Sunday, June 19, 2005

Convenience Cooking and Slow Food

People assume that I am an active cook because I'm so enthusiastic about Slow Food. It is true that I get on cooking jags sometimes. My favorite foods to cook are soup and bread. But I'm into convenience most of the time. Many nights I just eat cheese and crackers or salad or cereal, especially during hot weather. I've had some people tell me that they're interested in Slow Food issues, but they're not cooks. You don't necessarily have to be a cook to contribute to the Slow Food Movement - you can support slow food artisans and restaurants. It casts a wide net.

I used to bake bread the old-fashioned way, but a case of chronic tendinitis in both hands led me to stop kneading and buy a bread machine. I don't like the texture of the crust of baked bread machine bread, but, it is excellent way to mix and knead the dough, and take it through the first rising. I load my ingredients, put it on the dough setting, then do other things for a hour and a half. Then I remove the dough, punch down and let it rise again, then shape it into rolls or small loaves, let it rise again, and bake. This is a great rainy day activity, and it makes the house smell so wonderful! You can freeze some of the bread for later, and it tastes just as good.

Here's a recipe for a one-pot pantry dish I made last night from leftovers and canned and frozen ingredients. It's good for cleaning out little quantities from the refrigerator, and you could try other kinds of canned or cooked beans. Except for the cumin and the canned oranges, these ingredients are local, organic, or both. It serves about three, two if one person is my husband.

Lazy Black Beans and Chicken

1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced (more if you love garlic)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 T olive oil
1 cooked chicken breast half, chopped (mine was baked marinated chicken, from another convenient meal!)
1 cup cooked rice
1 can black beans
1 small can mandarin oranges
Cumin, to taste (this can be an acquired taste, so go easy if you've never tried it)
Salt and pepper

Saute the first five ingredients in the olive oil until the carrots are just tender. Add the other ingredients and cook until heated through.

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