I’m starting to get a sense of cooking.

Beans and rice.  A ‘complete meal’ in the sense that, while neither food is nutritionally complete, between the two of them they are.  They complement each other in such a way that they provide your bod with all the biochemical parts it needs to keep running.

This isn’t a remarkable meal — it’s a kind of trail mash that you might make while camping — but it’s significant for me personally because it’s the first meal that I figured out how to cook myself. 

Not from a recipe, in other words.

The restrictions here are:  a one-burner stove; no fridge; many kinds of food you can’t keep loose, because ants will get into it.  If you ever travel to a third-world country, pack lots of tupperware.  It can be hard to find.

It seems that the primary skills of cooking depend on understanding cooking time, understanding what’s going on in the cooking — is the food absorbing water, is it carmelizing, etc — and, of course, managing the taste of the end result.

So, this is my morning breakfast:

1.  Fill the kettle with water from the tap.  Drinking this stuff unboiled is a bad idea. 

(Bottled water isn’t too cheap — 50 c. a liter — so I save a couple liter bottles and pour boiled water into them.  If you’re going to do that, let the kettle sit for a few hours — the bottle plastic melts easily and spectacularly.)

2.  Boil the water.  Use this to make coffee and set it aside.

(It’s important in Cambodia to pour this water into a clear, empty glass.  This allows you to check for fungus.  If you’ve let the kettle sit, especially while containing water, fungus will grow in the spout. 

(And it’ll hang in there with washing.  But boiling water brings it right out.

(Luckily, I found this out immediately.)

3.  Put some beans in the pot.  The smaller beans you buy, the faster they’ll cook.  Apparently because of the improved surface-volume ratio.  I bought white beans, which are 20-minute jobs. 

Pour the remaining kettle water into the pot.  Add some post-boiled water if needed.  You want about twice as much water as you have beans, by volume; precision isn’t vital.

4.  Beans and rice are *very* bland.  So while that’s going, chop up some onions, or apples, or whatever veggies you like in whatever combination you like.

After 15-20 minutes (or whatever your beans need), add the veggies.

5.  Add the rice.  I add about twice the rice I do beans; seems to work.  Top off with water if needed.

6.  After it’s cooked — probably after 7 minutes or so, depending on where you’ve got the heat — you can kill the heat.  If it’s still a little watery, that’s okay.  The beans and rice will continue to suck up the water.  If you keep the heat on too long, the rice will burn to the bottom of the pot.

Dish it out and add soy sauce if you like.  And if you’ve finished your coffee, you can make some Tang.

The next place I rent, I want a fridge as a priority.

Published in: on January 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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