Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Kidney Bean, Sweet Potato, and Millet Stew

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kidney Bean, Sweet Potato, and Millet Stew

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I know we sure did. Though we were unable to visit Brett's family in Illinois due to our losing our debit card (we have new ones now thankfully), we decided rather than be bummed, we were going to make the best of it. I am personally a huge fan on long weekends away from work anyway (who am I kidding, I am a huge fan of ANY time away from my job - it is lame!). So we spent that last four days reading, listening to music, running a few errands, watching awesome football, and playing video games together. We played Hot Shots Golf (I almost won! I have literally NEVER beat Brett at that game and we have played it so many times.), and Brett let me "run errands" for him on Grand Theft Auto since I have fun "driving" the car around. I say "driving" because it is very difficult and I often run into things or get the cops after me just trying to go get something to eat. Since I have been driving for him occasionally, I have broke about 4 cars (they just stopped running), completely scared the characters girlfriend away (because I accidently started shooting out the car window when I was trying to brake), got busted, and somehow got involved in a gang war. Such a savory game, I know, but it is pretty fun to drive around.

You may or may not have noticed that there wasn't a local booty update this week - I actually didn't go to the Root Cellar this weekend. We still have some stuff around and Brett has a cleaning/repairing project that is going to render the kitchen useless for a good portion of the week, so we will be frequenting our favorite local restaurants for a few days . It is nice to have the break from cooking, but I'm sure come next weekend, I will be ready to get back in the kitchen. Though not pictured, we did pick up some local Country Goodies peach apricot jam and a loaf of Uprise's Columbia sourdough (awesome flippin' bread by the way).

Anywho, I have been working on a little project to clean out my cabinets, inspired by Jessy and Dan who, awhile back, were working to use what they had around the house and reduce the amount of groceries they bought each week (they are so awesome that they passed the savings on to charity!). I was looking for something in my tiny kitchen the other day when I noticed how much food we have: tons of canned goods; bulk beans, rice, and other grains; winter squash, frozen goodies from summer; nuts, seeds, and so much more. I felt really bad at that moment - that we kept going out and buying new loads of groceries each week when there was so much food still around the house. I also realized that this project was not only a good way to reduce waste (and free up some cabinet space for all the goodies I want to can and preserve over the summer), but also a great opportunity for creativity. I've been creating a list of our "reserves" so that I can plan our meals accordingly and only buy things that will allow me to round out a meal using at least a few ingredients I already have.

Now, I'm in no way against stocking up, not at all, but I didn't know I still had most of this stuff! And there does come a point after stocking up that you have to start going through your stash. My goal is by the end of the winter to have the reserves depleted and our freezer empty and waiting to be filled by the abundance of summer (though we will always have a bulk amount of beans and rice around).

Brett has enjoyed this since it means that we are experimenting a lot less - and by "experimenting", I think he means trying something that isn't Mexican(ish) or Asian. :-) And honestly, I do better when I stay within the Mexican/Asian umbrella. I seem to have those flavors down and can just kind of wing it - sometimes when I venture outside that "comfort zone", things go horribly wrong. You might notice - if you don't perhaps you will now - that we use pretty much the same ingredients, we just pair them with different beans or seasonings to change things up. Most of the time I am reluctant to call what I post here "recipes" as they aren't anything special and they are often similar to other things we've made before. But if you want to know how to cook vegetarian, using mostly local ingredients, you have to be willing to eat, well, a lot of the same things, and get creative with how you throw them together.

Enough of the small talk and errant blabbering and on to the real purpose of this post - the food!

I have wanted to work with the local kidney beans we found at the Root Cellar and have been getting a little tired of creamy soup, so I decided to go a different route with this dinner. I also didn't want to make another chili either, but I wanted something warm that sticks with you as chili does. In going through my cabinet, I noticed a large container of bulk millet I bought awhile back (and forgot about) and the idea for this thick stew formed. I was pleased with how well it turned out and we got to use up some of our excess food as well as local produce, that is hard to beat.

This meal is not spicy - even Brett agreed - I, being a spice freak, added dried crushed habanero flakes to my bowl, so if you like spice, you might want to supplement with cayenne, crushed habanero, or even sriracha. We ate this with tortilla chips and it also made nice work lunches last week.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Kidney Bean, Sweet Potato, and Millet Stew
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed +
1 red onion, chopped +
4 cloves of garlic, minced +
6-10 petite bell peppers, seeded and minced (other bell pepper would work) *** (frozen from summer)
3 cayenne peppers, seeded and minced +
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped *** (last of the bag ripened tomatoes)
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped +
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube (you could just use 4 c. veggie broth)
1 cup raw millet, rinsed
4 cups cooked kidney beans +
chili powder
Mexican oregano
dried cilantro flakes + (not sure if it is local)

In a large soup pot, combine potatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes (canned and fresh), water, and veggie bouillon. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Add the spinach, raw millet, kidney beans, and season to taste.

Simmer for an additional 30-35 minutes or until millet is soft.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Well, I am a little backed up on food posts, so I might try to get the rest of them scheduled to be posted this week if time allows this afternoon. I have another short week at work this week (:-)!), so I'd expect that it will be pretty quiet here at Veg*n Cooking between Wednesday and next Monday. I will try to get on over the weekend to post a local booty update, but if I don't get to it, I will do it next Monday.

I hope everyone is having a great start to their week. Mondays can only be so bearable.

'Til next time.


jessy said...

very cool on cleaning out the cabinets, Jennifer! dan & i are working on that at the moment as well. isn't it amazing how much food you can accumulate?! i noticed just last night that we've got all kinds of stuff stashed away in a closet that we can use up, too! going through stored food and making awesomeness is a great way to make sure that food doesn't go bad, you can rotate your stock, and you get to see what you need more of as well. making a list of everything is such a great idea. i'm gonna do that later on this week - thanks!

your stew looks soooooo delicious! this is something dan & i would love! we don't have sweet potatoes at the moment, but we've got a bunch of potatoes - think the would work alright? thanks for the recipe, and the note on the spice. we may add some more chili peppers.

dan's mom & dad gave me a check for xmas, so i can't wait to make another WFP with all the money! yay! glad you and Brett had a great holiday relaxing - and that's too funny on "driving" the car. i'm HORRIBLE at driving in video games. just horrible! i crash a lot as well, but you're right - it is really fun to drive around! :) and just think - the more you play the better you'll get! ;) yay! oh yeah, and dan bought himself a PS3 for xmas - i can't pry him away from that thing to save my life. think i need to learn how to rock some video games, too! hooray for funness!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a nice holiday relaxing and spending time together :o)

I too have a lot in my cabinets--I realized that after arriving back home from holiday travel yesterday, and decided NOT to go to the grocery store. I am going to work with what I have, and could probably go for even more than a week doing so!

Your stew looks great! I love millet and don't use it enough, so this will give me a reason to make some!


Heather @ SGF said...

Looks fabulous! I too have issues with buying new local foods when I have tons of stores in the pantry. I'm getting better at using them though. When we get back from California, I'm planning on hitting those canned soups since I won't be able to attend a farmers market for about 6 days after we get home. But then, that's what they are there for, right? :)

Have a great week!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Jessy - I thought of you and Dan when I was looking at my cabinets actually, thinking "I should reduce like they were doing".

It really is amazing how much food you can accumulate. I should only have to buy just a few things each week for the next couple of weeks as I go through our stores of food. Great idea with the stock rotation! Some of the stuff I won't be replacing (like red lentils), I got them for one recipe and then didn't know what else to do with them, those will likely end up being pretty experimental recipes, but most of the stuff I have are "staples" (tomato products, Mexican spices, peppers, hot chili sauces, grains, tortillas, etc.).

I bet this would be really tasty with regular potatoes, especially if you add some extra chile peppers. I only had a few fresh cayennes on hand and didn't want to bust into the freezer to get more hot peppers out (I really can be THAT lazy sometimes).

That is so nice that you are doing that. I haven't made my yearly donation to an organization of choice yet, I am really struggling. I don't have much to give and don't want to spread $10 to different organizations because then nobody gets much, but I am torn as to who to support. We have the Peace Nook, Wild Ones! (a local group that promotes native plants), Big Canoe (a local sustainable agriculture organization), 89.5 KOPN (our local community radio station), Common Dreams, Democracy Now, so many choices.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has difficulty driving around, it is still fun though. But Brett DOES spend a lot of his time laughing at me while I try to drive. Wahoo for Dan, I've been enjoying the PS3 along with Brett but he too is hard to pull from it. I will talk to him at lunch and he will admit to having stayed up until 4:00 a.m. playing Head Coach 2009. ;-)

Courtney - We had a wonderful time! Thanks, I hop you had an excellent holiday as well.

We should start some sort of clean out your pantry/don't waste food challenge or something, it seems like we all need to use up some of our stores of grub right now.

I like millet a lot too, but it is hard to get right sometimes, it really is. That is why I liked this application, just toss it in and let it go!

Heather - I really am happy that I am not the only one with this problem, I felt really bad when I realized how much I had stored that was just sitting there while I bought more food.

Wahoo for your homemade soups! I have been breaking into my frozen garden goodies from summer now as well. I don't know why I was avoiding actually USING the stuff I put up. I am so silly sometimes.

You too, I can't wait to hear more about your California trip, I get to take a vacation vicariously though you.

jessy said...

aaahaha! dan totally gets sucked in and plays vids super late! i hear that! too cute on him laughing at your driving! ;)

those are some great choices for organizations to donate to - i'd be torn as well. they all sound awesome!

totally going to try the stew with potatoes. and i hear ya on not wanting to break out stuff from the freezer. last night we made soup & i didn't feel like digging around in the freezer for some tomato paste - didn't even bother with it! ;)

Heather @ SGF said...

You know those red lentils would be good in (do you expect anything else from me) soup. Just toss some into your regular veggie soup.

veggievixen said...

looks awesome. i love millet!

Daphne said...

I used to regularly clean out my cabinets every year. My kids would get into food choices then change their tastes. It's hard with teenagers in the house. So I got into cleaning the cabinets out once a year and giving the now out of favor food to the food pantry. I no long have to do that though. They are off at college (well home for the holidays, but I'm not buying tons of stuff for them anymore).

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Jessy - I don't know how Brett does it - well, him being a full-time student probably helps. But there are days when he gets up early with me, and will still manage to stay up to all hours of the night to play it. I mean, I really, really love reading, I can do it all day whenever given the chance - but later at night, if I try to read, I just fall asleep. :-(

I laugh at my driving on there. When things get too bad - for example when I was being chased by the cops and the car I was driving stopped from being crashed too many times :-), I give the controller to him and let him "fix it".

I know, they are all wonderful places and I wish I had more to give. I think I have settled, but I am still not entirely satisfied since there are so many worthy organizations out there.

Heather - I should have guessed that would be your suggestion! But really, it is a good one and I hadn't thought of that application. I kind of thought I could only use them in things like Indian food, and I really don't like Indian.

Veggie Vixen - Thanks, I like it a bit myself.

Daphne - I can imagine that having kids can make it difficult to keep the cabinets cleaned out. I think I will take your advice and anything that I have that I don't know what to do with, I will take to the food pantry or give to the next food drive.

T said...

Oooh, this looks like heaven. I love having leftover stew with tortilla chips when it thickens a bit, I tried that with my Morroccan Tagine and it was awesome.

I've also been noticing how stocked up my cabinets are of late too. Its all grains and coconut milk though! I need to majorly make some curry. At any rate, sounds like a noble undertaking. Necessity is the mother of invention!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

T - It was really good, and I love it too. The flavors of the stew really get to blend nicely and I love tortilla chips, what can I say.

You are right about necessity. I need to clear some space in my cabinets. I hope you like curry a lot!

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