Think like a Hunter-Gatherer: Preparing Food for Your Next Meal
No, this is not about the nutritious scrumptiousness of “Raw Cuisine.” Unless you have a full time cook at your beck and call, it is the highest maintenance, labor intensive diet on the planet. (We predict it will soon take its’ rightful place along-side “Nouvelle Cuisine”). This is about using our brains; brains that have benefited from cooked food through the millennium. Cooking made all those beans and vegetables we gathered and the meat we hunted easier to digest. Because they were easier to digest, our bodies were able to absorb more nutrients. Our brains grew and we became smarter. Ultimately, this led to less time hunting and gathering and more leisure time, more time to ponder and to the invention of the gas stovetop.
Grounded in our own reality-based lives of work, home and kids who need chauffeuring we are grateful for the stove top. But we still hunt and gather. And just like those early cooks who had to do with whatever they could find, we have to be flexible and adaptive in order to get a meal on the table without resorting to take-out. We search for what we have on hand and enhance it with what looks fresh and delicious at the grocery or farm market. Here’s where having a well-stocked pantry and a keen mind can relieve mealtime boredom and facilitate day to day cooking.
The idea of creating a meal around what you find in your larder isn’t exactly new. Early man started with a cooking pot, some bones, water, and whatever beans and vegetables could be foraged. Beans were so important to early diets that they were one of the first important foods to be cultivated. Today, in our grocery store-oriented society, beans are the overlooked jewels of the vegetable world. They sell at rock-bottom prices and are one of the best protein buys around. Combined with whichever vegetables you happen to have on hand or that look most appetizing at the store, you can create a sumptuous meal. (See our Featured Menu).
Although we often prefer to start with dry beans, we have come to rely on the ease and convenience of good quality canned beans for a quick, nutritious and delicious meal. We also rely on more civilized flavor-enhancing techniques like saute’ing the garlic and vegetables to bring out their unique character. But our modern day bean soups use the same simple recipe as early civilization: a pot, beans, vegetables, and liquid and seasonings (you can throw in a bone or two, if you want).
- Saute’ minced garlic and diced vegetables for 10 minutes.
- Add cooked beans, liquid, and seasonings.
- Simmer until tender and adjust seasonings to taste.
- To serve, garnish with fresh herbs, scallions, grated cheese, or sprouts.
Some of our favorite bean/vegetable combinations include:
- White beans, onions, (garlic optional) zucchini, thyme and oregano.
- Black bean, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, cumin, coriander, fresh cilantro.
- Lentils, onions, (garlic optional) spinach, butternut squash, curry, coriander.
- Red Beans, okra, onions, green peppers, (garlic optional), bay leaf, thyme, chili powder, basil, cloves.
So try a little hunting and gathering for your next meal and relish this time honored way of preparing food with family and friends.
Source: Flickr user barockschloss