Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 Welcome to Kate's 
"How To Make Fabulous Veggie Stew Without Really Trying" show!

First, have a look at my right hand!  That's because I'm a lefty and can't seem to operate the camera with my right.  These are some black-eyed peas that had been residing in a recycled Prego spaghetti sauce jar in my cupboard for... well, I have no recollection of having bought them, actually, so they're probably pretty old.  I think I used about a cup.

Now, get a load of the yellow lentils. Naturally, I realized that I was going to take photos AFTER I'd added several things to the pot, so I had to scoop some out.  That's why the look all wet.
These babies are wheatberries.  (I used about 1/2 cup)            What's that you say?  You don't know what they are?  ::gasp:: You must get thee to a grocery.  You'll find these by the couscous or rice usually. They are exactly what they sound like.  It's the wheat (berries) before they have anything done to them.  They are FAB!

Oh, my sweet love.  My darlings.  My wonderful black beans.  Also about a cup. Also?  What in the name of all that is holy is that stuff in the upper left?  Dried peanut butter?  (I'm hoping just a plastic grocery bag)
Isn't this just appetizing-looking?  Well, shut up.  It'll be awesome soon.  It's all the legume/wheat/whatevers, with enough water to cover them with an inch or so to spare.  And they're in my gorgeous oval CrockPot.  My husband got it for me for Christmas, and I actually was happy.  Hey, it's not a vacuum cleaner, right?
VEGGIES!  I basically went through our fridge and tried to use everything in sight.  Here you see several withered cherry tomatoes (yesterday's salad), 1/4 onion (found in a ZipLock behind the orange juice), a bit of yellow squash (neighbor), a part of a very phallic-looking zucchini (same neighbor), a couple of HOT peppers from the farmer's market, a couple mild peppers from same (trouble is, I can't tell them apart, so I keep using both together to minimize the shock), and one Big Honkin' Carrot.

You can see below how I did a basic rough chunking 
of these veggies.
Now, I'm all for good culinary practices in the kitchen (keep fingertips turned under while cutting, no squirrels in the microwave, and so on), but when it's gonna just get all mashed up later? Meh. 
Aaaand FLOOP! Into the pot.  I love pretty vegetables.

Now the secret ingredient.  Shhh...  These little cubes of amazingness came into my life last year when I was perusing the Mexican aisle.  They were right next to the Holy Mary votive candles.  These are chipotle cubes.  Like bouillon, but with a whole BUNCH of heat.  Note to self:  don't try using chipotle for the first time when you have a cold and can't taste anything.  Please trust me.
Here's what they look unwrapped.  They are about half the size of a regular bouillon cube. As you can see, I used two.

Pop on the lid and set on HIGH for four hours.  You seriously don't need to do anything at all to it.    After it clicks over to "heat" you'll need to do some steps that I forgot to document.  Get out your potato masher and mash away.  Mashmashmash.  Taste.  Need something else?  Maybe add garlic, some beef base (the stuff that's like bouillon but totally better), possibly bacon?  FYI: I used beef base and about a fist-sized lump of my husband's home-smoked pork shoulder.  I shredded it and tossed it in.  ::sigh::

So let's review, shall we?
Ingredients:  all the legume-ish things you have around, plus a grain of some sort.  Totalling about 2 cups of dried clanky goodness.  
[MINE INCLUDED:  Wheatberries, yellow lentils, black beans, and black-eyed peas]
chunked-up vegetables, totalling about 4 cups 
[MINE INCLUDED:  Yellow squash, zucchini, hot and mild peppers, onion, carrot, cherry tomatoes]
ALSO:  2 little chipotle cubes, some water, maybe 2 tablespoons of beef base, and about a cup of shredded smoked pork.

Try not to eat it all at once. 

You can add chunked avocado, some salsa, chopped raw tomatoes or peppers, some sour cream or cheese, or maybe some plain yogurt.  

Time involved (had I not been taking pictures and such)
1 minute to raid cupboard for dried bean things, 1 minute to pour them all in the pot
1 minute to empty fridge of wilting veggies
3 minutes to cut off nasty spots, stems, and to chunk them up a bit
(then 4 hours of unsupervised cooking time, which doesn't count)
2 minutes of taste, season, and mash.
1 minute to chop pepper and avocado

I think that comes to... nine minutes.  

So, nine minutes to fame and fortune, people.  
Can you say, "New favorite for potluck"?

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