Rudolph Steiner went beyond the five senses, and outlined twelve senses within the faculties of human perception. These senses correlate to those three aspects- thinking, feeling, and willing- that we strive to maintain in equilibrium to be whole, grounded individuals. The “feeling” senses are smell, taste, sight, and warmth. During these last few cold days of January, I’d like to explore the concept of warmth as it pertains to both body and soul, for we sense it on both levels of our being.
Much is often said about warmth in regards to temperature of the body and keeping our children warm in Waldorf spheres. Here is a wonderful and informative post that explains the why and how of bringing warmth to our children. Layering clothing, having warm slippers inside, and wearing knit caps and warm mittens when we go out is certainly vital during this time of year for us New Yorkers. Our house is warmed primarily by our woodstove, and those mornings when we wake up to mere specks of embers left in the grate, I find it very, very hard to go about my household tasks of beginning breakfast, showering, and chores until the air has warmed enough to entice me away from my cocoon of blankets on the couch where we huddle together as we wake. When we are cold, we shrink in to ourselves and try to reduce our exposure to the elements around us. On a soul level, I find many people experience the world as a cold place, and also shrink away, huddling beneath their security blankets, trying to escape the cold. What is it that warms the soul? Well, I will bring in more of the spiritual elements of warmth in an amazing guest post about passion my dear friend Mona Sophia has written for us, but for now, lets examine the way we can bring warmth to our physical bodies, a physical warmth that also touches the soul with its wonderful comforting properties.
- Beeswax. It is just magical, and has amazing capabilities for holding warmth and exuding it. Beeswax candles, beeswax modeling material, and beeswax sun catchers like this one (from one of our wonderful Cedar Ring Circle members!)
- Hot water bottles placed by the feet at night, and millet or buckwheat microwaveable pillows.
- Hugs. Lots of them! Put reminders all around the house to hug your children; make it a practice to hug friends and family when you meet.
- Tea and warmed milk. I love warm coconut milk with chai spices… mmm. Children love hot chocolate, and you can substitute honey for sugar. Make warm drinks “a thing” in your home, and make sure everyone has a special mug for their warm drink.
- Gather “fairy kindling”. Bits of twigs and brush bound with thin twine for the fairies; stock the gnomes and fairies on your nature table up with a good firewood supply.
- Warm colors- red, oranges, yellows. Warm materials- wood, wool.
- Soup. One way I am working towards warmth in my home is “the perpetual pot of soup”. If you prefer vegetarian soups, check out my old post on Hunger Moon Soup. If you love bone broth, read on…
A long time ago, a mentor and chapter leader of my local Weston Price Foundation, Elizabeth Benner, shared her chicken broth rhythms and rituals… she began her email asking if anyone in our group would like to purchase some stewing hens, as a local farmer had a few dozen old laying hens (who were no longer laying). “Normally I would swipe these up”, she said, “but I overbought this year in my greedy love of chicken broth.” She went on…
“Stewing hens make the best broth- mainly because they are like a fine wine- and bear the fruits of an “older woman”- mature, full-bodied, and flavorful! The older a chicken, the more intense and wonderful the chickeny flavor and aroma- and the yellower the fat and hence the higher density of fat soluble vitamins A & D and all the more delicious. They are also half the price of organic chickens you normally would pay. You can only use them for broth because they are too tough to eat. These old gals finding a home at your house with make for you the best chicken broth I think you will have ever had in your life. I am always scouting for stewing hens- they are hard to come by. I have my secret sources.
I enjoy a cup of chicken broth or of two times daily. Read up in Nourishing Traditions about bone broths and you will understand the daily importance of consuming a bone broth… then of course there are all the soups you get to make with your broth. I also stock extras for gifts to my family and friends who have come down with a little something and need some comfort food. And of course I always stash some for myself in time of need. Lastly are the most delicious gravies you can imagine. Here are my recipes…
Easy Chicken Stock
This will make your home smell so wonderful. I have a little broth table set up in my house- some ol’ table I found in the trash and I painted up and put a little antique kitchen table cloth on. Often with the season I’ll have a few pretty candles or whatnots- flowers and the like. I purchased a hot plate (Kmart/Walmart for about $8) and a great broth pot from Chef’s catalog- Cuisinart all steel, largest size. Next plop in about 4 chickens, add filtered water to cover, about 1/2 cup of vinegar and some Celtic sea salt (this and the vinegar is what draws out all the calcium and minerals into the broth). Bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer and leave for minimum 24 hours, but ideally two to three days. Often I will just keep my old pot going for about a week because then it is always ready, guests pop in and I have a wonderful drink for them, or my starving husband needing to eat now- has something to bide his appetite til dinner is ready. The same works for me- I always have broths as I am preparing dinner so I don’t dig in- I only taste so I am cooking so I can then later enjoy my meal and not be full when I sit down to eat!
Ooohh- and don’t forget, skim off the fat- you’ll have lots of it, put it in a jar and keep the fat in the fridge to use as flavorings for all kinds of wonderful things like in your soups, Italian sauces, just about everything. I remember a couple of summers ago in the annual August issue of the New Yorker they reported on how the food processing industry flavors food. The secret and primary sell is chicken flavoring. If they have a food (not counting sweet stuff) and they are struggling in developing it they just add in some chicken flavoring and that usually takes care of it in the taste tests they do on consumers. I started doing this, and have found it to be true. The color of this chicken fat is unbelievable- the brightest golden egg yolk color!”
I’ll share a few more recipes, including Elizabeth’s “Best Chicken Creme Gravy”, and my own “Time Flies Bone Broth” shortcut for amazing homemade chicken stock from scratch that takes only one hour, and is almost as good as the one that simmers for hours on the stove, soon!
What are your favorite practical ways to bring warmth to the bodies and souls of your loved ones and community?