Archive for March, 2015

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Crusted Onion Soup

Crusted Onion Soup

Spring is here and so are the sprouting onions. It’s time to clean out the larder or keep a close eye on it. We had a fantastic onion harvest last year and still have lots of onions but they do tend to start growing again when spring hits. The yellow onions keep better so I wanted to use up the red onions before they got too soft, with more sprout than onion.

I had just over 3 pounds of reds left which was just about the perfect amount for a batch of onion soup. I adapted the following recipe from a Vegetarian Times recipe. I used a white wine that I had on hand (instead of the sherry as originally called for) in the soup. It was quite tasty, but I thought it needed a little deeper flavor so the next time I plan to make it with dry red wine & Tamari instead of broth or salt.  Your personal taste preferences count for a successful meal – just use the recipe as a guide and choose your own seasonings.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. Olive oil

5 large red onions (about 3 lb.) halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced or about 1 Tbs.

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. unbleached flour

6 cups of your favorite vegetable broth or 6 cups water and 2-4 T. Tamari Sauce to taste

1/3 cup wine (dry sherry, dry white or dry red wine)

1 tsp. Dijon or stone-ground mustard

1 tsp. rice vinegar or other mild vinegar

Toasted whole grain bread – 1 piece for each serving

2/3 cup shredded Gruyère cheese or your favorite white cheese

Sautéing Onions in the CobraHead Test Kitchen

Sautéing Onions

  1. Heat butter and oil in heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and salt, and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to very low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 50 to 60 minutes, until onions are very tender and brown.
  2. Stir in flour, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Blend in broth, wine and mustard. Cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar.
  3. Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into heatproof bowls. Top each with slice of toast and grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. (Ours got a little black around the edges but it was still good.) Serve hot.
Ready for Broiling

Ready for Broiling

Starting Seeds Indoors – The Ladder to Success

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Folding Ladder With Boards for Shelves

Folding Ladder With Boards for Shelves

I like to start my own seeds. I rarely buy started vegetables. Starting your own seed saves lots of money and it gives you access to far more variety than you can find by buying plants started by others. And if you have a larger garden, buying plants quickly becomes cost prohibitive.

My seed starting ritual has evolved to a fairly consistent pattern. I try to start my onions in mid to late January. Tomatoes, eggplants, and most brassicas have a March 15th target (which I rarely achieve) and everything else that needs a head start indoors gets into flats as I get to them in April and early May.

South Facing Sunroom

South Facing Sunroom

I don’t have a greenhouse or high hoop house. Either of those would make seed starting easier, but I do have a southern exposure glass-walled sunroom. We added this room almost immediately after moving into our Wisconsin home and it has been the best thing for my seed starting.

A folding ladder has been my flat shelf for many years. This particular brand is Krause, but there are many out there. It folds into numerous configurations. Set up as in the picture, it makes shelves easily with just the addition of some boards laid across the rungs. I lay some plastic sheeting on the floor to catch any drips from watering.

Judy only just tolerates this set up. She doesn’t love it because we have to rearrange the furniture in the sunroom and move all our house plants. And when I water the plants with fish fertilizer that really tests her limits, but she knows that this is the beginning of our good home grown food supply so she lets me do it year after year.

Flats on the Ladder

Flats on the Ladder

A real advantage to this set up comes when I have to start hardening off the seedlings. I just open up a patio door and move the flats to a picnic table set up just outside. The flats are easy to move in and out of the house.

While I would welcome a green house or even a tall hoop house, this system has served me very well for many years and unlike either of those options, it is at almost no extra cost.