Too much convenience?

Mueller's Pot-Sized PastaI was striding purposefully down the aisle of my local Harris Teeter when a package caught my eye–and brought me to a screeching halt–pot-sized spaghetti? This is something that you buy?  You don’t just take the regular spaghetti and break it, assuming that you’re not going to just put it into the water slowly, letting it soften until it’s all in the water?

Pot-sized angel hair?

Pot-sized thin spaghetti?

Pot-sized linguine?  Really? I was amazed, or maybe stupefied, or maybe the only thing that really covers my reaction was what I understand the British expression–gobsmacked–to mean!  Are we so far from “home cooking” that we can’t even deal with pasta unless it’s pot-sized. As you can tell this catapulted me right onto my soapbox, or maybe even onto my high horse (which every you prefer). Has having pot-sized pasta brought down the price of my plain spaghetti that’s too long to fit in the pot unless I stand there and lower it slowly into the water? Not being a marketer, or an economist, merely a consumer, I really doubt that  it has. (Besides, I think this would be too short to twirl effectively to wrap it around my fork.) Not something I’m likely to buy (even though I do sometimes buy other Mueller’s pastas.

jar of mixed rice and grainsI went past the pasta display because I was on my way to something of a convenience nature for me: one of the packages of grain mixes. Those don’t leave me gaping.  They are very useful for single-serving cooking.  My latest is an HT Traders mix of basmati brown rice, red rice, with barley and rye berries. That’s my idea of convenience–I don’t have to buy the standard package of each of those grains: that would be about 1-3/4 pounds of basmati rice, and who knows how much red rice and rye berries. I most likely would not use that mix if I had to buy each of those separately–unless I could buy each from bulk supplies.

That kind of convenience I can get my mind around. I do have packages of barley, oats, but even the dried things don’t have unlimited shelf-life. They don’t  spoil–in other words they are not perishable. If you store them carefully in glass jars with good seals, they should not get buggy, but keep them long enough and they won’t hydrate as well, taking longer to cook. For some dried goods like beans, you may get to the point where they will never soften appropriately.

Of course, there’s also the issue of storage space–for those of us without the luxury of a large pantry with miles of shelf space, but who do like variety this is a great alternative. It has another benefit: it’s compatible with the rice cooker.  I’m happy to more of the “esoteric” grains show up in my local supermarket–they are cheaper than if I were to go to a specialty shop, not to mention just closer to home.

mixed grains

Lamb leg steak–continued

lamb leg steak on plate with ratatouilleThat lamb leg steak that I cooked a couple days ago was a big steak–weighing in just a bit under a pound. That’s a lot of meat–couldn’t possibly eat all that at one time.  As vehement as I’ve been about not liking, or dealing well with leftovers,  that does not apply here.  I don’t really consider the part of this steak that I didn’t eat then as undesirable. I couldn’t have that luscious steak without some left for other uses–not when it needs to be at least an inch thick to cook well. You’re wondering what happens to the rest of this steak?

Often the remains of a beef steak or a pork chop goes into a sandwich–since roast beef, lamb, or pork is not on the single-serving menu. Other times it does some metamorphic changes.  The remainder of this steak went into the rice cooker with a convenience mix of grains,  some garbanzo beans to give me some additional meals that were not meat-centric.

Ingredients

  • about 1/2 pound of cooked lamb steak, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • one 15-ounce can garbanzo beans with liquid
  • one 10 ounce can of diced tomatoes with jalapeños with liquid
  • 1 cup of brown basmati rice, red rice, barley, and rye berry mixture (uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried Turkish oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup water (to bring total liquid to amount required for grains)

Preparation

  • Add all ingredients to rice/multi-cooker, stir well.
  • Set on rice cooking mode.
  • When cycle finishes, check grain for doneness.  If needed add more water in 1/2 cup increments until grains are done.

Ò¿Ó

Since the lamb steak had been well-browned on the griddle, it provided good rich flavor for the grains and the garbanzo beans.  Some of this was an extra meal (with a side of ratatouille), and the rest was packed (with the Handi-Vac®) for the freezer for later (especially cooler weather) meals.

mixed grains with tomatoes and lamb