One Pot, One Spoon, One Delicious Meal
Some of my favorite memories from childhood are meals my grandmother made in her dutch oven. I don't know what made it Dutch but it was a heavy oval aluminum pot with a glass lid. Everything went into that pot -- meat, potatoes, vegetables, herbs -- and as it simmered for hours it filled the kitchen with wonderful aromas. Nothing could compare, then or since, with coming into the kitchen through a cold wooden porch after playing in the snow to see Grandma lifting the lid of the dutch oven and filling the room with a fragrant steam that made your mouth water.
It's been a long time since then and a lot has changed. Grandma's gone (peacefully at 93), her house is gone, and playing in the snow doesn't have the same allure it used to have. But one thing has remained: I still have Grandma's dutch oven and I love using it to make one-dish dinners for myself and for others. When I lift the lid and the steam embraces me, I am six-years-old again with my cold red cheek pressed against the scratchy starch of grandma's apron, and I feel warm and safe and loved.
Over the years I have cooked in dorm rooms and tiny studio apartments and on camp fires and wooden stoves. I've learned that cooking without a regular kitchen can be challenging, but with a hot plate, an electric frying pan, or a crockpot and a little imagination, there are lots of delicious nutritious meals that can be made in one pot. A great place for one-dish ideas is the local library or bookstore. Check for cookbooks that feature recipes for soups, stews and casseroles or cookbooks on camping out or crockpots.
The most important challenge in cooking without a regular kitchen is keeping protein products, such as meat and fish, at a safe temperature before and after cooking (see "Nutrition and AIDS" section on food safety). Food safety always comes first, and there is no such thing as being too careful. Buy meat or fish last, keep it away from contact with any other food and cook it as quickly as possible. If meat or fish is not going to be cooked right away it can be kept in a cooler covered with ice for several hours. If you use a cooler, keep a small one just for meat, fish and eggs. Always wash your hands in soap and water after handling meat and wash anything that the meat has come into contact with -- other food, cutting boards, utensils, etc.
There are lots of foods that can be kept for up to a week or more without refrigeration, including onions, garlic, potatoes, root vegetables (carrots, turnips, etc.), tomatoes, and fruit. Then there are foods that will keep indefinitely such as canned goods (including some meat and fish), grains, pastas, beans, powdered milk and freeze-dried foods. Other than meat and fish, there are three basic food groups from which we get protein: grains such as brown rice and pastas; legumes which include tofu, beans, seeds and nuts; and dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. Combining any two of these three groups (e.g., rice and beans) can create a high-value protein similar to what we get from meat and fish or can supplement small amounts of meat or fish. Another challenge is what to do about leftovers. Without refrigeration the best goal is to buy and cook only as much food as you can eat or throw out what you can't eat. This may be difficult because many foods are packaged in sizes that are too big for one person to consume at one sitting and the smaller the packaging the higher the price. This can sometimes be overcome by inviting someone to share a meal or by combining resources with a neighbor to share the cost of buying the food, and then spend time together preparing and eating. Below are a few ideas that can help stretch your food dollars followed by some one-pot recipes designed for one or two persons.
Whatever the situation, proper nourishment includes feeding the mind and the spirit as well as the body. How we eat is just as important as what we eat. Taking the time to breathe deeply before you begin, chewing your food slowly and thoroughly, and keeping your eating experience as free from stress as possible will aid digestion and enhance absorption. Every meal we eat is an opportunity to experience gratitude and pleasure, to feel proud of ourselves for getting it together, and to remember how it feels to be taken care of and loved.
Tips for Stretching Your Dollars
Buy store brand products. They are usually less expensive than name brands and of a comparable quality, particularly grains and legumes.
Most of the following recipes are for two servings. The amounts can be cut in half for one serving or doubled for four. Extra vegetables can be steamed first and served on the side.
Arroz Con Pollo - Chicken w/ Rice & Beans - Serves 1
1 Cup Rice 1 Tbl. oil (olive, vegetable, or canola) 1 3/4 Cups water 1 16 oz. can beans (black, kidney, or pinto), drained 1 Package Sason seasoning 1 Small onion diced fine 1 Clove garlic, minced 2 Chicken legs or 6 chicken wings
Mix the rice, oil, beans, onions, garlic and the Sason seasoning in the bottom of a deep pot. Place chicken on top. Pour in water and cover pan tightly. Bring to a boil (about 5 minutes) and then lower heat. Cook on a very low heat for 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
1 Cup Brown Rice 1 3/4 Cups water 1 Tbl. peanut butter 1 Tbl. curry powder 1 16 oz. can chick peas, drained 1 Small onion diced fine 1 Clove garlic, minced 2 Chicken legs or 6 chicken wings
Mix the water and peanut butter together in the bottom of a large pot. Add the rice, chick peas, onions and garlic and curry powder. Place chicken on top. Pour in water and cover pan tightly. Bring to a boil (about 5 minutes) and then lower heat. Cook on a very low heat for 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes. 1 Onion, chopped small 1 Clove garlic, minced 1 Tsp. oil (olive, vegetable or canola) 1 Tbl. oregano 1 7 oz. can tuna fish, drained 2 Cups dried pasta (penne, fusilli, etc.)
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-12 minutes until pasta is done. Drain pasta and set aside (it won't spoil sitting at room temperature for up to 1 hour). In the same pot, saute chopped and garlic in oil for three minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tuna and oregano the cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.
2 Cups dried pasta 1 16 oz. can white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained 2 10 oz. packages frozen spinach - thawed or frozen 1 Large onion - chopped small about one cup 2 Cloves of garlic, chopped fine 1 Tbl. oil 1 Tbl. Oregano 2 Hard boiled eggs, finely chopped Salt and Pepper to taste.
Hard boil the eggs and set aside. Cook the pasta in a large pot with at least 1 gallon of water for about eight minutes until done. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, saute the onion and garlic for about five minutes. Add the spinach, beans and oregano. Cook covered for about ten to fifteen minutes (longer if the spinach is frozen). Add a little water if the spinach or beans begin to stick. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot over the pasta. Garnish with chopped hard-boiled egg.
1 Lb. chopped beef or ground turkey 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes 1 Medium onion, chopped small and 1 clove garlic, minced 1 Tbl. oregano
Cook the chopped meat in the bottom of a large frying pan. Add everything else and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
This is a good all day cooking project if you feel like staying in. It works especially well in a crock pot.
8 oz. Stew beef (or lamb) 1 Tbl. oil 1 12 oz. can stewed tomatoes 1/2 Cup vinegar (red wine or Balsamic) 1 Large onion, peeled and cut into 1" pieces 3 Cloves of garlic, roughly chopped 3 Carrots, cleaned and cut into 1" pieces 6 Red potatoes, cleaned and cut in half 1 Tbl. oregano, thyme, or basil or 1 tsp. of each. 1/2 Tsp. salt 1 Tsp. black pepper
Brown the beef in the bottom of a large pot. Add the vinegar and let it cook down by half. Add everything else, cover and simmer on a low heat for at least two hours. The longer it cooks the more tender the meat will be. If you use a crock pot, it can cook up to six hours. Stir every fifteen minutes adding more tomatoes or water if necessary. As the potatoes cook they will break down and help make a gravy consistency of the liquid.
This is an inexpensive, somewhat tough, cut of pork. Long, slow roasting can make it melt in your mouth. Again, a crock pot or dutch oven would be perfect.
1 Lb. pork (shoulder, picnic, or calais) 2 Large onions, peeled and cut into eighths 1 Lb. carrots, cleaned and cut in to two inch lengths 6 Medium potatoes, cleaned and cut into quarters 4 Cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 Cup water, apple juice, or orange juice. 1 Tsp. each - Salt and Pepper
Brown the pork in the bottom of a large deep pot. Place all the vegetables and liquid around the bottom the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat, tightly covered for 3-4 hours. The meat is done when a deep cut reveals no blood or pink meat. Stir evey 1/2 hour and add more liquid if necessary.
1 Cup rice 1 Tbl. oil (olive, vegetable, or canola) 1 1/2 Cups water 1/2 Cup clam juice 1 6 oz. can clams 1 Package Sason seasoning 1 Small onion diced fine 2 Cloves garlic, minced 1 Tbl. Tarragon 6 Chicken wings
Mix the rice, oil, onions, garlic and the Sason seasoning in the bottom of a deep pot.Drain the clams and save the juice. Place clams on top of rice, sprinkle w/ 1/2 tarragon. Place chicken on top, sprinkle with 1/2 taragon. Mix water and clam juice and cover pan tightly. Bring to a boil (about 5 minutes) and then lower heat. Cook on a very low heat for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup brown rice 1 Tbl. oil (olive, vegetable, or canola) 1 1/2 Cups water 1/2 Cup red wine vinegar 1 16 oz. can black beans, drained 1 3" piece of ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped 1 Small onion diced fine 1 Clove garlic, minced 1 Lb. extra firm tofu cut into small squares 1/2 Cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Mix everything together in a deep pot, cover tightly. Bring to a boil (about 5 minutes) and then lower heat. Cook on a very low heat for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.