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Waste Not, Want Not: Confessions of a Recovering Foodie Pt. 1

So I missed spring cleaning in my pantry. Then I ran around in the mountains racing all summer. I looked at my well stocked pantry full of various whole grains and legumes, spices, seasonings and other random ingredients, and wondered, how long have they been in there? Like those French green lentils du puy? When was the last time I used those? These dry goods don’t last forever, even if they do store well. And then there was the refrigerator. Untold numbers of little jars and bottles of strange sauces and condiments required for some random dish I cooked maybe once. Time for a bit of cleaning. My sister does this at our parents’ house, and it’s pretty funny to watch as she tears around checking expiration dates.

Well the refrigerator is easy because those little jars and bottles actually have dates. But what about my dry goods that I buy in bulk? Well, I use so much rice that I know that is turned over regularly but what about the mung beans, adzuki beans, yellow split peas, and French lentils? SO I have begun an autumn quest to rotate through my dry goods and use up the odds and ends. I am aiming to use this as an opportnity to make cheap dishes and save a little on groceries as prompted by a few recent articles and bloggers, like the Slow Food Movement’s $5 challenge. How much can I make this pantry bounty produce? A lot, I think. Of course with Murphy’s law lurking in the background, I suppose a natural disaster is around the corner, just as I use up my stock!  I also hope that this will lead me to rediscover some dishes I haven’t made in a while, and clear out old stuff. Like those black-eyed peas. Man, I haven’t made Hoppin’ John with collard greens in a long time. Maybe it’s time . . .

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Marathon Millet and Mung Beans

Braised Greens, Mung Beans and Millet

Mung beans are a funny little green bean. They are the basis for the white bean sprouts in many Asian dishes. They are also common in a hulled and split form in Indian dal. They are reputed to be easy to digest, and I like them, but I hardly ever come across any recipes for them in their unhulled and whole form. One of the few I have found came from a recipe in an old cookbook for Kenyan beans. Now the legendary status of Kenyan runners and the plant based diet they consume immediately attracted me. I can’t find many Kenyan recipes, so I don’t know if mung beans are common or not, but I combined a mung bean stew with two African staples, millet and spicy cooked greens. This is definitely a plant strong recipe that might not make me run exactly like a Kenyan, but I am hoping that it will power me through my marathon this December.

MARATHON MILLET AND MUNG BEANS WITH SPICY GREENS

Ingredients:

1 cup mung beans, rinsed
4 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, minced
1 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup millet
2 cups water
1 teaspoon seasoning blend like Mrs. Dash or Spike
1 bunch kale, collards or chard, chopped
1/4 cup water
hot sauce to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add mung beans. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min.
  2. After mung beans have cooked for 30 min. add vegetables and cook until done, about 30 min.
  3. In a separate saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add millet and seasoning blend. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min. When done, let rest off heat for 10 min.
  4. Braise greens in water, covered until done, about 10 min. Optional: greens may be braised with chopped peppers, onions and/or tomatoes. Season to taste with Bragg’s and hot sauce.

To Serve:

Fluff millet and scoop into bowl. Top with a scoop of mung beans, then top off with greens. Add hot sauce to taste. Enjoy, and run faster.