Thai (inspired) Noodle Soup

Thai Noodle

So when I need inspiration, I hit the books – recipe books, that is. I have fewer recipe books than you’d think, though. Once I discovered internet recipes and Pinterest, there was no turning back. But there are several I hang onto with beautiful pictures that I turn to for ideas. And this past Friday was one such day.

But not a single recipe took my fancy.

Sure, I had a few ingredients on a shopping list. Yet no congregation of ingredients lit up my heart. It was halfway to the grocery store, though, that a golden vision appeared in my head.

I remembered one visit my husband and I had made to a thai restaurant up in Phoenix, a sister establishment to its neighboring oriental supermarket. Both of our soups had been so beautifully arranged, each ingredient had its place, just waiting for a loving hand to stir and eat. The crisp taste of vegetables, noodles, and hot broth was suddenly all I could think about.

So I whipped this little number. And as usual, my husband would complain that the floor looked like a “lawn mower had come through.” But he was all smiles when he tasted the results.

What I love especially about this recipe is that not everything in soup has to be cooked to mush. I loved the fresh snap of some of the vegetables that I waited until right before serving to place in a hot bowl of broth. While the lemon was not as clear as I would have liked, I recommend adding a touch of lemon juice for flavor.

Thai-Inspired Noodle Soup

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 cartons (32-oz) low-salt, Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth
1 yellow onion, diced
6 carrots (julienned)
5 celery stalks (sliced)
1 lemongrass stalk, minced
1/2 of a jalapeño, minced
1 bundles of Bok Choy
8 oz of Buckwheat Soba noodles
Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced (divided)
Spring onions, chopped (divided)
Cilantro, chopped (divided)

PREPARATION

On a stovetop, heat up the broth. As it starts to bubble, add onion, carrots, celery stalks, lemongrass, and jalapeño. Cut the bok choy leaves from the stems, and cut up stems like celery and add to pot. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add noodles. Cook until tender.

Take bok choy leaves and cut them lengthwise, like ribbons. Ladle out the noodles without broth into a bowl, and add mushrooms, cilantro, spring onions, and bok choy. Ladle a cup of hot soup broth and let stand for a few minutes as fresh uncooked vegetables soften in the hot water. Serve – and ENJOY!.

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A locavore’s holiday: National Farmer’s Market Week

In case you didn’t know, this coming week August 5 – 11 is National Farmer’s Market Week. All hail the mighty American farmer! Locavores, unite!

Believe me when I tell you, farmers don’t do what they do for the money. Well, they try to. But for smaller farms, it’s becoming harder and harder to break even these days. It’s almost the American dream to be able to make an honest day’s work simply tilling the land, and reaping the fruits of your labor as they ripen. It may seem easy – throw a few seeds in the ground, watch them grow, sell the results.

But it’s the overhead: Cost of land, paying workers, buying equipment, cost of water, and your yields being at the mercy of the elements that makes farming a tough trade to make a living. Many ranchers and farmers have to take second jobs just to make ends meet.

That’s where we, the consumers, come in! With health and wellness concerns taking hold of our modern-day culture, it makes sense that “locavore” is making its way into the community vocabulary. Especially in a dwindling national economy, buying locally grown produce has put Arizona “you-pick” or CSA-certified farms on the map of modern-day shoppers, urban and rural alike.

Why? There are several fantastic reasons.

First of all, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Food that is locally grown spends less time in the back of a truck; causing less damage to the food. When food is stored for long periods of time, the cells in the fruit begin to break down, causing wilting or bruising and the loss of nutrients. The sugars in the food also turn to starch, which makes the food tougher, and not as flavorful” (Sue Baic, British Dietetic Association, 2007).

So, that means two things: Despite the healthier aspect, when farmers sell directly to consumers, they cut out “the middleman,” so to speak, and get the full value for their produce upfront, which also weighs a little lighter on the consumer’s coin purse, as well. Secondly, it cuts down on emissions from fewer trucks taking produce to long-distance locales. So you’re paying the farmer directly, from the vine to your hand, instead of the high dollar signs at the market due to costs of transportation and related constantly fluctuating gas prices. Consequently without much effort, you’re doing your part in living a little ‘greener.’

Thirdly, paying the local farmer helps keep that money circulating at the community level. It helps support local jobs on the farm, or other related, regional costs the farmer needs to pay.

Wow, right? Why haven’t we always been doing this?

Don’t know where there are any local farmer’s markets? No problem! (And no excuses 😉 ). The Arizona Farm Bureau and the USDA have a wealth of information about the schedule and locations of markets in the state of Arizona, as well as a great graph on the USDA site about growing seasons and what produce is harvested when.

In this modern world, we’ve become so removed from where real food comes from. So this week, do yourself (and food growers!) a favor: Shop local, fresher, healthier, greener, and cheaper, all in one place – at the food source. Win-win for everybody, and is a great big thank you to the hard work our farmers go through to get that food on our tables.

Happy Farmer’s Market Week, everyone!

Don’t always have time to make it out to an area farmer’s market? Do the next best thing! Buy produce at the stores grown locally. Every time I’m at the market, for example, I pick up these sprouts, grown and shipped from only the next town over. Shop local this week! Show your support for food growers in your area.