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From fiascos to first-rate recipes

Eileen JoyceWhen making or trying miso soup, remember that the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.
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Over the years, my daughters trick-or-treated as gypsies, rock stars, and the Easter bunny. Even though I have a rattan trunk that overflows with assorted fabric and a spool holder that boasts 100 colors, I’ve never stitched a single one of their Halloween costumes.

My sewing phobia sprouted when I got a D in my seventh-grade home economics class. Although I always burned my oatmeal cookies and the shirts I ironed looked like dried prunes, it was a sewing project that cinched my final grade. That year, my class held a raffle to raise money for the student council. The boys carved cutting boards and the girls sewed a quilt. As I found even egg-boiling difficult, I stewed about attempting a needle-and-thread project.

My fingers looked like a used target when I finished my log cabin contribution, but I resolutely persevered and joined my piece to the main quilt. When the bell rang and I stood up to leave, the quilt rose with me. The teacher, steaming like a boiling kettle, refused to believe that I’d sewn the patch to my skirt by mistake.



Fortunately, my home ec fiascoes didn’t deter me from cooking.

Please overlook my past gaffes and try these A+ recipes.




Miso Soup

(Serves 4)

Before stepping out on Halloween night, warm your innards with something light yet nourishing. If you aren’t familiar with miso, add this thick soybean paste, found in most food stores, to your shopping list. Miso comes in different colors. A good taste guide is that the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.

3/4 cup chopped onions

3 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Saute together until the onions are soft and slightly brown.

In a large pot, bring the following to a simmer:

4 cups water

1 cup raw spinach, chopped

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon tamari

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

4 ounces firm tofu, cut in small cubes

Pepper to taste

Mix together until smooth:

1/4 cup hot soup liquid

1/4 cup light-colored miso.

Add the miso paste and the sauteed onions to the soup. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower with an

Attitude

(Serves 4)

My favorite veggies bloom this season. If you want to make cauliflower connoisseurs swoon and cauliflower cowards convert, try this.

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets and steamed until tender.

1/2 cup roasted red pepper, cut in strips.

Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Mix until smooth.

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

1/4 cup tahini

1 tablespoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 garlic cloves, pressed

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine the veggies. Spoon the sauce over each individual serving.

Broccoli and Mushrooms

(Serves 4)

My as yet unwritten memoir could be entitled “Confessions of a Broccoli Freak.”

1 head broccoli, broken into florets and woked or steamed until tender.

8 ounces white mushrooms, halved and woked or steamed until tender.

1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted.

Dressing

Whisk together:

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon hoisin (another easy-to-find Asian staple)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Pour the dressing over the steamed veggies and serve hot. For a simple dinner, serve this with rice and the aforementioned miso soup.

Kale and Tuna Salad

(Serves 4)

I used to think that kale was just the leafy decoration on serving platters, but when a friend left a bunch in my refrigerator, I concocted this. Since then, kale rates main-dish status in my house.

1 medium bunch kale, chopped

Marinade:

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, pressed

Marinate the kale, cover it, and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Just before serving, toss with:

1 6-ounce can water-packed tuna

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced

1 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Salt and pepper

Don’t be surprised if your kale crunchers clamor for more.

Applesauce Bread

(1 Loaf)

What to do with your October harvest? Sit under the apple tree and munch this.

8 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup honey

1 cup applesauce, homemade or unsweetened store-bought

11/4 cups white flour (I don’t sift)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 cup bran

3/4 cup raisins

Mix the wet ingredients together until smooth, then add the dry ones. Stir the raisins in last. Spoon the mixture into a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched in the center. This is so moist and rich, you won’t need to spread anything on it.

I’m now adept at sewing on an occasional button. If I’ve mastered this skill, I’m positive you can whip up any of the recipes I offer.

Ronnie Paul is a cookbook reviewer, freelance writer, vegetarian chef and teacher at Wild Mountain Yoga Center. She can be reached at


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