It has been a crazy month for us, as our house was packed up relatively early on, leaving us with one saucepan, one skillet, one baking sheet, one cutting board, one mixing bowl, and enough dishes for a single meal. On one hand, that this is the bare minimum shows just how fortunate we really are. Of course it also means that there was no pureeing, no grating, and there were certainly no complicated multi-pan meals. For the past several days, there have actually been no home cooked meals at all, as even our remaining supplies have been packed up and we’ve moved to a hotel for the time being. The focus of the month has definitely been on nutrient-rich single pan meals, and meals that used up the odd ingredients we had remaining in our pantry.
The Bread Experiment Continues
I did manage to try a couple of new breads, and was really happy with the results. I mentioned last month that I had tried a sourdough rye and it was just so-so, and that I was pretty darn excited by my brush with sourdough pumpernickel. This time, I tried a different recipe for sourdough rye and was thrilled with the result. It was so good that I made it twice, and plan to return to it again once I get settled and can grow myself a new starter. It was a bit sad sending my first one off to its adoptive home, but I like that there’s a living bit of me staying behind on Guam! Perhaps my favorite bread anywhere ever, I’ve decided, is the Russian Black Bread from Smitten Kitchen. It is absolutely not a simple recipe, but it is well worth the time involved. I can’t believe how flavorful it is, and with an excellent texture and rich color. I could eat it every day. The recipe also received bonus points for having seventeen ingredients, all of which I had on hand and was happy to use up in the weeks before we moved out of our house. If you enjoy the process of bread baking, setting aside the time necessary for this one is a treat to yourself! It was for me anyway.
Do you ever get so excited about a hard to find or expensive ingredient that you can’t bring yourself to use it? I did this with a number of the things I had the daddy pick up for me when he was attending a conference in Hawaii several months ago. I told him to look for non-GMO, organic cornmeal, for one, and he brought me back a bag, which made me do a little dance. I promptly tucked the bag away for a special occasion and let it go almost completely to waste. In the end, all was not lost, however, because I was able to make cornbread to accompany our pots of chili – a perfect single pan meal.
First, I went with my default recipe: This moist vegan cornbread, which I paired with the gustatory fiesta that is the Moosewood Black Bean Chocolate Chili. Long ago, I noted that this first cornbread recipe was very tasty, but didn’t hold together all that well, and yet for some reason I have returned to it time and time again. For our second chili adventure of the month, this information was fresh in my mind, so I went with this vegan cornbread recipe from the always reliable Post Punk Kitchen. This one held together well, but lacked the slight sweetness I love about my old favorite. Next time I track down a bag of non-GMO, organic cornmeal, I plan to try my hand at finding a recipe that provides the best of both worlds. Given that we’re less than a week away from our return to the mainland, I suspect this will no longer be such a rare ingredient.
One of the pantry staples I found myself trying to use up was beans. Of course these were an excellent thing to cook with when we had limited pans, too, since they’re a protein source that both my soy, mushroom, and seitan-averse husband and I can appreciate. Making vegetarian and meat containing versions of the same meal just did not work out during this time, and beans really saved the day! In addition to chili, we found that we loved this recipe for an incredibly nutritious Bean Soup with Kale. Annabelle ate three bowls, and both of us adults were quite happy with it as well. I used fresh veggies instead of the recommended canned versions, vegetable instead of chicken broth, and garbanzo instead of navy beans and yet it was still so easy!
After two big chili meals, I was looking for a slightly different way to prepare kidney beans when I found another winner of a Moosewood recipe in these Sweet Potato and Kidney Bean Burritos, which I made twice and will surely return to again. They were a bit too spicy the first time around, even with less chili powder than recommended, but this could be because I always use ancho and chipotle chili powders instead of the more ambiguous chili powder that the recipe author may have had in mind. I have never compared the spiciness of the various powders, but I suspect there is a difference!
The rest of our one pot meals were mostly me blindly tossing things into a pot, and while the result was always edible and well-rounded, I didn’t come across anything I felt the need to repeat and turn into a proper recipe. One thing I do love to have on hand is spice blends, the recipes for which I always find on old, reliable food.com. Having a cajun blend and a fajita seasoning, especially comes in very handy on those evenings when I just want to toss together something simple. A pot of rice with vegetables and beans or some other protein source really comes to life when you season it with a well-balanced spice mixture.
What tricks do you have for coming up with quick and easy meals when time is in short supply? Do you have any recipes for favorite one pan meals? I’d love to hear your ideas for simple meals, or any meals at all! Feel free to add your links and share what you’ve been cooking up lately. If you post recipes regularly, more than one link is just fine!