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It's SouperNatural: W.Va. community center is home to a new dinner program

February 07, 2012|By MEG H. PARTINGTON | megp@herald-mail.com
  • Jerry Roberts of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., eats a bowl of beef and butternut squash soup Jan. 24 at the Bolivar (W.Va.) Community Center.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

BOLIVAR, W.Va. — Dr. Alissa Harris cooked up an idea, sparked by a dream, to bring locally grown foods to the needy in parts of Jefferson County, W.Va.

She turned that idea into a reality when she and a group of friends started the SouperNatural Kitchen and hosted their first SouperTuesday dinner in January at the Bolivar (W.Va.) Community Center. Harris said approximately 30 tickets were sold for the inaugural event.

Harris, a chiropractor, analyzes and keeps journals about her nighttime visions, said she had a dream in November in which she was pushing a cart.

"I was basically delivering food," she said.

When she encountered a McDonald's bag in the dream, however, she recalled saying, "If I have to deliver that, I won't do it."

Her analysis of that dream: "A really big part of my life is to help people find good food."

She wanted to find a way to bring fresh, local food to as many people as possible and decided that hosting dinners was a good way to start. On the fourth Tuesday of each month, the Bolivar Community Center is transformed into a kitchen and classroom, and the proceeds from ticket sales are used to buy food from local farmers, which is given to those in need in the Bolivar community. 

During the first dinner, on Jan. 24, Shepherdstown, W.Va., chef Elizabeth Gallery taught a 45-minute class on how to make beef broth. She used beef bones from Roxley Farms in Kearneysville, W.Va., and butternut squash to create a hearty soup, which was served to attendees.

The women behind the SouperNatural Kitchen share a love for all-natural, locally produced food and for giving to others.

"I think that community service is the foundation for health and happiness for society," said Gallery, who owned Stone Soup Bistro in Shepherdstown for six years. She sold the restaurant in May 2011 so she could have more personal time and could pursue an education on using food for healing.

"I love pure, whole ingredients," said Gallery, who has been in the restaurant industry for 20 years.

So does Evie Lotze, who is co-owner of Roxley Farms with her husband, Chris. They purchased the farm, next to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, on July 4, 2001, where they raise black Angus on pure grass, not hormones.

Lotze also has a business called Ways To Wellness, which she created three years ago with her daughter-in-law, Dr. Kristina Maciunas, who works at Shenandoah Community Health in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Harris, who owns Harpers Ferry Chiropractic. The focus of the business, according to its website at www.ways2wellness.org, is to help people become physically, spiritually and mentally well while still tending to life's responsibilities.

Gallery used Evie Lotze's beef and butternut squash soup recipe for the first SouperTuesday meal.

Accompanying that soup was sprouted-grain bread made by Joan Douglas, who runs Bernie's Bread from her home in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

The bread business is named after a friend, Bernie Drabkin, who died five years ago of cancer. He often helped the homeless, sometimes getting them hotel rooms, where they could shower and eat a meal.

"I wanted to do something to honor that man and that name," Douglas said.

She does so by using all the profits from her bread sales to provide food and milk to needy neighbors, and to others through her church, Damascus (Md.) Wesleyan Church, and local ministries.

"My husband and I really love helping to provide," Douglas said. Her husband of 24 years, Allen is one of the ministers at Damascus Wesleyan.

Douglas knows a lot of people in need through her church and neighborhood, and Harris turns to her as one of many sources of names of those who could benefit from foods purchased with money raised through SouperTuesday dinner ticket sales.

"It touches my soul that a lot of people have that basic need" of food, but can't afford it, Douglas said.

When Harris shared the concept for the SouperTuesday meals, Douglas said she was all for it.

"I'm so happy she shared that with me," Douglas said. "I am privileged to donate the bread."



What's next?

The menu for the Tuesday, Feb. 28, dinner includes ham and bean soup, plus more of Douglas' bread, including sprouted grain, and corn bread or biscuits.

Gallery will teach a class on sprouting greens. She said she will sprout chickpeas and provide samples of foods made with them.

"It will wake up your system and get you ready for spring," Gallery said of the educational portion of the next SouperTuesday meal.



If you go ...

What: The SouperNatural Kitchen's SouperTuesday dinners

When: Fourth Tuesday of every month; classes begin at 6 p.m. and dinner begins at 6:45 p.m.

Where: Bolivar (W.Va.) Community Center, 60 Panama St., near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Tickets: Reserved seating costs $15. Tickets are available through Facebook at SouperNatural Kitchen; at Dish restaurant, 213 W. Washington St. in Charles Town, W.Va.; Grapes & Grains Gourmet, 110 E. German St. in Shepherdstown, W.Va.; Mellow Moods, 119 W German St. in Shepherdstown; Canal House Cafe, 1226 W. Washington St. in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; Country Café, 1715 W. Washington St. in Harpers Ferry; and Harpers Ferry Chiropractic, 1441 W. Washington St. in Harpers Ferry. Tickets also can be reserved by sending an email to soupernaturalkitchen@yahoo.com.

For more information, contact Dr. Alissa Harris at 304-535-3009 or send an email to soupernaturalkitchen@yahoo.com.



Beef and butternut squash

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 pounds beef shinbone, cut into 2-inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup Marsala wine (see cook's note)

1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

3 to 4 cups beef broth

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped, flat-leaf parsley

Crusty bread



In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme, and saute until the onion is tender, about 2 minutes.

Toss beef cubes in salt, pepper and flour. Cover with water. Cook slowly in a Dutch oven (or slow-cooker) until tender. This might take several hours. Slice through the edges of the shinbone so the beef doesn't curl up. Pick beef from the bone, being sure to liberate the marrow into the broth by sticking your little finger or a teaspoon handle into the center hole of the marrow bone and pushing the softer marrow middle out.

Add the Marsala. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes, and stir to combine. Bring the stew/soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve with crusty bread.

Cook's note: If working with a budget, substitute a cheap red wine sweetened with honey for Marsala.

—  Recipe courtesy of Evie Lotze



Beef stock

6 stalks celery, including some leaves

4 large carrots

1 large onion

5 pounds beef soup bones

2 large tomatoes

8 whole black peppercorns

4 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme

7 cloves garlic

1 gallon cold water

3 cups red wine



Scrub celery and carrots, and chop into 1-inch chunks. Skin and slice onion. Rinse bones with water.

Place bones, onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme and garlic in soup pot. Add 1 gallon water and 3 cups red wine.

Simmer on low for 7 hours. Strain stock through colander or strainer into clean 2-gallon container. Discard meat, vegetables and seasonings.

To cool stock, fill two, 1-gallon zip-top bags with water and freeze, then place in stock, or fill sink with cold water and ice, and place soup container in sink. Leave stock uncovered while cooling to prevent growth of bacteria.

Freeze stock in 1-quart containers.

Makes 3 1/2 to 4 quarts.

— Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Gallery

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