophy that veganism is about all of the wonderful things you can have, instead of what you can’t, Spork-Fed features over 80 original recipes, gorgeous full-color photographs and healthful tips sure to make any mouth water.

Stay tuned to our blog for more info about this book as its publication date approaches.

Heather and Jenny took time out recently to answer some questions for us about their past, present and future plans for Spork Foods.  They also generously shared one of their fantastic recipes.

What started you on the vegan path? What was it about environmental studies that made you decide to go vegan?  

Although 3 years apart, but virtually twins in all other aspects, we became enlightened to the world of veganism in college as Environmental Science majors. With Heather living in San Francisco and Jenny studying at UC Santa Cruz we each took classes called “World Ecological Crisis”, “Environmental Economics”, and “The Future of Rain Forests.”

Needless to say we were both very alarmed!  What we learned about was the connection between the degradation of the planet and the meat and dairy industry! Right then and there, and very separately, we went vegan over 11 years ago.

We worked together at an environmental non-profit organization called TreePeople in Los Angeles for a few years, sharing lunches and dreaming of running our own sister-business, until our hearts inevitably led us into the kitchen to do the work we were meant to do.

In your videos, you talk about the benefits of using herbs. What are some of your favorites to use? Do you have a favorite recipe you could share that takes advantage of herbs?

Lemon thyme is our fave herb! It has a gorgeous scent that is mildly lemony and super fresh!  We fold it into cashew cheeses, make zesty light potato salads with it, and throw it into spiked lemonade!

One of our main goals is to keep you out of the doctor’s office and show you how to take the health of you and your loved ones into your own hands every time you eat! Our food is more than just calories and protein. When you eat well and eat naturally, you have the ability to improve your body and mind. We’ll drink some carrot juice to that!

Here’s a recipe using lemon thyme — you might try it at your next party.

White Wine Cashew Cheese (on black bean sliders)

WHITE WINE CASHEW CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups roasted unsalted cashews

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon light miso paste

2 teaspoons brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil, organic safflower preferred

3 tablespoons unsweetened almond or soymilk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup vegan white wine

3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, stemmed and finely chopped

Directions:

In a large food processor, add cashews, garlic powder, sea salt, miso, brown rice syrup, oil, almond or soymilk, lemon juice and wine.

Scrape the sides of the food processor occasionally and blend until smooth.

Fold in lemon thyme once.

Transfer to a bowl and ENJOY with crudités or crackers!

© Spork Foods, 2009

Tell us about your online classes! Can you tell us what some of the out-of-the-kitchen experiences might be?  

We launched our on-line classes at www.sporkonline.com less than a year ago! It is a membership-based website for anyone who wants to learn how to prepare fun, easy, delicious, vegan recipes – served anytime!

Our classes are shot and edited in HD by professional filmmakers to create an entertaining and engaging experience.

A NEW COOKING CLASS featuring a four-course meal and built around a specific theme is posted online and available to members once a month.  The classes are filmed with an eclectic group of students (including celebrities, authors, activists, farmers, parents, entrepreneurs and more) that spark interesting conversation around the dinner table and offer their own expertise.  As a member, you get to watch their conversation unfold!

Each month the site will also offer EXCLUSIVE BONUS RECIPES and classes that feature specific holiday and seasonal themes – all designed to enhance your cooking repertoire!

You will have access to extended OUT-OF-THE-KITCHEN EXPERIENCES with Jenny and Heather, taking members on mini adventures with us!  In our favorite one, we take our bestie Rory Freedman, Author of Skinny Bitch, to a farm where we eat things we’ve never even seen before! We have an ARCHIVED CLASSES section so you can master your kitch skills like a pro day or night! Don’t forget to ask the sisters your pressing foodie questions on our FOOD 911 page!

Whether you are a lifelong vegan, veg-curious, or just want to expand your cooking repertoire, Sporkonline offers tried and true original recipes that will please all of your friends and family!

Do you find that being based in LA is an advantage? Do find more vegans there, or a more vegan-oriented culture?

As 4th generation Angelinos, we love being in L.A. and in fact, we’re never leaving! Living in L.A., we are lucky because there is an abundance of Farmer’s Markets all over the city with incredible local fruits and veggies everywhere you look.

We actually take a sister trip each year to a place we have never been and can’t speak the language.  We have truly found a vegan culture in every single corner of the earth that we have explored, from Japan, to Greece, The Cayman Islands to Cuba. We vegans are everywhere!

Are other people in your family vegan?

Mom and Dad are vegan, and as my Dad’s doc says, “You’re the healthiest patient we have!” On no meds at age 70 and looking spry as a teenager, Mom and Dad are sticking with it. We’re still working on Grandma…

Tell us a little bit about some of the things your parents and grandparents taught you about cooking — we love stories of families in the kitchen, and traditions that are passed down. 

No need for explanation, we will let YouTube do the talking! In this video, Grandma Jeanette teaches us her strudel recipe, veganized, of course!

In our cookbook Spork-Fed we will feature Grandma’s Birds Nest Cookies that she has been making for us since before we can remember.

The one huge lesson that our mom taught us in the kitchen is to never be afraid.  She adds whatever spices she has, puts all sorts of veggies in a pot – and it always turns out amazing.

We love to teach people about harnessing their “kitchen intuition” so they can go from relying on a recipe to becoming masters of cooking improvisation.

Feel free to tell us what you like about our spices. Do you have any particular favorites?

We adore Frontier spices and we use them in everything!

We’re thrilled that you offer a wide array of organic spices, and we’re pretty much in love with your Ceylon cinnamon!

But the other thing that we really appreciate about your spices is that you have a picture of what the spice looks like on the container.

When we pass around the turmeric in our cooking classes, for example, people notice that it looks a bit like ginger root when they see the bottle and they feel more connected to their food.  It makes us so happy when people make connections with the foods they eat and the plants they come from  – so thanks for that!

Thanks so much, Heather and Jenny. We can’t wait for your book!

Moroccan Food

A team from Aura Cacia, our essential oil brand, recently traveled to Morocco on a sourcing trip. We always like to hear about the cuisines encountered on these trips. A few notes they shared with us about the food: Tagines were often used to cook the food, no pork was ever served, fruit was served as dessert, argan oil was used in many dishes, and the photos don’t really show how large the dishes were!

Because of Morocco’s interaction with many other cultures and countries throughout history, today’s Moroccan cuisine is surprisingly diverse. In addition to imported spices, many ingredients are home grown, including saffron, olives, lemons, and mint. Common spices used daily include cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, pepper, paprika, ginger, coriander, sesame seeds and anise seeds.

We’re going to let the team’s photos do the rest of the talking.

Veggie and meat dish.

Salad in Morocco.

Main course served in Moroccan home.

Honeycomb appetizer, for dipping bread.

Fruit platter, served as dessert.

Cous cous veggie dish made with argan oil.

Chicken dish with almonds.

Here’s a recipe from our recipe files for creating your own Moroccan spice rub, using coriander, fennel, cardamom and cloves.

Moroccan Barbecue Spice Mix

Dry toasting whole spice seeds intensifies their flavor and fragrance. You can liberally rub this enticing spice mix over salmon, halibut, pork, chicken or beef before cooking, or add it to sautéed onions with chopped kale, collard greens, or cabbage, sea salt, and black pepper with a little bit of broth, then cover and simmer for a delicious side dish. Thanks go to Chef Bruce Sherrod of Berkeley, CA, for sharing this recipe.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole shelled cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
Directions:

To toast seeds: Combine spice seeds in a dry, medium-size skillet over moderate heat. Stir until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour seeds into a shallow bowl to cool.

To grind: Finely powder the toasted spices in a spice-dedicated coffee grinder (not the same one you use for coffee) or mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to 6 months (use sooner if possible).

To use with fish or meat: Season steaks, chops, fish, beef or pork roast with coarsely ground black pepper and finely ground sea salt; roll the meat in a portion of spice mix and press firmly to coat all over. Allow the seasoned meat to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, or cover loosely with unbleached parchment paper and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before cooking.

Sear seasoned fish or meat in a heavy, oven-proof skillet with coconut oil, clarified butter or ghee (2 tablespoons per 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fish or meat) until hot but not smoking. Sear 1 to 2 minutes per side, then finish in a preheated 400°F oven.

To shell whole cardamom seeds, place 1 tablespoon of whole cardamom pods (they have a beige color) on a cutting board. Rock over them with a heavy-bottomed skillet or chef knife. Pull away and discard the shell fragments, then measure the black seeds. Repeat as needed. To skip this step, buy shelled cardamom seeds.

Let us know if you have experience with Moroccan foods, or any favorite recipes you’d like to share!

Grilled Vegetables – Endless Possibilities

What a great feeling it is to clean off that grill and get it ready for the summer season. Some of you are lucky enough to live in climates that allow you to be outside grilling all year. Some of us relish an all-too-short season. We’re here to help you make the most of it, no matter how long it lasts.

Experienced grillers are familiar with how flavors and textures of vegetables are enhanced by grilling. But with a little direction, even beginning grillers will find that soft, juicy vegetables like squash, asparagus, peppers, and mushrooms are well suited to grilling because they absorb oils and seasoning well.

Try artichokes, eggplant, garlic, and all varieties of onions and beans on the grill as side dishes or main dishes. Imagination and exploration are key. Hit up your local farmer’s market for whatever is in season.

We decided to turn things over to our Facebook fans for some new ideas on grilling vegetables. We posed this query, and the responses that followed are downright mouth-watering.

Grilling and fresh veggies — a match made in heaven. Tell us your favorite way to prepare grilled vegetables.

  • Garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, and a little bit of water.
  • Marinate peppers in garlic, olive oil, basil & capers…then grill. Zucchini only needs a little olive oil, salt & pepper. Love to skewer asparagus, brush with oil, salt & pepper and sprinkle with Parmesan as it comes off the grill!
  • Olive oil and garlic salt!
  • I use your All-Purpose Seasoning on everything. I like to brush veggies with coconut oil and then season with the All-Purpose Seasoning. Key is doing both sides!
  • Lots of extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, and chopped shallots, plus whatever dried herbs mix compliments the rest of the meal; e.g., Italian Herbs, Herbes de Provence, Fine Herbs, etc. Your Garlic and Herb marinade is the best.
  • Your pepper grinders truly make a difference on all the roasted vegetables that I love to grill – corn, tomatoes, squash, onions.
  • I discovered your Salad Sprinkle is a great rub not just on veggies but on meats, and for grilling bread!
  • I put olive oil on mushrooms, squash, eggplant, red peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and then usually I sprinkled with salt and pepper, but I have now discovered your Lemon Pepper Marinade!
  • My favorite roasted veggies are sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, with onions and mushrooms. I like to season them with a little olive oil and a little safflower oil to cut down on the burning because we like them to be a little bit crunchy on the edges like fries. I season them with several different varieties of seasoning, depending on the evening.
  • I frequently add fresh lemon juice and lemon pepper, or lemon juice and Tuscan seasoning, or lemon juice and fresh garlic, or lots of whole cloves.

It sounds like our fans think the key is finding a mix that adds just the right flavor to whatever you put on the grill.

We’ve got a multitude of grilling features on our website; help yourself to some ideas.

We’d LOVE to hear more of your tips!

A Trip Through the Frontier Recipe Files

If you’re a fan of Frontier on Facebook, you’ve seen the recipe links we post there often. If you’re not a fan on Facebook, you can become one here.

Sometimes when we post a recipe, one of our customers will comment, “Where can I find more recipes like this?” On our website, that’s where!

We’ve spent many hours gathering and editing our collection of recipes. A lot of them were developed in our test kitchen or were contributed by talented friends and employees, but we also have gotten permission to share over a thousand natural food recipes we’ve chosen from wide range of cookbooks.

You’ll find a nice variety of recipes — from appetizers to vegetarian — in 14 categories with subcategories for ethnic cuisines and ingredients. There’s also an ingredient and recipe title search box. There’s a print version of every recipe, too, so you can save your favorites. We hope you think of our website the next time you need a new idea for a natural dish.

We’ve got quite a file of cooking articles and tips too, and that’s a story for another day.

Some of our Facebook fans are starting to let us know how recipes turn out when they try them. We love this!

On that note, here’s a quickie you can make and use tonight. It’s a lemony butter you can put on your favorite noodles, on bread, or on a baked potato.

Lemony Pasta Butter

Place a big dab of this flavorful butter on hot pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan and coarsely ground pepper, and you’ve created a delightful main dish! It’s also terrific on baked potatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup softened butter or soy margarine
1 teaspoon chervil leaf
1 teaspoon marjoram leaf
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in a small glass jar in the refrigerator, or freeze for use as needed.

Let us know if you try it. Or, give us your own tip for adding spices to butter to turn up the flavor.

Thanks for stopping by.