During stressful times, turning to the kitchen might be a helpful tool in reducing stress. Cooking sparks creativity, forces one to be mindful in the moment, and evokes all the senses. Touching the ingredients. Looking at the ingredients as they transform. Hearing a sizzle in a pan. Smelling the aromas of what’s cooking. Tasting all along the way to the finished product. All that chopping, tearing, stirring, clanging and banging is itself meditative. At the end, one also gets that lovely instant gratification the moment the finished creation hits the tongue.
As one might ramp up cooking during this requested ‘house arrest’, using local foods to nourish oneself will only sweeten the deal for all. During this trying time, local farmers and producers will need our support more than ever. Thinking about how to extend the life of some of these high-quality products also helps keep the budget in check as the whole community adjusts. By finding new ways to use kitchen scraps, one uses less resources all while helping the local economy and producers.
Making tea (or in this case a tisane or ade) is a great way to have a mini-kitchen ritual that doesn’t take a lot of time and resources. The yield is a drink that is hydrating and full of healthy bits, and also helps the local economy as well.
Apple Core and Staghorn Sumac-ade
Apple cores are usually bound for the trash or the compost. Here’s an example of how to stretch their life in a tasty drink. Staghorn sumac is not poison sumac. The sumac in this recipe grows wild in many regions across the country and is prevalent in Northern Michigan. Its bright-red bud clusters often grow along the edges of fields, forests, and roadsides. It has a lemony flavor found often in middle eastern cuisine as a component of the spice Za’atar.
2 Large Apple Cores (like SweeTango from Bakker’s Acres)
3 Tablespoons of Sumac (like the wildcrafted sumac tea/sumac-ade from Danu Hof)
4 Cups Water
Optional: Honey to Taste (like raw honey from Champion Hill Farm)
Remove seeds from apple cores as they may contain trace amounts of cyanide. Bring water to a boil. Drop in apple cores and reduce water to simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove apple cores and allow water to cool to a warm, but not hot temperature. Add sumac and steep for one hour. Strain using a fine mesh strainer. Add honey to taste. Reheat if desired, but heat significantly reduces the amount of vitamin C from the sumac, or alternatively, serve room temperature or over ice. Tip: place the apple cores in a freezer-friendly container until ready to use.
Turning to some comforting food or drink through your own cooking will provide a moment of a little luxury, and feel a whole lot more normal. That’s something to drink to. Cheers and peace.
Kimberly Conaghan is the Northwest Michigan Local Food Coordinator for TLD. In addition to loving local products, she is obsessed with reducing consumer waste streams through creative recipes. You can reach her at [email protected]