Food: Hard Times
It's cold and the economy sucks. Times like this, you want to make a big pot of something that will keep you warm and fill your belly and not take too much time or money. So here's a recipe for all you food lovers that's easy (but not quick) and tastes good and won't require you to hock the cat.
5 med carrots
5 med potatoes
3 stalks celery
2 med onion
10 oz dried beans, any kind
8 oz tomatoes (fresh or canned - that would be one or two fresh)
1 cup stock (any kind)
2 chillies (fresh or dried)
6 large cloves garlic
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp red chilli powder (preferably Indian)
1/2 cup rice (brown is best, preferably long-grain)
Soak beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Chop carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes, and mince chillies and garlic. Cube potatoes. Chop basil. Cut meat in bite-size pieces. Rinse beans and drain.
Place meat in pot, top with rice, beans, potatoes, carrots, celery. Add onion, garlic, basil, chillies. Add tomatoes and their juices if any. Add spices and herbs, stock, and stir once or twice to mix.
- Celery leaves contain most of the nourishment of celery, so use them. Yes, they're strong, but they'll be smothered in the other ingredients.
- Don't peel the potatoes because most of their nutritive value is in the skins. Scrub them, cut out any eyes and any green areas. Use waxy potatoes like Yukon Golds or Yellow Finns, which hold their shape well.
- If you can't eat potatoes, for any reason, substitute turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, celeriac, fennel bulbs, sweet potatoes, yams, or squash in combination, bearing in mind that sweet tastes like parsnip, sweet potatoes, and squash, need to be balanced with things that taste bitter, sour, or simply green, like celeriac or fennel, and bland-tasting things like turnips and rutabagas.
- You can use country ribs (boneless ribs) instead of stew meat, if you cut off some of the fat. Don't try to cut it all off, it's a losing battle. Besides, the fat melts off during cooking, and keeps the other ingredients from sticking and burning. Notice that this recipe does not call for salt. Add it if you want, I found it didn't need it.
If you have an oven and an oven-proof casserole or pot with a lid, layer all the ingredients in there and stick it in the oven at 325F (you'll need to preheat the oven at about 400F for 20 minutes, then turn it down to 325). Give it a stir halfway through. Cook for 2.5 hrs.
If you don't have a working oven, put all the ingredients in a heavy dutch oven or large soup pot on the stove, add a cup of water, stir once or twice, cover, and cook over high heat for about ten minutes (or until the liquid is simmering). Then turn the heat down to low. Come back in about 1.5 hours and give it a stir to make sure there's enough liquid and nothing's stuck. Add more water if needed. Let it cook for another 1.5-2 hrs while you make yourself useful elsewhere.
Depending on the number of people you have to feed, and their appetites, this stew can provide about ten meals. After it has cooled off, store it in the fridge and reheat in the microwave in individual portions. If you don't like the idea of eating the same thing every day, use different garnishes: parsley, green onions, cilantro, fresh chillies, chopped tomato, diced raw onion, caramelized onions, deep-fried onions or shallots, grilled or fried bacon, crumbled, will vary the taste while incurring very little extra working and still providing excellent nutrition. Stumble It!