It felt like there was nothing to eat in the house. My son had left for school in the morning with a pb&j, an apple, and three pickles. Even that sandwich had been light on peanut butter. But it was evening and I was home first and starving. So I stood in the kitchen and summoned the spirits of the kitchen to help. It was going to be another night of Stone Soup Cooking.
The premise is simple when you feel like you have nothing in the house or you know that your grocery budget for the week is under a hundred dollars you cook “out of thin air’. First thing you do is browse the pantry and freezer for one ingredient, the one that sparks an idea. From there it is easier to follow the theme.
Tonight it was the can of coconut milk in the back of the canned goods, which led to finding the half pound of cod in the freezer hiding among the greens. From there it all followed as so many meals do with searching out spices, and other staples to turn a frozen block of fish and a can into a meal.
[with a picky eater in the house there are certain skip meals for him so he suffered through miso tofu and yams, still accounted for in the budget]
Coconut Fish Curry Soup
Indian Style Greens
Tangy Short Bread with Chocolate Raspberry Goodness
For the soup:
1 Can of coconut milk (full fat)
1/2 pound of cod cubed
4 whole tomatoes from a can chopped (the rest will be sauce tomorrow)
1/2 an onion (or in my case the remnants of an onion and a few scallions)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 table spoon of ginger minced (we keep ours in the freezer and just chop bits off as needed)
3 table spoons of curry spices (I mix my own but that’s not necessary)
Fish Sauce to taste
….I added some lime leaves that were in my spice cabinet but lemon or lime zest could work or nothing at all.
1. In a little dry pan heat all the spices (if your a geek like me and get them whole) when they start to give off a scent grind them up (if you aren’t a geek like me skip this). Put aside.
2. In a big pan (we have three pans big little and tiny) saute the onions in your choice of oils on medium until they are all melt-y.
3. Add the spices, garlic, and ginger cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and a cup of water before the garlic burns, lower heat to medium-low.
5. Cook down until no liquid is left (I like to do this twice to make it fall apart more).
6. Add the fish and another cup of water, cover and bring back up to medium, cook for 15 min (if the fish was fresh you could go less but this was frozen).
7. Lower heat again to a simmer and add can of coconut milk and simmer for about ten minutes (keep it on low afterwards until ready to serve).
8. Add fish sauce to taste (think of it as a woodier salt).
1/2 cup of red lentils (or two nice size handfuls)
2 table spoons of butter
1 clove of garlic
2 pinches of cumin
Salt to taste
….I added half a cinnamon stick to change things up, we eat a lot of dal.
1. In a pot or pan on medium heat the butter until the foam dissipates.
2. Add lentils and stir until coated.
3. Add garlic and cumin seeds (if you are using powder wait until the water is added) cook for a minute or so.
4. Add two cups of water and cook down.
5. Repeat step 4 until the lentils have lost all shape (think of this as an Indian version of refried beans).
For the Rice:
1 cup of rice (some non-instant white rice)
1 pinch of cumin
1 pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon of butter
1. Put saffron in bowl cup of warm water, put aside and cook something else, when the water is almost orange it is ready.
2. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
3. When foam is gone add rice and saute until slightly transparent.
4. Add cumin seeds and cook another minute.
5. Add 2 cups of water and cook it down, stirring occasionally, do the same again.
6. Add saffron water + one cup of regular water and cook down, continuing to add water only when all the other water is gone, check each time for doneness.
Alternatively you can just through all the ingredients including the butter into a rice cooker and turn it on.
For Indian Style Greens:
I used one pint bag of various winter greens, that I had processed this summer, plus two handfuls of spinach. This one is really an approximate recipe. The idea is to have a balance of the harsh flavors for turnip greens or mustards with the richness of the spinach.
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
2 tablespoons of chopped ginger
1/2 fresh jalapeno or other green small spicy pepper (another thing we keep frozen and chop off of when needed)
3 tablespoons of corn meal
Oil for the pan
1. Defrost or cook greens in 1/2 – 1 inch of water. Adding the spinach for only the last 30 seconds.
2. Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno and cook until the rest of the water is gone.
3. Add 1/2 cup- 2/3 cup of water and corn meal, mix well corn meal lumps are gross, cook until water is gone.
For the Short Bread:
2 handfuls of white flour
1 handful of corn meal
1 handful of sugar (I use unrefined so it is less sweet)
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of plain yogurt
1 handful of chocolate chips
2 teaspoons of raspberry jam
1/2 cup milk (use cream if you have it…we rarely do)
1 or 2 tablespoons of coco powder
1. Preheat oven to 350, and oil and flour a bread pan.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. Add 2 Tbls of butter and incorporate it (some people mash it with a fork or pastry cutter I just squeeze it with my fingers until the butter bits are gone).
4. Add yogurt and mix until a lumpy batter, put aside.
5. In a tiny sauce pan on medium heat mix the jam, remainder of the butter and chocolate chips.
6. Once melted add the coco and mix in.
7. Add milk and mix until it looks like a chocolate sauce (for a while it may seem like the milk isn’t going to mix in but it really does).
8. Pour chocolate raspberry mixture on short bread batter, I like to leave one corner bare so I can see when it browns.