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Making the most of what you’ve got…

chopping leeksWith all of this chopping and cooking I do in my kitchen, I end up with more vegetable scraps than I know what to do with. I hate to throw them out because, well, it’s not very environmentally friendly of me! We compost as much as we can, but in our small suburban homestead, this is just one small compost barrel and it doesn’t take me long to fill it to capacity.

Instead, as often as possible, I save up my scraps from different meals so I can make a stock for soup with them when I’m ready.

The best way I’ve found to do this is by keeping a plastic zipper bag in the freezer, the bigger the better, to save my veggie peels, trimmings, and ends.

When the bag is full and I have a nice assortment of carrots, peppers, celery, onions, and other odds and ends, I put them all in the slow cooker for the day. It is perfectly fine to put them straight into the cooker from the freezer. If I have them, I will also add bones, like chicken or turkey, to add to the stock. I also add peppercorns, lots of herbs, and a bay leaf or two to give the stock flavor. I personally like to use salt in my stock because I find that it draws a lot of flavor out of the scraps I’m cooking with. However, I do go light on the salt so that I can adjust the seasoning again when I’m making a soup or other dish with the stock.

There are very few days when I am in the house for the hours and hours I would need to tend to my simmering brew. While I can and certainly have made stock on the stove top, I usually don’t because there is another way that gives me more freedom. I’ve fallen head over heels with my slow cooker for its magical ability to deliver stock with zero intervention from me!

I have a huge, 6-quart slow-cooker that is programmable. This means I can set it for the time and heat level and when it’s done, it automatically turns itself over to the “warm” function. This is very handy for those days when I’m out of the house for most of the day.

Potato Leek SoupTo encourage your efforts at making a delicious, home-made stock, I created a pretty printable guide with all the instructions and a handy list of the best veggie scraps to include in your creation. Just click right here to download yours, print it on your nicest paper, and pin it up on the fridge or inside a cupboard. This way you’ll always be prepared to make the most out of the food you have worked so hard for. And the biggest reward will be the soup you make with it!

And for a little soup inspiration, you can get my recipe for a delicious lentil soup by clicking right here.

Happy cooking and stock making, my friends!


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we have a winner…

I am delighted to announce that Lindsay Holt from Whole Body Alchemy is the winner of the Big Spring Giveaway!

Do you know that one of my favorite words is “kismet?” I just had to tell everyone that when I went to Lindsay’s website, I gasped a little because she has feathers everywhere, in the graphic design and the featured photos. Then I clicked to another page and found this quote…

Let me be as a feather. Strong with purpose, yet light at heart. Able to bend and, tho I might become frayed, pull myself together again. -Anita Sams

I thought all of you would enjoy this story and these lovely words on this soft and gentle Friday.

Lindsay will get a spot in Feathering the Nest and A Book About Me.

MamaScout_Giveaway_Graphic

Both of these beautiful courses start on April 1st (soon!) If you would like to sign-up you have plenty of time to join in the fun!

XO
Leah


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Pretty Pink Foods for Valentine’s Day

I have been busy as a bee leading the Winter session of Season’s Eatings and creating goodies for the Skill It newsletter these past few weeks. (Not signed up? Click here to be on the list!)

The spirit of this day is a celebration of love and is typically associated with hearts and flowers, chocolate and candy. While I enjoy chocolate as much as the next gal, I wanted to honor this day in a different way.

Since food is always on my mind, Valentine’s Day has been making me think about all the pretty pink fruits and veggies I enjoy eating. So I rounded up my favorite photos of pretty, pink food and am sharing them here in a short & sweet way.

From beans to borscht, my favorite pink soup, these photos remind us that every color of the rainbow can be found in nature…and usually in an edible form!

Pink_Beans_RadicchioPink Beans & Radicchio

Pink_Grapefruit_BorschtPink Grapefruit & Borscht (Beet Soup)

Pink_Chard_GreetingRainbow Chard Stems

I hope you have a beautiful, delicious, and Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Learning to Nourish Ourselves

My good friend has a blog called exhale. return to center.

I think this is amazing advice for life, and especially life in the kitchen.

Fancy-pants restaurant food is results-oriented.  It’s fast-paced and there is a lot of ego.  Tensions run high, food critics are tough, and employees all over the restaurant find themselves burning out in their “real lives” while they give over their heart and souls to the constant churn of the nightly service.

Sometimes I catch myself approaching dinner at home with this same energy.  This can be fantastic when I put a healthy meal on the table in under 20 minutes.

My ego is very proud of my ability to think fast, work efficiently, and deliver delicious results.

But this is not what I want my life to look like!

I am really okay with getting dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.  But I do not want that frantic, restaurant energy in my home. Can you imagine a 5-year old learning to cook in a New York City kitchen? I can only picture upset and tears.

I truly believe that our kitchen is the heart of the home.  It feeds and nourishes us in every way.

I prefer to cultivate a simple, mindful energy in our kitchen.  One that is light-hearted and listens to music while grating the carrots and toasting the tortillas.

When I get to the table to enjoy our simple supper, I want to be relaxed, smiling, and joyful.  In this state of being, I can absorb the food gracefully.

This same energy of relaxation, smiles and joy sets the stage for a beautiful, soul-filling learning environment.

Our homes, our kitchens, our classrooms are the places where we teach children how to take care of themselves.

At heart, this is what motivates everything in the Skill It kitchen. We teach children to prepare food so they can care for themselves.

Even more than this, we hope to guide them towards taking care of their most basic needs. We hope to equip them with the skills and confidence to nourish their bodies, minds, and their spirits.

We have to show our children how to be with our example. We can create a peaceful, encouraging, and patient kitchen so that they can be comfortable trying, experimenting, and exploring.

And this gets created in the moment. 

One breath, one exhale at a time.

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