Saturday 23 September 2017

A day in the Life of a "Make Ahead Cook"


 The beets and rhubarb have dried from their washing on the counter overnight. I'm roasting them with carrots, shallots, a pear, goat cheese, and walnuts for supper this eve. This recipe, (without the fennel - cause I don't have any right now)

I've done my morning blood sugar testing and  taken my insulin. Now for coffee and a brief bit of socialising in a chat room over breakfast. (A very nice fruit and cheese plate)

Am I officially a "foodie"?

Someone mentions craving pho, and that sounds delish, so, I decide it would be a great idea to make up a pot!

Off to the freezer to see if I've got enough soup bones and such to make a good broth. I do, so I get to work. The bones are saved from previous meals. Smoked pork, chops,  beef roast,  steaks, etc. I also save veggie bits - celery ends, onion and garlic tops and skins, bell pepper stems and seeds, leaves or stalks that aren't good enough for using in a regular meal, etc. They will all have a second "life" in making a wonderfully flavourful bone and vegetable broth.

 First, to sauté the garlic, ginger, anise, cardamom, and veggie ends and pieces for the broth. I would normally put the fish sauce in now too, only, since I'm cooking the beets above it, and don't want that flavour added to the beets, I'll wait to do that.

  Next, since I like to pre cook the beets some in the Instant pot and peel them after, I go ahead and put them on the steamer insert on top of the veggies, and add enough water to soften them up. This will add a nice flavour to the broth, I think. I've used the beet water as a base for bone broth and soups plenty of times before. Never tried it for pho. Not precisely traditional. It should be interesting though.

In the meantime, I cut up the rhubarb and shallots, set them aside for later, and go back to some other household tasks.

 Once the beets are done, it's time to take them out to let them cool...

... Then toss the bones, salt, and fish sauce in the pot, along with the drippings from last night's beef roast.
 90 minutes, plus natural pressure release time in the Instant pot produces the same, delicious broth which used to take 4-12 hours simmering on the stove! It's a wonderful improvement!! No stirring, no monitoring. I just "set it and forget it" and come back to it later in the day.

That's about the time I decide that this would make a great blog entry, to give an idea of how this "make ahead" cooking can work, even if you're not willing or able to devote a full day or three every month to making an entire month's worth of meals to freeze ahead. This is a few meal's worth in almost the same amount of time it would take to make just one meal!

Fast forward to the afternoon. Lunch was a couple hours ago. (roast beef sandwiches from lst night's roast on fresh baked, rustic bread. OH yeah!)

 The beets are cooled and I'm taking a break from other duties, so I toss the rhubarb and shallots in olive oil and honey (even with the sweetness of the pears, the rhubarb needs a bit of honey to "tame" it.),

 I pop that in the oven for a bit whilst peeling and slicing the beets, and coring and slicing the pear.

Of course, I save the beet ends and skin too - they're going in the dog food! (more on that later).

Back to other things as I wait 'til time to add the rest of the ingredients to the roasting pan. I've got some more produce from my weekly Terra Organics delivery to sort, wash, and put away, and a couple recipes to type out before I forget what went into them.

It's getting on toward evening now.
Next up: add the beets, pear, nuts, and goat cheese to the shallots and rhubarb, toss it a bit, and back in the oven for its final stretch. This gives me just enough time before supper's ready to strain and decant the pho broth into the broth jug for another day or few (it's a lot of broth!)
Then I put the bones and scraps back into the pot, along with the beet skins and ends with more water and some rice and oats for some tasty, home made dog food in the coming days.

Now, the food is ready and that's good, cause all these amazing smells have been driving me insane ALL day.
Roasted Rhubarb & Beets with Goat Cheese & Walnuts


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