Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Joy of Pot

No, I haven't been sharing a Yoda bong with the Meatless Monday Unicorn - I'm very much of the opinion that (at least in my own life) pot is for cooking not smoking*. And that sort of pot, I am happy to push at impressionable newcomers to veganism. Raw foodists can probably ignore this post - for everyone else, even if you live alone with one gas burner**, this piece of equipment will make things a lot easier.

Of course, you may have been cooking for yourself for years, be used to making meals from scratch and just want to veganise that process. (In which case stay tuned or check out the recipes at Increasing Veganicity.) But if weaning yourself off readymeals and cooking after a long day or in less-than-optimal kitchen situations (e.g. shared housing where use of the stove is difficult at peak times) is your main stumbling block, a stockpot might be just what you need. If you can't or don't want to spend too much money at first, there are plenty of cheap options out there at the smaller end of the scale. Mine is a fairly standard one from Poundstretcher, and can produce up to ten helpings of chilli at a pinch. (If you want to go larger you might need to find a more specialist store - I want to get a bigger one at some point so can report back on findings when that happens!)

The main purpose of a large pot, unless you have a pretty large household, is to spread the load a bit by making double/triple/whatever quantities at one meal. The extra veg chopping can make it take a bit longer that day, but every extra helping is another meal you don't have to worry about. I nearly always make chilli with the intention of refrigerating it (in the stockpot) overnight and having it two days in a row - the prep happens on one day, the potwashing on the other! I usually do the same with curry, stew (mostly in the winter) and any other meal of a similar consistency.

If you're more ambitious and have sufficient freezer space, it is worth making even more so you can stick a couple of helpings in the freezer as a homemade readymeal. (This is also worth doing for non-stockpot meals such as lasagne, moussaka and homemade pizza - my motto is that if it takes extra faff to make it can also stretch to an extra meal or two!)

A bigger pan also means you have more capacity for soaking and boiling beans - in some places this can work out cheaper than buying them tinned, and is certainly easier in terms of getting beans home from the shop, but it would be a major time-consuming hassle to do every time you wanted a small quantity. If you have a fridge you can do a couple of extra helpings - store them in water, salted if they'll be hanging around for a while, in a tightly-closed screwtop jar - while a freezer allows you to do a bag or two at once. When I lived alone I froze single portions in empty (Alpro in case you're interested) yogurt pots - now a margarine tub makes more sense.

Just to balance things out, I'd suggest that a single person or couple keep a 'milk pan'*** around the place - one of these holds enough rice for two people to have about one and a half helpings. They don't come with lids, but a side plate does the job ok. Erzatz, me?

*Paprika categorically IS for smoking, I love the stuff!
**Let's assume that relationship is platonic, for the sake of everyone's sanity...
***That's what they're sold as. Mine sometimes gets soy milk in, if I want white sauce. Better names on a postcard please ;)


Penny said...

I agree totally! And I must add that for me a pressure cooker is THE pot to have. You needn't fry anything first (not even in stock/water), so you can fat-free meals easily; they make soup in no time at all; you can cook huge quantities of beans for the fridge or freezer in a third of the time it takes them to boil.
Milk pan: that's not too bad as we know it's for non-dairy milk. :) The utensil we have the most problems with the name of is a 'fish slice'. We've tried 'tofu slice', but that just isn't working for us...

Laura said...

I've found that spending a lot on a pot, makes more sense in the long run as they last a lot longer than cheaper one's so you don't have that expense of buying new pots every few months.