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Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #77

    About a week ago, I was really gung-ho to write this column...and now it just feels like pulling teeth to sit down in front of the computer.  Probably because I’ve been having so many stupid issues with hotmail and ebay in the past couple of months that it just isn’t funny. Don’t you just love it when you get denied access to an account because you’ve forgotten your password (EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVEN’T!!!). Anyway...I’ve seen a few really good shows since the last issue (like Pointless Fest, J-Church and The Weakerthans) which were all incredibly inspiring in so many different ways and on so many different levels. The Fest for the sheer numbers of us, all the fantastic bands, the overwhelming heat, the endless line for vegan cheese steaks, and the family reunion feel of it...a huge round of applause to Greg and Tony for being such great hosts, John Hiltz for letting me stand on that rolling case for two nights in a row, and to Ken Sanderson for putting us up at Grandma’s house. J-Church was just pure fun. I love how J-Church is always ever evolving. It made me really happy to see Lance on tour again. I can’t believe how different they are now...they’ve got some hardcore going on!  I got to meet Ben White (of Snakepit fame) and he seems like a real sweetheart of a guy. We only chatted briefly, but it was just plain nice to actually put a real face on the artist. And then there’s The Weakerthans, who absolutely, without a doubt, made my YEAR with their show in Chicago. The music is so intricate and gorgeous and heartwrenching yet so hopeful with just that subtle taste of bitterness on the lips that instantly gets wiped away by the poetic lyrics and imagery that get absolutely embedded in your brain and seem to warm you from the inside out. Whew. I was utterly transfixed on Jon’s smile while they played...it was almost like he created his own personal spotlight. The entire crowd seemed to be singing along to every song, even all of the new ones. I think that I smiled for about a week straight after that show. I sure do hope that they swing through the Midwest again real soon. Okay, enough with the mushy stuff (for now).
the winter of our discontent...
    I always think of that John Steinbeck book when winter is right around the corner. I generally feel somewhat discontent during the dreaded cold dark months...although it is also a relief to just be able to spend some time indoors hibernating with a pile of good books and a huge pot of hot steaming soup. I’ve found soup making to be quite therapeutic and I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes with you right now. This is a fast and simple soup, full of great greens (you need that chlorophyll in the winter!!!) and garlic, with just the right amount of spice on a cold winter night.
*hot-n-spicy vegetable noodle soup:
-vegetable broth (either homemade, or store bought. If store bought, I recommend Imagine brand)
-one or two packs of vegan friendly ramen noodles (I’m really into the Udon Pride miso w/tofu)
-one bulb of garlic
-one can of diced tomatoes with green chili peppers
-kale(6-10 leaves),broccoli(1-2 stalks), baby bok choy(1bunch), peapods(10-15), shitake mushrooms(6-10)
-nutritional yeast
-soy sauce or sea salt
    use whatever size pot you like and adjust your vegetable broth accordingly. I usually use at least a 3 quart sauce pan and wind up using about 2 quarts of veggie broth. I only use organic ingredients, but that part is up to you (of course). Start by washing all of your produce. Put veggie broth in soup pot and let it boil. While broth is heating up, start with your garlic (I use a garlic press for this soup, but you can just chop it really finely if you wish). Put the whole bulb in with the broth. Once you’ve reached the boiling point, add your noodles and the flavor packets. (Note: if you’re using a pan that’s smaller than 3 quarts, you should probably only use one pack of noodles). Chop up broccoli and kale, put in small bowl. Once your noodles are close to being done, add broccoli, kale and the can of tomatoes w/green chili’s. Lower your heat to a good simmer. Now chop baby bok choy, pea pods and shitake mushrooms. Add these when the broccoli and kale feel close to being done. You can chop your veggies into whatever size you like. Once everything has been added, I turn off the heat, or put it really low and add nutritional yeast and either soy sauce/sea salt to taste. I usually serve right away, so the pea pods and baby bok choy still have some crunch to them. Feel free to play around with this, as it is an extremely flexible recipe. I only have one warning for you...this soup has been known to cause extreme fart potential, so maybe you shouldn’t make it on a first date. All that garlic likes to ‘show off’, if you know what I mean. Another good winter pick-me-up tip can be found right on the label of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. Take two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, a glass of water, one or two teaspoons of pure maple syrup/honey/molasses/stevia (your preference) and a big squeeze of lemon and mix it all together. I know it sounds a bit weird, but it’s darn good for you and your immune system.
bed time stories...
    I’ve already got a huge stack of winter reading started. I picked up The Rodale Book of Composting from Rodale Press. Good inspiration for next summer’s garden. I’ve also got Second Nature by Michael Pollan which looks really good...one man’s relationship with the earth. I picked up both of these fine selections at The Rainbow Book Collective in Madison. Should you find yourself wandering around the streets of Mad Town, you should check them out...I don’t know the exact address off hand, but they are on Gilman St., right off of State St. I’m sure that they’re in the phone book. A long standing radical book collective that certainly deserves your support! Great zine selections, as well. I’m also really obsessed with the work of legendary Japanese fiction writer Haruki Murakami. Fairly depressing, yet intricately crafted stories. Should you find your interest sparked, I recommend starting with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, or Norwegian Wood.
unhappy anniversary...
    I’d just like to take a second and again say thanks and goodbye to Matty Luv, who died last year on October 4th. He was a genius, in his own unique and stubborn way. I still think about him and the rest of those lovely Hickey boys all the time and know that without them, my life would have turned out very differently. I’ve had some pretty crazy and vivid dreams involving Matty during the past year, so I still feel that part of him is out there somewhere, getting into trouble, livin’ the chaos and making sure we don’t forget him. I know that we won’t. I still can’t quite bring myself to listen to Hickey yet, it still feels too fresh, but it’s there waiting for me someday. Aesop and Rizzler, y’all take care of yourselves, ya hear?!
time to fall out...
    It’s late and I’m about ready to call it a night. Eat lots and lots of garlic, experiment with herbal teas, drink as much hot water with lemon as you can stand, and take care of yourselves this winter. You don’t have to catch a cold! I made it through the entire winter last year without a sniffle, and then my dear husband brought home the Sabado virus for me...but even that only had me down for 2 days.  Look for plant based alternatives to drug store remedies. I know that I always mention it, but the massive reference book Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James and Phyllis Balch is handy and pretty darn cheap. Get one. Life is short, live it to the fullest!  -karoline  (note new e-mail address) roadiegirl@yahoo.com