In between the snowshoeing classes and the guided fitness hikes, nature enthusiasts can fit a different kind of indoor activity this winter at the Beaver Brook Association in Hollis as Rivka Schwartz leads monthly Natural Living Classes on nutrition, herbs and traditional cooking in the Brown Lane Barn at Beaver Brook.
“I think traditionally it wasn’t so separate what your herbs and medicines were, and what you were doing outside and what you were doing in your kitchen,” she said. “There is an interest. I think people are looking for something besides the modern medicines and those things now.”
The classes focus on topics that bring nature into the kitchen, like wild edibles, tonics and winter herbs. This month, Schwartz is leading a class on soup, broth and sauces for good nutrition.
The soups and sauces start with a bone broth base, made from leftover beef or chicken bones. Schwartz will make both beef and chicken broth in advance for guests to taste before making their own broths.
“Once you have that, it’s pretty quick to make soup or a sauce and a gravy,” Schwartz said. “So we’ll explore that, and we’ll talk about the health benefits of using bone broth.”
Not only do bone broth soup or broth-soup-based sauces taste better, but they’re better for your health, too, she said. Bone broth soups help with digestion and help the body take in protein. Schwartz noted that broth cubes (the kind boiled in a pot of water to make broth) are packed with MSG and other food chemicals.
Bone broth bases are traditional in peasant culture cooking, but are integral in other cuisines like French cooking.
Bones can be saved from a chicken or beef dinner to utilize in soup or sauce bases. Alternatively, you can start with chicken wings or necks. Place the bones in a stock pot, cover in water and bring to a boil (Schwartz added that some people prefer to leave the bones in cold water for an hour prior to boiling). Within 30 to 40 minutes, a layer will form on the top, which can be skimmed off. Then, add vegetables and herbs, like carrots, parsnips, celery, onion and garlic.
“You can just put that on a very low simmer,” Schwartz said, or if using a Crock-Pot, keep the setting on “low.”
Afterward, strain the broth and store it for three to four days in the fridge. Schwartz said that she also freezes the broth in freezer cups that hold two cups of broth, which can be taken out and added to any desired recipe. Another tip is to freeze the broth in ice cube trays, then pop out the broth cubes to store in a freezer bag.
“I don’t add any salt to it, because if you’re going to be using it for different things, then you’ll be using salt as a different ingredient,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said that usually there’s an average of eight to 14 students in attendance in a diverse age group from participants in their 20s to their 70s.
“I think there’s quite a number of young parents who come who want some alternative … to just have nutritious ways to feed their family … or in some ways, medications have so many side effects and what are the alternatives,” Schwartz said. “Go back to some of those ways of making those things in the kitchen that are wholesome and organic and connecting to nature.”
As seen in the January 9th, 2014 issue of The Hippo