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Category Archives: Miso

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.

Colcannon

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.

Adzuki and Kabocha Miso Stew

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Many years ago when I was first learning about my food allergies and occasionally making uninformed mistakes, my husband took me to a Japanese steak house for a birthday dinner.  First they served a lovely broth as an appetizer while we waited for our seat at the grill.  It was quite tasty, and I was told that it was miso soup.  At the grill, I asked that the chef to cook my food without the soy sauce, since I was allergic.  Little did I know that the odd stare, whispers, and watchful care I got for the next hour were because they were worried I would keel over any second.  You see, that day I learned that common miso paste is made from mostly soy beans and wheat!  Thankfully, I did not die from that encounter, but I was ill for several days.  Lesson learned.

Imagine my surprise when I came across Chickpea and Adzuki Miso somewhere along the way.  They contain no soy and use rice in the place of wheat.   I don’t remember where I learned about these specialty ingredients, but I have enjoyed them ever since.  I only have experience with The South River Miso Company, but there is another chickpea miso from Miso Master that is also on the market.  If you try Miso Master, leave a comment here to let me know your thoughts.

South River only ships to my neck of the woods after November 1st.  Miso is a naturally fermented product that doesn’t ship well in the heat.  That makes this product seasonal for my household.  The shelf life of good miso is long when kept in the refrigerator, so I still have a bit leftover from last year’s order.

I like miso, because it gives vegan soups a delicate flavored broth with natural probiotics included.  Nondairy probiotic sources are hard to come by without spending a pretty penny at the store.  Nevertheless, be careful if you can have soy and find a miso paste at the store.  If the miso has been pasteurized, the probiotics have been killed, but the flavor will remain.  That is also why you should add miso paste to your homemade soup only after it has cooled some.  If you don’t cool the soup, you will kill all those helpful little creatures.

Another interesting fact about miso is its tasty by-product, tamari.  Tamari is the liquid that accumulates while miso ferments.  You might be most familiar with the pasteurized tamari counterpart, soy sauce.  South River Miso sells limited quantities of the tamari from their vats of chickpea and adzuki miso.  Unfortunately it is out of stock right now.  If you can catch it in stock, you are in for a treat!

Traditionally miso is a thin soup with few additives served as a side dish or appetizer, but my family prefers it as a hearty meal.  The rule of thumb I use when creating a miso soup is about 2-3 Tsp of miso paste per bowl of soup you serve, but you can adjust for your tastes.

If you can’t find a kabocha squash, a butternut squash or a small pie pumpkin would work well.  Don’t forget to have the kids pick out all the seeds to roast for a snack.

Wakame is a sea vegetable that is traditionally used in miso soups.  One small package will last you for a long time.  It expands when hydrated, so a little goes a long way.  I learned that the hard way the first time when I made wakame with miso instead of miso with wakame.  If you can’t find wakame,  a little chopped spinach would work nicely.

I already had my adzuki beans cooked and frozen in my freezer, so don’t forget to soak and cook them first if you don’t have any in reserve.

Adzuki Miso

Adzuki and Kabocha Miso Stew

2 quarts of water (add more if needed)
1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion thinly sliced
3 carrots, sliced
1 kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 cups cooked adzuki beans
1 tsp wakame, soaked in cold water and drained
1/2 cup adzuki or chickpea miso paste, or a little more if you like
salt to taste, only a little

In your soup pot, pour the water, garlic, ginger, onion, carrots, and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer while you cut up the kabocha squash.  I promise (unless you are a wizard with knife skills), once you get that done, it will be the perfect time to add the squash to the pot.  Just be sure that the onions are translucent and the soup smells great

Once the squash is in the pot, simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.  Add the Adzuki beans when the squash is almost cooked through.

Add the wakame, remove from the heat, and allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes or so before you add the miso paste.  Otherwise you will kill off all those probiotics.

Adjust miso and salt to taste.  Serve and enjoy.