Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dill Pickle Soup

This post is for my cousin Kathleen, but I thought everyone else might enjoy it, also. 

Dill Pickle Soup, a Polish dish, is a wonderful warming food that is easy to make, vegetarian, cheap and also good for you.

The first time I tried Dill Pickle Soup was on my first date with Mr. Green. We went to a Polish restaurant called Old Krakow in West Portal. He said that dill pickle soup was one of the best things on the menu and we ordered a cup to share. Needless to say, I was skeptical, but I tried it and it was delicious! Unfortunately, the restaurant is no longer there, and, although they said they were going to open up somewhere else in the city, they seem to have disappeared. Their dill pickle soup was wonderful! I'm not sure mine is as good, but I thank them for the inspiration.

You'll find lots of different versions of this soup on the net if you google it.

Here's my version:

Dill Pickle Soup
1 tbls olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
4 Idaho potatoes - not huge, but a little bigger than a standard baker
chicken or vegetable broth
dill pickles - preferably ones you put up yourself or some that you bought at a local farmers' market
1 large carrot
1 good-sized bunch of fresh dill
1/2 cup of pickle juice
whole milk
1 pat of butter (optional)

Dice onion, chop garlic fine and saute in the olive oil, in the bottom of a large sauce pan, until translucent.
If at all possible ALL of these veggies should be organic. So should the broth & the milk. OK, so all the ingredients should be organic - for your health & for the planet.

Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes, add to the onions and garlic and pour enough stock into the pot to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a gentle boil.

Chop up a bunch of pickles into small pieces - about the size of a pea (only, of course, they won't to be round). Make a pile that is about 3/4 as big as the pile of potatoes were. 

I get that this is a lot of pickles. . . 

Chop up the entire bunch of dill - take out the big stems and just chop the finer stuff. Add it to the pot.
And, yes, that's a lot of dill. Trust me, you'll like it.

Grate the carrot
This is as much for color contrast as it is for flavor, but it's also good for you so go ahead. 

When the potatoes are about half done (10 to 15 minutes, depending upon your definition of small) add the pickles and the carrot.

Then add 1/2 cup of pickle juice.
I have no idea why I measure this, but I do.

Bring back to a gentle boil.

When the potatoes are almost done, add some milk. About a cup. Enough to turn the broth opaque. Heat to a gentle boil one last time.
Taste it at this point. Don't burn your tongue (I am notorious for burning my tongue tasting cooking food). If you want to richen it up a bit, add the butter. Just a pat. Not a bunch. You might also add a couple grinds of fresh pepper. I don't add extra salt, but I was raised without salt, so if you think it's not salty enough, add a little. 

That's it. Turn the burner off, let it set for a few minutes, ladle it into bowls and eat it.

I like it kind of thin, so I don't thicken it. The starch in the potatoes thickens it enough. Also, if a lot of the broth has gone away during cooking, I add more when I add the milk. You can also add more pickle juice if you like the flavor. And, if you want to get fancy, save a few sprigs of dill to garnish the top!


By the way, ALL of these ingredients are available right now at your local Farmers' Market. Shopping at the Farmers' Market is fun and supports your community. Buy Local!

Please note: I got the soup picture from Sister Mary Martha's blog, entitled Ask Sister Mary Martha and sub-titled "Life is Tough, but Nuns are Tougher. If you need advise ask Sister Mary Martha". A great blog! I love it! She hasn't posted since 2008, but it's still worth a look. The picture is under a post about Santa Claus. You should check out the blog if you are, at this point, just entertaining yourself. . . 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Next Healthy Thing for Me - A Letter to My Friends & Community

Dear Fabulous Friends and Community,

I am a student again! I have enrolled in a health and nutrition class with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The course is a year long and at the end I will be a certified health coach. I'm SO excited! Wooowhoo! Since it's a distance learning course and all the info came to me weeks ago, I've totally cheated and have read and listened to a whole bunch of the material we are to cover. It's great stuff!

As most, if not all, of you know, I have always been interested in health and nutrition. My obsession with local food, gardening, eating and all things health-related is going to develop into my next career!

I'm going to learn a lot about all the different dietary theories out there. From the Zone Diet to the Blood Type Diet to Five Element Theory (which, by the way, I'd never heard of - Shocking!). I'm also going to learn a lot about listening, the basics of food consumption, and the latest in dietary theory - As well as the business end of being a health coach.

I chose Integrative Nutrition because of their basic philosophy, which is:

There are two types of food: 
Primary Food consists of our relationships, our physical activity, our career and our spiritual practice.
Secondary Food is what we put in our mouths.

This was a revelation to me when I heard it! The world got brighter and bigger and all the stuff in my head around food and place and self-care and community started to link up like a string of old Christmas lights when you replace the right bulb! Fascinating!

There is no one-size-fits-all diet: 
What invigorates you may bore me. What I eat to feel great might make you feel lethargic. What works for your body might make me have a rash! We all are intuitive and smart enough to figure out what will bring optimal health and happiness. . . all we need is information, support and encouragement along the way.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? 

What will I do with all this new-found learning and inspiration?

Here's my vision for this year:

  • I'm going to share it with you. Here on my blog. So please check in occasionally to see what's new!
  • I'm going to offer seminars to groups, starting (hopefully) with my workplace. 
  • I'm going to take on clients who want to increase their health and happiness. 

Here's my vision for a few years after that:
I'm going to buy a piece of land and start a biodynamic human-scale garden/farm that will serve as the centerpiece for seminars, weekend retreats and classes about nutritionally dense food, how to grow it, how to cook it, how to enjoy eating it - and taking care of our children, grandchildren and ourselves as we age.

Sounds fun, doesn't it?!

Where will this garden/farm be? I have no idea, but I'm looking for that piece of land. Two to five acres with water rights in an area that's pretty and has a good growing season. Not sure if that's California, Idaho, Oregon or Washington - or someplace I haven't thought of yet.

I'm planning to apprentice on a biodynamic farm, either the fall of 2011 or the spring of 2012, for a year. There are a few out there that pay a small stipend, which is all I really need.

I am looking forward to the next part of my journey and sharing it with you. I cannot begin to express what you all mean to me.

For those of you who are new in my world, I have family and friends that are amazing. They've been there for me through many different phases in my life (not all good) and I love and admire every single one of them. 

Of course, I can't do this alone. I will need your help and encouragement along the way.

To start with, if you have information about, or know of, a piece of land that is for sale that I would love, or a biodynamic farm that hires help, please post a comment or email me at greenlifejunkie@gmail.com.

Here's to the future!

Love to you all,

PS - Mr. Green is totally supportive of this new adventure. Crazy man!  :)