Black-eyed Pea Stew

Ugh, I have never gone this long without posting! I need to get back into the swing of it, or just start cooking more interesting things! I will try to be more consistent. Anyway, I nab fresh beans any time I see them, and I happened across some fresh black-eyed peas this weekend, so today I cooked up a spicy stew that seemed worth a post. Here’s what I did:

Black-eyed Pea Stew

1 leek, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small or part of a large sweet potato, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
about 6 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp celery seed
10 oz fresh black-eyed peas
4 cups vegan broth or bouillon (I used “chicken” flavored bouillon)
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp filé (optional, for thickening)
2 cups or more spinach (collard greens or chard would be even better but I was working with what I had on hand)

Chop the leek. I include some of the green bit so it doesn’t go to waste.

Mince the jalapeno.

Chop the tomato.

Mince or press the garlic and chop the carrot, bell pepper, and sweet potato.

Rinse and pick over the peas. You can also used dried black-eyed peas, which you don’t need to soak (though you can). Your cooking time will just be a bit longer.

Heat some oil in a Dutch oven, then add the leeks and celery seed. Cook for a few minutes.

Add the bell pepper, carrot, sweet potato, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook for another few minutes.

Add the broth or water and bouillon, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and if you are using it, the filé. Bring to a boil and cook until the sweet potatoes and peas are soft.

Add the spinach and cook just for a minute or two (a little longer for collards or chard).

I didn’t have enough rice in the house, so I cooked some barley in some vegetable broth as an accompaniment.

Serve with a crusty bread!

I also served with avocado, because I serve everything with avocado. The avocados are shown atop the stew here, but I really smooshed them on pieces of bread to eat them. This was a nice, smoky, spicy, wholesome meal.

So, I spent part of my absence in LA, where I attended Fortinbras’ graduation. Yay for Fortinbras! The car rental place gave me a free upgrade to a Jeep Wrangler, which was a ton of fun and made me happy because I usually miss having a convertible when I’m there. Fort meant to take a picture of me in the Jeep because he said I very unexpectedly looked “perfect” driving it (he thought I’d be dwarfed by it as I’m so “tiny” and ordinarily drive a very tiny car), but we forgot. In fact, I lugged even more photography equipment than usual out there yet managed to take far fewer pictures than usual. It was more a trip to just be with friends, and Fort’s family, than sight-see, though, and it was really nice. One new thing we did do was drive down to San Diego, which is about two hours south of LA. This is La Jolla, which I learned on this trip is how you spell the place I formerly thought was spelled La Hoya!

This kind of looked like Greece to me, not that I’ve ever been to Greece.

We saw a gorgeous sunset there.

Okay. Time for a story. Lately it seems like all my trips end up taking on some sort of eerie literary significance. Have any of you read 1Q84? My story contains no spoilers, but it’s a little more interesting if you are familiar with it. I was driving a Jeep full of friends to La Jolla on an absolutely gorgeous day, sitting in typical southern California beach traffic, when from the passenger seat Fort exclaimed, “Some woman just got out of a cab into traffic and started walking down the highway!” To which I responded, “That’s the beginning of 1Q84!” Which it is; the book begins with a girl named Aomame, who is a passenger in a cab sitting in heavy traffic on a Japanese highway, getting out of the cab (with the encouragement of the cab driver) and walking across traffic to a nearby set of emergency stairs. Fort watched his woman walk away, and that was the end of that conversation.

We finally made it to the beach, just before sunset, and I took the pictures above. We stayed until the sun was completely set and the moon was high in the sky. I aimed my camera at the moon and snapped this picture:

That is NOT what I saw in the sky. What I saw in the sky was the bright white blob you see in the photograph. I did NOT see the second, green moon. If you have read 1Q84, you know why this picture is weird. In 1Q84, some people, including Aomame, become aware of a second, duller, greenish moon hanging in the sky a little lower than the regular moon. Most people don’t see the second moon. I have no explanation for the appearance of the green moon in the photograph. A second picture I took a short while later also contained the green moon. A picture from the exact same perspective taken by a friend did not contain the green moon. It must be some sort of lens flare – it looks like it may be a mirror image of the real moon – but it was strange it appeared just a couple of hours after another 1Q84-like event. Creepy, huh?!

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Corned “Beef” Stew

I wasn’t going to post my St. Patrick’s Day dinner because I figured those of you who read a lot of food blogs have been bombarded with very similar recipes all week, and I wasn’t fixin’ to make anything unique. I couldn’t decide, though, between “beef” stew or corned “beef” and cabbage, and so I ended up combining them into Corned “Beef” Stew. Still nothing all that groundbreaking here, but I quite enjoyed it and thought I might want to make it again, so I decided to post it anyway, if only for my own reference. To be honest, I’ve never had corned beef, so I don’t know how corned beef-y this really is, but I used seasonings I think are used for corned beef, and I made it a bit tangier than my usual “beef” stew. This may look like a lot of ingredients, but really it’s a very simple recipe that comes together in no time; perfect for a weeknight.

Corned “Beef” Stew

1/2 onion, diced
1 package Gardein Beefless Tips, “beefy” seitan cut into bite-sized chunks, or your favorite vegan “beef” substitute (TVP chunks are good here, too)
3 carrots, chunked
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 tiny to small (fingerling-sized) or 2 medium potatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegan “beef” broth (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (I used Trader Joe’s frozen variety, which seem better than other frozen brands)
2 cups chopped green cabbage
several splashes malt vinegar (other types of vinegar would work as well)

Seasonings
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1 or 2 bay leaves

If you’d like, lightly crush the seasonings (except the bay leaves) in a suribachi or with a mortar and pestle, or you can leave them whole if you prefer. Put the seasonings in a mesh tea ball or tie them up in cheesecloth, or something similar, and set aside. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat, then add some oil. Add the diced onions and cook until soft, then add the “beef” and saute until browned. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in the flour to coat the “beef” and veggies. Slowly pour in the broth (it helps if it’s hot; I heat the water for mine in my electric kettle and pour it into the pot, then add the bouillon to it), stirring so it thickens without lumps. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the pearl onions and cabbage. Bring to a boil and add the seasonings in their container. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add the malt vinegar to taste. When you are ready to eat, remove the seasoning container.

Mark liked his over rice. Serving it over cooked barley would be delicious. Or you can eat it as is. I think I preferred this to my usual “beef” stew.


(Yes, Gomez strikes again in the background of this picture!)

It’s becoming spring-like around here! Tomorrow it is supposed to be 75 degrees!! The kittens are loving the extra hour of sunshine…as am I.

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