Friday, September 30, 2011

Stone Soup & Blog As You Go

My favorite ways to cook are to either plan the meal and purchase the ingredients the day that I need them or to invent something to eat from what I have in my fridge and cupboards.  Seeing as it is 10pm and I just got home from class where we talked about muscles and food and cells and food and disease and food,  I'm pretty hungry and I have to go with option B.

(There's also this really huge pressure in holistic nutrition school to appear to be as healthy as you can.  I'm sure I'm inventing the pressure and that my classmates really wouldn't judge me if they knew I had a big bag of peanut m&ms and a chocolate milk on my way to class...)

I decided during break halfway through class that I should base my meal off the frozen lentils that are left over from making a mushroom pilaf that turned into a casserole a few days later when I added a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Yeh, I'm thrifty.  So, Stone Soup it is.  I also know that the only way I'm going to write about this is if I do it as I'm cooking and load the pictures while it's simmering.

Step 1: Accumulate ingredients on the least appropriate surface.

My mess of ingredients: frozen lentils, canned garbanzo beans, 1/2 an onion, 1 1/2 carrots, yellow squash, fresh basil, banana peppers, garlic powder, cayenne, curry, spinach, Better Than Bouillon, olive oil. (Sesame oil got added in in the last minute.)

Step 2: Prep the vegetables and saute them in a pot with olive oil.  Don't forget the spices!

Step 3: Add beans, lentils, and water and cover for a while.  Bring to a simmer and stir when you feel moved to stir.  Add bouillon at this time if you feel like it.

Step 4: Clean and take pictures as you go!  Time to prep the fresh-but-dilapidated basil and the nearing-its-last-legs spinach.  I thought I'd cut them into strips and put them in towards the end.  So much for what I thought!  The basil much preferred to be mangled.

Step 6: Stir it and smell it and decide if it's done or needs a few more minutes.  Take the opinion of your grumbling stomach and serve it up with (a measuring cup because you don't have a ladle) the remnants of a bag of tortilla chips!

PS- My pictures from my last Avotacos were blurring because I took them on an actual digital camera and not my phone.  I am not out of avocados so pictures will have to wait.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Everything on a Corn Tortilla

When I first realized I needed to avoid gluten, I was pretty poor and there weren't many gluten free alternatives in the grocery stores.  Baking was pretty much impossible in my tiny studio kitchen and the cookbooks and recipes that were around were intimidating and called for a dozen obscure flours before you could even get started.  I was a carb junkie and had to have something besides white and brown rice!

I discovered that corn tortillas were naturally gluten free and found a local Chicago company that sold a dozen for 35 cents.  I ate corn tortillas constantly.  I spread them with Miracle Whip (which was not technically gluten free at the time) and rolled lunch meat and cheese up in them.  I made cheese quesadillas to dip in salsa.  I made tacos, fajitas, and even enchiladas when I got more adventurous.  For a snack when I'd get home late, I'd toast tortillas right on the burner, slather them with hummus and add some cucumber slices.  I've even eaten a corn tortilla burger and used a corn tortilla to wrap around a hot dog.

I quickly tired of corn tortillas and craved the soft consistency of wheat flour ones.  At about this time, grocery stores expanded their selections and I became a lot better at reading labels.  A good kitchen was a priority for me now and I started baking, but mostly from mixes.  With added variety in my diet, I enjoyed the occasional corn tortilla but no longer felt that I was torturing myself with them.

I just recently moved to Denver, forcing me to look into different brands of tortillas.  Oh, and I'm really poor again so I can't afford to buy fancy pre-made breads.  While shopping with a friend, we decided to split a huge pack of tortillas.  She insisted on white corn which I had never heard of before.  I have been hooked ever since!  They have a smoother texture and toast up more like the forbidden wheat flour kind.  Or at least what I think I remember they were like...

I have been slowly eating my way through a bag of 50 corn tortillas and loving every bite!  I made chicken fajitas using only the spices I had on hand from this recipe.  But my favorite new use is for Avotacos.  Simply put, I toast two or three tortillas, smear on cream cheese, add slices of avocados, and a dash of salt and pepper.  It makes a fantastic breakfast or snack and I am thoroughly addicted.  I was going to take a picture of this mornings Avotacos but I over cooked the tortillas and they broke when I folded them in half.  It wouldn't have made a pretty picture but I will try again tomorrow to get a nice shot.

Any corn tortilla suggestions?  I still have 27 to go!