No Murders In The Rue Morgue


Beans and Rice
July 8, 2009, 9:04 am
Filed under: Cheapo, Cooking, Easy, Uncategorized

That’s right. I’m blogging beans and rice. What are you going to do about it? You’re going to love it!

To get you up to speed: I’m broke. I eat. Therefore, I’m trying to eat cheap.

I can’t think of a “real” dish that’s much cheaper than rice and beans. My recipe is basically what I ended up making with Food Not Bombs scaled down to a reasonable, 2 – 4 person size. The great thing (well, one of the great things) about this recipe is that pretty much all the ingredients are available either in bulk (cheap!) or at whatever cheapo produce stand you frequent (also cheap!). Here in San Francisco, there are a number of produce stands that sell fruits and veggies for ridiculous prices (my favorite is a place that sells about-to-go stuff for 75 cents per giant bag – score!). I usually head down there and see what’s cheap that day. If you don’t have this luxury, just hit up whatever’s cheap in your neighborhood. The key produce ingredients for my rice and beans are onions, tomatoes, and peppers, so if you can score bags of those for cheap, then you’re golden. If not, they’re all usually pretty cheap anyway.. except for the tomatoes. If you can’t find cheap tomatoes (and be sure to check all the varieties at your store – sometimes you will be surprised at what varieties are on sale), feel free to buy a can of cheap diced tomatoes. They’ll work just fine for this. Other than those four ingredients, you can feel free to experiment and add whatever looks good to you when you’re produce shopping. I’ve added spinach and chard with great success, and I suspect squash (either summer or winter) would be good too. Or mushrooms. Or broccoli.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s really only a suggestion. My recipe here will give you a good, basic pot of rice and beans, but it’s very amenable to experimenting, so go all New Mexico with squash and corn and chipotle and sage! Go french(ish) with carrots, celery, thyme, and wine! Go American and add a whole bottle of ketchup! The sky is the limit, friends!

Beans and Rice That’s Nice

1 large diced onion (whatever colour is fine with me!)
1 or more diced non-hot peppers (any variety, however many you want)
3 or more large-ish diced tomatoes (or one 14 oz. can of diced, though you could use more if you like)
1 – 2 tablespoons chili powder (or add/substitute whatever kind of spice you want to accompany whatever veggies you throw in)
2 cups long-grain brown rice (though don’t freak out if you have short or medium grain – they’ll work!)
6 cups veggie stock (or you can use water if you don’t have stock – just add salt to taste while it’s simmering)
2 cups soaked beans* (I use red kidney beans most of the time, but you can use whatever you like – even chickpeas!)

Saute the onion in a bit of oil in a large pot (I usually use a stock pot for this) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and saute for 5 more minutes. Add your tomatoes and your spices, and let it go for 2 – 3 minutes, or until the onions and peppers are cooked and just beginning the caramelize, and the tomato is juicy and cooked down a bit.

Throw in your veggie stock (or water) and your beans. Reduce the heat to medium low, stir the whole thing up, and cover the pot. Leave to simmer (checking periodically to stir and make sure things aren’t sticking or burning) for about 20 minutes. Add the rice, stir the whole deal up, and cover again. Leave this for about 45 minutes (again, stirring and checking periodically), and you’re done!

Let the rice and beans cool a bit before attempting to eat, because you’ll regret it if you don’t. I like to garnish this with some green onion, diced avocado, and diced tomato (and even some cilantro if I have it), doused liberally with Crystal hot sauce, which is like my crack. You can top your beans and rice with whatever you like (you can even wrap it in a tortilla and call it a burrito if you like!), just be sure to bask in the smug satisfaction that comes with eating a cheap, satisfying, healthy meal that you cooked yourself. Good job!



Cheap and Easy
June 20, 2009, 10:17 am
Filed under: Cheapo, Easy | Tags: , , , , ,

I recently had my mom and little brother leave after a pretty epic visit, during which I more or less sucked my bank account dry. If I’m going to make my rent next month, I have to tighten my belt, but I refuse to survive on ramen and veggie dogs. I may only have $5 a day for the next little while, but I’m still going to cook… and bake! First up? Chard soba.

Noodles

My favorite cheap and easy go-to standard is soba noodles with greens. You can use whatever kind of greens you feel like, but on this day, I used rainbow chard. I love chard, but right now, I love it even more because it’s $1 for a big, leafy bunch of the organic stuff at my local farmer’s market. If kale or collards or spinach are cheaper wherever you are right now, use those! You may have to adjust the cooking times slightly, but you’re all big boys and girls and can totally handle it.

To make this dish, you’ll need a package of soba noodles (or enough of a package to feed two people), some sesame oil, tamari (regular soy sauce or even Braggs works too, but it tastes better with tamari), red pepper flakes, white pepper, and (if you feel fancy) some toasted sesame seeds. If you have some ginger on hand and are feeling feisty, you can grate some of that in too, but it’s good without it too.

First, wash off your greens and roughly chop them. Set the greens aside, and grab yourself a big pot of water. Bring it to a boil, and throw in your soba. Soba cook quickly (around 5 minutes, though I know my package says 3 – 5, which I think is a lie), so don’t leave the room or anything. After 2 or 3 minutes of cooking, toss your greens into the pot (unless you’re using spinach, then you only want it in the water for maybe 30 seconds), cover, and let cook for another 2 minutes or until both noodles and greens are tender. Strain everything and put back in the pot.

Now, I tend to not measure things very exactly, especially with dishes like this, so forgive me. Add to the noodles and greens in the pot about 1.5 tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of tamari. Shake on however many red pepper flakes you desire and some sesame seeds and some white pepper to taste. If you have grated ginger, now is the time to add it to the pot as well. Mix everything together well, dish up, and eat!

All told, this dish costs around $3-$5 to make, depending on what you’ve got on hand, and feeds two people (or one starving person).