Conscious Cooking: Mushroom Broth
Sipping Broths are all the rage in the “foodie-world,” but broth – or stock – has been a big deal in the culinary world for a long time. The earliest form of stock was probably made around the same time that humans began boiling water. It’s a known fact that some of the oldest recipes are the simplest, and therefore they are most likely to be passed on throughout history. Many probably started from the same place, the same idea, the same accident. Someone, somewhere, a long time ago dropped their scraps into a pot of water because they were either curious or desperately needed to eat and tried to make the most of what they had. And that led to stock, which led to soup, which led to stew, which led to gravy, which led to sauce, which led to everything we eat today, in some way, shape or form. But the original survived as stock.
Sipping Broth: Stock That Can Stand Alone
Every good chef knows how to make a stock, whether it be beef, chicken, fish, or some variation of vegetable; but every great chef knows how to make a broth that can be eaten on its own–without anything fancy to cover it up or hide it from the world–just a spoon and maybe a piece of bread. And that’s what happened with the sipping broth trend. Some trendy restaurant decided to serve their beef broth on its own and people went crazy over it.
At first I was slightly annoyed by this trend (“Why are people drinking broth? It’s meant to be cooked with!”), but then I realized that if people were buying broth to drink, they would eventually be looking for ways to make their own. Broth is, after all, one of the simplest and quickest ways to nourish the body. Because of its long, slow, cook time, the water in stock is able to procure every possible nutrient out of every ingredient within the pot. A slower cooking time means that most of the things that get broken down during our digestion process happen in the pot instead of our bellies, this allows our bodies to better absorb the nutrients in the stock. It means healthier eating habits, and full, happy bellies. The more people who know how to make a good broth, the better.
Taking Stock of Mushrooms
So let’s talk stock. A great stock has a deep earthy quality to it, a slight oiliness, and silky flavor. The best kind of stock, in my humble opinion, is made with mushrooms–just plain, old mushrooms. Mushrooms are incredible. They have a healing power. They have intricate root systems, they are made up of beautiful bacteria, they are fungi, they pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and they can grow on anything that is fertile enough to host them. Mushrooms have a meatiness to them, and they are full of a natural umami flavor (“umami” is considered the fifth flavor profile that our palate detects, and is identified as both sweet and savory), which makes them perfectly nourishing for a delicious stock. They add depth and earthiness to beef stock, so why not take the bones out of the equation and give the humble mushroom its turn in the spotlight?
Mushroom Sipping Broth
This recipe calls for many nutrient-rich and flavorful ingredients for a reason: it is meant to be eaten, or sipped on, by itself. Though, I would not frown upon using it as a base for a soup, or stew, or even as a substitute for water when cooking rice or quinoa–by all means, cook with it!. That’s what broth is meant for, after all.
- 18 oz. Button Mushrooms
- 1 Medium White Onion
- 1 whole bulb of Garlic
- 3 Dried Mushrooms
- 1 Small piece of Kombu Seaweed
- 1 tsp crushed Red Pepper
- 0.5 Cup of Sherry
- 4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 5-7 Cups Water
Chop the mushrooms into quarters. Slice the onion into strips. Peel a whole head of garlic, separating each individual clove. Crush each clove with the side of your knife. Remove and discard the paper-skin covering the flesh. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic into the pot along with all of the other ingredients, water should be added last. While adding the water, be mindful of how much broth you would like to have and add about half of a cup more than that amount.
Place the pot on the lowest heat possible and let it come to a simmer, once the water is simmering remove the Kombu from the pot. Allow the rest of the ingredients to stay at a low simmer for 1-1.5 hours, covered. Do not let the stock come to a boil as this will produce a cloudy and separated stock. The gentler the simmer, the better. Stir occasionally. When you are ready, pour the broth into a large bowl through a colander and let it cool to room temperature. Store the broth in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Kapha Reducing Breakfast Porridge
Are you feeling a little heavy and a little sluggish? Are you craving sunshine and warmth and wish for Spring to put a spring in your step?
It’s not surprising that many people in the Northern hemisphere take off to warm and tropical destinations in February and March. At this point many of us have had enough of the cold and damp climate and are ready to “dry up and warm up” from the outside in and kick our natural Vitamin D production into a higher gear again.
If you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) you may already be supplementing with additional Vitamin D and possibly even reaching for other means such as commercially available sources of full spectrum sunlight. Alternately, you may subscribe to a regular sauna practice which is helpful in driving the dampness, Kapha, out of your bones and joints and helps to release the sluggish feeling that can so easily settle on our body-mind.
Of course you can alleviate some of these Kapha traits, such as a feeling of cold and damp, sluggishness of body and mind, and a craving for sun, light, and warmth, by feeding your body the right nutrients to warm up from the inside out rather than only from outside in.
A good way to look at it is much like the stoking of a furnace. If you are living in a cool climate which sports cold and damp winters that drag well into the February and March months, you may be served well by avoiding foods that are inherently cold, such as raw fruit and salads, anything eaten right out of the fridge, ice creams and also cold water.
In Ayurveda we are trying to counter unwanted qualities with their opposite. Kapha is mainly cold and wet in nature, thus we find Kapha prominent in late Winter and early Spring when we are moving away from the dry and harsher cold and into the time of year when the earth is getting ready again for new growth. Kapha is also heavy in nature and a person with this body-type may find that their metabolism is a little sluggish and their digestion is quite slow.
Foods that can thoroughly spark your inner furnace and put a smile on your face are those that are steamed or slightly cooked, warm stews and soups that are rich in nutrients yet easy on your digestive load. Make sure to include plenty of spices such as ginger, garlic, chili or cayenne (careful if you are of Pitta constitution). Chili and cayenne also contain capsaicin which is known to have an effect similar to endorphins in your body and therefore has been noted as a natural metabolic stimulant, mood enhancer, and in some cultures as an aphrodisiac.
Here is a recipe for a delicious breakfast porridge that packs a mild punch and gives you a cozy start to your day without giving you the weighed down feeling a warm meal can otherwise give you in the morning.
The millet in this recipe has a dry quality that counters the heavy and moist quality of Kapha. The spices are mostly pungent which also works to balance Kapha, especially if you chose to add a little chili or cayenne to your porridge. Even though the sweet quality of honey has a building (or Kapha increasing effect on us) it is helpful in this recipe as raw honey has a pungent post-digestive effect, which means that it helps alleviate the Kapha and scrape it out of your cells.
Kapha Reducing Breakfast Porridge
- 1/4 cup dry millet
- 1 small apple, the kind that’s in season
- Pinch of ground clove
- Pinch of dry ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Pinch of ground chili – optional
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tsp raw honey
Cook all ingredients on low heat for about 20 minutes. Check consistency and add water if you like. Add a teaspoon of raw honey just before serving.
I like to top my porridge with some toasted walnuts (toast walnut halves at 350 F for 16 minutes, let cool and use as desired).
This Kapha reducing breakfast is fixed to give you a solid start and warm you up on a cold morning, and leaves you feeling satisfied and alert for what the day holds for you without weighing you down.