Star Spelunking! And Miso Soup!

So I promised the miso soup recipe last week, but I got distracted by a ton of baking… peach cobbler, strawberry rhubarb streusel, etc. Also, astronomy.

Monday night (August 26th), Neptune was in opposition (which means it was directly opposite the sun and as close to Earth as it’s ever getting). So I packed the family into the car and invaded a friend and colleague’s home to strap my camera to his 8″ Meade telescope. It was pretty cloudy until about 11pm or so, but we got amazing photos of the moon (to follow). I also snapped a few of Saturn, but since he was racing out of my view as fast as he could set in the west, none of them were really post worthy.

Neptune, Uranus and Pluto were all wee dots on the 8″ scope, so I didn’t even try for photos. It was cool seeing a few nebulae though.

Now for the moon photos:
(Taken with 100 iso at 1/30 with the camera strapped directly to the telescope, which has a set f stop of f10)

Moon_Edit01

And this one, with the clouds scattering across her face (200 iso and 1/30):

Moon_Edit02

Finally, we zoomed way into the craters, but this was the largest image I could get without causing camera shake by knocking into the viewfinder. Taken at 400 iso and 1/25:
Moon_Edit03

We also saw a few lingering Perseid meteors and a really cool pulsar star big enough for Jamie to see well through the viewfinder. Too bad Aubri was up until after midnight with all the excitement… We were hoping to see the nova near Delphinus but I think it’s faded too much now, we couldn’t find it at all.

Now, on to the miso recipe:

Kronda’s Special Recipe Cure-What-Ails-You Miso Soup:

This version makes about 12 servings, unless you’re really hungry.

Ingredients:
Dashi powder (Japanese style beef soup stock powder)
1 pkg extra firm tofu, diced into small cubes
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced into straws
1/4 cu (or more) chopped green onions
1/2 cu shredded carrot (pre-shredded is fine, or grate the carrot)
1/4 lb (1/2 8 oz container) crimini mushrooms (AKA baby portabellas), washed and thinly sliced
1/4 cu wakame (dried seaweed) in small piece form (usually comes in a baggy)
Miso paste, preferably the kind that comes in a tub (I use the brown tub, not the spicy red tub)

Start by boiling 8 cups water. Add 1 tbsp dashi powder per cup of water, so about 1/2 cup dashi powder. You can also use beef or chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want it to be vegetarian), but dashi stock will give it the most authentic flavor. When the stock reaches a rolling boil add onions, mushrooms and carrots. Allow to boil for 15-20 minutes to let the flavors incorporate.
Ladle out about 1/2 cup of the broth into a separate cup or bowl and allow it to cool slightly so that it is no longer boiling. Use that broth to dissolve two heaping tablespoons of the miso paste. DO NOT combine the miso into the boiling water, as boiling temperatures kill the miso and ruin the beneficial health properties of the paste. Set aside.
Add the wakame and the tofu to the soup and turn the heat down so that the soup just simmers and doesn’t break apart the tofu. Simmer until the seaweed is pliable but not gummy, about 5 minutes.
Take the soup off of the heat and allow to cool slightly until no longer bubbling. Reincorporate the reserved stock with miso and stir well to combine. Serve soup over prepared rice and top generously with green onions. (Cilantro is also a delicious alternative topping).
Will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge but naturally the soup is better fresh. The tofu gets weirdly squishy after a few days.

For the locals, all of these ingredients are easily acquired at Hmart!