Friday, May 11, 2012

My $8.80 Gamble

So, as a follow up to my previous post, I present My $8.80 Gamble. This is the dry goods I bought at the bulk foods store as a result of reading Pinterest. (clockwise from top left) Dry kidney beans, dry pinto beans, bulgur, flour, couscous, dry black (turtle) beans and cornmeal. The flour and cornmeal aren't really a gamble, I've used them before and I was low. The beans, bulgur and couscous however, were. I have used beans before but only ever the canned kind. I even called my mom and asked why she never used dry beans. They are SOOOOO much cheaper! And, in the spirit of "real food" don't have any additives like salt. Her response was mostly that it just took too much planning to get them, soak them, cook them, and THEN include them in a recipe. It's much easier to just open a can and dump them in your pot. Fair enough but I'm finding that all the prep that goes in to cooking, especially clean cooking, is part of the fun of it. It's kind of a game for me. Now, I realize that I'm one person and if a dish I'm planning isn't ready I can just have cereal for dinner. It's different when you're feeding a family. I get that. But still, it seems worth it to me. So the black beans were for a delicious Black Bean Salad that I'm already craving again. The kidney beans, pinto beans and bulgur were for a vegetarian chili. It took me almost a week to prep it. Tuesday I started soaking the beans, Wednesday I cooked them on the stove. Thursday I soaked the bulgur and would have made the chili but it was a GORGEOUS day and just not chili weather. Friday I finally made it. Vegetarian chili is initially a little different to get used to because it doesn't have that hearty meaty taste but I added extra chili powder so it's still got kick and it's very satisfying. Plus, removing the meat makes it much healthier which is the point. I made cornbread muffins to go with it. Lastly I used the rest of the pinto beans for Easy Slow Cooker Refried Beans. My landlord has a slow cooker which she stores downstairs and has given us permission to use. This was my first time using a slow cooker, ever. I like refried beans as a base for my version of Mexican food (basically just a tortilla with beans and lots and lots of veggies on top). This recipe was easy. The only thing I would do in the future is be sure to only let them cook for eight hours. I left them in for closer to nine and all the water was gone. They're a bit dry but I just add water before reheating and they're perfectly fine. The good news is that even though I've eaten over a third of it already (in wraps, pitas, etc) I still have a ton so I won't even be trying it again for a long time. 

So there, that's my report on the cooking adventures that eight dollars and eighty cents bought me. And I haven't even use the couscous yet! I have some plans for that though. I'll let you know how it goes. And who knows, maybe I'll inspire someone else to use dry goods. 

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