June 30, 2009

backpacking in gunnison national forest

This past weekend Eric and I went backpacking with some friends in Gunnison National Forest. Before we moved to Colorado last August, we envisioned ourselves backpacking every other weekend. Somehow that didn’t happen. This was our first backpacking trip since we moved here. Don’t worry though we have done plenty of scenic day hikes and bicycle rides!

Our weekend hike was 18.5 miles over 2 days. It was supposed to be 13.5 miles! The accidental detour was beautiful though (see above). We plan on doing more overnighters now that the weather is nice. I hope to explore DIY instant camping food in the future. For now check out our weekend backpacking menu.

The Menu:

Saturday lunch – sandwiches (pre-sliced and buttered baguettes, pre-sliced and salted radishes, cheese, romaine lettuce)

Saturday communal dinner – exorbitant feast (instant rice and beans with wild chives, pre-boiled potatoes, instant berry cobbler, boxed wine)

Sunday breakfast- oatmeal (instant oats pre-mixed with brown sugar, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds), Emergen-C vitamin drink

Sunday lunch- Pemmican Bar, peanut butter, banana chips

Miscellaneous snacks- trail mix, energy bars

June 22, 2009

komatsuna mushroom noodle soup

We've had a string of rainy days in Boulder that made us want some soup. I made this using komatsuna and mushrooms from the farmers market.

1 T. canola oil
2 small spring shallots (or onion)
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 T. ginger, minced (frozen or fresh)
6 c. water
3-4 t. bouillon/reduced stock
1 c. small dried mushrooms
2 T. mirin
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 lb. Komatsuna
8 oz. rice noodles (fettucine width)
1/4 c. almonds, ground
4 T. miso paste
1 T. sesame oil

In a large soup pot, saute shallots in canola oil for a minute or two. Add the garlic and ginger. When they start to stick to the bottom, add water and stock. Add mushrooms, mirin, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Chop and add the komatsuna stems, then chop the komatsuna leaves and add. This will give the stems a little bit more time to cook. Wait until the komatsuna looks fully cooked, then add the rice noodles and cook until they are soft. Then, remove from heat and add the ground almonds, miso paste, and sesame oil. The ground almonds add some creaminess to the soup. Dissolving the miso paste can be difficult. It may help to remove a cup or two of the soup liquid to mix with the miso. The sesame oil gives the soup nice sparkling orange oil bubbles floating on top. Top notch!

Side Note:
I used homemade vegetable stock. I saved up onion, garlic, green onion, and maybe a few radish scraps in the freezer. When it came time to make the stock, I fried the scraps in some oil until browned and then added some water. I cooked it down and added a few dashes of soy sauce. The reduced stock doesn't freeze solid, so cubes won't work. I froze it in a small tub so I could scoop out a tablespoon whenever I needed it. And I ended up using it all in this soup! The strength of the stock depends on what you put in it and how much you boil the water down. I estimated this was equivalent to 3-4 boullion cubes or teaspoons of boullion paste. You could use a dashi stock for a more authentically Japanese soup.

June 21, 2009

garlic scape pesto

Garlic scapes came in our Abbondanza farm share for the past two weeks. They are good in a stir fry, but I think pesto is my favorite way to eat them. I threw some spinach into this pesto, but that's totally optional. The spinach calms the bite of the garlic a little bit though not too much. If you're lucky enough to have basil, you can of course use that too. As I've mentioned before, I find that pesto is usually creamy enough without pine nuts or walnuts or parmesan but you're the boss. Now DO IT!

2 handfuls of garlic scapes, chopped into 1-2 inch segments (around half a pound)
2 handfuls of spinach (optional)
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 t. salt

Blend everything! Yum!

June 16, 2009


A friend recently let us help weed her garden... we took home 2 plastic grocery bags of mint! When you have lemons make lemonade; when you have mint make a mojito!

Serving Size: 1

5 fresh mint leaves
1 T. lime juice
1 T. light agave nectar
2 oz. light rum
4 oz. sparkling water
2 ice cubes

Put the mint leaves, lime juice, and agave nectar in a glass. "Muddle" the mint - a.k.a. mash the mint a little with the back a big wooden spoon or something. Stir in the rum and sparkling water. Add two ice cubes. If you're trying to impress someone, garnish it with a slice of lime.

We hung the rest of the mint up to dry. When everything was dry, we pulled the leaves from the stems. We'll be drinking mint tea all winter!

June 11, 2009

refried beans with chive flowers

Beans are so awesome! Local beans are even more awesome! Local beans of Native American origin are DOUBLE even more awesome!!

In September 2007
, Eric and I challenged ourselves by eating only local food for 30 days. Granted, we were living in Urbana, Illinois where the soil is rich and the farmer's market and food co-op run strong. Still, one thing we had difficulty buying at the time was local protein beans. When we moved to Boulder, Colorado we were extra psyched to see Abbondanza Organic Seeds & Produce selling anasazi beans and other interesting bean varieties!

We transformed our local anasazi beans into tasty refried beans and topped them with chive flowers from our friend's community garden plot. Pretty, no?

Serving Size: 8

2 c. anasazi (or pinto) beans, dry (about 4 cups cooked)
1 medium onion
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. water
4 cloves garlic
1 ancho chili, dry, ground
1 t. salt
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. cumin, ground
1/2 t. corriander, ground
1/8 t. cayenne pepper, ground
chive flowers

Soak the beans overnight. Cook the beans until they are soft. Drain, rinse and mash the beans.

Saute the onions until translucent. Add garlic and spices. Add the mashed beans and water. Adjust water as necessary. Top with chive flowers. Add hot sauce as desired.

Eat as a side dish or in a burrito or on nachos or here-or-there or anywhere!

June 5, 2009

hot sauce

I've been experimenting with making hot sauce from last summer's dried chili peppers. Lots of the hot sauce recipes out there have many ingredients, but I found a simple recipe foundation on Bob DuCharme's weblog:

Basic Ingredients:
2 or more peppers of any kind
1/2 c. vinegar
1 t. salt

Update: These three ingredients are the sole ingredients of Tabasco sauce, which is aged for up to three years in white oak barrels before being sold.

Remove stems from peppers if fresh. Boil the vinegar and blanch the peppers for 2-3 minutes (if fresh) or enough to soften up dried peppers. Puree all ingredients and funnel into a container. Don't stick your nose in the blender--this stuff burns! You might want to open some windows too. The flavor will improve with age, so wait a week before using the sauce.

Here's the three variants I've made so far, using our "hopped-up honey vinegar" that we accidentally made from our "braggot" (hop mead). It isn't a strong vinegar and may still be part alcohol. It tastes a bit like lemonade; the hops gives the hot sauce a slightly fruity or citrus flavor.

(front left in photo)
1/2 dried habanero peppers
1/2 c. hopped-up honey vinegar
1 t. salt

#2 (front right in photo)
1 t. seeds of various peppers
1/2 c. hopped-up honey vinegar
1 t. salt

#3 (hiding in the back in photo)
3-4 dried chiles de árbol, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. hopped-up honey vinegar
1 t. salt
1 t. arrowroot powder

And here's a bunch of additional ingredients/options to try:
Grill/roast/smoke the peppers


Lime/lemon juice
Apple cider or other vinegars

Cocoa, cinnamon, sugar (for mole-type sauce)
Tequila or other alcohol to replace vinegar

Some form of starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, etc.) can be added to make a thicker sauce.

So far, I like #3 best, because of the slightly thicker consistency and garlic. The habanero one (#1) is good also, but I think all three of them could be hotter. I don't know though, maybe I'm just building up a tolerance for hot sauce from tasting these. Julie says they're all plenty hot.

June 4, 2009

community supported agriculture

We picked up our first community supported agriculture share from Abbondanza Organic Seeds & Produce!!!

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is like a seasonal subscription to a local farm. You give a farm money before the growing season begins and the farm agrees to give you a share of their bounty each week throughout their growing season. CSA's are beneficial to small time, local, organic farms for many reasons. They provide money to the farmer up front when they need it for seed and equipment. Having a pre-arranged client base helps the farmer predict how much to grow and what their profit will be. They don't simply rely only on sales at the farmer's market that may vary from week to week. Risk is also reduced for the farmer because you pay for a share of what is grown. If it is a bad growing season you will get less produce than anticipated but if all goes well you will get a bounty (see above photo).

As a consumer, you have the benefit of really knowing your food and your farmer, building community and smaller economies, and being well fed with deliciously nutritious, super fresh produce!!