Thursday, 28 August 2008

An embarrassment of riches

In keeping with what I said on the last post, here is another simple weekday meal. If you have cooked beans on hand (and one should always have some cooked beans on hand), it's ready very quickly. All you have to do is throw stuff in the pot and simmer it. Thrown in first and simmered for about 10mins: about 2c big white beans (any beans will work, though I think white beans or chickpeas or favas are best here), 3 large tomatoes, 5 cloves garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, saffron. water to cover (I used the bean cooking water). Thrown in second: 1 can artichoke hearts, halved. Thrown in just before eating: some spinach that was left in the fridge. See? Easy peasy. You can eat this with crusty bread. We ate it with wheatberries, olives and fresh dates. Yum.

Now, I wasn't planning on putting spinach in this, but I have a policy of Eating All My Food. The western world throws out about a third (yes, between 30% and 40%) of all our food. Good food, not spoilt. Stuff we produce and maybe buy and then just chuck. Leftovers from restaurants. One of the wonderful things about cooking is that once you get comfy not sticking too closely to a recipe, you don't ever have to throw out edible food again. Throw odds and ends into soups, stews and curries. Robust stews are especially good ways to deal with veg that is past it's prime. Snack on that 1/3 of a bell pepper or random too-small-for-a-real-dinner amount of pasta left on the fridge shelf (it's better for you than potato chips anyways), and don't buy more than you can eat. When you eat out, bring a tupperware container if you're one of those people who can't finish restaurant portions (saving the food by putting it in a disposable styrofoam package is a little counterproductive, wouldn't you say?). Remember that food thrown into landfills doesn't "just decompose". Or at least not quickly, since we throw things out in hefty plastic bags, and the conditions in landfills promote preservation, not decomposition.

Yes. Those are my words of wisdom. If you finish your veggies, next post I will address the age-old question of "how to get other people to give you truffles".

waiting for a miracle with: leonard cohen.


Jake said...

Remember that food thrown into landfills doesn't "just decompose". Or at least not quickly, since we throw things out in hefty plastic bags, and the conditions in landfills promote preservation, not decomposition.

I remember when I first learned about that (probably in my early teens) and I was horrified. What was the point of spending extra time and money on all that biodegradable packaging, etc. if it was just going to go to a landfill and *not* decompose. That's when I instituted a new policy: Although I make a point not to litter, but rather to carry my trash with me to the next garbage bin I encounter, any organic waste I produce while I'm out and about (apple cores, banana peels, etc) just gets chucked into the next available bush or green patch. At least it will decompose there.

I haven't ever managed to make an in-apartment composter work, but I hear that Toronto will be adding apartments and condos to the green-garbage system in the next year or two, so that's good.

What's your take, btw, on municipal composting?

sinead said...

Sadly, I've never gotten composting to work, except when I was working at plant research institute where I could bring in my veg waste. I've always lived in flats (currently I have no balconies), and so I don't actually have anything to do with the compost once I make it, and here, I don't have anywhere to put it.

In theory, I think municipal composting is a great idea, but in practice, it often just ends up in the dump. I'd like to see it work, and especially in cities with allotments/community gardens/lots of green spaces, there is a clear use for it.

In general, I think that people tend to focus very hard on how to get rid of garbage, but ignore the far more obvious solution of just not creating so much of it (though creating some is inevitable). Even stuff like washing instead of peeling your veg, and using the *whole* edible part of the veg (eating beet greens, not just the roots etc.) can make a pretty big difference, especially when one is vegan and doesn't buy much processed anything, like me...

Honestly, I don't think vegetable waste is as big a problem as plastics, glass and paper. And poo (where vegetables ultimately end up). And with the exception of poo, we really don't *need* to produce most of the disposable stuff we produce in our everyday lives. Poo will be the topic of another post. Possibly one with a recipe involving prunes...