Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Grub template

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I now have a draft of a grub template as an Excel spreadsheet (current version: 30 June 2012 – 11:42:03). You pick items from Columns A through F to build a grub:

A: Protein, 3-4 oz
B: Starch, 1 small serving
C. Oil, not more than 2 tsp per day—so I usually use 2 Tbsp when cooking a batch of grub (good for 3 days)
D. Greens, a good amount—lately I’ve been using two bunches, sometimes three (different greens, usually)
E. Vegetables, as many as you want
F. Condiments: add to grub as desired, but careful with the salty ones (soy sauce, for example)
G. Fruits, 1 for morning snack, 1 for afternoon snack

I use the template to remind me of possibilities, so rather than simply listing “rice,” for example, I list all the rices I regularly enjoy: black, brown, red, Minnesota wild, converted, and so on. Similarly, rather than listing (say) “onion”, I have Spanish onion, sweet onion, red onion, spring onion, leek, shallots, garlic, green garlic, scallions, ramps, … and any others that may later occur to me. [UPDATE: Pearl onions—just thought of those. I generally buy those frozen: too finicky to peel otherwise.]

Because you probably have your own favorite foods, the template is an unprotected spreadsheet: you can modify it as you want.

I use “grub” to describe the dish that results when all the foods are combined in one pot and then cooked—and that’s what I do, since I don’t like to wash pots. But obviously you could make your selections and cook each item separately and using a different method: broil the protein, boil the starch, sauté some vegetables, steam others—use as many pots and cooking methods as you like, but still hit the template. For me, it’s simply easier, faster, and more efficient to cook them all in one pot, but if you enjoy cleaning lots of pots, go for it: it’s still the same idea and the sample template still applies.

Those whose work week allows little time and who like to cook each food in its own separate pot can cook up several days’ supply and then combine appropriate amounts for a meal. For example, try the following:

Protein: cut a chicken breast or two into chunks, perhaps marinate, then broil or roast and use 3 oz per meal;

Starch: cook 1.5 cups black rice in 3 cups water for 30 minutes and then use 1/3 c (or 1/2 c for a full starch serving) per meal

Greens: actually, “leaves,” since they may be another color, generally red (red kale or red cabbage, for example)—rinse and chop a three or four bunches of greens and steam or simmer until done, splash with a little vinegar or lemon juice, and use a cup per meal;

Vegetables and oil: stir-fry some veggies in a 2 Tbsp sesame or grapeseed or olive oil: chopped onions, minced garlic, chopped celery, diced carrots, diced summer squash, diced zucchini, chopped bell pepper, chopped jalapeño pepper and use 1 c of those for a meal.

The above method also makes it quick and easy to assemble a good lunch to take to work—use containers that allow sufficient room for the volume of vegetables. This three-tier stainless carrier would work: put the protein and starch in one container, the greens in another, and the vegetables in the third.

Grub benefits: Tastes good, nutritionally sound, uses one pot, format independent (that is, grub can take the form of salad, soup, stir-fry, stew, casserole, or whatever: cooking method doesn’t matter), quick, easy, and (to me) interesting combinations.

Grub drawbacks: Because things are cooked together, appearance generally is not striking. This is daily grub, not company fare.

Grub cookware: When I cook rice, I generally cook it in a separate pot (typically 1/2 c rice cooked in 1 c water), and then add the cooked rice to the grub when I add greens. Pasta I just put in the grub pot and let it cook with the grub.

After a certain amount of experience, I can say that the ideal grub pot has a large-diameter bottom (for sautéing and browning) and reasonably tall sides, enough to hold the (frequently quite bulky) greens (which then cook down). My ideal pot is the All-Clad Stainless 6-qt “stockpot” (as they call it): just the ideal size, shape, and material. I found one at a good price on eBay. But any pot of this approximate size and shape will do. That size makes roughly 6 meals.

I also include with the template a chart to assist in selecting vegetables by color: David Heber wrote a very interesting book, What Color Is Your Diet?, in which he suggests eating each day plants from each of 7 different color groups. (Used copies starting at $1.) The color groups:

Green – Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, kale, Swiss chard

White/green – Artichoke, asparagus, celery, chives, endive, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, scallions, yellow onion

Orange – Acorn & winter squash, apricot, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, pumpkin, sweet potato, persimmons

Orange/yellow – Nectarine, oranges/juice, papaya, peach, pineapple, tangerine, lemon, mandarin orange

Yellow/green – Avocado, collard greens, corn, cucumber, green beans, green peas, honeydew, kiwi, mustard greens, turnip greens, romaine, spinach, yellow/green bell peppers, zucchini with skin

Red/purple – Beets, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries & juice, eggplant, grapes & juice, red peppers, plums, prunes, red apples, red pears, cooked red cabbage, red wine, strawberries, red onions

Red – Tomato juice, tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato salsa, stewed tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, watermelon

I frequently dice vegetables such as zucchini, squash, eggplant, carrots, and the like. It’s quite easy and takes little time: using a chef’s knife, I cut the vegetable length-wise into slabs, stack those and cut the stack length-wise into strips, then cut across those to make dice.

UPDATE: I was reflecting on the Color Chart and realized suddenly that I am getting no orange at all. I think I’ll be using sweet potato for starch more often and including diced carrots among the aromatics (with the onion and celery).

UPDATE 2: For quite a few examples of grub and gradual development of the idea, look through my grub posts (generally “recipes”—i.e., descriptions of what went into the grub).

UPDATE 3: The templates at work: I have to make a new batch of grub tomorrow. I already have a 10-oz cube of extra-firm tofu, so I have my protein in hand, and for some reason I fixated on red dandelion greens for the greens, and that seemed to work well with black rice and I know I’ll use olive oil, so all that’s left is to decide on the vegetables.

I haven’t been doing orange, though, and one possibility is to use a sweet potato (half of it diced for this batch of grub, half held back for the next batch) instead of black rice—and it would be more colorful. So that’s the first change.

I always use onions, and I saw some nice spring onions, but I already have shallots on hand. So I’ll buy just one spring onion and eke it out with shallots. I already have—and will use—garlic and chopped celery. I’m thinking domestic white mushrooms cubed to play games with the cubed tofu (they will look alike). And I think I’ll get a few Roma tomatoes and chop (with their juice and seeds) to add: the liquid will be useful for the sweet potato and dandelion greens. And cubed carrots can play games with the cubed sweet potato (both looking alike).

Acid brightens things up, so I’ll look for Meyer lemons and cube one of those to add as well. [Had to use a regular organic lemon instead; worked fine.] And I have jalapeño peppers on hand, so I’ll use a couple of those as well.

At this point, I’m just playing with it. Maybe add an anchovy or two from the handy bottle I keep for umami purposes. But I also have miso on hand, so I could add a tablespoon of that after I’ve cooked it, and let that be the umami. But I’m thinking the anchovies…

Here’s the recipe as I made it, using my new All-Clad Stainless 6-qt “stockpot”, which was wonderful: plenty of room to hold all the greens.

2 Tbsp EVOO
3 red spring onions, chopped (bulb and leaves)
2 large shallots, chopped
good pinch of salt

Sauté until softened and transparent. Add:

10-12 cloves garlic, minced

Sauté for a minute or two, then add:

10-oz cube extra-firm tofu, diced small
6 domestic white mushrooms, diced the same size
3/4 c chopped celery (two good-sized handfuls)
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and minced (including seeds)

I sautéed that for a while, then added:

5 whole large Roma organic tomatoes, chopped in food processor—I processed whole tomatoes (with the seeds still in) because I wanted the liquid for cooking the potatoes and greens
1/2 sweet potato, washed but not peeled, and diced
2 carrots, diced the same size
1 bunch red dandelion greens, chopped
1 bunch Lacinato kale, chopped
1 organic lemon, ends cut off and then diced whole
2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
4 anchovies, minced

I did two kinds of greens: they both have quite narrow leaves and the bunches were relatively small. Dandelion greens are a little bitter, as is the lemon’s peel, but I like a little bitter from time to time. Bitter melon is a summer favorite.

I covered the grub and simmered it for 30 minutes. At the end there was a fair amount of liquid, so I added:

1/3 cup Israeli couscous (to absorb extra liquid—chia seed is another possibility)

Cover simmer about 10 minutes more. Grub!

— Just had a bowl: really tastes great! I’m surprised, especially since I haven’t had any combination like this one—this was a “themeless” grub. But it tastes very fresh and light. The lemon was a good touch.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 May 2012 at 11:30 am

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