Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Winter CSA soup

Farmer Tanaka sounds almost apologetic in his weekly newsletter/blog.
I know some of you may be getting a little tired of the cool season crops, but soon the season will be changing. The weather has cooled off to enjoy those soups and casseroles that you can make with the great winter veggies!
Actually, I never tire of a bowl of soup and some crusty bread.  I found this boule at Trader Joe's.  After crisping it in the oven at 350F, I cut a circle at the top, hollowed out the inside and ladled in the soup.
This was a real "clean out the fridge" type of soup. I made chicken stock with the carcass of last week's roast chicken. Then I added two sausages, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, radishes, broccoli stems (with the tough outer skin removed), potatoes, a can of diced tomatoes and herbs from the garden.  I also threw in some precooked, frozen and then thawed kidney beans. 

My energy analysis differs from the green lantern's analysis.  I buy beans dry from the bulk bins at Whole Foods or Sprouts and then cook them in a Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker* on the "brown rice" setting.  Rice cookers use less energy than stove-top cooking--and this one is especially frugal with energy.  Moreover, the timer setting let's me presoak the beans overnight and cook them late in the afternoon the next day so they are ready for me when I get home from work.  I always cook more than I need and store the leftovers in one-pint portions. 

Take advantage of kitchen thermodynamics; cool the beans on the counter (to warm the kitchen in the winter, or cool them outside during the summer), then move them into the freezer.  Thaw them ahead of time in the refrigerator.  Your fridge is the ice box and the beans are like any other block of ice.  In effect, you are recapturing the energy that went into freezing the beans.  Cooking dry beans in bulk and freezing for later can be much more energy (and cost) efficient than using canned, pre-cooked beans.

* You can buy the Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker at an excellent price at the Marukai cooperative store in Gardena.  You need not be a member to shop there and the sales tax supports our local community.  If you must buy it online (at a higher price), may I suggest that you first go through the Redondo Beach Library site before clicking on the amazon link?  This way, our community may not get the sales tax, but at least the library will get a share.

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