14 June 2010

Had to make breakfast

Last night, before going to sleep, I soaked about two cups of beans in cold water. Why? Because I needed to get a handle on this whole eating more healthy thing that Steve and I started. No time like the present, right? I've already switched our rice to brown rice instead of white, and already the changes are evident. I don't have to go back to the rice pot quite as frequently as before, because I'm able to stay full longer after a meal of brown rice and beans, versus white rice and much of anything else. Frankly, white rice is as bad as white bread, and it wasn't doing me any favours.

Again, because the fridge was looking a little scant from the weekend (I tend to make the most elaborate stuff on Saturday and Sunday, so that I'll have enough of those dishes for the week, then I do a catch-up mid week feast where I do more of the same), so it was cabbages, some leftover yucca curry from last week, carrots, and those beans. Onions have gotten grotesquely expensive, but for whatever reason, I'm able to find ginger on offer nearly every time I go to the store.

Over the weekend, I also invested in a non stick skillet, because I'm trying to watch my fat intake as well. When I can really feel the fat, and know that it's there (for example, when frying pita bread in a little olive oil before serving it up with the hummus), I'm happy to use it, but when I don't really notice the difference in the end product, I feel like I can very well just skip it as much as possible, and get my calories in places that count. To do this, the non stick skillet is quite a handy tool to have on hand, which is why I splurged a little (OK, a lot) on the skillet. It was marked down to $40 for a 12 inch heavy skillet with a nice non stick coating on it. It can handle high heats, and is oven and dishwasher safe. Mind you, I don't have a dish washer, except for the two legged variety, but I wanted dishwasher safe because it'll tend to be a bit more durable than those delicate things.

Anyway. This morning crept up on me, because it's been overcast, so I didn't get up until nearly 6 am (and I was asleep by 9:30). As soon as I got up, on my way to the washroom, I drained the beans, and put them on to boil. I figured that if I needed a few minutes to do my morning ablutions in any case, might as well have something going at the same time. It barely took me a couple of minutes to get the beans onto the stove. After I got out of the washroom, it was 30 minutes later, and the water in the bean pot was cheerfully bubbling away. I threw on a pot onto the back burner, and dumped in the yucca curry, along with two roma tomatoes and some cabbage. I also threw in some extra water, so that it becomes a stew like thing. Then, while that was doing its own thing, I quickly chopped up the rest of the cabbage, and a few carrots, and got the nonstick skillet heating.

One of my friends had gone to the doctor, who said that his numbers weren't looking so great, and that he'd have to change his diet and lifestyle, because he was pre-diabetic. After talking to a nutritionist, he does things like use a paper towel to wipe on a thin layer of oil onto the cooking pot, and then proceed as normal. This is especially ideal on a nonstick skillet, because nothing sticks in any case. So, I wiped on a bit of oil, and popped my mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, and sesame seeds. It worked just fine. I don't know why I was so afraid of cutting out that fat, because I'm familiar with cooking and should have been able to do do it a long time back.

But, no matter. Dwelling on past mistakes is time that is better spent on correcting future ones. By the time the seeds were popped, I'd also managed to get the curry leaves off the stalk from my freezer. My mother sent me a large batch a while ago, and I've started to use it a fair bit more, because they're there, and they're tasty, and they're loaded with iron and the rest. In went the curry leaves with the seeds, then in went the carrots. While those were getting tender, I poured myself my first glass of water for the day (I go through a fair bit of water, because being in a kitchen tends to dehydrate you if you're not careful). The carrots cooked up to a turn in about five minutes, which meant that the cabbage went in just as I was ready to drain the beans. They took a total of about 45 minutes from start to finish. I did the same exact spicing technique that I used for the cabbage with the beans. Instead of making the beans like a soup as I normally do, I drained off the water, and made them dry roasted on the stove.

Finally, towards the end of the cooking process for everything I threw in a very large load of ginger. You see, at the restaurant, it's often quicker to have something pre-chopped, so that you're encouraged to use it. At home, the same thing tends to happen, so with things like ginger and garlic, I have a bit of it sitting around in my fridge.

Put it to you this way. You know how when you're in a rush, and want food slammed down in a short time, this is not the time that you want to be fiddling around with peeling garlic, or grating ginger. You want to put on the pot, get your spices in, and then move forward. Any delays that you go through are going to slow you down. It's why I prefer to just mince up a large load of ginger at once, because then I'll be encouraged to use it, and I've only dirtied up the food processor one time. I tend not to do the same with garlic, because I generally just throw the clove of garlic in whole, so I just need to peel it. However, if I did tend towards minced garlic, I'd have a load of that ready as well.

Here's the caveat. At the restaurant, when I chop up a bunch of garlic or ginger, we'll go through it in a day or so. At home, it takes a bit longer, so be mindful that you'll need to go through the stuff when you have it in your fridge, or else it'll go bad. It's just an excuse to be more generous with it, right? I certainly get no complaints about having a generous hand with the ginger or the garlic.

Once the beans were cooked to a turn, and the cabbage curry was done, and the yucca stew was cooked, I just had to warm up the rice (in my case, the rice stayed hot in the pot, because my rice cooker keeps rice fresh and hot for three days), and eat. By around 7 am, everything was put together, and ready to go.

If you really break down the amount of time I spent in actual physical work, it's more like 20 minutes of intense cooking, and 30 minutes of letting stuff park on the stove and cook. I had my breakfast at 7:30~ish. It's currently 11:30, and I'm still feeling satiated. When I used to have white rice at breakfast time, I would start feeling hungry again in another two hours, making me have to sort something else out. And of course, by then I'd be at work, and surrounded by lovely things that are just crying out to be eaten, and I'd eat that as well. Then when I get home, I'd eat yet again. More white rice. Then, I'd have more food just before sleeping, because I'd inevitably get hungry in a couple of hours after my last meal.

Overall, we've been following the more careful diet (as in, cutting back on cooking fat, and switching to more whole grains and green vegetables) for about a week, and haven't noticed a change in the quality of our meals. It's still as tasty as ever, because spices are fairly easy to use, and neither of us misses the fat, because we're not actually restricting anything. There's plenty of food, and many options in the fridge at any given moment, so even snacking times are healthy. Then, when we want a treat, like a freezer pop for hot days, it's not that big a deal.

Let's see how far this goes, right?