I have recently developed the habit of using any otherwise unoccupied Saturday night for some mad food science. It’s a little weird — I have spent most of my adult life living on frozen food and takeout, with only occasional forays into actual cooking (usually very, very pathetic forays that end very, very badly). Lately, though, I’ve begun to prefer the taste of fresh to frozen meals, and I find myself craving different tastes and styles of food.
This is the point at which both of my parents, if they’re reading this blog entry, will probably either faint dead away or start giggling, because I was the pickiest damn eater as a child, and showed no inclination whatsoever to try new things. New things were bad things. I did not like them, Sam I Am. I did not want Green Eggs and Ham. I was creeped out by odd textures, and didn’t much care for spicy food of any kind. I could (and did) break out the big-time drama when confronted with foods I did not wish to eat — self-inducing a gag reflex, crying, dithering, delaying. Gods, was I a pain in the ass.
Now, of course, I find myself liking things I used to despise and feeling kind of “meh” about stuff I used to love. My new cooking priorities are these:
1) Use fresh (non-processed) ingredients as much as possible, or at least try to find minimally processed stuff.
2) Find recipes that can be used to prepare at least one full week of single servings that stand up well as leftovers.
3) Get spicy and interesting!
4) Find recipes that aren’t fussy — simple to prepare, requiring little in the way of Advanced Chef Superpowers or special tools.
So far, it’s been pretty cool. I’ve found some stew and chili recipes that work really well, and I recently discovered a sort of beef pastry thing that I like a lot (I discovered how awesome rosemary is as a spice — parsley, sage, and thyme can suck it). I haven’t really inflicted the results of my madness on anyone else, so who knows if they’re any good, really, but I like what I’ve been preparing.
Today, at the request of a former student of mine, I’m going to rock some food pr0n here and walk through a kind of bean-bun thing I just created tonight. Woohoo!
The original recipe (as found at Allrecipes.com) is meant to be a vegan bean taco filling. I decided to alter it a bit by adding spinach and green peas to the bean mash, adding some cheese, and wrapping the whole thing in a pastry shell instead of eating it as a taco filling. Whee! Other than the pastry bits and the added vegetation, I stuck pretty close to the recipe as written.
The first step, naturally, involved preparing some stuff (cutting, cleaning, draining, etc.). The oven was preheated to 425 and ignored until needed. In a skillet on the stove, I heated some extra-light olive oil and warmed up one chopped-up green pepper, one thoroughly massacred large yellow onion, and a mess of diced garlic.
Stretch the dough, put some of the
bean mix in the middle, add some
shredded cheese (I cheated and used the Kraft Mexican 4 Cheese mix), and then stretch and pull and pinch and swear and fit the whole blessed mess into a nice, pleasant, pudgy little bun of beany goodness.
Once the buns were all put together, I loaded ’em up on cooking sheets, put a little more cheese on top of each bun (to make it all cool and shit), and then put it all into the nice hot oven for a little cooking action!