Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ingredients, part 1.

I have been thinking it would be fun to post regularly about different items in our pantry. While we try to stay local for our veggies, meats, and dairy, we do expand for base ingredients. I like to find items that add additional nutrients or beneficial goodies to make the meals that much better.

In the winter I like to make stews, soups, and chili in my slow cooker which then makes enough for several meals. Many ingredients I use for those meals are pretty basic - soups will have celery, carrots, garlic and onions combined with stock and some sort of soaked dried bean (lentils, split peas, beans, etc.) or pasta, and then stock and maybe some meat. Those elements are nutritious and taste great, but I like to push the limits a bit and get as much extra goodness in there.

A few ingredients that I like to use include good quality organic miso paste, kombu, organic toasted sesame oil, and celtic sea salt. I know I have mentioned the sea salt before, and I use that for the trace minerals present.

Miso is a fermented paste, made from different ingredients, but the most common one is from just soybeans. Miso contains trace minerals zinc, manganese, and copper, among other things. Miso soup is rich with antioxidants and protective fatty acids, and a good amount of Vitamin E. It also boasts protein and Vitamin B12. It adds a nice rich flavor to stocks.

Kombu is a dried sea vegetable. When kombu is added to the cooking water of dried beans, it helps beans cook faster and aids in digestion. It contains many trace minerals and is a great source of folate, calcium and magnesium.

Toasted Sesame Oil is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. Sesame is high in oleic and linoleic fatty acids that are rich in omega 6.

How do you use these items? For me, since I make soups and stews a lot, I use them in my stock base.

Put 4 cups of water on the stove, and add a sheet of kombu. Bring to a low simmer for 15 minutes, remove the kombu piece. Take 1-2 Tbsp. of miso paste and whisk into the kombu water until dissolved. There you have a good base (you can use as is and pour into your soup, or use this instead of water when making a chicken/beef stock).

From there I sautee veggies for the soup/stew or stock. Usually celery, onions, garlic, and carrots--all in a pan with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil (and usually some coconut oil) and a pinch of sea salt. These cook down and I add them to my kombu/miso stock along with whatever other meats and veggies I have chosen. So good!

I made chicken soup this week to help combat the last of the flu coughs and drizzle. I'll post that recipe soon. It is gooooood.


Karen Aune Arts said...

Thanks for the nutrition info on these ingredients! I've never tried any of them and feel compelled to experiment.

Lisa Anne said...

I use these ingredients for cooking as well, I would like to offer that there are not many unpasteurized miso makers out there, we buy ours from Red River Miso Company, they are the only US company I have found that make miso in the traditional method and do not pasteurize. You can mail order in the cooler months of the year, but not when it is warm, as this is a living food and will expand and explode if it is warm and jostled too much! They have lots of great varieties, my favorite for cold season is the Dandelion Leek, yum!

Lisa Anne said...

Sorry, I meant South River Miso Co., www.southrivermiso.com

denise said...

Lisa Anne - I have read about S.River Miso - I haven't bought any yet though. Thanks for the reminder-I wanted to try it. Dandelion leek - wow! Sounds great! We like naturally fermented soy sauce too - which is also more difficult to find...where do you find yours (if you use it?). :)