CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

The Tale of the Mystery Marrow

Portelas PotatoesA couple of weeks ago, a neighbour brought me a huge sack of potatoes - fresh, straight out of the ground. There's about twice the amount I would normally buy at once, so to avoid waste, I'm making meals that focus on them.

With them, were two bottles of local, home-made wine. Those can be added to the two that the man who comes to tend the vines in my backyard gave me, another two that my next door neighbour gave me and several that my landlady gave me at Christmas. The irony is that I don't drink. Can't drink. Maybe it is some sinister trick of pre-menopausal witchery (i.e. my age), but I can't even take a small sip without getting a headache.

Ah, but I can cook with wine OK, so I'm kinda having a run on stews into which contain large amounts of potatoes cooked in even larger quantities of wine! The wine goes into the pot first and I boil off the alcohol, leaving only the flavour.

These dishes are ideal for cooking up a large amount at once (usually, I do enough for five portions), which I then serve out into plastic containers that go in the fridge. I get a decent, home-cooked lunch every day, but I have only had to cook once. Not only is this less effort, it uses less energy (gas/electric). If I can really organize myself into action, I try to do this on a Monday, so that it also frees up my time to do other things during the week.

Recently, while I was out, a marrow appeared, mysteriously, which I found hanging in a bag outside my door. One of the local specialities where I live is potaje, a hearty soup/stew, which is based around chick peas (garbanzo beans), potatoes and various varieties of "greenery", like cabbage or Swiss Chard. I didn't see why it couldn't also be done as a marrow variety and I was right. It ain't fancy food, but it is filling and the combination of the wine and the marrow give it enough - and actually very a pleasant - flavour.

humusSo, last night I put a half kilo pack of garbanzos in to soak and this morning I cooked them. 

You can cook only as many as you need and that these garbanzos will keep in the packet, but it is a lot of work (just remembering to soak them in time, is enough), so I tend to cook the whole package at once.

Half of the cooked garbanzos go back into the stew and, with the other half, I made a bowl of hummus. Voila! That's afternoon tea taken care of for the next few days too. :) (Fortunately, I have a small loaf of fresh, crusty bread delivered to the door every morning.) My quick and easy recipe for hummus:

Ingredients:
About a quarter kilo of cooked garbanzo beans
4 cloves of garlic
A pinch of course sea salt
About a cup of olive oil

Method:
Throw the lot into a liquidizer or food processor. Pulverize until creamy.

If you don't always have lemon, tahini or any of the other things mentioned in the usual recipes to hand, it doesn't matter. Mine is based on an old Spanish recipe and it didn't call for them either. The salt is important though, or it tastes like soap! :)

skins Wasting nothing (even the dog seldom gets scraps from me), after I'd peeled the potatoes to go into the stew, I fried the skins in olive oil until golden, sprinkled with sea salt and served them as a starter with ali-oli (garlic mayo).

Because of the gifts of the potatoes, wine and marrow, I now have healthy, ready home-cooked meals (achieved with very little effort, because most of the cooking was unattended simmering too), for the next few days for little more than the cost of the garbanzos: 80 Euro cents (50 pence/about a dollar).

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