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Kidney Bean, Sweet Potato, and Millet Stew

Posted Dec 29 2008 4:53pm
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I know we sure did. Though we were unable to visit Brett's family in Illinois due to our losing our debit card (we have new ones now thankfully), we decided rather than be bummed, we were going to make the best of it. I am personally a huge fan on long weekends away from work anyway (who am I kidding, I am a huge fan of ANY time away from my job - it is lame!). So we spent that last four days reading, listening to music, running a few errands, watching awesome football, and playing video games together. We played Hot Shots Golf (I almost won! I have literally NEVER beat Brett at that game and we have played it so many times.), and Brett let me "run errands" for him on Grand Theft Auto since I have fun "driving" the car around. I say "driving" because it is very difficult and I often run into things or get the cops after me just trying to go get something to eat. Since I have been driving for him occasionally, I have broke about 4 cars (they just stopped running), completely scared the characters girlfriend away (because I accidently started shooting out the car window when I was trying to brake), got busted, and somehow got involved in a gang war. Such a savory game, I know, but it is pretty fun to drive around.

You may or may not have noticed that there wasn't a local booty update this week - I actually didn't go to the Root Cellar this weekend. We still have some stuff around and Brett has a cleaning/repairing project that is going to render the kitchen useless for a good portion of the week, so we will be frequenting our favorite local restaurants for a few days . It is nice to have the break from cooking, but I'm sure come next weekend, I will be ready to get back in the kitchen. Though not pictured, we did pick up some local Country Goodies peach apricot jam and a loaf of Uprise's Columbia sourdough (awesome flippin' bread by the way).

Anywho, I have been working on a little project to clean out my cabinets, inspired by Jessy and Dan who, awhile back, were working to use what they had around the house and reduce the amount of groceries they bought each week (they are so awesome that they passed the savings on to charity!). I was looking for something in my tiny kitchen the other day when I noticed how much food we have: tons of canned goods; bulk beans, rice, and other grains; winter squash, frozen goodies from summer; nuts, seeds, and so much more. I felt really bad at that moment - that we kept going out and buying new loads of groceries each week when there was so much food still around the house. I also realized that this project was not only a good way to reduce waste (and free up some cabinet space for all the goodies I want to can and preserve over the summer), but also a great opportunity for creativity. I've been creating a list of our "reserves" so that I can plan our meals accordingly and only buy things that will allow me to round out a meal using at least a few ingredients I already have.

Now, I'm in no way against stocking up, not at all, but I didn't know I still had most of this stuff! And there does come a point after stocking up that you have to start going through your stash. My goal is by the end of the winter to have the reserves depleted and our freezer empty and waiting to be filled by the abundance of summer (though we will always have a bulk amount of beans and rice around).

Brett has enjoyed this since it means that we are experimenting a lot less - and by "experimenting", I think he means trying something that isn't Mexican(ish) or Asian. :-) And honestly, I do better when I stay within the Mexican/Asian umbrella. I seem to have those flavors down and can just kind of wing it - sometimes when I venture outside that "comfort zone", things go horribly wrong. You might notice - if you don't perhaps you will now - that we use pretty much the same ingredients, we just pair them with different beans or seasonings to change things up. Most of the time I am reluctant to call what I post here "recipes" as they aren't anything special and they are often similar to other things we've made before. But if you want to know how to cook vegetarian, using mostly local ingredients, you have to be willing to eat, well, a lot of the same things, and get creative with how you throw them together.

Enough of the small talk and errant blabbering and on to the real purpose of this post - the food!

I have wanted to work with the local kidney beans we found at the Root Cellar and have been getting a little tired of creamy soup, so I decided to go a different route with this dinner. I also didn't want to make another chili either, but I wanted something warm that sticks with you as chili does. In going through my cabinet, I noticed a large container of bulk millet I bought awhile back (and forgot about) and the idea for this thick stew formed. I was pleased with how well it turned out and we got to use up some of our excess food as well as local produce, that is hard to beat.

This meal is not spicy - even Brett agreed - I, being a spice freak, added dried crushed habanero flakes to my bowl, so if you like spice, you might want to supplement with cayenne, crushed habanero, or even sriracha. We ate this with tortilla chips and it also made nice work lunches last week.

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Kidney Bean, Sweet Potato, and Millet Stew
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed +
1 red onion, chopped +
4 cloves of garlic, minced +
6-10 petite bell peppers, seeded and minced (other bell pepper would work) *** (frozen from summer)
3 cayenne peppers, seeded and minced +
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped *** (last of the bag ripened tomatoes)
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped +
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube (you could just use 4 c. veggie broth)
1 cup raw millet, rinsed
4 cups cooked kidney beans +
chili powder
Mexican oregano
dried cilantro flakes + (not sure if it is local)

In a large soup pot, combine potatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes (canned and fresh), water, and veggie bouillon. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Add the spinach, raw millet, kidney beans, and season to taste.

Simmer for an additional 30-35 minutes or until millet is soft.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Well, I am a little backed up on food posts, so I might try to get the rest of them scheduled to be posted this week if time allows this afternoon. I have another short week at work this week (:-)!), so I'd expect that it will be pretty quiet here at Veg*n Cooking between Wednesday and next Monday. I will try to get on over the weekend to post a local booty update, but if I don't get to it, I will do it next Monday.

I hope everyone is having a great start to their week. Mondays can only be so bearable.

'Til next time.
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