I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I can be such a huge foodie on the weekends is that the weekdays are filled with a balancing regimen of healthy super foods and special herbs and tonics. My foray into the world of healing consumptives of late has taken me down the path of tinctures and potions designed to allow me to step into a role of white witch crafting medicinal libations and nuggets that soothe and assuage the mind, body and soul. I love spending time in my kitchen concocting special things for loved ones and myself as mixtures boil, broths steep, soups swirl and magic is made over the ritualistic practice of being present, mixing with wisdom, paying attention to age old information and respecting the gifts that nature has always had to give.
Sometimes when I walk into Chinese restaurants, I smell a certain milkweed-sweet aroma permeating the kitchen areas that taunts slightly like comfort food reeling all my senses in. Recently, I discovered that this scent is often due to the presence of astragalus root in the broth used to cook rice. After some research, I found that the root is a traditional Chinese tonic herb with properties as an immune system booster, age reverser and cancer killer.
This past solstice, I celebrated with members of my spirit tribe by hosting a ritual at my home that ended with a feast of specially crafted foods meant to cleanse the organs, infuse the circulatory system and incite the blood with carbonated rejuvenation. One of the dishes was a bowl of Forbidden Black Rice cooked in my newfound astragalus root broth, the tiny bark-like flakes of woody material evoking a hearth-worthy warmth to the air in fragrance as it cooked yet the actual taste of the broth was no different then if I were to cook rice in plain water.
Now, I tend to cook up gallons of the stuff to keep at all times in my fridge for whenever I need broth or stock. Not only does it work as a base, also it delivers good stuff to the lungs, liver and body. I even created a special healthy alternative to cheese risotto using it as a starter.
Makes 4 cups
In a large soup pot, boil ¼ cup of astragalus root bits in 4 cups of water. Once boiling, bring down to low and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and add water to get the total back up to 4 cups again, cover the pot and let sit out on the stove or counter overnight. In the morning, take out the root bits and place the broth in the fridge to use as you wish.
Astragalus Parmigiano Reggiano Brown Rice
Make a pot of brown rice as you normally would but instead of water use the astragalus broth. While the broth is boiling for the rice, put in a rind from a parmigiano reggiano wedge and let it cook in the broth and then with the rice until done. When done cooking the rice, throw out the rind. It lends a nice subtle tang to the rice.