Monday, May 26, 2008

Warm weather supper for one

When the weather warms and my clothing has become snug, my thoughts turn to lighter foods for supper. At work I usually take a filling lunch and then have a slice of Jeff's wholesome toast at about 4:00, so by evening I just need a little something to break up the work day and the best part of the day.

My current favorite is rice noodles, in any form, floating in broth and whatever is handy. I start by boiling a big pot of water as soon as I walk in the door. (I have to do this immediately upon entering the kitchen, because if I stop and feed the dog first, autopilot will take over and I will completely forget about the noodle water. I think this is a by-product of aging memory and the fact that I am the only one waiting to eat). After I feed the dog, I get comfy and then begin preparation for my soup: chop up vegies, soak dried mushrooms, pick asparagus, onions or whatever is in season from the garden, and then cook the noodles. Sometimes I will drop crunchy vegetables into the boiling water just to pre-cook them a little. They all get drained at the same time.

Rice noodles come in many forms. Some of them need to be soaked in cold water first and some cook very quickly. It just takes a little trial and error and asking the nice folks at the Asian market for tips. I try to make enough for two meals. The broth is usually chicken, but if I don't have any, I will just boil water and the rest of the ingredients and add miso at the end. This is best done with a strainer and a spoon; you smush the miso against the strainer into the water/broth. I add the ingredients according to cooking time. First, if using carrots and onions, I saute them first in a little oil, then add the broth and let it cook a while. I drop in the pre-cooked or soaked dried vegies, like broccoli or cauliflower or shitake mushrooms, near the end. When it is seasoned to taste (usually with various Asian-oriented seasonings) I put the drained noodles in the bowl and pour the broth and vegies on top, ending with some fresh spring onions. Some people like to add fresh basil and bean sprouts at this point. I don't really like crunchy things in my slurpy food, so I leave those out.

This is a simplified version of Operation Icebox. As you can see, anything is appropriate, depending on your taste and mood.

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