This week I’ve been giving glimpses into my different meals – first breakfast, then tea-time snackage, and now lunch! Today’s post is all about comfort food, because stews and curries are exactly that. Making your insides all warm and fuzzy with the added benefit of all-natural veg. yum! I’ve slowly been collecting the ingredients to do this, and they’re pretty straight-forward, admittedly. I’m essentially testing out my curry skills for my secret project for next week. I loathe surprises, so I may spoil it before I actually make the goodies, but in the meanwhile, come summer or coldest winter night, there is really nothing better than flavour and bite to round off our natural instinct to feed. This is like grazing, but amplified.
There are many things I’d love to do with the ingredients, especially oven-roasting, but I’ve decided to be resolute and to minimize on oven-time this year. Our electricity bill has been shocking, to say the least (close to R800, or $80 per month!), so I’ve decided that until I’m a big lass with a budget to suit my lifestyle my lifestyle is going to have to suit my budget. Sadness. I’m not going to despair too much, however, because just as I like to live and eat mindfully, so too must I learn to cook mindfully.
I’ve dished out harsh words about raw food in the past, and about the crazy amounts of nuts and dried fruits that go into some dishes, but I’ve also come to realize that what I see is treats, snacks or small portions. I’m sure (nay, positive) that raw foodies don’t sit around eating nut-laden cheesecakes all day long, so it’s essentially about making something delicious and then being mindful of the portions. Yes, nuts and the like are very healthy, but I try to be moderate with regard to intake, as with anything.
So this is the year of the raw! Or, at least, the reduced roast. I still plan on baking cakes and casseroles and baking my weekly tofu and eggplant, but I won’t be making a thousand variations on brownies that require heat, and instead move over to playing around in the nude side of produce. I bought a pack of nori last week and even that has completely made my mind and body sing when thinking up ways to fill up a roll, or making lovely raw veggie salads for lunch. Circumstance forces us into new and exciting ventures, and I’ve spent the past few months overcoming my prejudices to unbaked goods, and seeing the awesome beauty in minimalism.
To accomplish this feat, however, I think I’m going to budget for and invest in some different shiny, such as a hand immersion blender and a big hulking knife. Part of budgeting is to buy more un-cut and un-processed goods – ergo not pre-cut or packaged spinach but the fresh bushels, and the like, and our ditzy little knives will certainly not be able to slice through a big pumpkin or a wad of sweet potatoes (spaghetti squash, anyone?) I often feel like I’m spending a fortune eating and living vegan, but I simply cannot compromise on fresh and healthy produce, especially since it also happens to form an integral part of my hobby. Because I’m also doing my Masters this year and the next, I won’t have time to do two or three jobs at the same time, so there is even less budget to play around with! Again, I don’t mind – I simply need to re-evaluate how I shop and cook.
So, going back to the top, why then comfort food? Well, our stove-top takes less energy, but at the end of a week one just wants something to crawl into, and this savoury treat is where it’s at.
- 3 cups pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 125 g white button mushrooms (or any of choice)
- 250 g green beans, cut
- 4 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 onion, chopped and diced
- 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- splash of ginger powder
- splash of paprika, cayenne, crushed cardamom seeds, the works!
- 2 TBSP onion powder
- 2 TBSP curry powder
- 2 TBSP oat bran (optional)
- 2 TBSP flour of choice (optional: for a roux! I used nutty wheat – only thing open)
- 1 TBSP reduced sodium/light soy sauce
- 1/4 juice, or 1 TBSP juice concentrate (optional)
- 2 – 3 cups veggie broth (or 1 knorr veg-friendly block dissolved in three cups of hot water)
Optional for garnish
- 1/2 cup pan-fried broccoli florets(see below)
- 1 TBSP almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- splash cayenne
Method for le stew:
- Chop and slice all your veggies according to means, and the above instructions. Wash the veggies *thoroughly* Take ’em out back and hose them down if need be. Some veggies can be dirty little wenches,
- I like minimal oil, so I fry my onions in a large pot with just water and lemon juice to keep it from sticking to the pot. Once the onions have softened somewhat you can add some ginger and and garlic powder and fry that for another minute or so until a bit browned.
- Once that’s done and the onion is nice and soft, throw in the rest of the vegetables plus the veggie broth – here it is up to you: if you’d like a larger quantity but a thicker sauce, then plan to make a roux later on and add the 2.5-3 cups of broth. If not, stick to lower levels to get a less sludgy mixture.
- Simmer for 20 minutes or so, then add the kidney beans, spices and stir.
- Roux time! (remember this is optional) Take out a cup’s worth of sauce (just use a fork or spoon to take out the bits of veg) and place it in a different bowl. Splash in the 2 TBSP flour and whisk until the flour is dissolved. Stir it back into the main dish and keep stirring for another minute or so. Add the soy sauce and juice concentrate/juice.
- Let the mixture simmer away for another 10 minutes or so.
- Serve warm on a bed of veggies or grain if you’re into that sort of thing!
I thought I’d whip up something with slightly different flavours to go on top, and to then use the excess for other things.
- Heat up a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- When a splash of water fizzles up, throw in your cut broccoli florets and dry-fry them for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Remove from pan and place aside in a bowl.
- Turn down the heat to medium low whilst you quickly whip up the drizzle sauce – heat the drizzle for a few seconds in the microwave, then add a splash or two of hot water (or wine, whatever) to ooze it back out.
- Coat your florets in the sauce and then return them to the pan, stirring for a few more minutes until cooked. You can add extra water if the mixture sticks too much to the pan.
- Serve atop your curry or inside a wrap – yum!
So delicious! Man-thing isn’t crazy about broccoli but this was one time where I told him he’s welcome to go make his own food! In the end he did enjoy it, methinks, but only because he didn’t take the garnish because it still “smells like broccoli” (duh!).
Anyway, I decided to switch around my meals and make lunch bigger and dinner a lighter affair, since one doesn’t actually need food-energy in the evenings to do anything (or at least, I don’t do much but potter about the house). Because we don’t actually “burn” that energy it equates to a form of over-eating in my mind, something which no body really appreciates. So yes, I’m going to see how it goes, because mentally it makes sense. If our blender actually worked properly I would happily make a smoothie at night, but for now I’m very content with leafy, wild and wonderfully colourful salads and a side of nori stuffed with carrot hummus…guess what I’m eating tonight? 😀