Monday, June 30, 2008

Weeds for dinner!

For all intents and purposes, Chile practically came to my house and made my dinner for me last night. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have to say thanks for two fabulous posts that inspired dinner around here last night - the first was about how to make stock.

I was excited when I first saw this post because I love making soup. I gave up buying cans or boxes of stock a while ago - too package intensive. I switched to the little bouillon cubes. A lot less packaging, but check out the ingredients sometime - disgusting. Well, I don't know if disgusting is the right word. To be fair, I don't know what most of those things actually are - like silicon dioxide and disodium guanylate. I think I'll pass, thanks. The other nice thing about Chile's stock recipe is that it gives me a way to use up those onion bits that normally are the one bit of food waste in my trash (I've heard worms don't like onions). So I'd been saving up bits of onion, squash ends, tomatoes and such for the past week, I threw it all in the pressure cooker and made what is hands down the best veggie broth I've ever tasted in my life.

Making my own stock is great for a few reasons, besides the fact that it is delicious - I'm using something that otherwise would have been waste, I'm saving money (not tons, but a penny saved and all), and I'm able to reduce my consumption of prepackaged food items.

I didn't let the inspiration stop there, though. Chile also wrote about a veggie (weed) called purslane last week. Hm, interesting, I thought. I didn't run out to buy any though - but it showed up anyway, in my CSA box this week. A gigantic pile of it, in fact. I normally would have pushed this to the back of the fridge, not knowing what to do with it, and probably end up freezing it just before it went bad. But I felt encouraged yesterday, and found two great recipes yesterday: one for purslane and pea soup and the other for a rice and purslane melange. Both were relatively simple - especially the rice, which was super easy. They also both had a surprising creaminess to them (surprising to me anyway, because, aside from the small amount of butter used in the soup, they are both entirely vegan recipes). Lucky for me, they were also both pretty forgiving recipes - I substituted onions for leeks in the soup, and I had a lot less peas than what it called for. No matter. I also used brown instead of white rice for the rice dish.

The best part? I've mentioned before that someone around here (hint: not me!) is a picky eater. He's declared repeatedly how he finds brown rice disgusting and has no interest in eating it. Well, I gave him a spoonful of the rice with purslane, and he proceeded to polish off the entirety of what was to have been my lunch today. That's ok, it makes me happy when people like the things I cook - and I have plenty of purslane left, so I'll be making more of the rice today. I think I might try freezing some for the next time I have a lazy day and don't feel like cooking.

I liked this stuff so much that I am going to try to grow some in one of my containers. I figure if it really is a weed, I should be able to keep it alive. Has anybody grown it before? Where do you get seeds? I've never seen them for sale before. Any growing tips?


ilex said...

Oohhh, purslane! I tried it for the first time last week, in a friend's garden- it is so good. I'm definitely growing that green baby next year.

Beany said...

That's so exciting! I don't drink soup unless I'm sick...but using up those bits and pieces of veggies in stock is very clever. Soup is also an easy dish...maybe I should make it more often?

Chile said...

Woohoo! Now you've inspired me to go put the veggies in the freezer into the stock pot, make some stock, and use up the last of my purslane. See? It's going full circle now. :)

Green Bean said...

I've never grown purslane or, for that matter, eaten it but I do so love how eating seasonally expands our eating horizons. Weeds for dinner sounds divine.

Debbie said...

Hmmm...have never heard of purslane. Guess I had better research this and find out more. I love soup - hot and cold. Last week a friend served cold 'lemon chicken and rice' soup. I was nervous at first sip but I was soon licking my bowl clean. It would also be delicious hot. Your picky eater might enjoy it ;)

Heather @ SGF said...

Doesn't your own homemade stock make everything taste better!? I hardly use any spices in my soup and it always ends up a million times better than canned.

Melissa said...

ilex, we'll have to compare notes!

beany, soup is definitely something I make often - if for no other reason than that it freezes really well, so I can always have something on hand when I don't want to cook!

chile, I saw a bunch of great looking recipes for purslane and sorrel soup too if you have any of that on hand!

green bean, I wouldn't be surprised if you see some at the farmer's market in the next couple weeks!

debbie, can you get me that recipe? I don't know if he'd like it, but I'm sure I would!

heather, the difference is unbelievable. I really couldn't believe there were no spices when I first tasted it!