Colourful

The decade younger me would have asked why the steamed vegetables? I think I have a reasonable answer for him. Perhaps The Family, nor me, has shed the Diwali weight, but I haven’t. And we have a trip coming up tomorrow (that means that for a few days my posts will be automated). We plan to visit a place where we will not want to limit our eating too strictly, so we have been on a low-calorie diet this week. Also, I now have a steamer to play with.

It is a simple matter to cut up a head of pak choi and load it into one tray of the steamer. Some capsicum, string beans, and onion had to be cubed for the other tray. Shall I toss in a bit of sweet potato? Why not? Add a bit of star anise too, while I’m at it. After fifteen minutes it was done. Decrease the time if you want the veggies crunchier. The sweet potato was also cooked, so that experiment succeeded. I’d steamed and stored some carrots before, so I chopped in a bit of that. The Family had just sauteed some broccoli. That would have garam masala. Throw it in. Drizzle a spoonful of light soya sauce for an umami flavour, and it is done. Another quick-cook.

Fresh!

Normally we buy vegetables in small quantities, and use them up in a day or so. But now, in order to keep control over our exposure to large crowds, shopping is less frequent. Some time back we wanted to guard against COVID-19 by disinfecting all produce. Eating soap is not a great idea, so we were certainly not going to washing food in soap. The Family skimmed her expertise and recalled that bacteria and viruses are killed by a solution of salt in water. So now we dunk all produce for about fifteen minutes in salty water. The water can be reused, and salt does not need to be washed off, so this is also a water conserving way of cleaning produce.

On some days our house is full of vegetables being cleaned and dried, chopped and sorted. Since the salt water bath removes bacteria and viruses, we now find that the veggies stay fresh and usable much longer. Bananas and plantain, tindli and tomatoes, everything stays fresh and colourful for several days. Tindli? Does ivy gourd sound more familiar? I didn’t think so. It is after all a rather local vegetable (featured photo), so best to call it by its local name.

We used to be in a desperate rush to use up mushrooms before they rot. Now mushrooms stay fresh longer too. Perhaps the salt water treatment also kills the fungi which sometimes grow on these mushrooms. I know that some people use baking soda and potassium parmanganate, but that would also require more water for post-treatment washing. We wanted the lowest water-use possible, and I think the salt solution works well for that. The Family consulted her old colleagues about this treatment, and found a good consensus of opinion for it.

There are no desperate attempts to refrigerate fresh produce to keep it from spoiling any longer. Everything can now be kept in trays and bowls in sun and air. Also, now that we can keep the veggies for longer, we can wait for good combinations to develop. For example, plantains are not very common at our neighbourhood vendor’s, but when we get it, we already have the other veggies that we know will go well with it. The result has been an explosion of new recipes at home. Lunch is quite a journey of discovery these days.