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Monday, January 3, 2011

Emergency Measures. A Quick Fix for a Stormy Winter's Day


RE: This week’s Open Salon Kitchen Challenge on Emergency Preparedness


To answer the question what's on hand in my pantry, fridge and freezer for a quick and easy fix for a winter's day. . . here's what I posted on Open Salon:

 I was about to sit this one out.  Then I got to thinking.  For what I have stockpiled in groceries, hell’s fire, I could use a day in the kitchen “closed for inventory,” just to organize the contents of my cupboards.  In them I would find an embarrassment of canisters, mixes and fixings, random jars of jam, all manners of teas and honey, bottles of salsas and mustards, cans of tomato sauces and tuna. Not to mention what's in the fridge and freezer. 

Talk about an emergency, I’d say my level of “preparedness” falls somewhere within a Category 5 storm alert.  It would take a blizzard of biblical proportion to throw me into survival mode. 

With all due respect and admiration for Open Salon bloggers  - Paul J. O’Rourke and his most resourceful recipe for Spaghettini Al-Fraudo Carbo Neara (hilarious) as well as Gwool and his heroics with Dinty Moore Beef Stew (WTF?),   I submit to you that I believe in eating well.  At all times possible. Especially in an emergency.   

Call me a Martha, a port in a storm. 

I believe in comfort food, prepped well, cooked from scratch, one delicious meal at a time. I believe in fresh, simple ingredients, easy dishes, ready in twenty minutes or less.  I believe in whole grains and greens. I believe in herbs and spices, chili peppers, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and the best balsamic vinegars I can find.   I believe in cooking with love, butter and cream.  

Enough about me.  Now given the challenge at hand:  stormy weather, gale force winds, fallen limbs from trees,  chain saws whirring, and plow trucks clamoring, clearing paths through mountains of snow and ice. . . well, what’s for dinner? 

From my standard and favorite kitchen staples,  I give you my three well-reasoned Emergency Measure Survivor’s Menu choices:  

Peanut Pesto Pasta in a Jiffy
 
Green Eggs and Prosciutto
 
Black Beans & Rice
 

Easy as one, two, three,  each one of these recipes takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare with ingredients readily found in handy supply in most kitchens. 


Peanut Pesto Over Pasta
Simple. Nutritious. And satisfying.  Here you take two absolute, all-time must-haves in your cupboard  - pasta and peanut butter - and marry them for a dish that rivals the best of Chinese carry-out.  

Basic peanut pesto sauce can be made with peanut butter, garlic,  soy sauce, vinegar, and water.  (All the better, if you have on hand the options of sesame oil, honey, ginger, crushed red pepper, chopped scallions or chives.)  
Recipe source: The New Basics Cookbook. (Russo & Lukins) 


Ingredients 
8 ounces spaghetti 

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup hot water
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Options
1 bunch green onions, sliced 
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions: Mix peanut butter with ingredients in a food processor, toss pesto with hot pasta and garnish with chopped scallions or cilantro.



Green Eggs & Prosciutto
As long as you have eggs in the refrig and heat on the stove, there’s life in the kitchen.  Scrambled, fried, folded in an omelette, or baked in a frittata, when all else fails, eggs are your go-to-meal.  Spinach makes it green. Keep a mini herb garden in your kitchen window, and presto, bingo! You have the makings of pesto any day, snow or shine.  Thanks to Costco, there’s always proscuitto in abundant supply. Canadian bacon will do as well.

Ingredients
2 eggs, whisked 
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices prosciutto 
1/2 cup fresh spinach greens
1  heaping tablespoon fresh herb pesto
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
(Recipe based on Food Network: Courtesy Kitsch’n on Roscoe)


Black Beans & Rice
Quick and easy, a taste of the Caribbean or New Orleans, all depending on your interpretation of the flavoring and spices.  

Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups low sodium, low fat vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained

Added options
1 slab bacon 
crushed red peppers
2 cups (1 can) diced tomatoes
grated cheddar cheese


Directions: In a stockpot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes. Add the spices and black beans and tomatoes. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese.

Taking Stock: Top 10 Must-Have Ingredients in My Kitchen
1. Egg-- nature's perfect food, a meal in itself
2. Pasta -- the world’s most versatile ingredient,  there’s nothing like a bed of pasta for every meat, fish, vegetable or sauce you can imagine
3. Peanut Butter -- the all-purpose breakfast, snack, dessert,  high protein, high energy food
4. Olive Oil -- can’t be called a cook without it
5. Garlic - like salt, it makes just about everything taste better
6. Cheese -  gotta have it for flavor, creamy goodness
7. Chicken Broth -- any kind, goes a long way as the basis for soups, sauces, stews
8. Canned  Tomatoes -  when you can’t have fresh, this is the next best vegetable in a can. Rich is fiber, nutrients and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant to promote cell health.
9. Red Grapes - (berries or wine) good for the heart, good for the spirit
10. Salad Greens  every day! 
Okay, just one more
11.  Dark Chocolate --  nothing better for dessert, also linked to heart health 

Looking for more?

Life can be stormy. So do try to eat well and be well. 
And thanks for dropping by. 

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