This is the first installment of a regular column on cooking delicious, real food and how to maximize your food dollars at home while strengthening your culinary prowess.
I recently moved to the Edge of the Woods Farm alongside Six Nations leaving my life as a professional cook in Toronto behind in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of food and strengthening my relationship with the land. I am no way an expert in Haudenosaunee culture, food or agriculture. I am a student learning from the many incredible teachers that are of this land.
My cooking philosophy is simple. Let ingredients speak for themselves by treating them with respect and honoring their existence with practices that will achieve this. Practices such as sourcing local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Recognizing food as medicine that heals your soul and nurtures your body unlike processed foods that do nothing other than temporarily fill your belly and create dependency while lining the pockets of wealthy corporations. During family and community meals, practicing gratitude and being mindful of the many hands it takes to bring food to your table is but one way to honor the land, animals, workers and nutritional healing that food provides.
Since committing myself to learning from the Six Nations community, one local Mohawk farmer I’ve had the privilege of getting to know is Mr. Stan Martin. Stan lives on a farm on fourth line just west of Ohsweken where he raises all natural fed beef, laying hens for eggs, chickens for meat and the best compost you’ll find anywhere. With Stan’s help, I have learned so much about raising laying hens. The garlic garden which I recently planted is being nourished by his rich compost. After assisting Stan this past week in taking his well cared for meat birds to slaughter, those of us at the farm were fortunate enough receive two of his wonderful chickens that were among the best I’ve ever eaten.
Let’s not focus on what I did with the birds for the primary meal but on the leftovers, as this is where cooking ingenuity and years of cooking experience come to life. Here is my idea of a delicious and healthy chicken noodle soup that will satiate you and your family’s minds, bodies and souls.
What you’ll need:
(Feel free to use as little or as much of each ingredient as you like depending on what you have available or to taste. Trust your judgement.)
Leftover chicken carcass from last night’s dinner
Fresh flat leaf parsley
All Purpose Flour
Tools needed to prepare this meal:
-Peel and cut all your vegetables to a size that fits on the spoons you’ll be eating with
-Smash garlic with the side of knife, leave it as big or as small as you like
-Wash and chop parsley, set aside
-Heat your pot up at medium-low heat, add enough vegetable oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pot, wait for it to be warm
-Add your vegetables, a few pinches of salt, cook on medium heat until onions start turning translucent, you don’t want any colour on them
-Add your garlic, thyme, bay leaf and cook for a minute or two more
-Put in chicken carcass, fill with water until bones are just covered
-Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cook on medium-low heat for at least 45 minutes (Keep in mind the longer you cook the soup and the size they are cut, the softer the vegetables will become)
While the soup is simmering make your noodles. The ratio I use is 2 parts flour to 1 part cold water by volume.
-Add your flour and a pinch of salt to your mixing bowl
-Create a well in the center of the bowl with your fingers
-Fill the well with cold water and slowly incorporate with your fingers until it all the flour is incorporated
-Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky (add more flour or water as needed)
-Let rest covered for 5 minutes (this lets the dough relax and makes it easier to work with)
-Roll out on flour dusted surface as thin as you can (if you don’t have a rolling pin, use any cylindrical object or stretch the dough by hand)
-Cut into any size you feel inspired to
-Bring soup back to the boil, add fresh noodles
-Cook noodles until they float
-Season with salt and pepper to taste
-Add fresh parsley immediately before serving to brighten the flavour of the soup
Consider this: strict adherence to recipes will not build your confidence and takes the real fun out of cooking. There are different ways of thinking about food out there. With a basic understanding of cooking principles and techniques, so much is possible. Trust your cooking abilities, let beautiful, local ingredients empower and inspire you to share home cooked meals with loved ones.
questions? recipe ideas? general cooking inquiring? community food stories that you’d like to share? please don’t hesitate to reach out.