Monday, January 30, 2012

Meatless Monday; or, Watch Out, Cucumber!

I found myself feeling decidedly in the mood for something lighter over the weekend, and while some turkey lettuce wraps were good for an evening, it made me suspect that I needed an overall change in my nutrition. Not a dramatic change—I'll still be eating lumps of homemade pecan fudge—but a nudge in the right direction.

What I decided on was Meatless Monday. One day of abstinence weekly to help pep up my digestive system and get in a few nutrients I might otherwise zoom by on my way to the meat.

So I started out my Monday filled with anticipation. I had rye flakes for porridge, and, along with banana, blueberries, milk, maple syrup, and a few hazelnuts, they made a sumptuous breakfast.

Many people think a hot cereal is too much trouble in the morning, but I'm pretty sure they just haven't worked out the lazy girl way to do it. What I do is put quite a lot of water and a fairly generous helping of oats into a pan (for those who need ratios, a minimum of 3 to 1—lots of this water is going to cook off), put on low heat, then go and drink my coffee and smoke about fifty cigarettes. As long as the heat is low enough, the oatmeal/rye/wheatberries don't burn, and you don't have any trouble getting a good hearty breakfast!

Over the weekend, I definitely had pickles on my mind. Not the kind that have been languishing in a jar forever, but fresh pickles. They seemed to be popping up everywhere, including over at Make Grow Gather. With excitement, I brined up a bowl of fresh carrots that have been getting tangier and more delicious every day since. As you can see, I didn't really peel them, just scraped them a bit and washed them well.

Finding a basic brine recipe isn't hard, but here's mine:

1 c. cider (or rice wine, or even white) vinegar
½ c. water
1 generous tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. peppercorns, juniper berries, and perhaps a bay leaf (feel free to experiment here)
A small handful of complimentary herbs like dill or thyme
2 tsp. sugar
1 c. vegetable of choice

Heating the brine first is a good idea because it helps the salt and sugar dissolve and makes the spices more pungent. So combine everything but the vegetables and herbs in a saucepan, bring to a rapid boil, then allow to cool slightly. Arrange your vegetables and herbs in a glass jar/stoneware crock/non-metallic bowl/old butter tub, then pour the brine to cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Eat within three days.

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