Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Adventures in Bountiful Baskets #1: Asian Cabbage Soup

So I do this AWESOME thing called Bountiful Baskets.  Basically a whole bunch of people put their money together and buy fresh produce and some other things for a discount.  They have a regular basket, and then some optional add-ons, usually including a themed set of vegetable. This week the theme was Asian.  So we got fresh basil and cilantro, ginger, garlic, green onions, a coconut (still not sure exactly what to do with THAT), bok choy (also a mystery), and napa cabbage. Today as I was cleaning the kitchen I was struck with a fabulous idea: Asian Cabbage Soup!  It turned out really well, so here is the recipe:

Asian Cabbage Soup

1 head Napa cabbage
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
Fresh Ginger, need 1/4 cup grated
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 32-oz box broth *I used Imagine No-Chicken Broth because we're vegetarian
1/4-1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce (to taste)
Tabasco (optional)
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Quarter cabbage lengthwise, then thinly slice cross-wise.   Add everything to large soup pot, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the cabbage is tender and the flavors start to blend.  Serve hot, topped with Tabasco and/or pepper flakes, if desired.

Here's a fun fact about cabbage: it's full of Vitamin C!  That's right, there are more ways to get your Vitamin C than drinking sugary orange juice.  Cabbage, especially cooked or fermented (like sauerkraut), is good for digestion.  Enjoy! Let me know if you try it and like it, or if you made any fabulous changes!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adventures in Baking: Episode 1: Sourdough

So, it's been a month of no blogging. Sorry!  I've been very busy getting settled in our new place.  We got a FABULOUS deal, a four bedroom house for $650 a month! It's only through April, and then we renegotiate (or move?), but until then, we're making the most of it.

So, we recently decided we weren't going to take any more help from the government, so we're trying to save money, especially in the food area.  Oh, but we do love those artisan breads!  So I decided to go crazy and make my own sourdough starter, and then bread.  It sure was torture waiting those first couple weeks for the starter to get started! And the first couple of loaves weren't very sour, but it's gotten better and better as we go, so YAY!!!

Several of you, my readers, have asked me for tips, tricks and a recipe!  Well, I just used this one from Better Homes and Gardens, which I actually got from the recipe book that my mother-in-love gave me for my first birthday married to Matt. (Thanks, KathieMom!)  I don't think I've ever had to change anything, except to vary how much flour I use, which changes according to the weather.

I have learned a few things, though, both from experience and research.  One thing that may throw a lot of people off is that sourdough tastes different based on where you live. No matter how hard you try, even if you bought starter from San Francisco, you cannot make San Francisco sourdough unless you live in San Francisco.  Sorry.  Sourdough gets sour from the various bacteria and things in the air, and the air is different in San Francisco than it is in Rexburg, Michigan, Arizona, or Alaska.  So you must first accept this fact.

Also, it takes a while for things to ferment. You don't need to age your starter for a year (like most wines) or longer to get it good and sour, but it does take longer than a few weeks.  My starter actually smells stronger now than it did when I made my first loaf.

Last, I've learned that I need to double my starter, because my family likes this bread, and it is usually gone within a couple of days, and the first loaf is gone the first day. So in order to make it more often, I added more replenishing stuff to my starter last time. I think I may need a bigger container.

My next adventure will be based on the book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  I've only read a little, but what I've read is very exciting, and may very well revolutionize my baking life! So stay tuned for the next episode of... Adventures in Baking!!!!