Food! Part II
Five servings of vegetables and fruits means five of each, childrens! What, you will ask, is a serving. Good question. No one seems to know. However, eating five different fruits per day is a good start.
Most Americans are reasonable about eating fruit. It's their vegetables they have problems with. My theory? They don't know how to cook the goddamn things. No, srsly. Because left to themselves, most Americans will happily eat that stuff raw.
No, no, no. Raw veges are good for you, but cooked veges are good, too. And you can't eat *every*thing raw, yaknow? I've had too many people try to feed me raw cauliflower and broccoli. You know, don't you, that cooking that stuff rids it of some of the compounds that make your stomach hurt?
I'd throw in a few fart jokes at this point, being a coarse type, but these recipes are really appreciated by teh ladees, who do not care for coarse behaviour. But srsly. Most vegetables have adapted to defend themselves against those who want to eat them by having some unpleasant compounds that can cause various problems. Cooking them (well and sensibly) reduces these compounds and makes it possible to eat them safely with maximum health benefits.
For example, dried red beans should be soaked for at least eight hours before you try to cook them because they contain a compound called phytohemagglutanin, which can disrupt cell metabolism. Soaking and cooking the little suckers renders them harmless. Cooking bell peppers till they're soft also removes their propensity to make you burp while simultaneously ripping your stomach out through your ear. Finally, we're not ruminants, goddammit. We only have the one stomach to digest our food with, and it does not care for the brassica family in teh raw form.
Therefore, a wonderful broccoli recipe.
Broccoli Sauteed with Pine Nuts
2 bunches broccoli
4 Tablespoons pine nuts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion (optional)
Wash the broccoli and trim into bite-size florets and cut the stalks into fine dice (excepting the woody parts which should be discarded). If using onion, peel and thinly slice lengthwise into "angel wings."
Heat olive oil in a skillet till hot, but not smoking. (If using onion, add now and let cook till golden brown and fragrant.) Toast pine nuts, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Add broccoli stems, stir, and cover for about five minutes at low heat. Add florets, stir, add a splash of chicken stock or white wine to keep from sticking, if needed, and cover for about five minutes more. Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped herbs from the garden.
Voila! Tasty, fresh, nutritious, bright-green vegetables that don't require melted Velveeta to be edible.
Sauted Cabbage with Aniseed
1 medium cabbage
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons aniseed
salt and pepper to taste
Core and halve cabbage and shred fine. Peel ginger and mince.
Heat oil in a skillet till hot and shimmering. Add aniseed, stir for 1 minute, add cabbage, stir till wilted and well-coated with oil. Cover and let cook over low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir, add water or chicken stock to prevent sticking and burning. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and turn off the heat.
Ginger is a digestive aid, as is aniseed. Herbs, spices, flavoured oils and the like go a long way to making vegetables taste delicious. These two recipes are dry sautees. If you like your vegetables with a little sauce, try cooking them the Asian way.
Stir-fried Bok Choy
2 bunches bok choy
1 Tablespoon light (or thin) soy sauce
1 Teaspoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons ginger
2-3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried preserved black beans
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Cook's notes: Dried preserved black beans used in Asian cooking are not the same as the black or turtle beans used in South American cooking. The Asian black beans are fermented and OOH, they smell funky! You can substitute Lee Kum Kee black bean sauce or black bean paste for these. I prefer to buy the whole beans in a bag at the local Chinese market because there's nothing in them but beans and salt. Lee Kum Kee products are made in Singapore and Malaysia, and generally higher food quality standards are enforced there, but still.
You can substitute almost any choy for this recipe (except the triangular-leafed "water-spinach," which requires different treatment).
Soak black beans in hot water to cover for 20 minutes. Strain and mince fine.
Finely mince garlic and ginger. Mix soy sauce, chicken stock, and cornstarch well.
Cut the choy. The stalks should be in one-inch pieces and the leaves should be quartered lengthwise, then shredded fine.
Heat a wok till smoking hot, then add oil. Swirl it around the wok so it coats all sides. When the oil is smoking, add ginger, black beans, and garlic and stir for a minute or two till fragrant. If you like hot food, now is the time to add a little crushed red chilli. Add vegetables, stir to coat thoroughly, then cover for about five minutes. Stir again, add cornstarch mixture. When the cornstarch mixture is bubbling, remove from heat and serve. Stumble It!