Friday, October 1, 2010

THREE SISTERS STEW

While Billie has taken to throwing the vegetables out of the highchair, she still devours beans like they're almost as good as sliced bread. She also still appreciates vegetables if they're mingling with beans in a stew or casserole. Not sure on the logic here, but we are dealing with a toddler.

Three Sisters Stew
Three Sisters Stew is a marvelous all-in-one dish which teams well with whatever grain you have to hand. We tried a whole wheat cous cous the first time I made it, and then quinoa this week. However, because corn is a whole grain it doesn't need the grain for nutrition purposes.

I doubled the recipe this week, which was great to keep us in lunch for several days - Billie and I had it four days running. However, I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you have a party to feed, as I reckon a bit of the flavour was lost.

This hearty vegetarian stew comes courtesy of my latest culinary find. Feeding the Whole Family By Cynthia Lair is a fantastic cook book I stumbled across in a second hand shop a few weeks ago. It's all about using whole foods to create meals suitable for a range of ages. Sound familiar? Yes, there goes my book idea...

Anyway, expect to see a few more recipes where this goody came from. The core ingredients diverge a little from my kitchen shelves, so I need to do a re-stock before I can approach many of the others. She uses lots of Japanese ingredients.

Cynthia Lair credits author Jackie Williams with this stew. "Native Americans grew corn and planted the beans at the base. The corn stalks served as a bean pole. The ground space between the stalks was used to grow squash. The three sisters (corn, beans and squash) lived harmoniously," writes Lair.

I have made a couple of little adaptations to the original.

THREE SISTERS STEW

1 cup dried black beans (Lair suggests Christmas lima beans but any dark beans will do)
3 cups stock
2 tspn ground cumin
1 T extra virgin olive oil or ghee
2 tsp dried oregano or 1 T fresh, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamin
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 cups pumpkin (Lair uses squash), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tin tomatoes (400g)
1 tsp chilli powder or paste
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn (I used fresh)
1 cup grated cheddar
sour cream (optional)
 Cous cous, quinoa or rice 
Seasonal greens - bok choy, broccoli, or asparagus work well

Soak beans for 6-8 hours, or less is fine if using pressure cooker. Place soaked beans with 2 cups of stock and 1 tsp cumin in pot or pressure cooker. Bring to boil and then simmer on low, covered, until tender. Takes about 50-60 mins or 45 mins in pressure cooker.

Heat oil in large pot on medium and saute the onion and garlic in the remaining spices and salt. Cook until onion is soft (about 5 mins) and then add pumpkin/squash, tomatoes, oregano and chili. Add 1 cup of stock, bring to a simmer and cook with LID OFF until pumpkin is soft (about 20 mins). If getting dry replace lid. Add corn and cooked beans, simmer until corn tender (won't take long). Season to taste and serve over a bed of grains with a generous side of cooked greens. Sprinkle with grated cheddar, and sour cream works well on the side if there's some about.

I SUGGEST FOR BABIES 6 MONTHS: Put aside some pumpkin chunks, steam and puree.
FOR 8 MONTHS: Put aside some cooked beans and puree with pumpkin.
FOR 10 MONTHS: Offer some cooked beans and pumpkin, not pureed
FOR 12 MONTHS AND UP: Offer complete Three Sisters Stew. Billie loved!


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