Friday, December 10, 2010

Mother Hubbard's Paté

Bulk cooking is a wonderfully stretchy way of dealing with food. It's often a time stretcher and a money saver when we find larger quantities at better prices. Remember the BOUNCING BEANS from my last post? Well, they just keep bouncing into my mind and onto our plates in all sorts of wonderful disguises. 

After an absolutely delicious meal of Busting Butt Baked Beans, followed the next day by a hearty, yummy BEAN SOUP, I opened the fridge this evening to see a container of fat white beans just waiting to be made into MOTHER HUBBARD'S PATé for tomorrow's lunch.

So, while making supper this evening, I popped the beans into my food processor and whizzed them into a paté along with:
- a large dash of balsamic vinegar (normal vinegar or lemon juice would work just as well)
- a good measure of salt
- generous sprinklings of ground coriander and cumin
- and enough olive oil to make a spreadable consistency 

Tomorrow I will garnish it lavishly with fresh coriander leaves from my garden, and serve it on bread with some garden salad leaves.

Cooking a little extra of something when I am already busy in the kitchen is a TIME TAMING TECHNIQUE, and a way of blessing myself the next day with one less meal to prepare. It also miraculously converts what would have been two loads of dish washing into just one. 

This recipe was devised last month, during a no-shopping-pact time when my resources were rather lean and in need of some serious stretching. Nothing sparks my resourcefulness more than this sort of a challenge. I was in the mood for hummus, but had no chickpeas, nor garlic, nor lemons, nor tahini...... so I made a plan.... and it worked really well. My family gobbled it up, squabbling over the last blobs in the dish. 

Just a last word on that ground coriander. Last Summer I was dismayed to find the coriander in my veggie patch going to seed rather too quickly for my liking. But, in an Elastic Mom moment, I gathered as many of the dried seeds as I could, and they have supplied me with more ground coriander than I could use for the rest of the year. They also seeded themselves all over my veggie garden and have been supplying me with fresh leaves since early in Spring. 

Happily, the beans are still bouncing along merrily, feeding my family on the sniff of a pepper pot. I still have one frozen portion to cook, but that will have to wait. I wouldn't want to overdo the bean thing. And besides, the first marrows of the season have arrived. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Busting Butt Baked BEANS

Flexibility and suppleness in your muscles comes from stretching them regularly. Likewise, a mom who learns to stretch her resources can smile when times are tight. Over the years I have learned quite a few elastic tricks which help to make my life easier and ease the load on my purse.

I will be sharing my stretchy lifestyle with you as I blog my way along.

The easiest place to stretch resources is at mealtimes. My food budget is usually a bit more than half of that of my friends' budgets. At a pinch and a strenuous stretch I have been known to halve that again. More about that in future blogs. For today I would like to tell you about tonight's dinner and BOUNCING BEANS.

Dried beans are dirt cheap, loaded with goodness and can be delicious if you treat them right. So, when you are pushing that trolley down the aisle of your favourite supermarket, pick out a large bag of dried beans. Look the other way as you pass the brightly coloured, convenient cans of beans. Convenience costs. Elastic Moms have a better plan. One can of beans supplies half a hearty meal for my family of four. For the same price, a bag of dried beans STRETCHES to at least four meals.

Ok, so last night I soaked the all the beans in lots of cold water. This morning I boiled them silly in water with no salt or anything added until they were soft enough to squish. Salt or acid added too early makes them hard. While they were merrily bubbling in the pot I got on with mothering my children and other Elastic Mom busyness. Then just fifteen minutes before racing out the front door, I scooped them out the pot. Some went into containers for freezing. One portion went into the fridge for tomorrow's Mother Hubbard Paté.

Then I turned my crock pot onto the highest setting for
 I tossed the last lot of beans into a pot of sizzling onions along with ....
- half a can of tomatoes (leftover from pizza on Sunday, but fresh would do fine, or a whole can)
- a generous spoonful of sugar (traditionally treacle)
- a half-fist sized piece of smoked pork cut into cubes (the rest used in quiche and pasta last week)
- a dollop of tomato sauce (ketchup)
- a rinsing out of a bottle of liquid smoke... smoky water (Worcester sauce would do here too)
- some sprigs of oregano from outside the front door
- a stock cube (I happened to have beef on hand, any will do)
- and salt and pepper of course

When this was nice and hot, I sloshed it from the stove-top into my hot crock pot and raced out the door five minutes late. Rather a tad late than come home later to a cold stove.

This evening I returned from an erratic errand afternoon to the sumptuous scent of dinner. I popped some potatoes in a pot. Under the guise of teaching him how to make mash, I encouraged my son to strong arm the pot of potatoes. He picked some lettuce leaves from our veggie patch. And that was that. Dinner served.

But there's more, I had leftovers in my crock pot. SO, in the heart of the BOUNCING BEANS, I added more chopped onion, lots more stock, some crumbled sage, and have left the crock pot on 'low' for the night. Tomorrow I will whizz it up into a tasty BEAN SOUP for lunch.

Wait until you hear what will happen to the rest of the beans.