Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What to Cook When There's No Time to Cook

OK, I vowed I would get in one last Vegan MoFo post. I used to cook food that was a lot more complicated and I also used to spend a lot more time plating food. I even used to diagram plates for dinner parties, but I’ve kind of mellowed a little with time. Part of it is that life is more complicated than it used to be and I don’t always have as much time to cook as I’d like. Last night was a good example. I really wanted to make ravioli, but I got out of work a little late, and because our furnace was acting up, I was resigned to cleaning it, which means opening it, disassembling some of it, vacuuming various parts, removing gas jets and cleaning them and all kinds of other things that don’t include making ravioli.

Vegan MoFo is supposed to be a celebration of vegan food, and I’ve felt guilty at times for making pretty common dishes. If you want to turn people on to vegan food, you have to show them impressive dishes, but sometimes there’s no time for impressive dishes that will photograph beautifully (assuming I could actually take decent photos, but I digress). But as I thought about it, I realized there is a lot to celebrate in those simple dishes you make when you have no time. First, I’m still cooking as opposed to going and getting some pre-made scary fast food. Second, it gives credence to my idea that you have to use the free time you have during the week to make things for later, whether it’s kitchen staples like braised garlic or soy pickled shitakes, or a pot of homemade baked beans. If you do a little bit of planning, you can always have something good you can make quickly without resorting to frozen, processed crap or fast food. Real food is worth the time and commitment you have to make in order to prepare it. And that is something to celebrate. So here are three quick meals of real food that bailed me out in the last week. No pictures, and sometimes nothing more than descriptions. All of them are simple and that’s something to celebrate.

Potatoes and Cheezy Sauce

We love cheezy sauce. It’s good on almost anything, but it’s killer on potatoes of any kind. The cheezy sauce recipe makes about 2 ½ cups of sauce which is more than we use in a sitting, so often times there’s some sitting in the fridge. Need a quick meal? Frozen shredded potatoes (aka hash browns) and cheezy sauce. We always keep a bag or two of potatoes in the fridge because sometimes you need dinner in 10 minutes. Plus potatoes are comfort food. Stressful day? Hash browns and cheezy sauce. No hashbrowns? Microwave some russet potatoes for 15 minutes and then throw them into a 500 degree oven for 5-10 minutes to crisp and you have baked potatoes and cheezy sauce.

Noodles and soy pickled shitakes

I use somen, udon, or soba. Any Asian noodle will work. Boil noodles, drain. Top with soy pickled shitakes, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. Aren’t you glad you made that jar of pickles now?

Smart Dogs and Baked Beans

We normally keep smart dogs around too. They’ve got no fat and actually taste good, plus they cook in 2 minutes (literally). OK, they’re kind of processed, but they’re vegan and no fat, so I’m willing to turn my head about the processed part. I make a lot of baked beans – maybe not every week, but probably every other. They’re easy and they’re way better than anything out of a can. And who doesn’t l;ike franks and beans. The recipe is approximate because I don’t really measure anything.

Baked beans

1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of oil
1 lb. white beans (I use small white beans)
½ cup of molasses, plus maybe 1-2 tablespoons more right before serving
2 tablespoons of mustard (brown or Dijon)
Salt, pepper

Cook the onion and garlic in the oil. I add some salt to pull moisture from the onion. Add the beans and some water. Add the ½ cup of molasses and the mustard, plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then throw it into a 250-300 degree oven for 3-5 hours. Check it now and then and make sure it has enough water, but other than that you don’t need to do much. Alternately, cook them in a crock pot on low overnight. You’ll never go back to canned beans again.

No comments:

Post a Comment