Posted by: CCT | March 14, 2010

Beans – Fast & Easy

This from the McDougall Cookbook (p.122):

Legumes include beans, peas and lentils.  They are easy to cook on a (1) stove-top or in a (2) slow cooker or (3) pressure cooker.  Before cooking, sort beans by hand to remove stones [for the dry ones].

  • Most beans cook in 1.5-3 hours; split peas and lentils take about 1-hour.  The longer you cook them, the softer they get, and the less trouble they cause with bowel gas.  Cooking times can be reduced by soaking overnightSee More At:  Dry Beans Vs. Canned Beans.
  • Slow cookers take 6-8 hours on high and 10-12 hours on low to cook legumes.  The best way to make your own home-cooked legumes fast and easy is to make large amounts and freeze them in meal-sized plastic containers.
  • Precooked legumes can be bought in bottles and cans.  Peas and black-eyed peas are available frozen in bags.  Packaged products are more expensive but save time and energy for cooking.  See More At:  Dry Beans Vs. Canned Beans.

Bowel gas is produced when carbohydrates not absorbed by your intestine are digested by gas-forming bacteria in your large intestine.  To avoid bothersome gas, either (1) don’t eat legumes or (2) cook them thoroughly to help break down the indigestible carbohydrates.

You can also cover them with water for 12-hours, then drain and spread on a moist towel, and let sprout for twelve hours before cooking.  Or take a packaged digestive enzyme product called Beano or activated charcoal after meals.

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This recommendation from my own experience:

NOW Foods sells a super enzyme that I’ve used successfully to help stave off bowel gas.  Tablets don’t contain any sugar, salt, starch, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, egg or preservatives.  I’d say that pretty well covers most of the bases.

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Posted by: CCT | March 14, 2010

Thoughts about Vinegar Use

1.  When fresh vegetables are mixes with vinegar or a vinegar solution, they should be eaten shortly thereafter… unless, of course, you plan on eating a half-pickled and soggy pile of Yuk at a later time.  🙂

2.  Vinegar is actually a really simple cleaning agent. For example: Wash your fresh vegies with a mixture of 1-tbsp of white distilled vinegar in 1.5 quarts of water.  This recommendation from vinegartips.com.

3.  There are all different types of vinegar like Apple Cider Vinegar, Rice Vinegar, etc.  Some may be more palatable than others.  We personally like Apple Cider Vinegar for certain things but not others.  For some people it might all taste the same.  You be the judge.

4.  For more information about vinegar and all of it’s potential uses you can visit a site like this one:  Vinegartips.com

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Posted by: CCT | March 14, 2010

The Science & Art of Steaming Vegetables

You can steam in a frying pan with as little as a 1/4-inch of water, or in a pot with about 1-inch or so (and the veg hanging above in an inset metal colander).

THE KEY to steaming is to get the water boiling, throw in the veg, then on with the lid, and then cook for between 4-5 minutes.

  • For vegetables without dense construction (from swiss chard to broccoli, etc) you only need a maximum of 4-minutes.
  • For brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets and other dense vegetables, steam for a maximum of 5-minutes.

NOW – get em out of that pot after the designated cooking time.  WHY? Because they’re so hot they’ll continue cooking even after being pulled from the pot.  And if you leave them in there, they’ll cook even faster and ultimately overcook.  Thus the reason to get em outta there fast and into an open bowl to cool off.  That way they’ll stay nice and crunchy.  BTW – steaming is a good way to kill germs as well.  And so is vinegar.

Other advantages to steaming – It conserves energy and nutrients.  Cooking vegies in water takes way more energy and time because of the water volume involved.  It also sucks nutrients out of the vegetables during the process.  Steaming is therefore better all the way around.

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Posted by: CCT | March 14, 2010

Dry Beans vs. Canned Beans

Dry beans store at least as well as the canned ones, but aren’t stuck in the midst of the BPA (bisphenol-A) “controversy” or “scandal” or whatever you want to call it.  So we decided to do a little research to find out how easy they are to deal with compared to their canned equivalents.  Here’s what one of the dry bean bins at New Seasons had to say about handling/cooking with dry beans:

“Ingredient:  Organic Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans).  To Prepare: Wash beans, drain.  Cover with cold water, discard floaters, soak 4-8 hours in a cool place.  Drain, add fresh water to cover plus 2-inches.  Onion and/or other seasonings can be added.  Cover, bring to a boil.  Simmer until soft, approx 30-40 minutes.”  (See pic below)

Not much to it really.  Just put them in water before you leave for work.  And then cook when you get home.  Or… you can crock-pot them with onions and spices as desired, then cook on high for 6-hours while away, and they’ll be ready by the time you get home.  Now some info about BPA (i.e. Bisphenol-A)…

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An excerpt from the article above called “Some serious news…“:

Meanwhile, a Yale University medical school research team has come up with some of the most troubling data yet: after injecting African green monkeys for 28 days with BPA at the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for people, the researchers found the chemical “causes the loss of connections between brain cells.” “We observed a devastating effect on synapses in the monkey brain,” says Yale scientist Tibor Hajszan. In humans, these losses could lead to memory and learning problems and depression.

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BTW - These cannellini beans are really, really good!

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Posted by: CCT | March 12, 2010

Tips: Saving Time & Money

Saving Time: [1st off – don’t read this.  It takes too long.  Ha!  Good one huh?] Seriously though – by the time you get home from work every day you may be pretty close to brain dead.  Cris certainly is, and she isn’t in the mood to make anything complicated, if at all.  This is a person who loves cooking, so I imagine the rest of us feel the same or more strongly here.

That said, we’ve endeavored to keep things as simple as possible ingredients-wise (the simple in simpossible).  The less the number of ingredients or complex processes with those ingredients, the quicker things go here, and the less burned out you’ll be on cooking in the long run. And that’s the key.  It’s gotta be simple, fast and tasty or it aint gonna happen.

We also try to rinse and clean dishes as we go.  Washing dishes is just one more reason not to cook at all, so the less you have to wash later the better. I find this especially relevant with things like the food processor – which often says to me, “Rinse me now or forever hold you peace!”

Saving Money: There are a lot of ways to do this, so we’ll cover just a few of our less obvious favorites.  (1) If you buy everything as basic as possible – i.e. basic ingredients as opposed to pre-processed, packaged foods – you should be able to make a lot more (quantity-wise) with less money.  And (2) don’t shop until you’ve “cleaned out the cupboard” so to speak – or at least the refrigerator.  You’ll tend to save a lot more money and waste a lot less perishable food in the long run.

Eat the most perishable items first and work your way to the least.  You can eat a non-perishable item like rice for every meal if you want, but whatever’s going to die first should be eaten with it first.

Here’s an example:  You’ve got a couple zucchini, a head of cabbage and a container of basic pasta sauce and some noodles.  Zucchini pasta – dinner’s done.  Leave the cabbage for tomorrow – it’s not going anywhere… and maybe you can put off shopping for a couple more days – which is just one less thing to do this week.

Lastly – Bring your lunch.  Buying your lunch costs between $5-10 nominally.  That’s a minimum of $100 extra in expenses per month, and more likely $200-300 realistically.  That’s a lot of extra money!

Posted by: CCT | March 12, 2010

Busy with taxes & such…

Sorry for the long delay between postings.  We’ve been getting our tax paperwork and such organized and it seems to be taking up a LOT of time and energy.  So – bear with us.  We’ll have the recipe for Pad Thai and White Beans & Rice up in a few.  They’re easy to make and taste really good as well   🙂

Posted by: CCT | February 22, 2010

Thai Cabbage Salad [79]

[#79] This is our second of the 80 recipe countdown and another favorite.  It easily adds a bit of international flair to any meal, and is really simple to make.

[CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THE POTTERY SHOWCASED BELOW]

Original recipe courtesy of The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook.

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Ingredients include the following, all of which store well for long periods:

  • 3.5-tbsp organic lime juice (from 1 lime squeezing or lime juice squeeze bottle)
  • 1/2-tsp minced fresh garlic (or garlic powder),  4-tsp sugar
  • 2-tbsp San-J organic tamari wheat-free soy sauce, 3-tbsp water
  • 1/2 a medium-sized cabbage (or 1-bag of shredded cabbage)
  • 5-6 peeled carrots (or 1-bag of shredded carrots)

Once again - all of the basic ingredients, all of which store well for longgg periods.

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The recipe without the chili paste, etc. - Don't worry - still very tasty.

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1.  Put the lime juice, water, sugar, soy sauce, and garlic into a small pan (uncovered) and bring gently to a low boil.  Mix occasionally.  Allow the mixture to bubble slowly (not wildly or aggressively) for 10-minutes.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool a little.

2.  Wash the peeled carrots and half cabbage.  Shred with food processor or by hand.

3.  Place the shredded carrots and cabbage in a bowl, pour dressing (from 1. above) onto it, and then toss and mix well.

Thoughts & Recommendations:

1.  Shredding by hand can be really tiring.  It should be noted that cutting cabbage thinly with a knife doesn’t work.  We tried that.  It didn’t soak up the sauce juices properly.  The texture wasn’t quite right and only allowed for marginal taste.  So definitely stick with shredding.

2.  Serve in small bowls (like that shown above)… or on a plate atop leaves of green-leaf lettuce.  You can add a light layer of finely chopped grape tomatoes to the top of each serving … and even a dusting of crushed peanuts if you’d like.  We’ve tried both and liked them both very much.

3.  The first few bites will likely taste very mild.  The strength of the sauce comes out in subsequent bites.  So don’t be disappointed or surprised if you take one taste of the final product and find it to be really mild.  It will show its strength quickly enough.

The sauce solution boiling slowly... just barely at a low bubble if possible.

Once again the food processor comes through in a jiff. Do this by hand? Uhhh - No way!

Posted by: CCT | February 19, 2010

Fusilli with Red Lentil Sauce [80]

[#80] This is our first of the 80 recipe countdown and one of my favorites thus far.  We’ve made this one twice already because of its great taste and simplicity.  All I can say is that it’s surprising how good lentils taste and SMELL when you actually cook them properly!  Go figure   :-/

[CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THE POTTERY SHOWCASED BELOW]

Original recipe courtesy of The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook.

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Ingredients include the following, all of which store well for long periods:

  • 12-oz bag of Bionaturae organic gluten-free fusilli noodles (rice, potato, soy)
  • 2-cups of organic red lentils
  • 1 finely chopped onion,  4 shredded carrots,  2 medium shredded potatoes
  • 2-tbsp San-J organic tamari wheat-free soy sauce
  • 1-tsp basil,  1/4-tsp dill weed,  1/2-tsp salt,  4-shakes of black pepper
  • 8-cups of filtered water

All of the basic ingredients, all of which store well foreveeeeer!

How to pump-up and then trash a recipe a little bit...

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1.  Pot-1: Bring 3-quarts of water to a full boil.  Pour in the bag of pasta and cook for about 9-minutes uncovered.  Stir regularly in order to prevent pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

2.  Pot-2: Combine the 8-cups of water and other remaining ingredients into this pot.  Cook covered over low heat for about 30-minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste test for desired saltiness, and to make sure that lentils are finished cooking.  If not, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.  Add extra salt as desired.  That’s it – you’re done!

Thoughts & Recommendations:

1.  Try to get sweet onions rather than boiler onions.  The boilers can be really strong, sometimes producing undesirable taste.

2.  Peel the potatoes and carrots before shredding.  Potato skins can change the texture of the dish in adverse ways.

3.  Shredded potatoes are the same as “chopped hash brown potatoes”.  The easiest and fastest way to shred carrots and potatoes is via a food processor.  Just one use here (below) and I vowed never to return to hand shredding.  Rinse the food processors parts right after use in order to eliminate the need for intensive cleaning.

4.  As pictured (below) – the finished sauce should be a bit liquidy, but not too much.  And it shouldn’t be so thick that it turns pasty either.  If it ends up that way it was overcooked.

Consistency of the sauce should look like that shown above.

A better shot of the dish with noodles.

Shredded carrots and pototoes... took about 3-seconds.

Posted by: CCT | February 18, 2010

Cucumber Salad in Light Vinegar

I realize that we’ve not yet started the 80-recipe countdown.  We did, however, make about ten of them… and liked them all with some minor changes.  A few more days and we’ll be off and running here.  In the meantime – I give you the simplest side dish on Earth – the Cucumber Salad in Light Vinegar.

Ingredients include the following, all of which store well for long periods: [Cucumbers last about 3-4 days in the fridge before rubbering up and beginning to lose their crunch.  Vinegar and salt last effectively forever.]

  • One or two cucumbers.  (See picture below)
  • Vinegar, salt.

1.  Wash the cucumber(s) and slice into small chunks as shown below.

2.  Add up to 1-tbsp (maximum) of vinegar, and then salt to taste.

3.  Stir the slices around until all are covered with vinegar.  Serve as a side dish.

4.  Some thoughts about the use of vinegar

The size of the cucumber used in the recipe. Notice how full the bowl is from just this one cucumber. Depending on how hungry, this can serve up to three people.

All the ingredients you need. Notice the cucumber slice sizes.

Posted by: CCT | February 12, 2010

My wish as well… and thus our reason for the blog.

Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.  Not to be missed…

Excerpt of Oliver’s Video:

(Minute 7:14) Home – The biggest problem with the home is that used to be the heart of passing on food, food culture, um – what made our society.  That aint happening anymore.  And you know as we go to work and as life changes, as life always evolves, we kind of have to look at it holistically – step back for a moment and readdress the balance.  It aint happening – hasn’t happened for 30 years…

(Minute 8:26) Lets get on to schools – something that I’m fairly much a specialist in.  Okay.  School.  What is school?  Who invented it?  What’s the purpose of school?  School was always invented to arm us with the tools to make us creative – do wonderful things – make us earn a living, etc. etc. etc.  You know it’s been kind of in this sort of tight box for a long, long time okay.  But we haven’t really evolved it to deal with the health catastrophes of America, okay.  School food is something that most kids – 31 million a day, actually – have twice a day, more than often – breakfast and lunch – 180 days of the year.  So you could say that school food is quite important really, judging the circumstances.  (Laughing from the crowd)

Before I crack into my rant, which I’m sure you’re waiting for (laughter again), I need to say one thing that’s so important in hopefully the magic that happens and unfolds in the next three months.  The lunch ladies, the lunch cooks of America – I offer myself as their ambassador.  I’m not slagging them off.  They’re doing the best they can do.  They’re doing their best – but – they’re doing what they’re told.  And what they’ve been told to do is wrong.  The system is highly run by accountants.  There’s not enough or any food-knowledgeable people in the business.  There’s a problem.  If you’re not a food expert and you’ve got tight budgets and it’s getting tighter, then you can’t be creative – you can’t duck and dive and write different things around things.  If you’re an accountant and a box ticker the only thing you can do in these circumstances is buy cheaper shit.  Now – the reality is – is the food that your kids get everyday is fast food, it’s highly processed, there’s not enough fresh food in there at all.  You know – the amount of additives, e-numbers, ingredients, you wouldn’t believe.  There’s not enough veggies at all.  French fries are considered a vegetable.  Pizza for breakfast.  They don’t even get given crockery.  Knives and forks, no, they’re too dangerous!  There’s scissors in the classroom but knives and forks, no!  And the way I look at it, if you don’t have knives and forks in your school you’re purely endorsing, from a state level, fast food because it’s handheld.  And yes by the way it is fast food – it’s sloppy jos, it’s burgers, it’s wieners, it’s pizzas, it’s all of that stuff.  (He breathes a sigh)

10% of what we spend on health care as I said earlier, is on obesity, and it’s gonna double.  We’re not teaching our kids – there’s no statutory right to teach kids about food – elementary or secondary school, okay.  We don’t teach kids about food – right.  And – this is a little clip from an elementary school, which is very common, believe me.

(Minute 11:14 – He shows a video where he asks children in a classroom what vegetable he’s holding and none of the kids know the answer.  This happens with tomatoes, caulifour, beets, mushrooms, eggplant, potatoes) Immediately you get a really clear sense of do the kids know anything about where food comes from.  If the kids don’t know what stuff is then they will never eat it.  Normal. England and America. England and America.  Guess what fixed that – guess what fixed that?  Two one our sessions.  We’ve got to start teaching our kids about food in schools, period.

And it gets better – he correlates treatment here to being abusive.

Then he tells of what would happen if he had a cure for cancer… really interesting.

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