Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beans & Grains

Music: All-American Rejects

As you can see, I use beans and grains almost every single day. A comment/question I had yesterday asked whether I used canned beans or dried beans. Funny they should ask since I just began using dried beans in my recipes in the last month (now that I know how to do it). I don’t know if I’ll use dried beans exclusively, since they take a bit of time to soak and cook, but I do notice the difference in taste and texture and it is definitely better made from scratch! And making beans from scratch is a lot less expensive, since cans of organic beans at Trader Joe’s are less than 2 cups for $1.09 (used to be 99 cents).

I use an amazingly simple method I’ve found in my vegan cookbooks. First, I take whatever dried bean I’m using and pick through them for stones (yes, I have found some), then I rinse them in a strainer. I put them in a large stock pot and fill it with cold water about two or three times the level of beans. I cover them and let them soak overnight. In the morning, I drain the beans of the soaking water (which, I have heard, makes them more digestible but, if you eat beans as much as we do, your body gets used to it), refill the pot with fresh cold water to (again) two or three times the level of the beans, then I cook them until they're done. At this point, the beans cook in only about 20-30 minutes. When I made chick peas, it took about 15 minutes. Then I drain & rinse them, let them cool a little, and measure them out in containers (about 2 cups per container since this is the amount usually called for in my recipes), then freeze them. That’s it! I DO NOT use a pressure cooker, as my mother does and has for years. I’m afraid of them. This method works great for me.

We made this Portobello mushroom recipe (from The Garden of Vegan) the other night. Outstanding!

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Mushroom Bake

1/2 C almonds
2 tbsp olive oil (the recipe called for 1/4 C which I thought was too much--the amount I used was perfect)
1/4 C Braggs
1/4 C water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
4 large Portobello mushrooms, washed, stems removed
1 medium onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (or blender), blend the almonds until powdered. Add oil, Braggs, water, vinegar, garlic, rosemary & oregano & blend until well combined. In a baking dish, place the mushrooms upside down (stem cut off side up) & top with onions. Pour sauce over top and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

For the spinach, I used a super simple recipe from Vegan Express. I washed some spinach and didn’t bother to dry it; instead I just tossed it in a skillet & cooked it about a minute or two until slightly wilted, then I added a little sesame oil, Braggs (you could also use soy sauce instead), and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

We ate it with some leftover brown rice, topped with a little of the sauce from the mushroom bake. Wow!

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