Monday, May 12, 2014

Never Underestimate the Versatility of Tea


the tea bags about to be removed
It was Sunday yesterday, and sometimes a meal on a Sunday is a way to wind down from the weekend and wind into the week.  What I make on a Sunday completely depends on what I ate and how active I was, how late it is and how much time I want to spend making a snack or dinner.   Last night it was mind over matter.  I did not want to shop and I felt like just standing there, cutting veggies and thinking about the upcoming week. I always challenge myself to not throw out produce and it seemed like a time to create a brothy soup. But what to do for stock?  Then I realized that I had lots of great teas, so I found a tea that had a bit of robustness and simmered with with my assortment of veggies. I did not want something smoky or even green.  I wanted a touch of richness so Rooibos it was.

Next, the decision was how to add umami to this tea base Spring dish, that fifth sense of 'yummy' other than the usual salt, sour, sweet and bitter that tells your tongue and palate you are eating deliciousness you  authored! Since I was not using meat or shellfish  or meat or shellfish stocks those sources were out.  I had no open tomato paste and only limited mushrooms so that was not going to make this fabulous.  Then I remembered that carrots, sweet potatoes, edamame and a touch of soy.....enough said.  30 minutes of chop, slice, dice, simmer and plate.  Yum!

a tasty easy almost no cost meal with tea
Take a look at your frig!  I found I needed to use up a small amount of tofu, and ended dicing one half cup each celery, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, leeks, cabbage with three cloves of chopped garlic.  I made about 4 cups of the Rooibos tea with four tea bags and after peeling and cutting the beet, I simmered it gently til almost done, added the carrots for five minutes, then stirred in the cut up veg blend. Simmer, simmer 15 minutes with partial lid.  Salt, fresh ground pepper, a touch of soy, the tofu and a dash of vinegar and my one dish meal was garden to frig to table to spoon to mouth!   I got to thinking this morning that if I was in the mood for a salad I could have cut all the veggies in match sticks, then tossed with the same items, made a fantastic dressing by just warming the tea  with a touch of olive oil then tossing and re-season to taste. Either case, I easily had enough for two.  Tea, the fascinating power of tea.  Happy Monday.  The Vegetable Alchemist