Don Bauder 7:45 a.m., Dec. 11
"Yes, yes, I know you're hungry...ahhh, and here comes dinner!" --Alice Cooper, from "Feed My Frankenstein"
Having a crock pot in my home makes cooking a bit easier. Just toss in your sauce (or cooking medium), food, and spices, set for "low" heat, and go on your way rejoicing. Soups, stews, chili, sauerbraten, corned beef...slow cooking brings out the flavor, tenderizes tough cuts of meat...and makes dietary changes much easier to transition into.
One of my New Year's resolutions was to cut back on my intake of red meat. Having a crock pot is helping me to implement my resolution...slowly. Cutting anything off "cold turkey" is about as wise as dancing the tango in front of a live Claymore mine--while fiddling with the detonator switch!
However, slow substitution of ingredients makes changing my eating style easier. I'm eating a lot more bean-based dishes now. In fact, tonight's dinner will be a melange of navy, red, and pink beans; ground turkey; marinara sauce; spices; and a dash of oil. I "speed-soaked" the beans overnight in my crock pot (two hours on high heat, stir, the rest on low heat), then mixed in the rest of the ingredients (after letting the beans cool down before draining and adding the other ingredients). Two more hours on high heat (to cook the ground turkey), then on low heat until one hour before serving.
Last night, I decided to try a new idea--no meat in the stew. What I did was speed-soak the beans overnight, drain them, then added carrots, sauerkraut, marinara sauce and a touch of canola oil. I cooked them in the pot for the rest of the day, then served it up and ate. Surprisingly good!
(Both recepies will be written up in the "Recepies" section later, btw).
Frankly, I still like to grill--but adding beans, sauerkraut (and other vegetables), and experimenting with different sauces is making my titrating off of red meat much easier. If I need sausage for my Beanie-Weenie, I use turkey franks or turkey smoked sausage. Experimenting with different types of beans gives different flavors and textures.
I cannot see me giving up red meat altogether...but in at least a year, I'll be only eating it one-to-two times a week. Right now, I do have a "meatless pot-luck" once a week (found out that sauerkraut gives just as good a texture, plus marinara sauce gives most of my bean dishes a tasty kick). Most of what goes into my pot is still "cook what I buy, buy what I can afford," and dry beans (depending on the bean-in-question) are nice-and-cheap.
Tomorrow: tres frijolies refritos con pavo molido y sal (3-bean refried beans with ground turkey and salt). Another experiment on the road to better nutrition!
(BTW--my ground turkey either is Zacky Farms, Safeway brand, or Henry's (when I can afford it). Turkey franks are either Zacky or The Turkey Store (if Hebrew National made them, I'd buy them!).