Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT
Listening to: Carole King, I Feel the Earth Move

I am rarely sick, but when I am I find myself craving miso soup like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, I have never actually lived near miso soup, and as best I can tell I currently live almost an hour and a half away from my closest miso soup vendor. I have tried packets of instant miso soup with no satisfaction. I recently issued a desperate plea for help which was answered by M.R. Jarrell who pointed me to Alton Brown’s miso soup recipe and the dashi recipe required to keep it 100% from scratch. I made a couple of modifications to turn it into the miso soup I’ve always wanted but never had. All the variations I’ve had were good, but either lacked mushrooms or contained tofu or both.

Here is what I turned out with step-by-step instructions. I was able to find all the ingredients at the Good Food Store in Missoula, MT.

2 (4-inch) square pieces kombu
2 1/2 quarts water
1/2-ounce bonito flakes

Put the kombu in a saucepan (at least 4-quart) or stock pot, cover with the water and soak for 30 minutes.

Heat on medium until the water reaches 150 to 160 degrees F and small bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, 9 to 10 minutes.

Remove the kombu from the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the bonito flakes. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with muslin or several layers of cheesecloth.

Miso Soup
2 quarts dashi
6 tablespoons dark or red miso
2 tablespoons light or white miso
4 scallions, thinly sliced
5-6 mushrooms thinly sliced
toasted nori strips

If cool, heat the dashi over medium-high heat. If still hot, let the dashi cool. When the dashi reaches 100 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, ladle 1 cup into a small bowl.

Add the miso, and whisk until smooth. Do a good job here so your final product doesn’t come out lumpy.

Bring the remaining dashi to a bare simmer, approximately 10 minutes. Add the miso mixture and whisk to combine.

Return to a slight simmer, being careful not to boil the mixture. Add the mushrooms and scallions and cook for another minute or until heated through.

Add a few toasted nori strips to the bottom of each soup bowl.

Remove from the heat, ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

I found this miso soup to be much more delicious than any of the instant packets I’ve tried and comparable to any restaurant version. The main differences I found were that this one was slightly less salty than restaurant versions I’ve had, not necessarily a bad thing, and when I had a second bowl I noticed a fair number of lumps. I’m not sure if those would have been solved by more whisking before adding the miso mixture to the soup, or if those happened because the soup had cooled a bit. Overall, I am very happy with the final product, and I will definitely be making it again.


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Posting from: Philispburg, MT
Listening to: Gael Mead, Into the Mystic

Missoula, I love you. You know I do. But we need to talk.

That intersection where Brooks turns into Higgins? You know the one. When you’re turning left from Brooks onto Higgins at Hellgate High School, you have that faded dashed line guiding the left turners directly into a lane of oncoming traffic. Haha! You are so funny! NOT!

And when you’re unsuspectingly driving out of the parking lot of Big Dipper Ice Cream onto the unmarked one way street? Also not funny.

But most importantly, what is with your chiles rellenos? I have been to Fiesta en Jalisco and El Cazador. Both of these restaurants serve and “omelete style” chiles rellenos. What is up with that? Where do you hide the real batter-dipped, deep-fried chiles rellenos? It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m from Arizona.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Something classical and pretty

Here’s a little garden update from my pantry. All my plants are still indoors.

This Siberia Tomato plant was doing well until it started producing. At last count there are seven fruits on it. Now many of the leaves are dying although there is a new vine growing well from the base of the plant. I moved it to a larger pot a few days ago so hopefully that will save it. Any other ideas?
Siberia Tomato- Productive but Dying?

My Brandywine Tomato plant is doing quite nicely and is finally producing fruit. You can see three small tomatoes here.
Brandywine Tomatoes

I picked up two strawberry plants from Walmart and so far they are doing well. I still have a bunch to plant assuming they are not yet dead. They came in bags and are currently in my refrigerator. I have no idea what they look like.
My First Strawberry Plants

I have spearmint, five or six varieties of tomatoes, and several Little Finger carrots sprouting.
Spearmint and Tomatoes Sprouting
Little Finger Carrots Sprouting

My two habanero plants continue to thrive with lots of blossoms and tiny new fruits. No pictures of those yet. I also have onion bulbs and some potatoes that need to be planted. My major deficiency at the moment is that I need to plant lettuce/greens. I want to keep some of these indoors so I can have homegrown salad year-round.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Love and Rockets, Kundalini Express on WTMD

I have been living in jealousy of you fuckers in warmer areas- not because of your warm weather per se, but rather because of your warm weather’s tendency to encourage botanical growth. Screw that! I have been nursing along some tomato plants that were looking pretty sorry in the deep of winter. I wound up adding a space heater and a fluorescent light to the room they were in, and I also hacked back A LOT of dead foliage in recent weeks. It has all paid off.

Today I went to take a photo of the tiny beginnings of a tomato on one of these plants. Much to my surprise, I discovered from the photo that there are at least THREE tomatoes on this plant.

Winter Tomatoes

My goal this year is to be canning salsa made from my own tomatoes.

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Botanical Bugaboo

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

I had the world’s best rosemary plant… up until a couple of weeks ago when I noticed white fuzzy stuff on some of the leaves. I took the plant out of the room with my other plants to isolate it until I get this problem solved. So far it has not appeared on my thyme, my habanero pepper plants, or either of my tomato plants.

In an effort to cure the problem, I pruned all the branches back to get rid of the parts with white on the leaves. A few days later I checked only to find that the white stuff was back. This time I washed the white, fuzzy stuff off the leaves with plain water. It came back again. Today I just washed the plant again to kind of slow down the spread, but I obviously haven’t got the problem licked.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what could be the problem and how I might take care of it? I love this plant and would really like to be able to rescue it.

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Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

I have been pretty busy lately, some of it in a productive way for which there is photographic evidence.

First off, a couple of weeks ago I made a loaf of a friend’s Sourdough Bread recipe from my batch of her Sourdough Starter recipe. The recipe is supposed to make a round, but I decided to try it in a loaf pan. It was quite tasty (as evidence by the fact that it was gone by the second day and I was the only one eating it), but it was a little short. I don’t know if the recipe can be doubled, but that would probably be about the right amount of dough to use in a standard loaf pan.
My First Sourdough Bread

Then another friend and I made a cake for a pirate party. Next time, I need to figure out how to add a crow’s nest, cannon and plank. The pirate figures were found at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula, thank goodness. They were much harder to track down than I expected.
Pirate Cake

Finally, I gave canning my homemade salsa a second go. The first time I did this, I did not cook the salsa other than during the canning process so it was really more of a pico de gallo. Unfortunately, the solids rose to the top of each jar while the water sank to the bottom. Each jar was about half water. The second time, I cooked basically the same recipe significantly down before canning. Not surprisingly, I ended up with 6 jars the second time around instead of 12. Actually, it was 6 jars plus almost 2 cups that I didn’t can so really it would have been 7 or 8 jars. It is much tastier and has a better texture, though. And since I used the food processor instead of chopping everything by hand it went much quicker.
Canned Salsa vs. Canned Pico de Gallo

Now see there. I am not the lazy bum I may at first appear.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: The Merry Macs, Mairzy Doats

I am putting together my garden plans for the upcoming season and getting ready to start seeds indoors. I will be giving the Square Foot Gardening technique a whirl. I have all the materials purchased to build two 4X4 square foot gardens with trellises for vertical growing in the back row of each. I have modified a design I found in that book to make it as disassemblable as possible for easy winter storage. Hopefully, when I get to building the things, I will be able to post a material list, a line-item list of what it all cost, instructions, and step-by-step pictures of how to do it.

So far I have seeds for six varieties of heirloom tomatoes plus deals to trade for one more tomato variety and a lettuce variety. I also have mustard seed that I didn’t get planted last season. This year I would also like to add spinach, some potatoes, strawberries, more greens, possibly pickling cucumbers, maybe some green beans, turnips, carrots, maybe some onions, possibly corn, a small melon of some sort, possibly a pumpkin variety, and some more pepper varieties (I have two healthy habanero plants).

The tomato varieties I have are:
Siberian Tomato
Black from Tula Tomato
Silvery Fir Tree Tomato
Giant Syrian Tomato
Italian Heirloom Tomato
Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomato

If anyone would like to trade seeds, please post a comment about what you have and/or what you want. This is an effort in increased self-sufficiency so I am really only interested in heirloom seeds. I am not interested in copyrighted or patented food that I can’t propogate.

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