When Tool Guy and I first married, one of the favorite forms of entertainment was jumping in our Plymouth Fury--nicknamed "Polly"--and running the roads...just seeing what was beyond the next bend. Needless to say, that practice is curbed these days, along with the vehicle most of the time. Unfortunately, it isn't only the price of gas that has kept us burning the home fires...lack of convenience foods tends to take the spontaneity out of things. We do day trips from time to time, but only with care and planning. I tend to overpack for those occasions, since I have this dread fear of getting lost or breaking down somewhere and not having safe food to eat. This week, a friend expressed frustration at her own family's particular food issues at times controlling their activities. At times? For us, that would be just about all the time. It certainly limits the scope of our treking.
It makes it particularly challenging, then, when travel is mandatory. Tool Guy, who disguised as mild-mannered Safety Guy in his day job, has to attend training sessions a couple of times a year that are somehow never close to home. More like the other side of the country and he's grounded from flying. In the past, Amtrak has been an attractive choice. "Let someone else do the driving" kind of thing, and for a few years, they did a reasonably satisfactory job of accommodation. Unfortunately, in this day of "cost containment"--which usually means "scaling back on quality"--the last Amtrak trip meant that there was very limited safe food to eat and absolutely nothing do-able on the breakfast menu. All prepackaged stuff. Nothing like being trapped in a steel box for three days with no food, eh?
This year, he's driving. But restaurant reliability is a very dicey thing. Anything that is a chain is doomed to the same fate as other prepackaged fare. Anything that is not a chain is a roll of the roulette wheel. The Russian Roulette wheel. He shared with me that he is singularly tired of getting contaminated every time he takes a trip. Toward that end, he acquired a small crock pot and a game plan for this trip. And I've been playing around in the kitchen, working on "road food" toward the goal of us being able to expand our horizons and find some elbow room. Lots of ideas swirling around and this seemed a good time to start working on application. This is the first one to go on my list.
A couple of themes that have been running through my attempts at "cooking dangerously" these days are grain-free and sprouting. We're trialing beans in this corner of the Shire and sprouting seems to be the best way to make them as digestible as possible. Many of the less desirable...um...attributes of beans disappear when they have been sprouted before processing. The idea of making bean tortillas popped up when I was trying to think of a way to svengalli the Hobbits into eating enough beans to register if they react or not. They could eat tortillas by the stack if I made enough of them. Lots of nutrients and certainly better than rice flour.
The beans need to be soaked overnight and then sprouted (the technically correct term for this is "germination") for about three days or until a "tail" emerges to about the length of the bean. I run these through the pressure cooker for a mere two minutes once pressure has been reached. After a quick trip through the food processor, I mix in a spoonful of sourdough starter and leave in the fridge for a day or two.
Black Bean Tortillas
1 1/2 cups bean paste
1/2 - 3/4 cups tapioca starch flour
2-5 T melted lard
2-3 t guar gum
1 t salt
Extra lard for cooking
In mixer, using a dough hook (one of the rare times that gluten free baking requires a dough hook), mix the dry ingredients with the melted lard and slowly work in the water until incorporated. The dough should be dry enough to work with your hands. Break off a ball of dough and roll into a ball. Using sheets of baking parchment or wax paper, flatten in a tortilla press or roll out with a rolling pin.
In cast iron skillet over medium low heat, melt more lard. Place tortillas one at a time into the skillet, browning for a minute or so until it starts to brown and bubble. Flip tortilla and cook the other side for another couple of minutes.
Best eaten warm, but these can be frozen and reheated later.
"'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,' he used to say. 'You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.'"
Maybe having a safe food supply will make going out the door a little less of a dangerous digestive business...