You SPELT it, you dealt it…

I really wanted to try freekeh this week for the whole grain assignment, but the co-op didn’t even have it. Mostly because I wanted to use the title Sneaky Freekeh- but I also wanted to try this ancient “supergrain.” I even had all of my recipes picked out and a grocery list beforehand, which I never do, but then had to improvise, which I always do…

In the bulk grains aisle, I decided on spelt because it’s a grain that I’ve never cooked with before, and it is fairly cheap – only 1.49 per pound. Since I didn’t get to identify and buy all of the necessary ingredients, my recipes were fairly simple this week.

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First, I didn’t bother to look for a recipe, but threw together some olive oil, tahini, spelt, cucumber, and garlic powder. It was good, but I proceeded to throw away the old tahini, it tasted a little fishy…

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I made a Spelt Scramble on Saturday morning. I sauteed onions and threw in my extra carrot and chive toppings from the Miso I made last week. Then I added some greens (spinach, kale, and arugula mix – I bought a box mix at Target on Tuesday, and it was already really nasty, so I didn’t have much to use. I’m boycotting Target groceries for a little while…) Then I added some spelt, and poured in the scrambled eggs and milk. To top it off, I put in some fresh dill and sharp cheese. When I was at the grocery store so many times last weekend, I impulsively bought dill to remind me of being in Lithuania. They put dill on everything! Fried eggs? dill. Baked/boiled potatoes? dill. beets, pork, everything – dill. It added a lot of flavor to the scramble so I will try to dill more.

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After working on Saturday, I wasn’t in the mood to cook anything so I was glad to have the spelt already cooked. I mostly used this recipe: http://www.oliviascuisine.com/spelt-salad-with-navy-beans-cherry-tomatoes-and-cucumber/

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But used garbanzo in place of navy beans, no chives, and a ready-made greek vinaigrette dressing. It is amazing! YUM

Bok Choy & Swiss Chard

I wouldn’t say it was easy, but my three meals are complete.

Easy Miso-Chicken Ramen

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252520/easy-miso-chicken-ramen/

This was a pretty easy recipe, and I will have soup for days. I still need to learn how to plan ahead for recipes. I would like to not make 5 trips to the grocery store in 24 hours (3 just for this recipe) – The co-op to scout for produce, then to Shuang Hur for miso and “chinese noodles” – is this a thing, or was the writer just being lazy? I got Udon noodles instead. Then to Target for the ginger root.

I decided to roast a whole chicken, assuming my partner would appreciate eating some drummies and wings instead of soup. The mistake I made was not putting the chicken in much earlier before starting the soup. The rest of the soup sat on the stove simmering for too long and the udon noodles turned starchy as I waited for the chicken to be done. Or Maybe I will just cook the noodles separately, if there is a next time. This would be better for freezing it, too.

( decided to make some chicken stock too while I was at it…)

Crunchy Bok Choy Coleslaw

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249249/crunchy-bok-choy-slaw/

For starters, don’t be fooled by this photo. There is no mayo in this slaw; nothing to make it look like the creamy yumminess of regular coleslaw. It may be because I found a slug the size of my fingernail, chopped in half on my cutting board… but I didn’t like this recipe too much. I don’t mind bugs in my produce when I’m expecting them, from the garden or a farmers market, but this head was from Target, and I definitely washed it, too! I threw that initial chopped pile away, washed and combed through the rest with vigor, and carried on. Once it was done, I decided to add a little of that creaminess it was missing by making the mayonnaise from our first class. I was too lazy to whip it as much as I should have but it still worked. I still didn’t like it, and on another trip back to the grocery store, I picked up cabbage to add to it (just like me to keep sinking time and energy into something instead of throwing it out), and I also added a tidge of some fantastic Finnish mustard. That made it better, so I am begrudgingly eating it to make it go away.

Tortilla Casserole with Swiss Chard

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tortilla-casserole-with-swiss-chard

For my next trick, I decided to turn swiss chard into food. The only recipe I’ve found that I’ve liked with chard is chicken breasts with a lemony-cream cheese mixture and steamed chard on top.

Now I have two recipes that I like with chard. I learned from this escapade that one should dump carefully… crushed red peppers, that is. I didn’t have jalapenos, and even though I had to go to the store again for the sour cream, I didn’t want to deal with spicy fingers either. I filled open the top of crushed red peppers and gave it just a slight tip over into the pan. I must have emptied 2 tablespoons into my mushroom and onion mixture. I tried to scoop it out, but the steam became so spicy, it hurt my lungs and I couldn’t see through my watery eyes. And so I gave up and left it like that. And yes, I did have to put a lot of sour cream on it to cut the heat.

 

 

Curry in a hurry

For a 25-year-old, my pantry is usually well-stocked. I grew up in a small farming town, where an overpriced grocery store was 15 minutes away, but my frugal parents would wait until we had to make a trip to a bigger town to stock up on all of our groceries. Their pantry always had enough to get us a year or two in the event of an apocalypse. I don’t have as much room for a pantry in my small apartment, nor do I have my own garden or a chest freezer full of venison. Taking an inventory of my pantry, I keep a stocked shelf of canned beans and vegetables, canisters of various dried beans, rice, quinoa, barley etc. I love having a lot of frozen vegetables on hand, steamer bags of brussel sprouts, beans, peas, corn. The hard part for me is planning ahead for fresh produce.  I don’t go grocery shopping enough to always have it on hand, and it’s hard to balance between having enough and not letting anything go bad – especially when week days get busy. I had tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, peppers, almond milk, and blueberries in my fridge, and various condiments.

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Curry in a hurry:

It was Friday night, I had to work in the morning, and my parents would be to my house for lunch. I decided to prep a meal the night before, and put it in the crock pot in the morning (I feel like I’m cheating on this assignment, using a slow cooker…) I found a recipe to utilize the excess red lentils that I had, and I had curry on the brain since having curry cheese sauce last week. Through Yummly, I found a recipe for Crockpot Coconut Curry Lentil Soup:

http://theactorsdiet.com/2015/02/25/recipe-crockpot-coconut-curry-lentil-soup/

I chopped up vegetables the night before, and put all of the dry ingredients right into the crock pot, so it would be easy to start in the morning.

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Chopped Celery, carrots, and onion, to be put in the fridge overnight. Dry ingredients in the crock pot: red lentils, curry powder, cumin, and… Corn starch.

This is where I should have listened to the advice on mise en place. I assumed that I had a can of coconut milk, since it’s a regular in my pantry, but it was nowhere to be found. I did have almond milk in the fridge, and I tossed in the cornstarch to make it a bit thicker like coconut milk. I also did not have any ginger. I usually have a root in the freezer that I would have grated, but that too was all used up. Thanking my frugal self for saving a crusty, empty jar of ginger spread, I decided I would heat it up in the morning and wash the ginger flavor out with the almond milk. Oh yes, and I didn’t have any vegetable stock. (Seven out of ten isn’t bad, right?) In place of vegetable stock, I threw in 2.5 cups of water and two chicken bullion cubes. I did have tomato paste, and added a bit extra than it called for, because I thought it might help to thicken things up a bit more.

With everything in, I turned the crock on high and headed to work. Now, the curry was not in a hurry, but when my parents got to my apartment in St. Paul, there was nowhere to park. That made me happy for the sake of democracy (women’s march), but that meant they just picked me up instead of stopping for lunch. I turned the crock off an hour early and left it on the counter to cool down. When we finally ate it for supper, it was good, but didn’t thicken as much as I had hoped, and the lentils could have been cooked just a little bit longer. Still good! And I didn’t have fresh parsley for garnish, but I did have instant/freeze dried parsley that did the trick.

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Spaghetti Squash Sunday:

My parents were trying to get rid of their spaghetti squash from the garden and brought along the mother of all spaghetti squashes. It was a beast to cut through, but I finally cracked it in half, gutted it, sprayed the pan with olive oil, and put it in the oven at 350. After 30 minutes I decided to increase to 375, and cooked for another 20 minutes- it must have been a bit old and dried out. While that was cooking, I worked on the Basic Tomato Sauce recipe from Thursday’s class. I had used the last of my onions in the soup, so I used onion flakes instead. I had thyme, but no marjoram, so I used Italian seasoning, which has both herbs, plus some. I was also surprised that I didn’t have a can of diced tomatoes either (time for a big grocery trip!), but I cut up a whole bag of Roma tomatoes. I was happy to use the rest of the can of tomato paste, and let the sauce simmer away. I like chunky tomato sauce, so I didn’t run it through a blender (and I’m lazy). I added a bit more olive oil, and it tasted amazing. To finish it all off, I added a lazy-steamed bag of Brussels sprouts for the side, and avocado and Parmesan for the topper. YUM!

Reflecting on it all – I realized my pantry was more thinned out that I had assumed. Even with taking inventory beforehand, I didn’t dig through every can and make sure I had all of the ingredients. However, that makes it more fun because it forces me to be creative instead of just searching for a different recipe that uses everything I have.