Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Another food post

Excuse the proliferation of food posts. This is my first week back at work and I don't have time to make 'proper' posts for the time being. Anyway, there is a post in the pipeline about the difficulties of being vegan, so think of these posts as the antidote to that, in terms of containing practical tips on making it easier.

Cooking beans from dried...
This is a bit of a faff, but the upside is the beans keep reasonably well in the fridge and can also be frozen.
Tip 1: If you haven't done this before, start with white beans rather than black or red. They have fewer toxins so you're less likely to mess up to the extent of getting sick. I've got sick from red beans that weren't cooked properly - including ones I've bought ready-cooked in a tin! - but never from chickpeas or similar.
Tip 2: Make loads, like half the packet at once - this is what makes it worth the effort. Freeze any you aren't going to use in the next week.
Tip 3: When refrigerating, the best thing is to put the beans in cold salt water in a glass jar (with the lid screwed on to avoid leakage!).
Soak the beans for a day - stick them in a pan of water before leaving for work, and they're ready to boil by the time you get back. Change the water before cooking. Boil for about an hour, more if beans are still hard, but they shouldn't be.

What I did with the first part of this batch...
I made lentil and chickpea dhal for dinner last night. Basically this entails boiling lentils until they become nearly liquid, in water seasoned with miso soup (no, this isn't culturally accurate!), lime juice, cardomom and cumin. Tastes better than it sounds. I added some of the chickpeas that had just come off the boil, when the lentils had just reached the boil.
Again, things like this take a bit of messing around, so always make enough to freeze a portion and keep some leftovers for the next day. I have a small amount left today, so will pour it over stirfried vegetables.

And some packed lunches...
My biggest problem with being vegan has always been eating during the day, while at work. Our canteen is not the best on that front. So my new year's resolution - the one i'm admitting to here! - was to bring a packed lunch every day. I always make this the night before - I can NEVER be relied upon to get up in time to do anything beyond putting clothes on (to the relief of the people i work with) and catching a bus.
Monday: brown rice, edamame (green baby soybeans), green salad. The brown rice was left over from dinner on Sunday night (Tesco readymade curry which i adorned with brown rice and another salad - effect similar to icing on a turd...) and the edamame had been lurking in my parents' freezer for several months so i decided to bring it back with me. It tastes more like broad beans than the normal white soybeans. I added some soy sauce for flavour. Might cook the rice in miso another time.
Tuesday: Salad made with chickpeas (see above), couscous (i made some to go with the dhal and did a bit extra, see below), tomato, cucumber and spring onions (chopped while doing a green salad for dinner then night before).

Couscous is the ideal convenience food, in my experience. (Unless you're allergic to wheat, which i'm not - 'addicted' would be a more accurate term!) You just pour it in a bowl and put boiling water on it, and leave it until the water is soaked up. You can buy flavoured ones with dried veg and so on in - Sammy's make a wide range of these, most of which are vegan and available in health food shops and supermarkets. Can be used instead of rice or pasta if you only own one saucepan and that has vegetables in (ie, my situation for five years or so) or if you don't want to cook. Can be a bit dry on its own - add oil or some kind of sauce if nothing else.

1 comment:

Elaine Vigneault said...

I think dried beans taste better. They're also lower in sodium and cheaper, too.