Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Asian-Inspired Pork and Noodle Soup

A while back I ran across this recipe.  Ever look at a recipe and know, in your heart, that it's just not going to work?  That was this one for me - I knew from looking at it that it would be way to bland for my family.  I mean really - if nothing else, where's the garlic???  Why not cook the noodles in the broth and impart some extra flavor in them?  So I put my own spin on it and it turned out splendidly.

I don't think this actually needs all the flavor enhancers I used.  It became a sort of "everything in the fridge" broth for me.  You could easily increase the amount of one or two of them and leave something out. You could also play around with the vegetables - carrots, celery, kohlrabi, whatever you have on hand would be great. 

Asian-Inspired Pork and Noodle Soup

For the broth:
1 1/2 quarts chicken broth (I used homemade)
2T white miso paste
2T low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 t. sriracha sauce (or more to taste)
1 t. fish sauce
2 t. fresh ginger root, minced
4 cloves garlic, sliced

For the soup:
6 oz. spaghetti, rice noodles, or other thin pasta
4 cups cabbage or bok choy, thinly sliced (I used Napa)
1/2 cup sliced green onion
2 cups white mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 - 10 ounces cooked pork, sliced thin (I used some leftover grilled pork I had in the freezer)

In a medium pot (I used a 3 quart), bring the broth ingredients to a boil.  Add the pasta (I broke my spaghetti into 2 - 3 inch lengths), return to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients and boil for 5 - 10 minutes more, until vegetables are wilted and pasta is cooked through.

Serve with extra sriracha sauce on the side for those who like to spice it up a little!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

2012 Garden Wrap Up

Each winter, I dream about my garden and the beautiful bounty of vegetables it will bring.  Each spring, as we turn the soil and prepare it for the coming season, I can almost taste the peas popping out of their pods, the tomato and basil salads, and the juicy, ripe blueberries.  Each summer, usually sometime around early August, I grow weary of the whole thing and leave it to its own devices, venturing out to pick something but not spending too much time worrying about the weeds and overgrown bean tendrils. 

This year was different.  Very different.  We had one weekend of gung-ho enthusiasm in late February, where I got the late winter/early spring vegetables planted.  It was far too early, as we had snow just a week or two later, but some of the hardiest seeds survived.  Good thing for them, too, because that's basically all we planted.  Only half the garden, and most of it went right to the compost pile.  In the end, we mainly ate kohlrabi, onions, and carrots.  The tomatoes had end rot, the greens had leaf miners, and the lettuce bolted faster than I ever thought possible.  Our water usage was about 10% lower this summer than in summers past, and I realized it's because I think I only watered four times. 

Our garden died a sad death of neglect.  As I thought about how different this year truly was, I realized that a few things happened.  First, this was my first year of trying to balance full time work with motherhood.  I went back to work full time in January, no longer having my mornings free to weed, plant, and pick.  Which, in theory, leaves the weekends, but somehow this summer ended up our busiest ever, with activities scheduled nearly every weekend and little time to focus on the home front. 

As I look ahead to the spring and next year's garden, a few things are obvious. 
1.  I have enough seeds in the freezer to last a couple of years.  I think the only thing I may need to buy is carrot seeds. 

2.  Gardening time is time that needs to be scheduled.  A few hours each weekend and maybe one or two 15 - 20 minute after dinner sessions should be sufficient, but it has to become a priority. 

3.  I need to scale back to the easiest of crops.  I may not have time to stay on top of the pests, which means no greens or cruciferous vegetables (we also have a serious aphid problem).  Also, hubby won't eat much of what I plant, so only "mainstream" veggies that I know we all eat. 

Basically, next year's garden will likely look something like this:


We'll see how it goes.