Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Kitchen Alchemist: Onion and Potato Stew

"In which I try to make healthful, affordable, easy meals:
in other words, throwing together ingredients in hopes of creating gold."

A remnant from Lent.  I'd had a difficult time finding vegetable stock, out of which I make my staple fasting soups, but I did get some onion-flavored Oxo gravy granules.  It sounds sort of icky, but it's basically a bouillon cube all powdered up.

I started boiling potatoes without any real plan, then saw the onion gravy in the cupboard and added several spoonfuls of it in for flavor, until I liked the color and consistency in the water and the taste (I like it strong).  But I needed a little something else besides potatoes, and we didn't have any other vegetables in the house.  So I added your standard off-brand noodles from a bag and continued cooking until everything was soft and consistent.

You know what?  I really liked it, and so did Afon!  Very hearty and flavorful, and if you like the taste of onions, which I love, then it's a treat for the tongue as well as time-friendly.

Time // B
Ease // A+
Presentation // B+
Affordability // A-
Health // C+
Taste // A-

Not bad!  Health got the lowest rating because of white flour carbs, starchy potatoes and a near intravenous injection of sodium from the gravy granules.  Still vegan, though--hey!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Kitchen Alchemist: Fried Rice and Vegetables

"In which I try to make healthful, affordable, easy meals:
in other words, throwing together ingredients in hopes of creating gold."

If you're just joining us, the idea for this continuing series is outlined very somberly here.  If you're new, it may or may not also be useful to know that during Lent, I give up all animal products except for fish on weekends.  Hence the extreme simplicity of the meal.  (Also, I'm a lazy creative cook.)

This meal was scrapped together from leftover rice and vegetables and turned out very well.  My favorite thing to do is to throw things together in a pan with oil.  So that worked out nicely.  Since they were leftovers, all I had were carrots and potatoes, but a more traditional recipe would use peas and other vegetables.

I always start my "stir-fry" with a glob of oil and chopped garlic.  Then I add onions, and that makes the base.  Since the carrots and potatoes had already been boiled the night before, they didn't need to be cooked through; I just browned them a bit in the pan.  Then I added a bit more oil and the rice--which, again, was already cooked.  It took about twenty minutes for the rice to fry up how I like it, but it was a pretty hands-off twenty minutes.

Vegetables taste especially nice with Worcester sauce (see my "You Know You're in Wales When" segment here), but the fish ingredient means I can't have it on weekdays.  Instead, I used vegan-friendly salt and chutney to punch up the flavor.  We ate it with salad greens and drank cherry brandy for dessert.  It was popular with our friend Glyn, who is joining the Eastern Orthodox Church this Easter, and so can't have animal products either.

Glyn, Afon, and Rupert having fun after dinner.
Report card time:

Time  //  B
Ease  //  A
Presentation  //  B+
Affordability  //  A
Health  //  A
Taste  //  B+

The time would have gotten a B+ or A- because it was pretty effortless, but I took into consideration that it only works if you have leftovers.  If you try this or something similar, let me know.
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