Hey Ya’ll! We’re gonna start this off with a one-pot meal, a favorite o’mine since I was just a girl – lentil stew. Do you know what lentils are? I hope so. If you don’t, let me introduce ya to the bean isle of the supermarket. You probably know where the rice is, right? Well head over there and snoop around for beans in a bag. You got yur black eyed peas, yur split peas, yur pinto beans, yur black beans, and then there’s this little brown bean, look like a dirty split pea – that’s lentils.
In my neck of the woods, lentils don’t cost but a $1 or so for a bag. That’s so dang cheap because a bag will make enough food for you to eat on for five big meals. Now don’t go thinkin’ that’s twenty cents a meal. I can save ya some money, but let’s be real. We got to put some other stuff in with the lentils if we’re gonna make it through leftovers four times. Even so, this meal should come in under $2.
Hey, about those leftovers, unless yur me, you don’t like to eat the same thing five times in a week. So if you don’t have a good rubber freezer container, pick one up while yur shopping for the lentils. Matterafact, pick up four small ones, then you can divvy up the stew after it cools. Refrigerate one of those plastic thingies and put the other three in the freezer for when you need a quick meal.
OK, I can tell you’re a little iffy about beans in a bag. Let me tell ya, just put all that fear behind you! Fear is of the devil! Trust ole Reba – these beans are good stuff and easy to fix. Here we go:
– 1 bag of lentils, rinsed
– 5 beef bullion cubes
– 6 cups of water
– 1 tbsp. of cumin – this is one of those spices you just gotta have because I use it all the time. It’s what gives Mexican and Indian food its unique flavor. Wal-Mart sells it in their big spice containers for 50 cents.
– 2 large cloves of garlic, minced (that means cut up real small. You can do that with a knife or use a garlic press)
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup carrots, chopped
– 2 cups potato, diced (peeling is optional – healthier if you don’t peel ‘em and saves time too!)
– 1.5 lbs. or more of lean beef stew cubes. You veggie people can leave this out entirely or use firm tofu instead.
– 3 tbsp. canola oil
– ½ cup flour
– Seasoned salt
– Garlic powder
Thoroughly rinse the lentils and then dump in a large crock pot or Dutch oven – that’s the big pot that came in your cook set. Add water, bullion, cumin, garlic and carrots and heat on high – bring to a boil if using the stove top.
Dust beef cubes with flour, seasoned salt, garlic powder and pepper. Okay, hold the line, put the feather duster or rag away. When I say dust, I mean dump the meat in a bowl with all those other ingredients and sink your hands in there and squoosh it all around. If you’re so dang dainty that you don’t like gook on your hands, dump all the meat and dustin’ powder in a big rubber container with a lid and just shake it up!
Heat canola oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Before the oil gets too hot, put yur meat in and cook it, turnin’ it ever so often, till it’s brown on the outside. It’ll still be raw on the inside. Don’t baby it or all the dusting powder’ll work its way off! Just turn it ever now and agin. That oughta take about eight minutes. Turn off the fire under the meat and using a spoon with drainage in it, scoop out the beef and set it on a paper towel to get all that grease off. Then put that meat into the Dutch oven or crock pot. Now if yur using tofu, you can skip all that oil and dusting and stuff and just cut your tofu in chunks and put it in the pot when you throw yur taters in later.
Let ‘er stew for a while! 5 hours on high is good for the crock pot – go to class and come back to dinner ready. Need to go to work for an 8-hour shift? Turn yur crock pot on low instead. If yur using the stove top, stew it fur 90 minutes on medium, covered. You really don’t need to stir it, but it wouldn’t hurt, if yur hanging around the kitchen – what the heck, stick a spoon in it ever now and agin.
Now toward the end, it’ll be time to get yur taters ready. Wash ‘em real good and then cut em into one-inch squares.You don’t need to be so dang precise – just cut em up and then add to the stew! Cook one hour more in the crock pot or 35 minutes more on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper till it tastes right.
Now, when you go to heat up those leftovers, all ya gotta do is empty the stew in a small pot and heat or in a microwave safe bowl, but not a plastic bowl – didn’t anybody ever tell ya that plastic and microwaves don’t mix! In the microwave, heat for about 2 minutes at half-power, get it out and stir, then nuk’er on high till she’s good ‘n hot!
Since yur eatin so cheap, why don’t you spring for a fancy loaf of hearty whole-grain bread to make a meal of it! These lentils have lotsa protein and healthy carbs, and then you got meat or tofu with more protein and some veggies with more healthy carbs and, acourse, a little bit a fat from browning the meat. It’s not much though and sure as heck a lot less than you’d get in with a burger and fries. Enjoy!