Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

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Lacinato kale

Kale is one of the most nutritious winter vegetables and is also the most dependable in our garden. With a thin layer of row-cover fabric over the plants, the leaves stay green all winter in our zone 6 climate unless we have extended periods near 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Granted, kale leaves don't grow when the day length is very short, so we have to stockpile our kale, letting large areas reach full size during the fall and then slowly eating our way through the patch throughout the winter months. But despite lack of growth during December and January, we still end up eating quite a lot of kale.

Steamed kale

Early in the winter, I usually steam our kale, or sometimes sauté the greens in oil and balsamic vinegar if the leaves are tender and young. But once lettuce begins to give out and we start craving uncooked greens, I turn to this shredded-kale-salad recipe. Although a bit more labor-intensive than the other methods of preparing leafy greens, the results are delicious, and you get the bonus of fresh, raw vegetables deep into the winter months.


• 5 ounces of kale (about half a gallon, loosely packed)
• 1/8 tsp of salt
• 1 small carrot (about a quarter the size of a store-bought carrot)
• 1 tsp of poppy seeds
• 4 tsp of honey
• 1 tbsp of lemon juice
• 1 tbsp of olive oil
• a dash of pepper
• 1 avocado or half of a pear, chopped

1. Start by cutting the big midribs out of the kale leaves, then slice the de-ribbed leaves into small strips about 1/4-inch wide.

2. Next, wash your hands well, sprinkle the salt onto your kale strips, and massage the leaf-and-salt mixture for about a minute. The kale should begin to look damp as its juices are released, and the volume of the leaves will reduce drastically. This step should take anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes (which feels like a long time as you squeeze the leaves between your fingers over and over again).

3. Next, grate a small carrot into the kale-and-salt mixture. I like to use a peeler for this step so I end up with long, thin strips. Add the poppy seeds, then set the mixture aside.

4. In a small, microwaveable bowl, mix the honey, lemon juice, and olive oil.

5. In the winter, these ingredients will usually need to be heated for about 20 seconds in the microwave to make the honey more liquid so it dissolves into the salad dressing. As an alternative, you can make a similar dressing using jams that didn't quite jell — peach syrup, lemon juice, and olive oil made a top-notch dressing for us one year.

Shredded kale salad

6. After mixing the ingredients together, pour your dressing over the salad, sprinkle on a little bit of pepper to taste, and (if you're feeling decadent), add cubes of avocado or pear on top. This salad serves two and can be made almost entirely from homegrown ingredients if you leave out the avocado and provide a sunny spot for a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in your home. On our farm, we grow the kale, carrots, and poppy seeds as a matter of course.

For more delicious, in-season recipes made with homegrown ingredients, check out Farmstead Feast: Winter.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Whey is the liquid that remains after milk is curdled and strained. The thin layer of liquid that forms on fresh yogurt is whey. If you’ve ever tried making your own cheese or yogurt, you may be amazed at how much whey is leftover. Full of protein and nutrients, whey is a versatile ingredient in its own right. Miss Muffet’s mom knew what was good for her, but somewhere along the way, we forgot the many wonderful uses for whey.

Soaking grains and beans: whole grains, beans, and legumes are an essential part of a balanced diet, but they can be difficult to digest. Soaking the grains in a solution of whey and water helps neutralize phytic acid, which can block the absorption of important minerals. It also reduces gastric distress and increases the body’s ability to absorb calcium, copper, magnesium, and zinc. For each cup of whole grain, bean or legume, mix 2 T. whey with 1 cup warm water. Soak at room temperature for at least 7 hours prior to cooking. For maximum benefit, soak the ingredients in a covered, non-reactive container for 24 hours prior to cooking. Renew the soaking solution by draining and mixing a new batch of whey water every 12 hours. Drain and rinse the grains or beans before cooking.

Substitute whey in baking: For savory dishes, whey can be used as a substitute for water, lemon juice, or skim milk. It can also be added to smoothies.

Lacto-ferment raw vegetables using whey: Fermentation allows beneficial microorganisms to naturally develop, as carbohydrates in vegetables are broken down. The ancient art of “pickling” cabbage to make sauerkraut is perhaps the best- known example of fermentation. In this informative video, Mother Earth News Managing Editor Jennifer Kongs demonstrates how to make traditional German sauerkraut.

Carrots, ginger, kohlrabi and garlic make a delicious kraut.

Though sauerkraut may be the most well-known fermented dish, most vegetables are easily fermented using a combination of whey and salt. Fermented carrots are a sweet introduction to the healthy world of microbes waiting to boost your health. For a pungent twist, add kohlrabi, ginger and garlic to the mix.

Carrot-Kohlrabi-Ginger Slaw Recipe


• 6 carrots
•2 kohlrabi bulbs
•1 tsp grated ginger
•1 small garlic clove
•1 tbsp salt
• 1/4 c. whey
• water


1. Shred the carrots, kohlrabi bulbs, ginger, and garlic together, and add the salt.
2. Pound the ingredients in a bowl until they release some juices.
3. Pack the shredded vegetables into a quart size canning jar or crock.
4. Add 1/4 cup whey.
5. Now you’ll need to weight the ingredients, typically with a heavy plate or plastic baggie filled with water.
6. Place the container on a countertop for 3-7 days. The warmer the temperature, the more quickly the vegetables will ferment. In a 50 degree room, it may take up to a week; whereas in a 75 degree room, the ingredients will ferment in about 3 days.

place the mixture into a crock an weigh the ingredients down with a water-filled baggie.

7. Once the vegetables are fermented, place a lid loosely on the jar, or cover with a crock lid. You may notice a foamy, whitish liquid at the top of the mixture. Before eating, remove any foam, as well as the top layer of vegetables that were in contact with it. 8. Refrigerate fermented vegetables for up to three months.

Fermented vegetables may be refrigerated for up to three months.

Where can you find whey? Straining yogurt is the easiest method. Store-bought yogurt works fine, though even the plain yogurt is often loaded with sugar. For the best results, try your hand at making your own yogurt. It’s surprisingly easy and cost-effective, and it tastes divine. Here is a link to my simple recipe for homemade yogurt and strained whey. Thick, luscious, strained “Greek-style” yogurt is delicious when mixed with jam, honey, or granola, and the leftover whey will store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Additional Resources:

In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon discusses the health benefits of fermentation and provides many easy recipes for getting started.

Sandor Ellix Katz delves into the history, health benefits, and various techniques for fermentation on his website, Wild Fermentation. He has also written numerous books on the subject, including Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Read more about healthy, fermented foods in Mr. Katz’s article.

Brenda Lynn is an outdoor educator, garden coach, and master gardener living in northern Virginia. She is also the author of Bee Happy Garden, a blog devoted to backyard native habitats and raised bed vegetable gardening.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



There is something to be said about the satisfaction of doing something yourself-and that also holds true with making wine. No matter where you live, how much or how little wine you intend on making, or what type of wine you choose to make-there are several steps that need to be followed if you wish to make a “drinkable”, enjoyable wine. The actual process of making the wine takes place over several months time, but these are the basic steps that must be followed.

1. Purchase, or grow, the grapes that will be used. In the Midwest, Michigan is the state most conducive to successfully growing grapes. However, if you live an area that is not so great for grape growing, then there are numerous companies that you can purchase grapes from. Generally, they are shipped in from California. Making the determination what type of grapes to grow, or if they will grow in your own backyard, is quite a task itself. Any questions about your local soil and suitability could probably best be answered by a Horticulture hotline, of sorts. For example, in Illinois, we can call the University of Illinois Extension Service, “Master Gardener” Program. Programs such as this can usually be found through the horticulture department of your local college or state university.

2. Grapes must be brought to room temperature.

3. Clean and sanitize all equipment.

4. Leaving stems on (for addition of Tannic-natural preservative), put grapes into barrel for fermentation. Sometimes grapes will be de-stemmed depending on the type of grape, ripeness and wine style.

5. Crush grapes. The romanticized version of stomping the grapes with your bare feet in a large oak tub may sound fun and steeped in tradition, but not a very effective process. A wine press is used to extract juice from the crushed grapes. There are a number of different styles of presses used, but they all serve the same purpose. It is important to crush the grapes without crushing seeds and stems, which would add additional tannins to the wine and thereby change the flavor.

6. Add sugar and warm water. Sounds simple & yes it is. Some wine makers add yeast at this point, but the natural bacteria on the grapes provide a method of fermentation without adding yeast. Some wine has added sulfites, also. This is also a personal preference and wine can be made without either yeast or sulfites.

7. Stir and begin fermentation process. (can take anywhere from 10 to 21 days depending on temperatures and conditions)

8. “Punch down the Chapeaux”-skins and stems rise to the top, must be stirred back into the liquid. Any undesirable bacteria will subsequently be killed by being stirred into the alcohol.

9. “Racking”-transferring product to glass container: Carboy. This needs to be done about twice to help remove the sediment from the wine.

10. Siphon into bottle, cork and age in bottle for a minimum of 6 months for Reds and somewhat less for Whites.


There you have it, 10 easy steps for producing wine. Anyone who has made wine will tell you there is no guarantee that your wine will come out delightful and wonderful each and every time. There are many variables and it is not an exact science. That is why it is considered an art. When it is crafted to perfection and it comes out the way you want it to, then it is oh so right! Cheers!

Dave & Joan, whom we met in my last article, provided me details and first hand information on what is involved with the wine making process. . Shown here they give us a look at some of the processes involved for crafting a delicious wine on your own.

Speak the Language: Commonly Used Terms in the Wine Making Process

Racking - term used to describe transferring juice/wine from one container to another. Used primarily to take out sediment and also to introduce oxygen for part of the fermentation process.

Alcoholic Fermentation — process by which active yeast changes sugar into alcohol.

Cap — during red-wine fermentation, the skins float to the top forming a cap. This cap needs to be stirred back into the fermenting wine.

Punch down the Chapeaux — (or Cap) the process of resubmerging the cap back into the fermenting wine.

Carboy — large glass bottle (usually 3 to 5 gallons) that can be used to ferment wines in.

Lees — Sediment that forms & settles to the bottom of the Carboy.

Tannins — Naturally occurring compounds found in grapes that can contribute to an astringent/bitter taste in the wine.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


ruby red grapefruit

It's ironic that citrus season is in the middle of winter. I associate oranges with California, grapefruit with Texas, orange juice with Florida, limes with Mexico. Those are all sunny, summery locations, not the snowbound frozen tundra I find myself in these days. So I celebrate citrus while it's here because when summer comes to the north, oranges just aren't that great.

Preserving citrus is a bit of a challenge. While I know folks that dehydrate sliced fruit, that just isn't that appealing to me. I want something that captures that juicy, bright, bitter-sweetness of the citrus. My go-to preserving techniques are marmalades and alcohol infusions, with liqueurs being one of my favorites. Nothing says summer like a cocktail with a shot of citrus liqueur, be it a margarita, sidecar, french 75 or cosmopolitan.

Grapefruit makes amazing liqueur. Because the big fruits hold on to their acid and juice much longer than oranges, you’re sure to get a good grapefruit at the store. I despise buying citrus that turns out to be insipid, pithy and dry. What a waste! This grapefruit honey liqueur is sweet, tart and bitter all rolled into one, making it perfect cocktail material. I’ve included a variation on the Salty Dog cocktail below, with the grapefruit flavor turned up to 11. You can use this liqueur in place of orange liqueurs like triple sec or grand mariner. It would work great in this Triple Orange Margarita recipe from my blog. Just replace all the orange with grapefruit.

grapefruit honey liqueur

Grapefruit Honey Liqueur Recipe


• 2 to 3 large pink or red grapefruits
• 1-1/2 cup honey
• 2 cup vodka


1. Remove the peel of one grapefruit with a peeler, leaving the white, bitter pith. Place peel in a clean quart jar.

2. Juice the grapefruits until you have 1-1/2 cups of juice or more.

3. Combine the juice and the honey in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve. Bring mixture to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

4. Add the cooled syrup to the quart jar along with the peel and fill to the top with vodka.

5. Store in a dark, cool spot for at least a month. Strain and bottle.

Yield 1 Quart.

Use Grapefruit Honey Liqueur in any recipe calling for Orange Liqueur (recipe on the blog). It will kick your cocktail up a serious notch. Or make the Sweet and Salty Dog Cocktail below.

Sweet and Salty Dog Cocktail Recipe


• 1/2 cup gin
• 1/4 cup grapefruit honey liqueur
• 1 cup grapefruit juice
• lime wedges
• salt for rimming


1. Twirl the lime wedge around the edge of two tall collins glasses, then dip the glass edges into kosher salt.

2. Fill the classes with ice cubes.

3. Divide gin, grapefruit honey liqueur and grapefruit juice into each glass and stir.

4. Give it a squeeze of lime and add the lime wedge to each glass. Enjoy!

Tammy Kimbler is the blogger of One Tomato, Two Tomato. A cultivator at heart, Tammy’s passions lie with food, preservation, gardening and connecting to her local community through blogging and urban agriculture. She eats well and love to feed others as often as possible. She currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Butternut squash are an important winter food, the rich orange flesh delivering vital nutrients in a sweet and velvety goodness that can be utilized in a variety of ways.

I use a pressure cooker to quickly process the squash, enabling me to deliver a delicious dish literally in a matter of minutes. As soon as the pressure cooker comes up to pressure I remove it from the heat.

winter squash
Butternut squash reaches the perfect softness in minutes when processed in a pressure cooker.

scooping out
When the pieces are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out easily with a spoon. If the skin has been cooked sufficiently and is very soft, another option is to process with the skins, preserving all of the nutrients.

blend until smooth

Blend the squash to the desired consistency, adding the liquid remaining in the pressure cooker or water, 1/2 to 1 cup at a time.

Remember that most butternut squash soup (or pie) recipes call for additional liquid, such as any milk or creamer alternative, or in the recipe below, coconut milk.

Process the puree' until all lumps and texture have disappeared and the mixture is smooth and creamy.



• 6 cups butternut squash puree'
• 1 16 oz. can coconut milk
• 1 tbsp minced ginger
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp garlic powder
• 1/4 - 1/2 onion, cooked until carmelized
• Optional: 1/2 tsp red curry paste


1. Saute onion until clear.

2. Add to blended squash along with all other ingredients.

3. Heat and serve.

4. Option: Thinly slice 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery and steam in a separate pot to speed their cooking. Add to the soup when soft. Garnish the bowl with a spring of cilantro.

You'll be amazed at the deliciousness of the coconut-ginger combination with the rich flavor of the butternut squash. Enjoy!

For more tips on storing winter squash. check out my other blog post for MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Douglas Stevenson is a long term member of The Farm Community, one of the largest and oldest ecovillages in the world. He is the author of The Farm Then and Now, a Model for Sustainable Living sold in MOTHER's Notable New Books. He is also the host of GreenLife Retreats, including The Farm Experience Weekend and workshops on organic gardening, sustainability, and living the green life!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Stock Simmers in the Pan

Most of us at MOTHER EARTH NEWS are steeped in a passion to waste nothing. When it comes to chicken, I use everything but the cluck.

This tasty chicken stock is easy, delicious and has the added benefit of filling your house with a delightful aroma that will make your kids and dogs go a little cra-cra. If that isn't enough, chicken stock is free. Just round up that carrot that may be too limp for salad, that half of onion you want to use up, and whatever herbs and spices you have on hand.

Once you have made your stock, you can use it right away for soup by adding noodles or rice and some chopped vegetables. Or freeze it to use later.

Making chicken stock:

1. The first step is to scrub your hands and work surfaces with hot soapy water. Break the chicken carcass apart and put the pieces in a pan with enough water to just cover the bones. Bring the water to a boil.

2. While you wait for the water to boil, chop up a carrot, stalk of celery, onion and whatever other vegetables you have on hand. If you like garlic, add that too, along with a grind of salt and pepper.

3. This is yet another time that growing herbs on a sunny windowsill pays off. To make my stock, I clip a few sprigs of fresh parsley and rosemary. The fragrance just from snipping them off the plant brings back memories of last summer ... and helps me cope with the cold weeks before I start seeds for spring planting.

Parsley And Rosemary In Winter

Add all your vegetables and herbs to the pot and bring the temperature down to a friendly simmer. Depending on the size of the bird, it takes about 90 minutes to extract all the goodness from the bones and vegetables.

Strain the stock through a fairly fine sieve into a shallow container that will allow the stock to cool quickly. If it's chilly outside, I put it on my potting table to cool (out of reach of my dogs). Skim any fat off that rises to the top. At this point, either pour into a freezer container and label, or put the stock back on the stove to make a soup that will put summer in your family's hearts.

You can read more about Dede Ryan's other writing at Dede Ryan's blog.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Growing on at least three continents and available to forage even when there's snow on the ground, henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and other plants in the Lamium genus are a too-often ignored wild winter food.

Edible Lamium 

How to Recognize Henbit and Other Edible Lamiums

All Lamiums are in the mint family, and like other members of the Lamiaceae have square stems (roll a stem between your forefinger and thumb and you'll feel the four distinct sides) and opposite leaves (the leaves attach to the stem in aligned pairs).

The leaves of both henbit and other edible, similar looking plants in the Lamium genus (all of which share the unfortunate common name deadnettle) are 1/2 to 2 inches wide, and can be oval, spade or heart-shaped. The leaves have deeply scalloped margins. Henbit leaves attach directly to the stems and the upper leaf pairs can appear at first glance to be one round leaf surrounding the stem. Other Lamium species have short leaf stalks, but the leaf shape is similar. The deep veins give them an almost quilted appearance. There are hairs on the leaves.

The pink or purple flowers grow in whorls in the leaf axils (where the leaves join the stems). The petals of each small flower are fused into a 1/2- to 2/3-inch tube.

Henbit and other dead nettles are low-growing plants. The lower stems sprawl on the ground and can root where they touch soil. But the last few inches of the stems usually grow upright. Henbit likes disturbed soils and often shows up as a garden and farm weed.

L. purpureum, known by the common name red dead nettle, is a close relative of henbit that is just as winter-hardy, widespread, and has similar uses in the kitchen. As its species name suggests, its leaves are tinged with a reddish - purple color. This is especially true at the tops of the plants.

Best Ways to Eat Lamiums

Lamium plants may be in the mint family, but they don't taste anything like mint. Rather, they are relatively mild leafy greens that can be eaten raw or cooked.

I think henbit and other Lamiums are best when combined with mild-tasting wild winter greens such as chickweed or cultivated leafy greens. Henbit holds up well to strong seasoning: garlic and/or ginger are good choices depending on the direction your recipe is taking. You can also use it to replace the spinach in Greek spanakopita recipes.

Best Way to Harvest Lamiums

If you harvest just the top few inches of the stems of this species, you are in no way threatening the plant's survival. In fact, henbit will grow back even bushier and more tender if you harvest this way.

Leda Meredith is the author of Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries. You can watch her foraging and food preservation videos, and follow her food adventures at Leda's Urban Homestead. Her latest book is Preserving Everything: Can, Culture, Pickle, Freeze, Ferment, Dehydrate, Salt, Smoke...and More.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

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