Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Turophile’s Treat—Locavore’s Leftover Lasagna March 20, 2010

Filed under: grains,leftovers,locavore,meat,thrift,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:31 pm

plush mush

pourin' pone

In these first two photos I have just finished baking a batch of polenta, bound and enriched by my parmesan broth.   Adorned with nothing more than black pepper, this gruel was plainly the most luscious version I’d ever cooked.  Good enough to justify hoarding all those Reggiano rinds!  Because I had plans for this corny slab, I managed to limit my portion that morning to a small sampling.  Destined for the limelight in the layers of a catch-all casserole, my polenta plank rested overnight before joining forces with an ensemble cast of leftovers and fresh local flavors.

A hefty Texas-grown leek ($2.99 a bundle at Central Market—inspect the tag for provenance), sliced and sauteed with local young garlic, (available from Montesino Farm and Hairston Creek Farm at Sunset Valley Farmers Market) and seasoned with fresh backyard sage and thyme, provided an aromatic foundation for chopped and browned Kitchen Pride cremini mushrooms plus roasted local spaghetti squash from the freezer (that’s the end of that!).  In its gobbling finale, a generous helping of the last of the poached turkey leg meated its match.  Moistened with a bit of broth (freezer clear-out again) and greenly flecked with fresh Texas-grown parsley, the fleshy hash stratified between sheets of polenta, richly laminated with lots of shredded local cheese (I love Full Quiver Farm’s sharp cheddar.  Look for their booths at the Austin Farmers Market and Barton Creek Farmers Market.)

cast off casserole

pretty please with cheese on top

I baked the mess until browned and bubbling.  After a 10-minute eternity, we dug on in.  A taste of winter on a wintry first day of spring.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

 

Barely Barley Risotto March 18, 2010

Filed under: easy,grains,leftovers,locavore,slow cooker,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:38 am

barley barely risotto

I couldn’t wait for spring.  I’ve already started cleaning out the freezers.  Who knew I had accumulated so many parmesan rinds?  Time to make broth!  If you have just a couple of rinds, you can throw them into most any soup or stew—not just minestrone—to add depth.  If family life (or life life) keeps you from your rinds beyond their metastasis, you can brew a full-on parmesan broth.  I pressure cooked the cheesy stock for 20 minutes and was rewarded with an indulgent infusion, perfect for a catch-all slow cooker risotto-style side dish.  (I will warn y’all about the goopy pan residue.  But we’re in the mood for cleaning now anyways, right?)  Making my way through a frozen cache of roasted spaghetti squash, plus some stashed barley, I came up with this autumnally nuanced, comforting blend.

With a composition more veggie than grain, this recipe keeps it light enough for spring time.

CLEARING HOUSE SLOW COOKER BARLEY RISOTTO serves a big family as a side dish, or a smaller family as a main course

  • 2/3 cup organic pearled barley.  I buy barley in bulk.  Remember to bring your own container.
  • 2 cups cooked local spaghetti squash.  I recommend roasting.  I just roast the whole thing on a baking sheet at 350º until it collapses.  I scrape out the pre-shredded flesh with a fork and freeze what I won’t be using soon.
  • 3½ to 4 cups good broth.  Reggiano broth works very well for this recipe and keeps the dish vegetarian.
  • one sprig of fresh backyard sage.  This heady herb’s easy to grow.  Give it a try!
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 1 or 2 drops almond extract
  • plenty of fresh local parlsey, chopped

Put everything except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3 to 3½ hours, until the barley is done “to your own tooth.”  Stir in parsley.  Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Texas’ own Veldhuizen parmesan, available from Greenling‘s local food delivery service.

 

Quinoa is the New Black November 19, 2009

I recently brought home a box of Alter Eco‘s organic black quinoa to play around with (work perk!).  The folks at AE work with small scale farmers and producers to maintain artisanal methods and ecological balance.  Alter Eco’s Mission Statement proclaims:

We believe that Fair Trade is a viable and successful alternative to conventional commerce. This business model will gradually close the gap between rich and poor, so-called developing countries and industrialized countries.

Sounds good and green.

My family eats quinoa regularly and I usually keep a cooked pot of this “super grain” in the fridge for quick nourishment (see Queen Quinoa).  Reheated with cheese (or not), and plenty of fresh cracked black pepper (or not—as for the minors), quinoa makes a fast, tasty and nutritious light meal.  The black variety, with its exotic color, piqued my palate so I gave it a whirl.  Plus the Quechuas of Bolivia believe black quinoa supports kidney health.

I found that this quinoa cooked up more quickly—a fast 15 minutes—and absorbed less water (less than 2 cups as opposed to a little more than 2 cups) than my usual brands of regular quinoa.  The family wasn’t pleased with the texture, however.  The black bran seems much thicker and heartier than the pale seed coat of standard quinoa.  Too chewy!  Fanciers of substantial grains, however, might like a simple breakfast pilaf of black quinoa with quality butter, good maple syrup and perhaps a splash of cream.

At my house, the black quinoa was relegated to more of a supporting role in which it could show off its striking color against contrasting backgrounds, lighter in taste as well as color.  We enjoyed this quinoa’s black speckles in both an easy, light bread machine bread and an otherwise standard pot o’ jasmine rice.

P B J & Q

Dalmatian Bread (Black Quinoa Bread)

  • ½ cup local milk plus enough water to equal 1 generous cup.  I use either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
  • 1 local  egg
  • 130 grams (1 cup) cooked organic black quinoa
  • ¾ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt
  • 1 teaspoon local honey.  I buy Good Flow in bulk at Central Market.  Bring your own container and ask an employee to tare the weight for you.
  • 1 Tablespoon organic butter.  Organic Valley‘s my choice here.  Look for the $1 OFF coupon in Whole Foods Whole Deal newsletter, available at their stores.  Or click here.
  • 200 grams organic all-purpose flour.  WF’s 365 brand 5# bag is usually the best buy.
  • 163 grams organic white whole wheat flour.  WF generally has the lowest price per pound on King Arthur’s 5# bag.
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast (rapid rise or instant)

Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order indicated by your instruction manual.  In my machine, that would be the order listed.  Program the machine on the regular cycle (not whole wheat).  If you’re not heading out to work on bread day, you can use just your machine’s dough cycle, then form a loaf (use a 9″ X 5″ pan), give it a second rise and bake it off at 350º in your oven.  The weather’s perfect for crankin’ it up!

Speckled!

Appaloosa Rice (Black Quinoa Rice)

  • 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice
  • 1 Tablespoon organic black quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt–Real Salt.  See above.
  • dab of butter. Organic Valley, see above.
  • 1 fresh bay leaf if you’re growin’ or knowin’ somebody who is.

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, place a lid on it and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to LOW and continue to cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

 

Queen Quinoa August 25, 2009

Filed under: baby,easy,fast,grains,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 3:23 pm

quite quinoa

By all accounts quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse.  A complete protein, it’s also high in iron—good for baby.  For my palate, however, quinoa needs a little help.  I always make my own stocks and broths, even with a baby on board, but I can’t be pouring all my fluid flavor into the quinoa pot.  We eat too much of the stuff.  So I tried out some bouillon cubes from Whole Foods.  Before I had kids I shunned convenience products.  I had never so much as used canned coconut milk—my how things change!

Edward & Sons natural bouillon cubes are vegan and gluten-free.  Available in three flavors, Garden Veggie, Not-Chick’n, and Not-Beef (plus Low Sodium Veggie), just one of these squares yields a savory batch of quinoa that everyone around here loves.  Here’s how we do it:

YUMMY QUINOA

  • 1 cup raw quinoa, well rinsed.  I use a fine mesh sieve and wash the grains in running water, 1/2 cup at a time.
  • 1 natural bouillon cube of your choice.  Not-Chick’n is our favorite.
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.  I fell in love with this spice when I fell for Indian food.  One of seven McCormick-christened “Super Spices” (as part of their curry powder blend), turmeric boasts high antioxidant levels.  In scientific studies, turmeric is showing anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-dementia potential.  Plus it colors your food a cheerful and enticing shade of yellow.  I almost always, for any preparation, toss cut-up eggplant with turmeric and a bit of salt before frying/sauteing, by the way.
  • a spot of olive oil.  You know, a teaspoon or so.
  • about 2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons water.  The amount of liquid required can vary depending on the brand of quinoa.  Lately I’ve been cooking up WF’s bulk offering.

Put everything in your pan.  I like to use a skillet (10″  is good) with a well-fitting glass lid (so I can spy on the cookin’s a goin’ on in there).  I find many grains, and most rice pilafs, cook more evenly in a wide, shallow vessel, than in a saucepan.  When cooking larger quantities this is especially helpful.  Bring it all to a full boil over high heat, put the lid on, turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes.

After I turn the heat off, I like to remove the lid and check for doneness and moisture level.  If there’s a little excess liquid, I leave the pan on the burner (electric, so still hot), and give the mix a few stirs to dry the grain some.  On the other hand, if I find the quinoa to be slightly underdone—I like a little “pop”, but no crunch–I shake the water clinging to the underside of the lid back into the pan and set the whole thing on the cooling rack.  You’ll figure out your preferences and your brand’s cooking requirements soon enough.

My family loves to eat bowls of this “ancient grain” sprinkled with almost any kind of cheese and spiked with lots of fresh ground black pepper (for the grown-ups).  Quinoa also goes great with scrambled eggs (local!).  For the baby, these days I concoct:

BABY QUINOA

  • about 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • about 1/2 can of liquid from WF 365 organic green beans (or 1/3 -1/2 cup water).  I buy these for the baby.  It’s easy, cheap nutrition that I can feel good about and baby loves those beans!
  • 4 ounce jar organic carrot baby food.  I’ve been using Earth’s Best because I had a coupon.  Clink the link to get $1 OFF ten jars.  I find carrot baby food to be the handiest variety and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not cooking carrots yourself for baby, because of possible high nitrate levels.   Until Texas carrot season starts back up again (come on autumn!!), my little one’s enjoying this preparation.
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, halved and sliced kinda thin.  Hairston Creek Farm is still selling organic bagged onions at SVFM.
  • 1 large clove garlic, slivered.  organic or local, if you can find it now.
  • 1/8 teaspoon garam masala.  I make my own.  This recipe looks good.  Or you can purchase some from WF’s or CM’s bulk spices.  Smell before you buy.  You want a warm, savory aroma.  This enhancement is optional.  My baby loves the flavor.

Simmer your quinoa, green bean liquid, onion, and garlic until the mixture is nearly dry.  I do recommend a non-stick pan here.  Add the baby food and continue to simmer until the mess is thick enough to mound on itself.  You’re looking for a texture that baby can pick up and feed himself with.  That’s what we’re after around this house, anyway.  Infant-led feeding for the second baby has revolutionized mealtimes for us.  Thanks for the tip, austinfrugalmom!  Lastly, stir in the garam masala, if using.  My little guy gets several servings out of this healthy recipe.

I’m enjoying the heck out of all this scribbling.  Thanks for checking me out!


 

Jasmine Rice and Using Your Nước Chấm August 13, 2009

Filed under: easy,eggs,grains,rice,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:10 pm

nice rice, lady

My all time favorite rice is Texas-grown Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice.  Previously I have always purchased this treasure in 2-pound bags from Central Market and sometimes HEB.  The escalating price ($3.79 now) finally drove me to the internet, where I secured a 25-pound bag for about $35, including delivery.  I don’t know if that’s the greenest way to get it but we’re almost never without a pot of this white gold in the fridge, and I’m saving about 40¢ per pound.  I adore this rice and the intoxicating aroma that fills the house while it’s cooking.  Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Daguid recommend this brand in their wonderful cookbook, Seductions of Rice (great book, btw).  Lowell Farms sells a brown jasmine rice, as well.  I’m not that into brown rice but I welcome your suggestions.

I’ve never had a hard time cooking rice.  Or if I did, it was so long ago in my culinary journey that I don’t remember any particular frustrations.  I find rice preparation to be pretty easy and straightforward (that is, for a straightforward preparation).  You can use a rice cooker, I s’pose, but I’ve never tried one.  Here’s my rice routine.  Be brave.

EVERYDAY RICE

  • 1 cup Lowell Farms white jasmine rice
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 fresh bay leaf–Yes, I have my own bay leaf bush.  So I put bay leaves into most everything.  Don’t go out and buy fresh bay leaves just for your pot of rice, though.  This magic leaf is optional here.
  • a dab of butter

Put everything into a solid 1 1/2 quart (or so) saucepan.  As one of my very favorite cookbook authors, Yamuna Devi, advises in her magnum opus, Lord Krishna’s Cuisine, “thin walled pans are useless.”  Cover the pot with a compatible lid–a dedicated marriage between top and bottom is important here–and bring it all to a big boil on high heat.  Give it a brief stir, turn the heat down to low (lowest on my electric range) and cook for 20 minutes.  Set your timer!  If you put your ear close to the pot–careful! don’t burn yourself!–you’ll still hear the simmering.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest 10 minutes.  Freshly cooked jasmine rice is indeed seductive.  Around here we have to try not to eat it all up plain on the spot.

This is the rice that we eat with whatever needs rice:  beans, stir-fries of all nationalities and fusions thereof, puddin’, even Indian food when I can’t get a batch of basmati rice going for some reason.  A small bowl of hot rice adorned with a spoonful of chutney or Indian pickle (around here, we favor Patak’s Garlic Relish and Brinjal Eggplant Relish and Laxmi Carrot Pickle) makes a satisfying snack.  If you’ve got cooked rice you can even dress it as for bún, utilizing the same accompaniment concept.  And if you’re looking for yet another way to use up your nước chấm, try this variation of the Thai/Laotian  stir-fry known as

YAM KAI

  • 1 bundle of bean thread noodles, also known as cellophane or glass noodles
  • 2 to 4 eggs, local of course, beaten
  • 1 to4 kermit (Thai) eggplants.
  • about 1 quarter of a large red onion, sliced
  • 3-6 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • fresh red or green chiles, halved lengthwise if plump, sliced thin
  • nước chấm

Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for 20 minutes.  I put a quart of water in a Pyrex measuring cup and nuke it for 222 seconds.  Then I place the noodles into the cup and go about my prepping.  After the soak, drain the noodles (I use a sieve), place in a wide bowl and douse with a couple Tablespoons of nước chấm.  Distribute the dressing with a fork and cut the noodles into manageable lengths with scissors.  I just go at it in the bowl somewhat haphazardly.

Behead your eggplants (I’m still buying my beauties from Ringger Family Farm), halve them from top to bottom and cut each half into 4-6 wedges, depending on size.  Toss the wedges with about 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, plenty of freshly ground black or white pepper and a pinch of kosher salt.

Heat up a well-seasoned wok or skillet you can trust with your huevos, add a couple of Tablespoons of your choice of fat, and toss in the eggplant wedges.  Stir-fry until you get some browning, it’ll smell great, and add your shallots, then your onion slices.  Give the mix a few stirs, then pour in your eggs and scramble them around.  When the eggs are nearly set dump in your noodles and stir the whole thing around to finish everything off.  Quickly plate it up so you don’t overcook your eggs.

Sprinkle with chile slices and add more nước chấm to taste, if necessary.  Babies like these noodles, too!

Nước chấm