To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen
Cover Art by Garrett Leigh
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kelly Jensen here today talking about farming, soy, and recipes. Welcome, Kelly!
Soy, Soy, and a Little More Soy by Kelly Jensen
Did you know that soybeans are the second most planted field crop in the U.S.? You do now. The only thing we grow more of in North America is corn.
There’s not a lot that will grow in the harsh environment of Alkirak. Bram has a little patch of corn on his farm, but mostly, he grows soybeans, and my ever-practical farmer processes his soy in a number of ways: milk, tempeh, miso, tofu, soy sauce, and soy nuts. He can also simply enjoy the little green beans steamed in the pod and served with salt. In the book, I have him experimenting with soy flour. I mean, who wants to live at the end of the galaxy without pancakes? He also wonders when someone is going to invent a coffee-type drink made of soy. (Hopefully never.)
I enjoyed researching what Bram and Gael might grow and might cook on the farm, because I’m interested in food, and I like to cook. I’m also a fan of soy products. I love eating the steamed fresh beans, I’ve been drinking soy milk for twenty-five years ago, and some of my favorite dishes feature tasty cubes of tofu. So I thought I’d share a couple of favorite recipes, with notes about how Gael would have adapted them to locally available produce!
Hot and Sour Soup
This is hands down my favorite soup. I love the combination of heat and spice, and the competing textures of the mushrooms, tofu, and bean shoots. At home, I’ll have bottles of soy sauce and vinegar on hand to doctor takeout versions, but it’s really easy to make yourself!
Gael would have most of these ingredients on hand, though he’d have to rehydrate mushrooms and onions. I’m not sure about the bamboo shoots, but thinly sliced celery would be an acceptable substitute! As for the sambal, let’s just assume that’s a galaxy-wide condiment, as it should be.
What you’ll need:
8 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
2-3 cups of sliced mushrooms (shitake or baby bellas)
¼ cup rice vinegar (more to taste)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sambal oelek (chili garlic sauce)
¼ cup cornstarch
2 eggs (whisked)
8 oz firm tofu (cubed)
¼ cup green onions (sliced thin)
1 tsp sesame oil
What to do:
Reserve ¼ of the stock for later, and add the remaining stock, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and sambal oelek to a large stock pot. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.
Whisk the other ¼ cup of stock and cornstarch together in a small bowl until completely smooth. Once the soup has reached a simmer, stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir for 1 minute or so until the soup has thickened.
Then keep stirring the soup in a circular motion as you drizzle in the eggs. The eggs should create slim streamers as you stir. Add the tofu, about half of the green onions, and sesame oil. Then season the soup white pepper to taste. This is when I might add more vinegar. If you like it hot, add more sambal!
Garnish with extra onions. Makes about 6 servings.
Soy Peanut Noodles
This is another textural favorite—the crunch of the peanuts next to the soft noodles and small cubes of tofu. Combined with the sauce, nuts, and noodles, you can include any vegetables you want, experimenting with flavors and textures.
Gael would have most of these ingredients on hand, but could substitute soy nuts for the peanuts. I don’t think you can make a good peanut butter out of soy nuts, though, so I’m going to propose peanut butter as a galactic condiment along with the sambal.
What you’ll need:
1 inch piece of ginger (peeled)
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp light brown sugar (packed)
½ tsp sambal oelek
1 package of noodles
1 package of firm tofu
½ cup peanuts
bean sprouts, match stick carrots, finely sliced celery, green onions.
What to do:
In a food processor, pulse the ginger until it’s mashed, then add everything else plus 1/3 cup of water and blend until smooth. If you want the sauce thinner, add more water. Sauce be kept in the fridge for a few days.
Whatever is your favorite. You can use udon, rice stick, ramen, or even spaghetti. Just get something noodle-y. Cook according to package directions, making sure to leave them just a bit underdone. They’ll soften in the next step.
Dry it (let it sit out on some paper towel and pat it down), dredge in flour, a little salt and pepper, and shallow fry in hot oil until very lightly golden. Set aside to drain.
Except for the beansprouts (if using), steam until tender crisp.
Set a large pan (or wok) over medium heat, spoon in your sauce and top with noodles and vegetables. Reduce the heat and stir until warmed through and combined. A minute or two. Serve topped with peanuts and fried tofu cubes.
I hope I’ve inspired you to try cooking with soy, tofu in particular. Both of these recipes might be a little on the spicy side, but if you are interested in cooking with tofu, the second one can definitely be made without adding the chili (sambal). Also, the above method for preparing tofu can be used for a ton of dishes. The fried cubes are even tasty on their own.
About To See the Sun
Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?
Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.
Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.
Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly:
- Website: kellyjensenwrites.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites/
- Twitter: twitter.com/kmkjensen
- Tumblr: kmkjensen.tumblr.com/
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kmkjensen/
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/kellyjensenwrites/
To celebrate the release of To See the Sun, Kelly is giving away a $25 Riptide credit and some swag stickers and a bracelet! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 18, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!