Monday, December 27, 2010

Virtuous Veggies and Legumes

Feasts are a delight, but I'm feeling a deep need for cleansing, simple foods, so that is what I will be (mostly) fixing this week. (Homemade pizza is still on the menu. :) I've been soaking mung bean sprouts for a couple of days in anticipation of this and will throw them in a dish of egg foo young tomorrow evening. Mmmmm...

Items to purchase this week when you go to the grocery store:
1) Black Eyed Peas
2) Your favorite greens (kale, mustard, collards, swiss chard etc...)
3) Cornbread fixings (if you don't already have them)

It's tradition to serve black eyed peas on New Year's Day, which will be Saturday. Growing up, my parents told us that in the coming year, we would get a dollar for every black eyed pea we ate on New Years Day. Of course, this was just an old folk tale, but it did encourage us to eat up!

I make my black eyed peas just like I describe here: Cooking with Dried Beans. We like to season them with cajun seasoning, Frank's Red Hot sauce, and eat them with greens and cornbread. 1 pound of dried beans will feed about 6 people.

My favorite greens are mustard greens while my husband prefers kale. We both enjoy them cooked in this way: Trim two large handfuls of greens and chiffonade them. In a large skillet, heat a couple of Tbs. olive oil or coconut oil and saute a diced onion. Add a clove of minced garlic. Cook the onion and garlic until it is golden brown. Add the greens and toss them around in the pan a bit. They will wilt a lot. Add about 1/2 cup of broth, some salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. This will make about 6 servings.

Finally, to make some good southern style corn bread, I give you my favorite recipe:
- 1 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 c. flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 c. buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c. butter or bacon grease
Preheat oven to 450*. Melt the butter or bacon grease in a 10-12" cast iron skillet. Mix all of the other ingredients, then add in the melted fat and mix again. Pour into the skillet and bake for about 20 minutes.

I make this for people with food allergies fairly frequently, so here are the variations that have been really successful:
Dairy free: If you just can't stomach the bacon grease, use Fleishmann's unsalted margarine. Instead of the buttermilk, use plain rice milk with a splash of lemon juice OR if your dairy intolerant person can have it, goats milk (I most often use powdered) works very well.
Gluten free: Instead of the all purpose flour, use Bob's Red Mill gluten free mix. It works best to increase the fat to 1/2 c. to make it less crumbly.
Southwestern Style: Add a cup or two of grated cheddar and a small can of green chilies.

I love leftover cornbread slathered in butter for breakfast. My grandfather used to eat cornbread crumbled up in a glass of buttermilk. It's good eating!

Don't forget to start soaking your beans on Thursday!

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