Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Crock Pot Chronicles

Haha! Not really. But you may recall that I bought a Crock Pot and used it to augment my vegetable broth making capacity. And I have done NOTHING with it since. I didn't have time to assemble recipes in the morning, and a helpful commenter suggested assembling the night before and plugging it in in the morning. Brilliant! I used it to make Black Bean Chili, a Cooking Light archive staple in our house. And it was BETTER than on the stove top. The onions got much softer and the liquid absorbed better, making it thicker and yummier. So I decided to try it for a lunchtime soup for me. Scroll down for the recipe and comments on my Split Pea Soup.

Knitting: The beginning of my gift Branching Out:

Yeah, that's it for knitting news.

Reading: Re-reading Suzann Ledbetter's Hannah Garvey mysteries. I'm on the fourth, West of Bliss. These are really fun.

Writing: I picked out a desk that will fit in the tiny space I have available (the dormer in the guest room). I am very excited about it. Here it is if you're interested. I just need to find a good chair to replace my boring rolling office chair that's not all that comfy.

Cooking: Yesterday was a rough day. With my parents coming in the following evening, the house was still a disaster. Lilah declined to take her afternoon nap, which plays havoc with my sanity, and prevents me from getting anything done. I realized that I had to have rice pudding. Right now. This hardly ever happens--generally, chocolate is my stress-reducing food (Matt starts to worry about me when he notices I'm stockpiling chocolate in the pantry). And so I couldn't find my recipe. Searching just made me mad (which is strange; I usually find something there that will work or can be adapted). So I broadened to a Google search. After looking at one recipe, I whined, "But I don't WANT to bake it! I want to make it on the stove!" At another, "I don't WANNA cook the rice first!" And another, "I don't WANT eggs in it!" Seriously, I was whiny yesterday. I knew I wanted cardamom. I knew I wanted it on the stove. I knew I wanted no eggs, and no pre-cooking the rice. I wanted almonds and I wanted raisins. So here's what I made. And it was AWESOME. Exactly what I needed!

Rice Pudding My Way

4 cups vanilla soy milk
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 cup golden raisins

Combine soy milk, rice, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cook until thickened (about 20-30 minutes), then add remaining ingredients. Cook until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

This is based on assorted vegetables I had in the fridge and needed to use up. If I'd had any that weren't well past their prime, I would have used leeks, celery, spinach, and potatoes and left out the green beans. And dialed down the turnip a bit. And I'm not sure I'd use parsnip. But I'm glad I didn't have those things, because this was fantastic as written. Even my husband, who secretly wishes I'd throw in a ham hock, loved this soup. Very, very thick, and it filled my big Crock Pot to capacity. The flavor was earthy and subtle, and it was just excellent.

2 cups chopped parsnip
3 cups chopped turnip
3 cups chopped carrot
3 cups chopped onion
2 cups frozen green beans
1 lb yellow split peas
2 TBL chopped rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 TBL olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

Combine in Crock Pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours+. Puree using an immersion blender.* Adjust salt and add black pepper.
* I love my immersion blender. I think mine cost $10 in 1999 and is still kicking. It has a little attachment for whipped cream, too.
+ I put this in the fridge overnight and plugged it in at 8:00 am. At noon, it was nowhere near done, and I think using hot broth and water would have made it do-able for lunch, but starting from cold, it took 8 hours on high. I did add between 1-2 cups of boiling water in the morning because the split peas had absorbed so much liquid overnight that the liquid wasn't covering.


Knittypants said...

Mmmmmm...your recipes look good. I think I've finally made the decision to be a vegetarian, so now I'm on the hunt for lots of good recipes to try. Do you have any favorite cookbooks to recommend, I'm trying to limit dairy as well.

Your scarf looks great, too.

KnitPastis said...

I don't blame you for making Branching out again. It's so beautiful! I bet it's addictive too.

Well, I am not a vegan but close enough to it! I totally can appreciate your recipes.

Hope your writing is going great! If I know you, it is:)

Anonymous said...

Sorry I haven't responded sooner. I can't find your email address so I am stuck commenting here. I don't blog anymore because I am addicted to flickr. If you want to see what I am up to, go to the blog and you can click through to my flickr account. Thanks for catching up! Lee

Rachel said...

That little desk is so sweet! And it'll be so atmospheric to sit at it under the eaves in a guest room. You definitely need a less mundane chair so you can round out the picture and write moody period pieces.

Happy new year!