commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
[personal profile] commodorified
Like a lot of people who grew up in, well, straightened and difficult circumstances, not to mention having had a fair amount of experience of institutional food, I've spent years roundly despising the entire notion of "mixed vegetables", especially frozen mixed vegetables.

Which is a bit odd, when you consider that I'll cheerfully buy and cook with unmixed frozen vegetables: frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen spinach, frozen brussel sprouts, you name it. I live in Ottawa and I have health issues that reduce my energy a lot and I try to shop local and feed my family a lot of green (and red, and yellow) stuff, and that means we eat a fair number of frozen and canned vegetables in winter.

But until recently the very sight of one of these:

was enough to inspire a faint but definite desire to never eat anything, ever, again, except possibly buttered toast. "Sans Nom", indeed.

Friends, I was wrong. So wrong. Despite having learned decades ago not to boil things to death in heavily-salted water and wonder why they don't taste good, I had never until recently applied this knowledge to mixed frozen vegetables. I just assumed they tasted of nothing in particular, yet at the same time unpleasant, no matter what.

Last fall, with soup season closing in on me, I tentatively bought a small bag of mixed frozen carrots and green beans. I never seem to have cooking carrots handy exactly when I want them, and anyway if they're fresh I'd rather roast them, and using the baby-cut ones for cooking is, though handy as heck, kind of extravagant (or at least it makes me feel faintly guilty). And apparently frozen sliced carrots, alone, is no longer a thing you can buy, so I thought "well, we do like green beans," and went with the mixed. At worst, I figured, I could separate the two and use them in different things.

And it was awesome, and I started making vegetable soup oftener. And it was good.

So yesterday I was in The Store Formerly Known As Hartmans (btw, everyone local, they're having a VAST sale on boxed and canned staples. I brought home so many cans we had to reorganize the pantry. Beans! Baked beans! Beets! Seasoned green beans! Soup! Average outlay= $1 CDN/can.)

And I bought a huge bag of the aforementioned mixed vegetables (the exact bag pictured above) and today I spent ten minutes putting supper together and this is what we're having:

1 litre carton of beef broth (vegetable broth would obviously work as well, but we accidentally bought six-packs of beef broth twice running at Costco and with the price of beef I'm not making a lot of beef dishes, so it needs using.)
1 litre water
1 C pearl barley
1 C dry beans (Rancho Gordo Vallarta because I really need to use up my Rancho Gordos, but Great Northern or Navy would be good too. Beans are good, I tend to feel. Canned would also be good, and had I less time for the soup to simmer I'd've gone with a can of black beans or chick peas or six bean mixture —they sell it for bean salad, but I use it to liven up soups and stews— or whatever)
1/4 C dried onion flakes
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 C mixed frozen veg

About 1 Tablespoon each:
Thyme
Marjoram
Dill
Penzeys's Northwood seasoning
2 bay leaves

I bunged it all into the pot and turned the heat to halfway between low and medium. It's simmering away cheerfully now and should be perfect by suppertime, which will be about four hours from now.

ETA: a-heh-heh-heh I now recommend using a HALF cup of beans and the same of barley, unless you, like me, want to end up a) hastily adding a second carton of broth and b) racking your brains for people to invite to supper so you're not eating this all week.

Date: 2017-01-09 08:02 pm (UTC)
recessional: a photo image of feet in sparkly red shoes (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
Oh I'm really glad you discovered this.

I mean the frozen ones are never QUITE as good as fresh? But yeah especially if you find a specific brand you like how they prep them (for some reason Jolly Green Giant always works much worse for me than Europe's Best but maybe I'm cursed) and/or pick them v specifically for the task, they're a lifesaver for getting veggies without dying of Exhausted.

Somehow it never occurs to me to mention.

(As far as I can tell this often happens with rice, too. Mom thought she hated rice for years because in the part of Quebec they lived in the cheap-available option was the Minute Rice stuff; it wasn't until she hit Japanese restaurants in Vancouver that she realized that actually what she hates is Minute Rice. Etc.)

Date: 2017-01-09 10:40 pm (UTC)
recessional: a photo image of feet in sparkly red shoes (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
I am blessed enough to be in Van which means I can readily get my hands on things like Vij's frozen curries and other dishes, or the Feast line which is similar (aka actually real real food that just got put in packaging and frozen), and throwing in mixed veggies to cook for a bit while it heats up tastes great and ups my actual vegetable intake without requiring any more work from me (which with me these days is . . . .really important).

Date: 2017-01-09 08:53 pm (UTC)
clanwilliam: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clanwilliam
Depends on the frozen veg. Some are better (frozen petit pois are often better than "fresh", unless "fresh" means from your garden, plucked and podded and cooked instantly), some are worse.

Although, I realised a few years ago that tinned baby potatoes are better than fresh for a lot of chowders, where what you're looking for is texture and bulk.

Date: 2017-01-09 09:07 pm (UTC)
thatyourefuse: Vanessa Ives from Penny Dreadful, walking along a bloodtrail in the snow. (Default)
From: [personal profile] thatyourefuse
For some reason, J and I are both cursed to never, EVER finish fresh produce before it goes mushy. The freezer section would be our friend regardless of energy expenditure, but... energy expenditure, man.

I am ingesting so many more nutrients since my mom's friend gave us a really good blender for a wedding present and I realized that making a frozen-fruit smoothie takes three minutes, tops, and most of that is figuring out where in the freezer you threw the bag of strawberries the last time you had them.

Date: 2017-01-09 09:09 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
That was me and my parents, yeah. Microwaved Minute Rice. And then I had friends who ate that stuff in college, along with the obligatory Ramen.

Date: 2017-01-09 10:37 pm (UTC)
recessional: a photo image of feet in sparkly red shoes (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
Ramen was MY discovery that there is "ramen" as got in the instant soup things, and then ramen as actual food. (And how to find the packaged ones which you can turn into food if you ignore everything except the noodles and then make food with them.)

But yeah at this point when people say things like "I hate [food type]" and for some reason it matters (like I'm cooking for them or whatever) I always follow up at this point with "what do you mean by [food type]" or "how have you had it before" because the rice thing I've found is pretty common and like you might STILL not like my real rice I make in a rice-cooker but it will be a very new dislike because it doesn't REALLY resemble, say, microwaved Minute Rice, if that's all you've had before.

(Hard liquors are also REALLY subject to this. Thanks to my sib's Xmas present to my dad last year, it turns out I totally like good brandy, and will spit not-good brandy out even when it's in tea. MAKES A DIFFERENCE!)

Date: 2017-01-12 10:29 pm (UTC)
thatyourefuse: Vanessa Ives from Penny Dreadful, walking along a bloodtrail in the snow. (Default)
From: [personal profile] thatyourefuse
... I actually like instant ramen. At least some flavors. Although I don't claim for a minute that it's food. (FOR SOME REASON my parents would allow it in the house sometimes when I was a kid, though, so it's in the set of "predictable unthreatening dietary substances.")

Canned tuna fish, though. I will eat all the fresh raw tuna you want to put in front of me as long as I trust the source, but canned tuna fish is not food. If given a flat choice, I would probably rather eat my cat's wet food (admittedly, my cat is on a limited-ingredient hypoallergenic diet and her wet food is VENISON).

Date: 2017-01-09 08:11 pm (UTC)
graydon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] graydon
Know somebody who had the same "ewww... never food" response to roast pork. (Roast pork was roasted until it had the water content of sand during their childhood.)

I think mixed is just there so you don't need to have as many bags of frozen things on the go; I don't think it's leftovers and loose ends when there isn't another pallet's worth of little bits of cauliflower or whatever.

Date: 2017-01-09 08:58 pm (UTC)
clanwilliam: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clanwilliam
I am eternally lucky that I have a mother who knows how to cook brassica. As did my mother in law - there was an occasion when we demolished a head of white cabbage between us, because G had to catch a later train, and I pointed out it wouldn't taste as good reheated.

But dear Cthulhu, every time my mother got her hands on surplus courgettes and tomatoes, a little of my soul died. The one thing she cannot cook is ratatouille.

Food safety less of an issue. Too many kids around to keep stuff randomly pre fridges.

Date: 2017-01-10 08:02 am (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
My mother, AYKB, lost most of her sense of smell in the Depression and was also not particularly interested in food as food, rather than fuel, apart from cakes, which she enjoyed and made quite well. And she was enormously faddish in ways which produced a war on artificial colourings and additives COMBINED with a boycott of foods from places she disapproved of COMBINED with "You can't shop at that market stall he's an awful man" COMBINED with the worries of growing up on very limited money in a pre-refrigeration era COMBINED with a belief in "healthy eating". So there were types of food which were inherently suspicious ("underdone" meat, shellfish, various spices) and types of ways of cooking it which were right out, and an insistence on substituting polyunsaturated health food shop vegetable oil spread for butter etc etc. The absolute nadir of her approach was the "healthy rice pudding" made with skimmed milk, polyunsaturated health food shop vegetable oil spread and unpolished brown rice.

She pressure-cooked sprouts.

Date: 2017-01-11 01:44 pm (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
She pressure-cooked sprouts.

NOOOO!

here from network

Date: 2017-01-09 09:08 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
My parents used to microwave bowls of those, dump some butter and pepper and a LOT o salt, to go along with dinner. Ugh ugh. (Putting Parmesan from the green can on was extra seasoning!) But this sounds great.

(Also, great tag.)

Date: 2017-01-09 10:18 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Good work!

Date: 2017-01-09 10:46 pm (UTC)
emceeaich: A close-up of a pair of cats-eye glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] emceeaich
Oh yes, barley, use half as much as one thinks one needs. I turned a beef barley soup into a beef barley casserole that first time.

Date: 2017-01-11 01:41 pm (UTC)
watervole: (Default)
From: [personal profile] watervole
Giggle. Pearl barley really does swell up when you cook it!

Date: 2017-01-11 04:40 pm (UTC)
james_g4clf: James in a boat in Kerala (Default)
From: [personal profile] james_g4clf
When I use these they go in, frozen, about 90 seconds before serving. Bring back to the boil, wait 30 seconds, and serve. A bit longer if you don't do the "al dente" thing.

But note that when I make seafood stuff I put approximately equal-sized small bits of raw fish, squid, scallops and prawns into the rice/noodles/veg/whatever, bring back to the boil quickly and serve at once.

Date: 2017-01-14 12:58 am (UTC)
mmegaera: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mmegaera
Chicken potpie filling is vastly easier to make with a bag of mixed veggies, too, IMHO. And frozen peas are *much* better than fresh, unless, as someone said above, you grow your own.

Canned vegetables are *not* my thing (except for tomatoes, which are technically a fruit, anyway). They're inevitably overcooked even before you heat them.

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