What's For Dinner...

Miso Soup

Yesterday Evan and I made a trip to New Seasons with one goal in mind: shop for ourselves. Despite our love for our rustic cooking over the past few days, the sad truth finally hit us over the heads once our hearty breakfast was digested and we went looking for lunch scraps.
"We have no food!" Evan declared. From the sound of his voice I could tell he was standing in front of the fridge, door wide open.

"I know, it's pathetic," is my auto-pilot driven response, given the countless number of times I've found myself in his exact position, scouring the shelves for something, anything to eat.

Living in this house I am constantly being reminded of the story my mother told me, about how it is the cobbler's children who go without shoes. While we have everything we could possibly need at the cafe, our own fridge has surely seen better days. For months now we've been ignoring it, either choosing to eat Thai or neighborhood pub food, or challenging ourselves by doing this thing in our house called "rustic cooking," where your sole goal is to make an edible and relatively nutritious meal with the bare pantry and refrigerator shelves. But now it was obvious, there was no other conclusion to draw but this one: Our fridge was a total disaster. He knew, I knew it, and shit, even Zeus knew it and was wondering when the hell he was going to get some more of his salmon oils.

"We're going to New Seasons, let's go!" And like that I hear the suction of the refrigerator door shutting, and Evan has the car keys in hand and is by the front door. We're in the car so fast I can hardly resolve what's about to happen next; we're going shopping...for ourselves.

This might sound stupid but it's been so long since we've actually done it that we've forgotten what we even like to eat. Rather than navigating the aisles like we're returning champions of Supermarket Sweep, as we usually do on a cafe run, this time we stared aimlessly up at each aisle, trying to find our footing. To be honest I think we both felt a lot of pressure in that situation. We are literally shopping pros at this point, for the cafe that is. You can pretty much go through our prep and par lists with us and we can give you a corresponding aisle number. But when it comes to purchasing goods for personal use and you have a moment to ask yourself, "What sounds good for breakfast?" and get to actually ask your partner, "What do you want to cook tonight for dinner?" you begin to realize how long it's been since you've had what you used to consider a "normal life."

We are settling back into the groove of things ever so slowly. I still can't believe it's been a whole week since we've been back. We worked five of those last seven days and have spent the last two days getting to know our dog again; the funny looks he gives us when he's confused or needs to be walked. We're getting to know our house again; how we must for some reason fall asleep every night to the dryer finishing its last load for the evening. And we're getting to know each other again, in this house, with our dog, as we return to some sense of normalcy. One thing we discovered during our trip in Mexico was that we have poured so much of ourselves into our Cafe that sometimes we have very little if anything to give to one another. This was a grave mistake and one we've been trying to remedy ever since we've returned home. If there was ever a question between the Cafe's needs and our needs, the Cafe came first. As in ALWAYS. This is where we're attempting to initiate more of a balance in our lives. Part of this process was making this trip to New Seasons and figuring out what we needed and what was in our best interest. These two elements have rarely coincided with owning and running our cafe over this past year. Of course we are our own worst enemies in this situation and the only ones we have to blame is ourselves. We are the ones that make stupid, time-devouring decisions like creating a spur-of-the-moment special that requires one of us to return to the grocery store for the fourth time that day, or else it's a dire situation to be filed in the "must do now or die" folder, when in reality there is always a better alternative, a more peaceful one, one that requires neither establishment (Us or the Cafe) to sacrifice.

This is the beauty of having your own place and part of the reason we were desperate to become our own bosses: we wanted to own it, ALL of it, the good and the bad. What can I say? It's been a learning process and certainly has been the best, longest, hardest, and most rewarding class I've ever taken and coming from this certified total college nerd that's saying something.

Searching for a source of inspiration caused me to think back to a time in my life when I enjoyed cooking the most, and our trip to New Zealand immediately entered my mind. There we purchased not one but two vans and lived/slept/cooked out of which ever one wasn't dead for the following three months. One of our all time favorite meals during this experience was miso soup. Simple, hearty, nutritious, and most importantly easy to travel around with. Somewhere along our three month journey, I believe it was in a coffeeshop in Queenstown, I read an article about the oldest living people living in the world. There was one particular man I fell in love with, a man from Okinawa. Every day he would wake up and open his blinds, work in his garden, and he would make sure to close his blinds at night. He declared the most important thing he did in life was to open his blinds in the morning and to close his blinds in the evening to let his neighbors and friends and community members know he was alive. He felt strong sense of community and felt responsible to that community and in return the purpose and the quality of his life could not be questioned. Inspiring to say the least. Did I mention he ate miso soup every day for breakfast? In tribute and for our stake in our own good health we ate miso soup every morning during a our life changing Exploration of The Greatest Place in the World and I swear we never felt better in our lives. No joke.

A & E, and Miso kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

In the spirit of honoring the great many lessons and perspectives the new year has already bestowed upon us, we gleefully, gracefully, and faithfully returned to our beloved miso soup for dinner tonight.

And it would be an failure on my part not to mention that one of our ultimate favorite bloggers of all time was also recently on a miso kick. There must be something in the water.

Of course Heidi's recipe is fabulous and we surely encourage you to rely on it as a backbone for your own creation. The great thing about miso soup is that it is so versatile. For our dinner version we wanted a few more veggies. Try out your own batch and find your perfect combination.

Miso Soup
brown miso paste, water, broccoli, mushroom, kale, tofu, buckwheat noodles, and green onion

and for dessert:

Warm Biscuits & Jam

homemade buttermilk biscuits with homemade blueberry poppy seed jam

Which brings me to my next point. The cafe will add three new jams to its repertoire this week:
Blueberry Poppy Seed
Blackberry Earl Grey
Strawberry Pinot Noir


High Plains Drifters said...

Strawberry Pinot Noir? I'm salivating just hearing those three words!!

Anonymous said...

I've eaten at your restaurant a few times, and your food and service are excellent. Ali, we met you and your mother at the restaurant, she is a very charming person, and so is your blog. I am not one to read blogs but yours I find just draws me in. Just a suggestion to your miso soup recipe, if you have the time, simmer dried kelp in the broth. Thats what I try to do when I'm not pressed for time here in Hawaii! RK

Amy J said...

Bleackberry Earl Grey jam sounds amazing! Please share your recipe!!!

Joy Bugaloo said...

I was so intrigued by the idea of "Blackberry Earl Grey Jam" that I had to try my hand at making some for myself. I based it on a Christine Ferber recipe, and it turned out GREAT! Thanks for the inspiration.