a week of eating simply
With much talk of simplicity, frugality, SOLE food and the like in our Antipodean corner of the blogoshpere, I thought I’d share some of the simple meals I have been cooking lately.
Last week it was a return to chilli (chile/chili – take your pick) beans. As much as I prefer legumes home cooked I have taken to buying Bio Nature organic kidney beans, chickpeas and crushed tomatoes by the slab. Grated parsnip has become the latest addition to the mix, imparting a subtle sweetness. Along with some carrot, masses of onion and green herbs it makes getting the minimum 5 serves a day of vegetable a cinch. A double batch lasted a couple of days and served with brown rice it made us all healthy and happy at Chez Foodnazi (except the cats who’d really love it if I turned carnivore).
Curry in a hurry is one of my ‘no brainer’ meals. Some Mae Ploy red curry paste, a little extra onion and ginger bubbling away with a tin of coconut milk and an equal quantity of vegetable stock (forget “lite” coconut milk which is the same price as full strength, just use half as much and water or stock). Made on an end of the shopping week night, it featured sweet potato, a can of chickpeas, the sad remains of a cauliflower and a small block of tofu. This really was pulling together the refrigerator scraps and padding them out with a trusty tin of beans. With a squeeze of lemon, a little palm sugar and fish sauce, it jazzes up almost any combination of veggies.
There was one bought meal. On Saturday the sick on called for chicken soup. If I’d been creative I may have searched the freezer for some of the wings we buy for the cats to chew on but I’d forgotten about that and anyway, cooking with meat is a much neglected skill of mine these days. The best I could rustle up at short notice was a hot and spicy number from the local Thai restaurant. I got a Tom Yum and Pad Thai for myself and enjoyed every mouthful.
The pumpkin soup was also a double batcher, providing lunch on a work from home day. The second day the garlic was stronger but so too was the lemongrass, which balanced each other out nicely.
Monday I got waylaid so it was another meal in a hurry. This time some gluten-free pasta and a ‘sauce’ of onion, garlic, anchovy, cauliflower and a tin of tuna. Easy, tasty and satisfying.
On Tuesday I got the urge to make a non-coconut curry. Googling "vegetable + tomato + curry", up came a reprint of one of Stephanie Alexander’s recipes written for children. It is worth reading it just to appreciate the way she is teaching a new generation about mise en place. “Desley’s mum’s silverbeet, potato and tomato curry” is just that. I had no fresh coriander and I played around with quantities but in essence it is an easy, roast and grind your own spice base with potatoes simmered in a Indian influenced, tomato sauce. The silverbeet came from my garden - adding that extra bit of virtue.
After cooking for a week, the SE resurfaced last night. It was the end of the shopping cycle once more and when asked what I wanted for dinner, all I said was “use up what is in the fridge”. What ended up on the plate was a tray of roasted vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower and zucchini) and some sautéed onion and garlic, with more silverbeet and rocket from the garden stirred through buckwheat pasta. The slightly caramelised, roasted veggies with the fresh greens made a great combo.
I love these meals made out of necessity, that call for a little imagination.
My past week or so of simple eating wasn’t planned but I think some synergy is afoot. Kathryn is doing the same thing at the moment. Whether it is thriftiness, necessity or creativity that spurs you on, how do you find putting together meals with only what is at hand?