week 12 of socially distanced lunch + notes

so hurricane laura really got me off track. i got twisted preparing for another ike, but we were spared last minute. survivor’s guilt is fucking real and i’m still fucked up about it. give some money to SBP or something, dear reader.

either way, my meal prep was thrown WAY OFF TRACK and i ended up eating ramen, frozen falafel, frozen mixed vegetables, whatever other stuff i had in the freezer for the week of hurricane laura and the week after. back on track this week.

i have the small instant pot, the duo mini. i had to split this recipe into two batches, but i will write it as if i could make it all in one go. the cook times should not be affected, as all the reference recipes i looked at for cook times were all for the larger instant pot.

red beans & rice

1 lb dry small red beans, soaked overnight in the fridge & drained (**not kidney beans**)

2 large ribs celery, diced

1 white or yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

a lot of garlic cloves, minced. i used 5.

2 tbsp earth balance butter sub or your pick oil/water for sweating vegetables

2 1/2 tbsp low sodium slap ya mama seasoning

2 generous tbsp smoked paprika, add more if the jar is old. this goes for all your dried seasoning tbh

1 – 2 tbsp mushroom powder *this is important, since there’s no meat this imparts some of that umami that sausage would have imparted*

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried sage

2 of the larger bay leaves in the container

just enough water to cover the beans

*** set this off to the side, don’t put it in your cooking liquid. it will make your beans tough as fuck since it’s mostly sodium ***

3 level tsp orrington farms vegan ham broth

a shake or so of liquid smoke

*** you’re going to mix this in after the beans cook ***

1: drain beans and set aside. measure out about 4 cups of fresh water in another container, set aside. you may not use all the water.

2: dice vegetables and set aside

3: measure out seasonings above the *** note

4: hit saute on instant pot, add butter substitute. wait for it to start popping. add onion, celery and bell pepper. sweat until onions are translucent. add garlic, stir & saute for a minute more. turn off saute mode.

5: add beans, stir. add water to just above beans and seasonings above the *** note. stir again to make sure there are no clumps.

6: seal instant pot, cook on manual high pressure for 33 minutes. allow pressure to naturally release.

7: while the IP is cooking, make some long grain rice. i serve this with roughly a cup of rice and greens.

8: after the cook time is done, remove any excess liquid. there should be more beans than liquid, imo. stir in ham broth and liquid smoke. stir until no lumps remain, taste and adjust if you want. i like to add some hot sauce.

week 11 of socially distant lunch

kinda tired of rice + tofu + vegetables so i went in a wildly different direction. made mini chickpea loaves, collard greens, and mashed potatoes. i’m going to find out how this goes cold until the portable “oven” i bought gets here tuesday evening. idk it won’t matter, it’s food it will eat

instant pot collard greens

1 1/2 lb collards, large stem chunks removed & ripped into 2″ish pieces

1/2 onion

a lot of garlic

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 tsp orrignton farm’s vegan ham broth mix

black pepper

crushed red pepper

1: saute onions until translucent, add garlic and saute a minute more

2: add collards and saute until wilted

3: add water, broth mix, pepper and crushed red pepper

4: seal and cook at high pressure for 25 minutes. allow to release pressure naturally and tbh you could leave it on the keep warm setting until you’re ready to dish it. i think i left it in there for an hour + original cook time

5: serve w/ cooking liquid

chickpea loaf

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, minced

1 medium carrot, minced

2 ribs celery, minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

3T – 1/4 cup water

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and skinned

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp worchestershire sauce or sub

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp flax meal

3/4 – 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

black pepper and whatever other seasonings you want

meatloaf sauce:

3 tbsp ketchup

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp worchestershire sauce or sub

3 tbsp yellowbird serrano sauce

preheat oven to 375

1: combine the first 3 ingredients and saute until onions are translucent. add tomato paste and water, stir to dissolve the paste and cover the pan. cook until the carrots are tender. remove lid and allow the water to cook off.

2: mash everything except breadcrumbs together, mix in sauteed vegetables. then mix in breadcrumbs.

3: make 5 little loaves, place on greased foil and seal up into a package.

4: cook sealed up for 35 minutes

5: open up foil packet and brush loaves with sauce. leave the packet open and bake uncovered for 15 more minutes

week 8 of socially distant lunch

back to work this week. there’s still at of people out sick, at least they’re at home right? i had to start bringing my own soap because the stuff they’re using now in our bathrooms makes my dyshidrosis flare up. i found that out about 2 weeks ago and spent last week taking really good care of my hands so it didn’t get out of control.

anyway i made tofu soboro, frozen vegetables and rice.

tofu soboro, adapted from the just bento cookbook by makiko itoh

1 brick firm tofu

handful of dehydrated mushrooms, rehydrated and minced. do not discard liquid

3/4 cup green onions, sliced thin

1″ ginger, minced

2 tbsp white miso

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

1: rehydrate mushrooms with just enough hot water to cover. set aside 1/4 cup of mushroom water, dump the rest, mince the rehydrated mushrooms.

2: press and drain tofu, then crumble.

3: whisk together miso, soy sauce, and mushroom water. set aside

4: in a saute pan, heat sesame oil. add green onions, ginger, and mushrooms. saute until green onions wilt. add tofu, then soy sauce mixture. cook until tofu is even in color and the pan is dry.

the book says this will keep for a week or so in the fridge, i’ll find out.

frozen vegetables:

this was a couple different half-full bags of frozen vegetables that i sauteed in sesame oil and then dressed with that almond miso sauce i made a while back and froze. i portioned this and froze it again.

week 5 of socially distanced lunch

week 3 and 4 were a mismash of leftovers and buffalo chickwheat sandwiches because i got burnt out on pasta. i got the just bento cookbook because i figured that would offer me some better variety in my meals.

i took her basic meatball/mini hamburger recipe and tweaked it to make 2 different flavors split between a pound of plant based “ground meat”. i use the simple truth kroger brand because it’s cheaper than beyond meat. in the future i will explore using TVP or homemade seitan for this instead because either one is cheaper than pre-made meat alternatives. i’ll keep the beyond meat for meals with my boyfriend because that’s the one he likes the most. he says the emerge has a weird taste, and the pure brand is disgusting.

i’m also trying to use up what i have on hand before i go buy new stuff to try out, so that’s why an entire can of bean sprouts and turnip greens show up. stuff i’d bought for a different recipe or dinner and just never made.

for the actual lunch: i’m alternating between the patties and the meatballs for my protein. i split the zucchini and cabbage sides into 5 equal portions and serve with a cup of rice. the first day did not go well and i had cold, hard rice. maybe today will be different? i moved the ice pack in my lunch box so that it wasn’t directly on the container. idk we’ll see.

spicy bean sprout patties

1/2 lb plant based grind

1/4 onion, diced

1 can bean sprouts, drained and patted dry. they’ll probably be tangled together, just get in there and separate them in the colander.

liberal amounts of lao gan ma black bean chili oil, i think i used a couple of tablespoons or a quarter cup.

2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

preheat oven to 350. prepare a sheet pan with foil because this is messy. make sure to oil the foil. next time i’ll probably either ditch the soy milk or go easier on the lao gan ma.

mix everything together in a bowl. divide equally into 12 balls, then flatten to disks with a clean damp hand. bake for 15 minutes, rotate tray, bake another 15 or until well browned.

italian” turnip green meatballs

1/2 lb plant based grind

1/4 onion, diced

100g frozen turnip greens, or a really hefty cup.

~3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk

2 tsp – 1 tbsp italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

preheat oven to 350, line a sheet pan with foil and oil liberally. these stuck a bit, so next time i will probably ditch the soy milk.

microwave turnip greens in water until cooked through, drain thoroughly and press water out in a mesh strainer. allow to cool.

mix ingredients thoroughly. i used a small disher to portion the meatballs and got 16, but you could form these however you wanted. make sure to roll them a bit more to form a proper meatball instead of just baking the plop came out of the disher. bake for 15 minutes, rotate tray, bake another 15 or until well browned.

~vegetable sides~

i made the walnut-miso sauce on the just bento website, just subbed for almonds since i had no walnuts on hand. it still turned out pretty amazing. i blanched & skinned my almonds because fuuuuuck having the skins get stuck in your teeth.

almond-miso zucchini & squash

make a batch of this sauce, she didn’t note if you could sub for almonds, but i did because that’s what was on hand. skinning almonds is easy – boil the almonds for 1 minute, dunk in ice water. allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, then squeeze the almond out of the skin. proceed with the recipe in the link as normal. i’d be excited to try this with the original walnuts or peanuts next time.

slice and de-seed your zucchini and squash, then slice into half-moons. toss with soy sauce and saute to your preferred doneness. allow to cool, then toss with a tablespoon or two of the miso sauce. this stuff keeps for a while so i’ll probably use it again. it’s **strong** and delicious.

cabbage & onions

1/2 head green cabbage, sliced into ribbons

1/2 onion, sliced thin

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper

combine and saute until onions are golden brown, allow to cool.

week 2 of social distanced cold lunch

still in pasta salad land. hindsight is 20/20 and i should have put capers in this from the start. at least the other 4 bowls will have them. probably a tsp per bowl will do.

2 cups rotini, uncooked

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

1 2oz can sliced black olives, well drained and rinsed

1 jar giardiniera. reserve 1/4 cup liquid, chop more or less to the same size

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

~ granulated garlic

~ red chili flakes

~ black pepper

~ italian seasoning mix

cook and cool pasta under cold running water. chop vegetables while pasta is cooking. mix dressing in a separate bowl. combine everything and mix well once the pasta is cool.

week 1 of social distanced cold lunch

i eat in my truck now.

2 cups uncooked rotini pasta

1 can black beans (no salt added, imo)

1.75 cup frozen black eyed pe

2 Roma tomatoes, scraped clean and diced

1 serrano pepper

~3 tbsp minced red onion, 2 rings worth

1 cup herdez guacamole salsa

1: cook pasta 1 minute less than al dente

2: rinse with cold water, set aside to fully cool

3: dice vegetables, making sure to scrape the seeds from the tomatoes

4: put everything in a bowl and mix until fully combined and coated by salsa