Parsnip and Celeriac Soup with Fried Beet Matchsticks (plus Giveaway)

Parsnip Celeriac Soup: PaleoSpirit.com

Just down the street from our home lies a lovely, family-owned Christmas Tree farm. In spite of this, we have opted for an artificial tree the last few years primarily because of my son’s tree allergies. But, I will admit, another factor is the artificial tree is “pre-lit”. Yes, the convenience trumped the natural beauty of the real thing – at least until now. This year we decided to take a chance with the allergies and opt for the full cut-your-own-Christmas-Tree experience.

Tree Farm

Nathaniel found a “little tree”.

Little Tree

His little tree reminded us of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree.  We ultimately chose a larger tree and the boys took turns (with close supervision!) cutting it down.

Help with cuttingcutting

The tree farm is close enough we could walk home with our tree.

G carries tree-2

We really had fun with cutting our own Christmas tree. It looks and smells great and I’m pretty sure we will be tossing out the artificial tree and going natural from now on.

The experience reminded me of a poem by e.e. cummings I memorized for seventh grade English class:

little tree by e.e. cummings

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid

look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

Christmas tree

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How to Make “Brown” Beef Bone Stock

finished beef bone stockWhen I told my oldest son I was roasting some bones in the oven he looked at me sternly for a few seconds before exclaiming, “Mom, you just keep getting weirder and weirder!” I suppose from the perspective of a 10 year old, the idea of roasting bones, then “painting” them with tomato paste (a bit of a macabre-looking scene to be sure) and then simmering them in a cauldron, um, I mean crock pot, sounds a bit bizarre. But in spite of appearances, there is a method to my (seeming) madness.

In the post How to Make Chicken Stock in Five Minutes I touched on some of the health benefits of eating bone stock. It’s a great “whole” food few of us incorporate into our modern diets. Health benefits are one thing, but when you experience the exquisite flavor of real “brown” beef bone stock you will understand just how worthwhile it is to make it yourself. Store bought stock will never have the same rich flavor and certainly not provide you with the full health benefits.

This recipe is based on one from Emeril Lagasse. I have tweaked the quantities, eliminated the wine and thyme, increased the cooking time and included vinegar to pull the minerals out of the bones for maximum health benefit. You could make bone stock without roasting the bones but it would not have quite the same rich flavor. The process of browning the bones makes for a sophisticated flavor that is beyond compare. This is a classic method chefs use to obtain maximum flavor from bones for use in stocks and sauces.

The recipe makes a fairly significant amount of mineral rich, delicious bone stock which means the invested time and money is well worth it. Continue reading

How to Make Homemade Chicken Stock in Five Minutes

Homemade Chicken StockIna Garten‘s “Barefoot Contessa” is one of my favorite cooking shows. She often references using homemade chicken stock in her recipes.  And even though Ina qualifies it by saying you can substitute store-bought stock or broth, the mere mention of homemade chicken stock only served to make me feel inadequate. At least it did until very recently when I finally figured out if you have five minutes, a few key ingredients and a crock pot you can make homemade chicken stock.* Continue reading

Thai Curry with Squash and Avocado

Thai Curry with Squash and AvocadoThai food is one of my absolute favorites and fortunately it is extremely paleo-friendly. One of the first thoughts I had when investigating the paleo diet and discovering the benefits of coconut products was, “I can eat thai food without guilt now!”

One of our family’s favorite restaurants of all time is Origin Thai. Their French-Thai menu contains amazingly delicious dishes that serve as inspiration for future culinary adventures. I would love to be able to make Origin Thai’s Royal Massaman Curry completely from scratch because it has been one of our favorites over the years. But if you are anything like me you have to be strategic about how and when to make more elaborate dishes. This recipe for Thai Curry with Squash and Avocado is inspired by the original recipe but should be placed in the “semi-homemade” category.   Continue reading

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Banana Squash and Leek Soup with Bacon

This Banana Squash and Leek Soup recipe is the result of a few different factors coming together. It is the first year we have grown leeks in the new raised garden beds and I needed a suitable venue for these beauties.leeks in gardenSecondly, I impulsively purchased a gorgeous pink banana squash and found myself wondering what to do with such an enormous vegetable.

pink banana squash

Big Boy demonstrates the monstrous pink banana squash

And, of course, the weather is getting cooler and the family is ready for some seasonal soups. So combining the banana squash and leeks to create a hearty paleo recipe just made sense. Add some bacon and all is right with the world!
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