How sad is that, when it doesn't seem worth the effort to cook when I can't blog about the food? We actually have been eating reasonably well, what with all the leftovers I had stored in the freezer. Including a batch of the oniony kidney beans I promised never to write about again. But, given the dearth of new foods to describe, wouldn't you be happy to hear about how I served the last portion of these beans in a casserole cooked in my convection oven? I mean, as opposed to not hearing about anything at all?
I thought you would: I covered the bottom of my square pyrex baking dish with the leftover beans with their accompanying chunks of sweet potato, crumbled a big piece of cornbread over the top, then grated lots of cheddar cheese over the whole thing and baked it for 30 minutes at 300 degrees F. The cheese and crumbs got delightfully crispy during the baking, and the sweet-saltiness of this topping helped to counteract the powerful onion taste, which really did not seem like such a big deal after eating these beans for the 37th time. I'm practically craving acrid onion taste at this point.
I also want to share with you the best crockpot experience I have had so far. Yesterday I cooked up a big pot of congee, which also goes by the name of kidgeree. It's basically a very simple porridge containing rice and beans cooked with vast amounts of liquid into a soupy consistency. Some version of this is eaten in many Asian countries — I imagine it's more of a peasant food than fine cuisine, but it's exquisite in its simplicity and its nourishing properties. Congee is like a canvas that you can paint with small amounts of more highly flavored foods like spicy pickles or other condiments to give it a kick. You have to try this in your slow cooker; it's the perfect food for this method of preparation.
I've adapted a khichri recipe (the word is spelled all sorts of ways) from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. It was so easy that I did most of the work while my morning pot of tea brewed. The remaining steps took a few additional minutes later in the day. I love this kind of recipe, which allows me to feed my family well in the small amounts of available time throughout my workday.
Please pardon these under-illustrated instructions, but I didn't take any pictures while I cooked because I wasn't expecting 1) that this dish would be blog-worthy or 2) that I would have the internet access needed for blogging.
First, I washed and drained a half cup of short-grained white rice and a third of a cup of mung beans (moong dal) and dumped them into the slow cooker.
I stirred the pot and turned the slow cooker on to the low setting. That's it! After 8 hours of so, the ingredients had cooked up into a porridge. I removed the ginger slices and added a bit more salt and some fresh ground pepper. Then it was time for a chhaunk — a very simple one of only ghee and cumin seeds.
We served the k-k-k-kittc̽heriiiii̊ (now I'm just being silly) with 2 different spicy Indian pickles and some delicious artisanal (= costly) ale going by the name of Sophie. I'm not kidding. She had sisters next to her on the shelf at Whole Foods — I forget their names, something like Wilhelmina and Darlene. Silly, and overpriced at $8 - $15 per bottle depending on which sister you choose, but delicious. Apple-y and bracing.
The khichri was so easy, so good-tasting, and so healthy-feeling in the belly that I plan to make it a lot more. I will experiment with variations, using different liquids, different dals, different rices, different spices.
P.S. My morning fruitbowl today had a decidedly tropical feel to it, with banana, mango, clementine, and cacao nibs in the mix. Even my breakfast seems to be evincing the upcoming change of seasons.
|Before adding a generous dollop of plain yogurt.|