Thursday, April 23, 2009

Summer Is Here - Time for Chilled Soups!

Over the last couple weeks, I have acquired several amazing cookbooks. Not all of them are vegan or vegetarian. The list includes: Best Loved Food of the 50s, Pretty Party Cakes, Bake Me, I'm Yours... Cupcake!, Vegetarian Suppers, Betty Crocker Easy Everyday Vegetarian, and Vegetarian Cooking Commonsense Guide. The last book was bought by the boy as a present, hoorah! Also - this book: Don't Throw It, Grow It! It's really cool and tells you how to grow crops and herbs from your vegetable seeds in your kitchen. Basically, it is kitchen gardening. So far, I've really liked using the 50s book for my dad and apparently the meat-based dishes have been excellent. Pretty Party Cakes and Bake Me, I'm Yours... Cupcake! are fancy pastry chef books but they look oh-so-cute. I need to have a party sometime now! Vegetarian Suppers has proved some great recipes out of there too. My bookshelf has overflown to the floor now... Eeep!

Every week I get a grocery box from New Leaf Natural Grocery. It is a local, organic health food store in Roger's Park by Loyola. In this box, there is $15 worth of local (well - as local as possible), organic produce, fruits and vegetables. I love this box because it makes me experiment with different vegetables I wouldn't normally buy. Oftentimes, I have no idea what kind of vegetable it is. For isntance, how many of you have cooked with black carrots? Hah.

This weekend, I went out to the 'burbs and visited Mitsuwa Marketplace. Here, I got the ingredients to make inari and vegan wonton soup. I also bought shochu and for those who do not know the wonders of chu-hi, please look up how to make homemade chu-hi drinks out of shochu ASAP! In Japan, they sell cans of it at conbini's (convienent stores) for cheap. It's an excellent and different kind of drunk. Anyways, back to the food. The wonton soup ended up to be desired. I will not post the recipe because of that. Oh well, time to experiment some more! The inari I bought pre-packaged and made the sushi rice myself in my personal rice cooker (it's so tiny and cute!).

I've made another care box for the month of May too. Can't post pictures just yet, it has not arrived. But, it is very well done and let's just say my kitchen was messy after wards and I had to go to the 'burbs to get something needed for it.

This is a really easy recipe.

Miso Cucumbers and Shitake Mushrooms.

* Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
* Cook Time: mix!
* Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoons miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil or stir fry oil - not olive oil, though
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • water - to taste
  • 1/2 a cumcumber - chopped
  • 5 fresh shitake mushrooms - chopped
* Recipe:
  1. Mix all ingrediants by hand in small bowl - add as much water to taste depending on how thick you want the dressing.
  2. Chop up some cucumbers and fresh shitake mushrooms.
  3. Mix the vegetables and the dressing!
* Notes: None! Enjoy!

Sweet & Sour Soy Meat w/ Rice

* Prep Time: 5 minutes
* Cook Time: 20 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 1/2 an onion - chopped
  • 1/3 ginger root - minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic - minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons stir fry oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 cup of fresh shitake mushrooms - chopped
  • 2 mini bok choy heads - chopped
  • 2 cups of soy meat - boiled & drained
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of onion powder
  • 2 dashes of sea salt
  • dash of black pepper
  • half a bottle of Kikkoman Sweet & Sour Sauce
  • 1 cup of white rice - cooked
* Recipe:
  1. Put soy meat in small pot with boiling water and let it become soft. Let it cook while doing the below directions and then set aside when it is done. Drain.
  2. Cook your rice in whatever way you wish - microwave, rice cooker, stove top. Let it cook while doing the below directions and then set aside when it is done.
  3. Put the onion, ginger, and garlic in a deep frying pan or wok with the stir fry oil. Fry until the onion is translucent. Add all the spices.
  4. Add the soy meat, the vegetables, and the Kikkoman Sweet & Sour Sauce. Stir until everything is completed covered in the sauce.
  5. Add the wok ingredients to a bowl of white rice!
* Notes: I was lazy and used pre-bottled sweet & sour sauce. This is a quick fix meal for a lazy evening. Also - instead of soy meat, you can use tempeh or tofu. Tofu would probably taste better. For soy meat, I use Now Textured Soy Protein (which is actually the correct wording for soy meat). You can find it at most health food stores, if not online then. In my experience, where you can find vegan food in Tokyo, they love textured soy protein!

Organic Summer Chilled Carrot Ginger Soup

* Prep Time: 10 minutes
* Cook Time: 30 minutes
* Ingredients:
  • 1/2 an organic onion - chopped
  • 1/3 organic ginger root - minced
  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • 8 small-medium organic carrots - chopped
  • dash of organic sea salt
  • dash of organic black pepper
  • dash of organic ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons organic coriander
  • 3 cups of organic vegetable bullion
* Recipe:
  1. Place the chopped onion and ginger root in a small pot with the olive oil. Cook until onion is translucent.
  2. Add the spices and the carrots. Cook for a few minutes, mixing.
  3. Add the vegetable bullion. Boil until the carrots are soft.
  4. In batches, blend the soup in a blender.
* Notes: While this recipe does not have to be organic, I just happened to make it that way. I used Organic Gourmet vegetable bullion which you should be able to find most places.

'Ta for now!

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