As I was pouring a bowl of steaming squash soup (test recipe) for Carole who cleans my house bi-weekly, I couldn’t stop thinking how food brings people together. I didn’t have to feed Carole. Carole came to clean my house in exchange for money. Coming for 5 hours Carole would have brought a snack with her if she wanted to. And yet pouring Carole a bowl of hot soup on a gloomy rainy day to help brighten her day full of cleaning my toilets felt like the most natural thing to do.
If I have a meal that does not consist of embarrassing leftovers from my 5 year old, I feed Carole. How can I not when I am sitting down for lunch?! In Ukraine, the tradition is to offer food or drink to anyone setting a step through the door. Even a glass of water.
Fall is in a full swing in Vancouver. For me it means crisp air walks to school with sun or rain in my face. I click 5K a day just by walking to school. No fitbit required. I just enjoy the fresh air that clears my mind. Walking is my antidepressant. Fall also means baking pumpkin bread, processing 50 lbs of wormed apples into applesauce and cooking pots after pots of soups and stews. For Alex, fall means fishing which means stinky trash for me (ugh). For kids, fall is all about Halloween and somehow Christmas too which I blame on Costco’s Christmas stock in August. Seriously?!
So, stirring the squash soup I thought what an amazing journey it had since Saturday. First I supported a local farmer by buying the squash from Phay. Peeling it I couldn’t stop but thinking of my mom peeling the squash and complaining how she understands why it is so cheap. It was funny and sad at same time. Later on Saturday the squash soup fed 3 of us twice and Alex after completely soaking fishing trip.
He caught us a 60 lbs spring salmon which I gently named a Canadian dolphin. Look, does it look like a fish to you?! It is a freaking sea monster. And interesting enough it has white meat.
Alex “vacuumed” 2 bowls of bone warming soup with many “mmm-mmm-mmm” sounds. On Sunday, we all ate soup again for lunch. It fed sick Adam and made him feel better. And on Monday, the same never ending pot of squash soup fed exhausted overwhelmed me, sick Adam and tired Carole. On Tuesday, I still had a bowl of leftover soup for lunch while writing this post and not setting a foot in the kitchen yet.
Do you see what a $10 2 gallon pot of soup can do?! Amazing!!! There is a reason why comfort food has its name. I am talking about healthy comfort food. Do you understand why I make pots and pots of soup? They save my life!
So, while getting back to soups, stews and casseroles this fall I noticed using 3 specific spices a lot. Homemade spice mixes that you can buy in a store but I don’t. Years ago I started making my own from recipes easily found on the web. Believe it or not it is extremely hard to find spice mixes and seasonings without preservatives and fillers that are affordable. Of course you can find them organic or natural eventually but it takes a lot of time and money. So, why not make your own?! Here are the spices I make on a regular basis and a collection of clean recipes I use them for.
I used to buy Trader Joe’s taco seasoning but because of the $ exchange rate I do not grocery shop in the US anymore. Organic taco seasoning costs way too much here in Canada. Usually a recipe calls for quite a bit of taco seasoning so a small packet of it doesn’t last long. 1-2 meals and poof gone. Here is a shocking fact for you. Our friend Adriana, an exchange student from Mexico, have never ever heard of taco seasoning. I wonder if it has been created by lazy North Americans.:)
Automatically you would think taco seasoning is meant for making tacos. Frankly, I do not even cook tacos often because they do not make great lunch leftovers. But taco seasoning is good in so many other dishes besides tacos:
I don’t think I have used chili powder in many other recipes besides making chili (logically!). To be perfectly honest, I do prefer store bought version but I can’t find affordable organic one without fillers. I don’t understand why even spices need to be loaded with crap?! So, the above recipe will do for now. It is not bad at all and makes chili a chili. Here are a few of my favourite chili recipes I have created over the years:
Oh, I love pumpkin pie spice with all my heart. It is super super expensive and hard to find in stores. Have you tried?! At first I almost got knocked off my feet but then thanks to amazing internet people I made my own. Yes, you could add cinnamon, cloves, all spice etc. separately to each pumpkin recipe but it is so much more convenient to have it all in one jar already measured.
As you can tell, for a Ukrainian born I have quite a large collection of North American inspired pumpkin recipes. Yes, I get your love for pumpkin. I get it. Fine!
And this is just a preview of my entire spice collection. Very simple.
Be healthy, my friends! And don’t eat crap, even in spices. Next time in a store pick up a container of smoked paprika. You will be blown away by its ingredients. I was!