Spring has certainly taken its time arriving to us. We had an extremely mild February, which was followed by a bear of a March and seems to want to keep us in the chill for April. The 10 day forecast on the intellicast.com website for our area doesn’t have us higher than the 40’s for the next 10 days. Bah Humbug. I’m very ready for spring and I’ve a feeling, like our last Autumn season, we’re gonna be robbed. It will go right from early spring to full-blown summer. I am not a woman of average size, and I also have a medical condition that makes heat very hard for me to bear, so I am not looking forward to that little battle. But, it is what it is, right? Homesteading is nothing if it isn’t about adapting to what comes your way daily.
So, you see my bowl at the top of the page. That bowl is my favorite pasta bowl, I have had it for about 25 years now. I bought that at the Crate and Barrel outlet store way back when, I just loved its cheery colors, it makes me feel like a summer day. So, I pulled it out and decided that I would take care of that craving that I’ve been having for some soup. I am a huge mushroom fan, but alas, my husband doesn’t like them. At all. He tells me he’s allergic to them so that’s why he won’t eat them (umm…the fact that he’s allergic to lobster and also milk doesn’t stop him from consuming those delicacies…but I digress). That’s okay for the most part, but when I get a hankering for them, I need to just make it for myself and the boys.
Since we’ve been having chilly and rainy weather the last couple of days, it seemed the fitting meal for me to have a go at. I subscribe to Mother Earth Living. I’m sure there isn’t a homesteader out there that doesn’t know about Mother Earth, right? This is the sister magazine, geared mostly for women is my take on it, that has a lot of natural living type articles on all topics. The January/February issue had an article on meals that can be made from wild mushrooms. I made the “mushroom bacon” recipe, thought it too salty and spicy for my taste, but I will do it again because the results were good enough to want to add it to my soup and perhaps make a MLT sandwich with it as well. I decided to make the “Wild Mushroom Chowder” they featured. I happen to have a bag of Shiitake mushrooms in the freezer and I bought King Trumpet and Portobellos to go in it as well. It was good, though a bit bland for my taste buds. I’m a spices, herbs and flavor kinda girl. The recipe is actually vegan, but I added some stuff to it that I felt it needed, and one of the ingredients (which you can leave out if you prefer the vegan style) makes it vegetarian rather than vegan. If you’d like to give it a try, I recommend it. It is creamy (without cream), warming and hearty and I will for sure be adding it to my soup file for the fall and winter cooking. Or the chilly and rainy spring day, grumble, grumble, grumble. It is nice accompanied by crusty bread warm from the oven as well, or a side salad of spring greens with a citrus dressing. Hope you enjoy this one!
Wild Mushroom Chowder
makes 9 cups, about 6 generous servings
3 tbsp miso paste
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 medium leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
7 cups wild or other mushrooms, diced into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb red potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup unsalted raw cashews, soaked overnight in water and drained
3 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch works as well)
1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you don’t have the red wine kind)
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
Then I added to the recipe, because it was bland to me:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (I used sirracha), or less if you prefer just a hint of heat
dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream to garnish
- In blender, combine miso paste and 4 1/2 cups water to make a broth, set aside.
- In heavy-bottomed pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add leeks and saute 2 minutes to soften, add mushrooms and garlic (if using) with salt and pepper, and saute another 5 minutes more, stirring often. Add potatoes, thyme and blended miso broth along with hot pepper sauce (if using ). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
- In blender, combine 1 cup water with cashews, arrowroot powder (or corn starch if substituting) and vinegar until smooth and creamy. No chunks should appear, it should be silky smooth texture. Add mixture to soup, and return to simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes to thicken well.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a sprinkle of parsley, and dollop of yogurt of sour cream, if using. Enjoy!
Since I couldn’t make this for a meal for the household, I enjoyed it for lunch with a bunch left over to bring to my friend’s house for lunch tomorrow and for my boys to enjoy on a night they might need to cook for themselves. It should freeze well. For supper, I decided to make a lovely baked dill salmon tonight, with crusty bread and since brussels sprouts season is arriving soon, I made up a recipe with brussels sprouts. This is also good with any type of meat or served in a warm sandwich as well, we like it with warmed sliced turkey sub with onion jelly. Must get those cruciferous veggies in, they stave off the cancer! And for my vegetarian mother and nieces, this would be really good in a warmed pita bread with the onion jelly on its own as well.
Cranberry Brussels Sprouts With Almonds
4 generous servings
1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed well, sliced about 1/4″ slices
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
3 tbsp bacon grease (or olive oil, but you’ll miss the lovely bacon smokiness)
- Put cranberries in a mug and cover with boiling water, let sit for about 15 minutes while you prepare the other steps. Drain before using in recipe.
2. Melt bacon grease (or olive oil) in bottom of pan over medium heat. Add almonds and saute quickly, stirring constantly.
3. Add shredded brussels sprouts and saute until just beginning to wilt. Then add drained cranberries and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until all is warmed through. Serve immediately.
As you can see, its been cooking here mostly. We did get a start on our potato boxes, and I’m going to post on that next. Wanted to try them in raised boxes this year to see how they work out. We’re using a bunch of wood we had left from other projects here and we’re also going to be making a bunch of raised beds for other veggies and I’ll be posting on those as soon as there’s something to tell. Right now, just in the holding pattern waiting for the daffodils to show their smiling faces. I have also been adding to my skill set with a few things this winter, one of them being crochet. I told you I crocheted a bunch of stuff for my new grand-nephew, but I have had a few other projects in the works as well. I’m almost done crocheting a rug for my bathroom. I couldn’t find exactly what I have been looking for, and when that happens, I usually try to figure out a way to create it. Luckily, I possess a few skills in that area. When that’s done, I’ll get you photos of that as well. And soon, we’ll be outside a in and I can’t wait for those days! Until then, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.