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Fourth Week of the Nativity Fast: Vegan Colcannon

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After John left to sleep at the hotel Sunday night, I realized that we forgot to light our fourth advent candle this week.  We decided to wait until he got home to do the readings.  He got home too late last night, so tonight we caught up with the weekly readings and cooked together for some events coming up at the end of this week.

This week’s Advent candle is white and represents peace.  While we could do some sort of dove craft this week, we may just simply work together to create a peaceful atmosphere in our house.  That may be a bigger task than originally imagined after all this icy weather kept us cooped up together.

Fourth Week of Advent

You’d think with being iced in that I’d have had more time to blog, but with John gone for over 48 hours I had more than enough to keep my hands away from the keyboard.  This week has kept me on my toes making meals with what was already in the house.  I am glad that we got our Bountiful Basket Saturday morning despite the weather, so that I didn’t have to venture to the empty shelves at the grocery store.

Here’s the rundown of this week’s meals so far:

Black Rice Salad

Bok Choy Miso – This time I left out the beans and added softened rice noodles.

– This simple mung bean soup:

Mung Bean Soup
Saute some carrots, onion, and celery with ground rosemary.  Then add the cooked mung beans and salt to taste.  I served it alongside stir fried napa cabbage with shitake mushrooms over brown basmati rice.

Vegan Colcannon – This was a new recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for months.  I omitted the pepper and used russet potatoes; regular cabbage and mustard greens from our CSA took the place of the savoy and kale in this recipe.  The results were great!  Everyone asked for seconds.  It was a simple meal, but very satisfying.  This would also be a great fasting meal for studying Ireland.



Bok Choy and Mung Bean Miso

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Today I had a lot of bok choy from our CSA.  While I love bok choy, I kept putting this round off until I received a second bunch yesterday.  It was time to buckle down and use it before it went bad.  Even after a week in my fridge, the “old” bunch of bok choy was still beautiful.  I guess that is the beauty of fresh local produce; it lasts longer than what you get at the store.  Nonetheless, I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I made a larger batch of soup for this rainy week.  Don’t worry, I’ll share the single recipe, not the double.

Often I will stir fry this same combination of vegetables and beans to serve over brown jasmine rice.  However, since today is only two days before my local friends can order miso from South River Miso Co.,  I decided to share one more miso recipe before you decided if you will indulge this year.  Read all about soy free and gluten free miso in my Adzuki and Kabocha Miso Stew post.

I had leftover millet from the stuffed squashes earlier this week, so I decided to serve it on the side with Gomasio.  The kids decided to stir the millet into the soup and declared it “better that way.”  Usually, I serve this soup over softened rice noodles.  I imagine that serving it over rice would be good as well.   I have to say that, after this little experiment, I prefer it over noodles too.  Try it several ways until you find your favorite.

Bok Choy and Mung Bean Miso
Also, sometimes I use adzuki beans instead of mung beans.  It really just depends on my mood.  Add ginger and garlic, too if it strikes your fancy.

Don’t forget to soak and cook your beans ahead of time.  I made an extra large batch to freeze for other meals.   The Nativity Fast is coming in just over two weeks, and I’m working up a good supply to save time later.

Bok Choy and Mung Bean Miso
2 quarts of water (add more if needed)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 bunch bok choy, whites chopped like celery,  greens separated and sliced in ribbons
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
3 cups cooked mung beans or adzuki beans
1/2 cup adzuki or chickpea miso paste, or a little more if you like
salt to taste, only a little

Cooked rice, millet, or softened noodles.

In your soup pot pour in the water, onion, carrots, the white parts of the bok choy, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Once the onions and carrots are soft, add the mushrooms and beans to the pot.  Bring back to a simmer and cook another 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.   Add the greens to the pot and simmer until wilted but still bright green.

Remove from the heat, and allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes or so before you add the miso paste.

Adjust miso and salt to taste.  Serve over noodles or rice (or on the side) and enjoy.

Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup

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Sniffles, sneezing, coughing, and general crabbiness are still being passed around our house.  Time for chicken soup!  Many years ago, when I was first diagnosed allergic to wheat, I started looking for a safe chicken noodle soup, and there wasn’t one out there.  Even the can or chicken and rice soup off the grocery shelves has suspect ingredients.  Maybe there are some now, but I doubt they’re pepper free.  You know when they list “seasonings” on the label that likely that means “salt and pepper” at the very least.

At the same time I was developing this recipe the most readily available noodles were rice sticks.  Those skinny Asian rice noodles inspired me to go for a garlic-ginger flavor to mach the origins of the noodles.  Garlic is heralded as nature’s antibiotic.  Ginger is great for coughs and sore throats, too.  This is the best tasting cough syrup I have ever taken.

The white part of the bok choy is very similar to celery, but you can still add celery if you like. I did this time.

Chicken Noodle Soup
This recipe fills my eight quart stock pot to the brim without adding the noodles, so be prepared for plenty leftovers!  This soup also freezes well if you wait to add the rice noodles until you thaw it.  Actually, I usually put the prepared noodles into each individual bowl and pour the soup over it.  Store the leftover noodles separate from the rest of the soup to preserve the texture of the noodles.

Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup

1.5 lb. Boneless-skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts), diced while still partially frozen
2 T. olive oil
1 bunch bok choy, whites and greens separated, both chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 med. Onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 t. ground ginger (or a 1 inch knob of fresh if you have it)
4-6, diced in large chunks
4 oz (5-7) mushrooms, sliced
1-2 Tbsp salt, to taste
1 bunch green onion, sliced (optional, for garnish)
8 oz. rice noodles, softened in hot water

Heat oil over medium heat in your largest stock pot.  Saute garlic, ginger, white parts of the bok choy (and maybe celery, too), onions, and carrots for about five minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt (remember this is a big pot, and I’m not adding broth or bouillon cubes.  This is the only salt in the whole pot).  Add chicken and continue to cook for a five more minutes.

Fill stock pot with water up to about 2/3 full or to cover the chicken and vegetables.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

Start a tea kettle to boil with water to soften the rice noodles.  Place the noodles in a large glass bowl and pour hot water over the noodles.  Cut the softened noodles a few times with the kitchen shears.

Add the mushrooms to the pot to simmer.

** This next step is really optional.  I just like the flavor and texture of the zucchini if you saute it before it goes in the pot.
While waiting for things to boil.  Heat a little extra oil in a skillet over med-high.   In 2-3 shifts ( don’t crowd the pan, or they won’t brown), saute the zucchini with a pinch of salt until lightly browned on all sides. Then add to the simmering pot.**

If you don’t want to brown the zucchini first, then just add them to the pot at the same time as the mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms and zucchini are tender, add the bok choy greens to the pot and simmer until wilted.

Place a small serving of noodles in the bottom of a bowl and ladle soup over the top.  Garnish with green onions if desired.