Friday, August 22, 2008

Stocking Up

The weather has given us a very cool August. Hardly a need for fans this year, air conditioning aside. The Hobbits are "enjoying"--and I use the term in mild sardonic amusement--a vacation from media except on days that are stormy and otherwise confining. Needless to say, Bug prays daily for rain and not for my garden's sake. Heh. On the other hand, they are learning better how to play with each other, how to explore the limits of their imaginations and expand the limits of their patience with each other. I'm turning each room out in a fall cleaning frenzy, still trying to play catch up from all of the to-do's hanging over my head since I was ill during Christmas. And of course, everyone is starting to think schooly thoughts. I'm teaching an SAT essay prep course this year and am madly prepping myself for the task. Oh, I can write, but I've never tried to teach anyone else to write. Gonna be an interesting year, I can tell you.

The leaves are starting to turn already and it augers to be a very cold winter. The fall webworm caterpillars are in much larger abundance and some of the local veterans speak of them in ominous terms. One feels the urge to start the annual process of putting foods by and preparing for the winter ahead. Since the fruits of such garden as I have yield enough to feed us only a seasonal share, I'm looking at other sources of stocking up and filling my cellar.

Stocking up seems to be on the lips of lots of folks. Rising food prices and references to food shortages, though none domestically have materialized...yet, have a good many people thinking ahead and planning ahead. It doesn't have the frenzied commercial furor of Y2K, but I see more people quietly planning, working, and systematically laying in a store house of food for their families. It certainly seems reasonable to me. Nothing radical or overly ambitious. I'm following the same rule of thumb for storing as was given me for planting a garden. "Plant/store what you eat and eat what you plant/store. " No breaking the bank, either, on glitzy food rations and survival toys. Just every time I order food or go shopping, I pick up an extra bag or two of grain or bottle of olive oil or whathaveyou to stick down in the basement. The halt of some countries in their export of foods may be temporary and a blip on the radar, but as someone who can't just grab Mac n' Cheese instead of Rice a Roni if it comes to that, I feel the need to be cautious.

Since beans seem to be enjoying a return to the menu--that is if I can get the Hobbits to eat enough of them to monitor for a food reaction--I'm leaning on them as a cheap source of protein to fill in the corners of my now-less-roomy basement. Which brings me back to "store what you eat and eat what you store." I can store all of the beans our budget will buy, but I've got to get them to eat 'em. So I've been meditating on ways of presenting beans that will sell to Hobbits. (I won't elaborate on my nose being out of joint at their cavalier dismissal of my hummus, which I think is divine and Tool Guy agrees, but I digress.)

I think I found it.

Toasted Garbanzo Beans

2 cups of dried garbanzo beans
2 T lemon juice
mason jar(s) and sprouting lid(s)
4 T olive oil
salt or seasoned salt
1-2 T chili powder (opt.)

Soak the beans in water and lemon juice overnight. Drain and transfer to mason jars to sprout for 2-3 days or until tails are length of bean. Pour out onto towel and blot dry. Spread into baking pan or cast iron cookware in a single layer of beans (this may mean splitting the beans into more than one pan/container). Mix in 2 T of oil per 2 cups of beans and sprinkle with salt or seasoned salt to taste. If zippier beans are desired, add chili powder to the mix and stir well. In a 450* oven, toast beans for 20-40 minutes or until desired degree of crispiness is achieved, checking every 3-5 minutes after 30 minutes. These nuggets can go from toasted to "toast" in a very short period of time, so keep an eye on them.

These have the consistency of cornnuts, but, given my prejudices about corn--ahem--I think these are better. Certainly higher in nutrients, particularly when soaked and sprouted. A great snack and the Hobbits love them. As my Deaf friends say, "Pah!" (Finally/Success!) So I make another check mark on my stock-up list. Done.

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