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Deliciously Organic: January 2009

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tortilla Soup

For many years this soup has been our family favorites. This soup is all done in one pot and can be put on the table in a mere 45 minutes.

Tortilla Soup
Serves 6 Adapted from "The Best Recipe"
I like to serve this soup with lots of toppings, but you can pick which ones you like best. This soup also freezes very well.

5 cloves garlic, crushed with skins on
6 springs fresh oregano
6 sprigs of cilantro, plus 1/2 cup roughly chopped
8 cups chicken stock
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts or 1 small 3-4 pound chicken

3 cups tortilla chips
1 avocado, cubed
2 tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
1 lime, cut into quarters
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place the garlic cloves in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until garlic begins to darken, about 2-2 1/2 minutes. Remove the pan and let it cool for about 30 seconds and then add the chicken stock, oregano, cilantro, and chicken. Place pot back on heat and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes. When chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken from the broth mixture and set aside. With slotted spoon, strain out the rest of the garlic and herbs. Shred the chicken with a fork and then add back to the soup. Add salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, crumble a handful of tortilla chips into individual bowls and then ladle the broth over. Serve with cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, lime, cheese, and sour cream.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"You what?"

This is the question people ask me when they hear that I grind my own grain.  Now you may be laughing and thinking, "Who has time for that?"  Let me explain  . The wheat grinder is about as big as an ice cream maker and within a minute of pouring in the grain and turning it on I have fresh ground flour. Doesn't sound so crazy does it?  The next question I usually get is "why?" First, I think by now we all know the benefits of whole wheat versus white and without getting into to much science, my question is, "What happens when you add water to flour?" It makes a imagine what it is doing inside your body. Also, when wheat is freshly ground it contains many nutrients such as: B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium and fiber. When whole wheat is turned into white flour these essential vitamins and nutrients are stripped away and what you are left with is a tasteless powder better used for paper Mache than to bake with.

Have you ever gone to the store on a “health kick” and bought a bag of whole wheat flour only to be greatly disappointed when your muffins or bread came out hard as a rock?  When wheat is ground into flour it has an amazing lightness to it because all of the oils are still alive.  Once the ground flour has been at room temperature for 24 hours, these oils oxidize or "die" so you are left with flour that will turn out a very dense loaf of bread and isn't as nutritious. So this is why freshly ground whole wheat flour is great to bake with because you will be able to get the same lightness that you have always been used to and it also tastes amazing.

For those of you who may not want to buy a wheat grinder, I have good news.  At many stores like, Whole Foods and Central Market, you can now grind wheat in the store and take it home with you.  That may not excite you, but the first time I saw this in the store I was with my Mom and grabbed her arm and said, "Don't you understand how amazing this is?   Now everyone can have their own fresh ground wheat!" She didn't quite share my enthusiasm...but by now I am used to others not being as excited over new organic products as I am.

I completely understand if this is something you aren't ready for.  If so, try and buy flour from a store that has a high turn over and store your flour in the freezer to keep it fresh.  If you are going to the store to buy grain or are going to get some freshly ground, always use soft wheat (also known as whole wheat pastry flour) for all baking (excluding bread) and for bread baking use hard wheat. So, go to the store, grind some wheat and give it a try. I dare you.