Monday, April 11, 2011

Adventures in Cooking - Meatless Mondays

I'd heard about the Meatless Mondays campaign a couple of years back. At the time, though, I was in the middle of a short-lived vegetarian phase and didn't pay much attention. Now that I'm eating meat again and learning how to cook (hopefully!), I figure I should take the challenge: no meat on Mondays and, to make it even more exciting, keep it low-carb. This means: no meat, bread, pasta, tortillas, corn or sugar. I am allowing myself rice and potato, so I don't go insane!

My dish for today, from the Jamie Oliver cookbook is a spring vegetable and bean soup. I chose this dish because I was a bit sick all weekend, and when I'm sick, all I want is a good soup (even if it is 90 degrees outside)! So, I wrote up my handy grocery list and headed to Fiesta Mart, a local grocery store that a friend recommended. After I got over the fact that Fiesta Mart is Austin's version of an El Globo or Soriana (including the second-hand clothing store with its gems hanging on a clothesline right in front), I noticed that I only paid $4 for all my veggies! $4! And I made it out without buying any tacos; although I might be back this weekend to try the carnitas. Off to a good start!

I got home incredibly excited, ready to peel and chop with abandon. I did the carrots, celery, onion and garlic perfectly. Then I got to the part about the cannellini beans. The recipe said to drain the can before adding them to the broth, simple enough, right? Well, apparently, I wasn't paying much attention to the wonderful grocery list because I bought raw beans instead of the cooked ones. I decided to cook them. It took 2 hours. I hadn't eaten all day. They did not turn out well.

I ignored the fact that the beans were a little bit nasty and finished the soup. Once it was finally ready, the soup was ok, I guess. The beans were a bit undercooked and incredibly starchy (According to Google, you should let them sit in water overnight before cooking them. Seriously? Who has time for that?) I really didn't care at that point, though; I added some cheese, which makes everything better, and ate.

Lessons learned:

  1. I don't like cannellini beans! Next time, I'm skipping the beans and making white rice instead. (Actually, I'm probably going to drain the beans from the soup if I want more of this batch. I might not be as forgiving of them when I'm not starving; I probably won't want more.)
  2. 1 3/4 quarts is not the same as 1 3/4 cups - the broth should cover the veggies. It is a soup after all! 
  3. Fiesta Mart is the perfect place for fruits and veggies.

Am I a good cook yet? Nope! How can you mess up soup? But... it is my first recipe in the book and it is somewhat edible! I can't be too hard on myself!

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