“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” —J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
I love The Hobbit. I love everything about it. I especially love Hobbit homes and Hobbit accents and don’t even get me started on Hobbit pies! I truly believe if we did value food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would indeed be a merrier world! Hobbits earnestly enjoy eating. Their larders spill over with such wholesome foodstuffs that it makes me want to crawl in the book and enjoy a meal with them! Freshly harvested produce, barrel aged wine, wheels of ripened cheese and bread rolls right out of the oven all make Hobbit food seem mouth wateringly delicious. You won’t find a processed morsel anywhere in their cupboards. No Velveeta cheese or cream of mushroom soup, just good nourishing food.
In this post, I’m encouraging you to go all Hobbit and start buying and cooking with only real, whole food. Through the years, corporate food conglomerates have made their products appear indispensable, while they get richer and the average American becomes unhealthier. Here’s a brief history of how convenience food became so prevalent in our society.
Industrial foods’ beginnings were firmly rooted in military food production. Meals for soldiers needed to be easy to prepare and have a long storage life. Post WWII, many companies that once provided the military with food were left with manufacturing facilities that risked becoming idle. These industrial facilities developed novel foods specifically intended for home use. As new technological innovations began showing up in middle class homes, such as the freezer and, by the end of the Sixties, the microwave, the newly mechanized kitchens became particularly suited to using foods where much of the preparation had been done outside the home. Additionally, the use of artificial flavors and colors made industrial foods look and taste more appealing. Convenience food significantly reduced the preparation time for creating a complete meal, which made it appealing to women laboring in the kitchen.
The growing of food had once been rooted in a relationship between growers and the earth in an intimate process. It involved farmer, land, and community all working together to provide nourishing food from a sustainable system. A deep love of the land lay at this system’s roots. However, with the onset of the “food-industrial complex,” this intimate process gave way to food produced in factories, as well as volume of production and profit.
As Americans became busier and busier, buying these processed foods helped put food on the table quickly at the end of a hard day. Industrial food companies poured enormous amounts of money into making the public believe that their products were as healthy or healthier than home produced goods. We bought it. We believed them; and now, we are sicker and more obese than ever. Studies reveal that seventy percent of Americans are obese or overweight and doctors predict that by 2030 fifty percent of our citizens will be diabetic or pre-diabetic. Another study shows that ninety-four percent of the calories consumed by Americans come from food that provides no real nutrition. It’s time for a big change in the way we eat.
When you go to the grocery store, buy only real, whole food. If there’s a name you can’t pronounce in the ingredients, then for heaven sakes don’t eat it! If it comes in a box, bag or can – don’t buy it! While industrial food corporations might seem to control the food supply, we citizens have the power to completely change the system. Consumers do have a choice of how they provision their kitchens; they can simply opt out of buying mass produced food. The humble dollar can send a powerful message. With every bite, those who hold enormous power can be told unmistakably that they are not as formidable as the masses!
So take a page out of Tolkien and begin to genuinely “value food and cheer and song.” When you reach for first breakfast or second breakfast or Elevenses, make sure that your food is real, fresh and whole. The following recipe might appear complicated, but if you make the crust ahead of time (say on the weekend) and freeze the dough, it really is a simple, wholesome and kind of a Hobbity meal. This is one of my family’s favorite meals! It is completely plant based and gluten free. It uses some processed ingredients, but they are minimal and I can pronounce everything in all the ingredients! Keep Shining. Peace Out!
Potato Pot Pie
Gluten Free Pie Crust:
I’ve tried many different gluten free flours over the years for my piecrusts, but this really is the best that I’ve found:
3-Cups Pamela’s Bread Mix (this flour mix is really healthy and can be found at most health food stores – or alternatively you can order it from Amazon. The cheapest I’ve found it is at Amazon).
12-TBSP Earth Balance spread (I use the soy free version)
¼-Cup ground flaxseed
8 to 9 TBSP ice cold water (use more water if necessary to get everything to stick together)
Put the flour and ground flax in a bowl and add Earth Balance spread. Cut “butter” in with a pastry cutter until the dough resembles coarse meal. Slowly add water one TBSP at a time until the dough comes together and you can form a ball out of it. Put in a bowl or plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least twenty minutes.
3-Cups veggie broth
1-2-Cups almond milk (unsweetened)
3-4 TBSP arrowroot powder
4-5 Medium potatoes washed and diced into fairly small pieces
2 Cups chopped carrots
1-Cup chopped celery
1-Cup sliced mushrooms (any kind)
1-Large onion, chopped
2-Cups fresh or frozen peas
1-Cup fresh or frozen corn
2-TBSP Finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper
In large soup pan, put onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms along with ½ cup water and sauté for around ten minutes, until onions become transparent. Add veggie broth and potatoes. Bring to boil and cook for around ten more minutes. Add peas, corn, parsley, sage and thyme. Add one cup of almond milk and bring to gentle boil. In separate bowl add one cup of almond milk (less if you like your filling really thick). Add arrowroot to almond milk and whisk briskly. Add arrowroot-almond milk mixture to soup pot. Stir well until mixture is beginning to thicken. Remove from heat and add in freshly cracked pepper to taste. Pour mixture into large casserole dish. (15 x 10 x 2) Roll pie dough out on well-floured parchment paper. Cut into different designs and use a spatula to pick up dough and place over filling. Arrange dough pieces so that the filling is well covered. Make slits in dough with sharp knife to give some “venting” holes. Bake in a 375 F oven for one hour. If the crust starts getting too brown, cover with foil for the last fifteen or twenty minutes. Let cool for around 15 – 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy.
Note: If you have too much filling for the pan, just freeze it and use next time!