Ginger beef noodle soup

Yahoo! Tonight I concocted a recipe from mostly-local, wintery foods that do not taste like Midwestern Winter Food: and Asian-style ginger beef noodle soup. It was quite simple:

  • A pint of home-canned stew beef with its broth. You could sub any cooked beef in slices or chunks.
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh ginger
  • Soy sauce/tamari/Bragg’s
  • Rice noodles
  • Fresh scallions (put an onion or two in a flower pot on the window sill for scallions all winter)
  • Chili/garlic paste or hot sauce

Bring to a boil the meat, broth, vegetables, ginger, and soy. Boil about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain noodles and put some in each bowl; cover with the soup. Top with scallions and hot sauce, if desired.

This has me thinking I might can some beef with proportionately more broth and less meat, and put some ginger and soy into the jars before canning.


My house is for sale!

Come buy it! Gardens, root cellar, and all! See the full listing here.

The only reason we even considered leaving this house is because we found a passive solar home on the edge of a forest. The new place is pretty amazing – it would have to be to top the current place – and we’ve been trying to buy it since November. (Short sales…fuguddaboudit)

Unending Valentine’s Feast!

For a Valentine’s Day date, Scott and I went to La Marsa in Ann Arbor – and WOW, was it good! Feeling celebratory – and a bit ambitious – we got the “Sampler Platter for Two.”  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Fresh baked pita with garlic butter – divine! The store used to be a Cosi, and they bake, or at least warm, the pitas in the open hearth oven. Endless baskets are served with butter whipped with fresh crushed garlic. Ho. Lee. Cow.
  • Tabbouli – low on bulgar, heavy on parsley, with a nice dressing. Not my favorite Middle Eastern dish, but well-done
  • Hummus – very good, and not too acidic (a common flaw with a lot of restaurant hummus)
  • Baba ghannoj – perhaps the best I’ve ever had! Has a distinct grilled or roasted flavor – I wonder if they roast the eggplants in the big hearth oven?
  • Falafel – very good, crisp on the outside, with no uncooked bits inside
  • Grape leaves, both lamb and vegetarian – the veggie ones are very good; the lamb ones are absolutely luscious. Hearty, rich, and flavorful, and the leaves themselves are not too sour. Often the acidity of the pickled grape leaves overwhelms the other flavors of the dish, but these were just right.
  • Fattoush salad – lovely and well-seasoned with herbs, and not over-dressed
  • Grilled vegetables – good, though not the best I’ve had here. At other times, the vegetables have been cooked rather dry and at high heat until they were a little blackened around the edges – add a pat of the garlic butter, and you’d be happy eating just these. Tuesday’s were a little less stunning, but they were still quite tasty, and showed La Marsa’s deft hand with spices.
  • And we finally get to the entree, which was both chicken and lamb shwarma, shish tawook (skewered chicken), and shish kafta (skewered spiced lamb meatballs). It was all good; my favorites were the kafta and chicken shwarma; Scott loved the lamb shwarma and tawook.

<understatement>None of it was at all bad.</understatement>

There was also just a ton of food. It should have said “for six” – because after eating until we were stuffed, we took home (no kidding) three and a half POUNDS of leftovers.  I had two lunches out of the salads, spreads, bread, and some of the meat, and tonight, we chopped up the grilled vegetables, meat, some extra cabbage, and some cooked rice and had a really tasty stir-fry. Which will probably also be my lunch again tomorrow. 🙂

So, very tasty, and highly recommended. And hey – does anyone know if Halal rules guide how the animals were raised, or just how they are slaughtered?

OMG Pumpkin Pecan Waffles

Criminy! These are the best waffles I’ve ever made.  Prepare them at your peril – you may never want to eat anything else ever again.

Pumpkin Waffles are good for you!Very simple. Preheat your waffle iron and stir together:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 cups pumpkin or squash puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbl oil
  • 2 Tbl molasses
  • 4 Tbl maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbl ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vinegar (this and baking soda replace baking powder)
  • ~4 c milk or milk substitute (I use almond milk)

This will make a very thick batter.  Add more milk to thin as needed.

Now chop about a cup of pecans.  Spread a portion of the pecans on the hot waffle iron, grease (if needed), and pour in your batter and bake. Putting the pecans directly on the waffle iron ensures you get that heavenly, butterscotch-y toasted pecan flavor.

Dang.  Can’t stop eating them.


“Bring one thing” potlucks

One very tiny wonderful thing – out of a whole slew of wonderfulnesses – that came out of a fabulous lunch with two awesome ladies today was the idea of a “modular potluck” or “bring one thing” potluck. We all love the idea of getting together over good local food, but potlucks bring a big time sink and, let’s face it, some pressure to make something local and awesome.

Instead, we decided next time we get together, each person will bring one simple item – bread, cheese, meat, carrot sticks – and when we all come together, it’ll be a meal. No need to fire up the stove, figure out something everyone will like, or find the time to make something elaborate.

I wish you could meet all the amazing people in my town. (And I wish I could meet all your amazing peeps, too!)

Dinner made of fabulosity

Cheese and salami dinner

Originally uploaded by espring4224

Scott and I made a deal that when the weather was cool enough for the first fire of the season, we’d scarper off to Morgan & York, pick up some salami and cheese, and have a dinner picnic in front of the fire.

That auspicious day was today. And oh, my. It was lovely. Hatfield’s “hillbilly bacon,” which is cold-hickory-smoked pork shoulder, a nice fennel sopresata, garroxta (hard goat cheese with an ashy rind), Rockin’ Red Ale bread, a tart crisp apple, and cider.

It was so good, and such an “us” meal, that I said I’d love to have this for an anniversary dinner. “But our anniversary is in August, and too warm for a fire,” my wise sweetie pointed out.

“How about our half-iversary? That would be…”

“…almost exactly Valentine’s Day!”

“Ok, but…we need to also add the chocolate grazing platter to the meat and cheese.”

And so are great plans laid…

One Stone Carbon Challenge

global warmingIf you read this blog, you’re probably familiar with the idea of global warming, and you know that it is going to have serious effects in the coming decades (see this image only if you want to be depressed). You may also know that scientists are suggesting there is a “point of no return” where we won’t be able to stop or reverse global warming. This point is usually described as a ratio of how much carbon (or more accurately, carbon equivalent[1]) is in the atmosphere. There’s some debate about the exact number, but somewhere between 300 ppm and 450 ppm is considered the “safer” level that will prevent the worst of the effects.

Individual people can have a lot of impact on the total CO2 emissions dumped into the atmosphere. The average American household dumps 18 tonnes of carbon equivalents into the air every year. The sustainable level of carbon emissions – that is, the level that every person in the world could emit and keep the greenhouse effect from worsening beyond the point of no return – is one tonne per person per year [source].

If that sounds like a pretty big drop, well…it is. There’s a group of folks who are committing to make that reduction within a year. They’re calling it the Riot4Austerity, and I take my hat off to them for their bold undertaking, and I hope to reduce my carbon to at least 75% below American average in the next 2 years.

But for me, right now, it’s just too much to change all at once. Anyone else out there feel the same way?

I wanted to come up with a more manageable “chunk” to whittle away at, and I wanted to know the relative merits of various actions. Take the bus for 45 minutes or drive 5 miles? Eat 100% local or go vegetarian? Give up the hair dryer or turn off the A/C? Give up my car, or airplane flights? If I can do one thing to reduce my footprint today, which thing should it be? If I can’t give up my car, how else can I make up the difference?

onestoneAnd so, I bring you the One Stone Carbon Challenge. The basic premise is simple: I’ve created a list of activities which produce, on average, one stone (14 lb) of carbon emissions. You choose activities that prevent 14 pounds of carbon equivalent from entering the atmosphere, and you mark one stone off this chart (200Kb PNG). When you’ve crossed off the 157 stones on the chart, you’ve prevented one tonne of carbon pollution.

I’m putting the detailed calculations on a static page, here, to prevent any further clogging of people’s feed readers.

So, let’s make this a formal Challenge, in best blogging fashion. The One Stone Carbon Challenge runs from now until May 1, 2009. Comment below and tell us:

  1. That you’re participating
  2. Your goal – how many stones will you reduce by May 1?
  3. If you like, tell us your current carbon footprint, and at the end, recalculate your footprint and tell us the difference. Feel free to skip this if it sounds too much like a Weight Watchers weigh-in. 😉

Feel free to snag the icon above to post on your blog, for thems what like badges.

I’ll check back in on May 1!

Stollen French Toast Recipe

DSCN1329Here’s the recipe for the amazing breakfast we had last Saturday.

Beat together:

8 eggs
2c milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp sugar

Slice a loaf of stollen into about 16 slices and put into shallow pans in one layer (or two, if you can’t help it). Pour the egg mixture on top, turning the slices over so they are completely coated. Heat a cast iron pan to medium heat and fry the slices until golden and the egg has cooked completely (even in the middle of the slices). You should notice them firming up noticeably as they finish cooking. Serve plain, or with powdered sugar or real maple syrup if you fear not the sugar shock!

Great gifts from Oxfam

I’m sure many of you know about Heifer International, which provides livestock and training to folks around the world (including the US). You can “give a gift of a flock of chickens” to a friend; your friend receives a card, and a family somewhere in the world gets the chickens.

Oxfam has a similar type of system, though their gifts include a wider range of items: not just livestock, but mosquito nets, school books, water pumps, and the like.

With both of these programs, you’re actually giving a cash donation to the organization to be distributed as need dictates. So, you’re not actually giving a hive of bees; you’re giving a cash donation roughly equivalent to the price of setting someone up with a hive of bees. In fact, your money might be used to buy five flocks of ducklings instead of a hive of bees.

I’m fine with this arrangement. The “gift” pretense makes it much more fun to personalize the gift to the recipient, and also gives the organization the latitude it needs to do its work. I trust that they will do good things with my donation; Charity Navigator gives Heifer 3 stars and Oxfam 4 stars.

Go see Wall-E. Now.

I’m a fat captain. Are you with me?

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