Friday, June 6, 2008

The Road Goes Ever On and On...

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 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...


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain SN! It is quite a challenge but it's do-able. You can dehydrate just about anything, then it will keep. Just add water...mmm! We bought a hotplate at Target for pretty cheap and took it to a hotel with cooler in tow of course...had to watch the burgers cooking as not to set off the hotel smoke alarm!! YIKES! That would have been in the parking lot about some idiot who was cooking burgers in room 102. ;0

Loztnausten said...


I'm also meditating sending some MRE's that I can myself...

Anonymous said...

Not REALLY related, but my dad is retired Army. I remember as a kid when my dad would come back from 'the field' he always brought us leftover MRE's. We would get so excited, ha! Kids are so weird. Course i suppose it was mostly the snacks/fruits we were after.

I think dehydrated is a GREAT idea for hotel 'hot plate' cooking (although perhaps not THE YUMMIEST). When i was a flight attendant I used the coffee pot warmer as a hot plate. Course i was mostly just heating up canned soup.

Loztnausten said...

When I was in elementary school, we had a military speaker...kind of a "show and tell" who brought MRE's with him. We went crazy over them. Kids *are* strange...LOL!

Lauren said...

I made these and use br rice flour in place of the starch, and added some cumin and chili powder. They were yummy--we ate them w/ salsa!

I had some left over dough and used it to make 'crackers' (inspired by this: I rolled out the dough very thin on some parchment paper and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes--they were good as well and were a great snack (again w/ salsa--I've just started fermenting my own and am loving it!)

Thanks for the awesome ideas! I love this blog!!!!

Lauren :)

Unknown said...

These look very good, I am going to try them soon.

I live fulltime in a RV with my husband--we travel a lot but I have my own kitchen right there. But I do agree--you never know what you are going to get in a restaurant. Thankfully, my only sensitivity is gluten intolerance, and that is hard enough. I can not imagine having more things to avoid.

Anonymous said...

I dont have a pressure cooker, and since we are yeast free, I wouldn't even dare do a sourdough starter... How would these 2 things change your recipe? I would love to come up with some decent wraps. We dont particularly like the rice ones we can find in the stores...
By the way, when we travel, we do the crockpot and the vitamix in the car and take an extra suitcase with "friendly" foods.

Loztnausten said...

Traveling certainly is a challenge! We're planning on a vacation this summer and I'm already starting to plot my strategy of attack.

Karen, a pressure cooker simply makes the cooking time faster and easier. You can cook these beans whichever way works best for you. The wild ferments in sourdough are safe even for my IgG yeast positive Hobbit, but if you're needing to be strenuous about it, then skip the sourdough process for the beans. I don't know what nuances it may change on the wrap, but I doubt that it would make the recipe flop. Go do some cookin' dangerously and see how it works for you!

Thanks for visiting and the encouraging words, ladies! said...

I,d like to try this but I dont know what guar gum is. (?) Also I would substitute a healthy oil for the lard. Animal source lard is saturated fat and vegetable source lard is hydrogenated trans fat, both notorious artery cloggers. Surely olive or canola oil would work?
Theres a fat free yummy cheesecake recipe on my blog if anyone is interested.

Loztnausten said...

Kathy! Thanks for visiting! Guar gum is a binder that is used to replace the adhesive characteristics of the gluten in wheat when one is using non-gluten flours, such as bean flour. WRT lard, it is a healthy fat if you can find lard from pigs that are pastured (ie not corn-fed) and that hasn't been hydrogenated. Because of increased demand, there is more of a market for farmers to provide this traditional fat to consumers who are wanting to avoid synthetic foods. Here's more information on the subject if you want to pursue it:

I don't know how liquid oils would work in this recipe, since I was modeling mine off of a traditional tortilla recipe, which calls for lard. I haven't tried it with liquid oils. If I needed to use a substitute for lard, I would probably resort to palm shortening or even ghee (clarified butter).

Hope this was helpful! :)