In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The garden is IN!!!

Drizzly rainy today, but Liesl and I did finally get those potatoes planted! Everything else went in last weekend: direct-seeding as well as starts bought at the greenhouse (Bok Choi & mesclun lettuce is always a treat for early June; kohlrabi & leeks will be harvested in late summer ). I direct-seeded arugula (Rocquette), which I'm glad to say finally is commercially available in the US. Other direct-seeded greens (lettuce, kale, spinach) are up, but the carrots are slow as ever -- the radish serves as indicator where their rows are. I RESOLVE TO DO A BETTER JOB THIS SUMMER IN WEEDING AND THINNING THE CARROTS -- ok, I said it!

The only starts I started indoor myself (in the garage in early May) were sweet peas, and those did transplant well. I'm also growing container tomatoes & peppers indoors , and those will go outside soon -- whenever the sun comes back out and I get around to finish putting up my Mother's Day present:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Green soups and "Maggi" seasoning

For some strange reason, my family only likes green soups when it comes to smooth or pureed soups. I happen to also love orange (such as curried squash or carrot soup), red or pink borscht (red beets), and even cream of mushroom soup, which, yes, comes out a rather unattractive gray. But my guys only go for GREEN.
Today they told me that their #1 green soup is my leek soup (Lauchsuppe in german).
Today I made it (without the potatoes -- more "veggie-tasting") and served it for lunch together with panini sandwiches.

Leek Soup
Lauchsuppe/ soupe aux poireaux
Wash the leeks after cutting lengthwise -- they often have a bit of soil in them.
cut into small half-rings and saute in olive oil (or 1/2 olive, 1/2 butter). Optional, saute diced onions and celery too.
Once translucent, I puree (blend) all the veggies with some water or stock. This can be filled into glass jars or tupperware for later use, labelled "Leek puree -no dairy". Sometimes I freeze the vegetable puree before adding the dairy -- it also keeps well in a jar for a week or more -- make ahead when you know it's going to be a busy week...
Later, I reheat the puree, add some grated parmesan and/or swiss cheese, dill, salt, pepper. If I have leftover mashed potatoes, or if I need to thicken or stretch the soup for an extra mouth or 2, I add potatoes.
Once thoroughly heated, I turn off the heat and add a little creme freche, heavy cream or sour cream, right before serving.
I make sure it's hot, but try not to boil it again with the cream in it.
Goes well with croutons, ham-and-cheese paninis, biscuits, baguette, etc...

another favorite green soup is
Split Pea Soup (a.k.a. Cleaning Day Soup)
non-vegetarians can start this with a ham hock -- great flavor.
Fill a pot with dried split peas, bay leaves, the optional ham bone and enough water to cover it all, and simmer on low until ready.
Again, there's not much to this -- it's as easy as, well, any legume soup.
In fact, my mother used to make this soup on Mondays, which was CLEANING DAY, the day where she attacked the household from top to bottom and did not have time to make a proper German supper of meat and potatoes. I suppose she gave it a stir every time she walked into the kitchen to refill the cleaning bucket, but otherwise this meal needs very little attention.
As a kid, I hated coming home to lentil soup (which, incidentally, my husband calls the "you got to be kidding soup), but split peas were always fine by me, as long as I could add Maggi seasoning!
Here's what Wikipedia says about Maggi:
"Maggi" is still synonymous with the brand's "Maggi-Würze" (Maggi seasoning sauce), a dark, hydrolysed vegetable protein based sauce which is very similar to East Asian soy sauce except for that it does not actually contain soy. It was introduced in 1886, as a cheap substitute for meat extract. It has since become a well-known part of everyday culinary culture in Switzerland, Austria and especially in Germany. It is also well known in Poland and the Netherlands....The original company came into existence in 1872 in Switzerland, when Julius Maggi took over his father's mill. He quickly became a pioneer of industrial food production, aiming to improve the nutritional intake of worker families. Maggi was the first to bring protein-rich legume meal to the market, and followed up with a ready-made soup based on legume meal in 1886. In 1897, Julius Maggi founded the company Maggi GmbH in the German town of Singen where it is still established today.

You may ask "What's in Maggi sauce?" -- in fact, I googled that question, and found out that it is rich in unami-flavors, very popular in Asia too, but the recipes vary quite a bit from country to country. The best discussion I found was on Eatdrinkandbemerry.