I don’t usually blog about food or cooking, but I felt compelled to do so today.
I first encountered the word “freegan” a few months ago. I was intrigued, so I did a little research, and learned a bit about this alternative, anti-consumerist way of life. While some practices of freeganism are a bit extreme, (or even a bit gross): dumpster diving for food that has been discarded, entering a restaurant to polish off the half-eaten meals of other diners, and squatting; other practices, such as waste minimization, swapping networks, growing your own food, and just the idea of “waste not, want not” are ideas that appeal to me. Freegan.info is a fascinating website about the movement and has lots of brilliant suggestions that can be implemented according to an individual’s personal comfort level of extremeness.
When I worked in a hostel in Lisbon (fall 2007), I would rejoice when a guest would leave behind a bottle of lotion (I’m a very ashy individual), hair conditioner (my hair is dry, too), or olive oil. People would leave these things behind because they couldn’t fit them in their suitcases, because the bottles were nearly empty, or they’d simply forget to bring them along when they left. Post-checkouts can be a goldmine when you’re living in a place where almost everyone but you is transient.
The hostel where I’ve been staying for 10 days has a kichenette in every dorm, plus a bigger community kitchen for everyone to use. Groceries are inexpensive and the farmers’ market is open everyday. I feel like someone out of “the olden days” the way I stroll through the market each morning and pick up just the few items I need for the day. Supplemented by “found” hostel fare, I have been eating very well during my stay!
I bought a bag of greeny-brown lentils (maybe 1 euro), so have made them three times, changing the ingredients for variety and convenience. Here’s a “non-recipe” for lentils:
~In a medium-sized pot, sautée half an onion in oil (I used found sunflower oil because someone else had “found” my olive oil before I left the hostel.)
~When the onion is transparent, add some minced garlic.
~When it starts to smell yummy, add a few handfuls of lentils. (I have smallish hands and eat a lot, so I used about 4-5 palm’s worth) Stir it all together, then immediately fill the pot with with boiling water.
~Once the water has boiled down some, add a chopped tomato. I used half of an enormous heirloom variety.
~While you’re waiting for the lentils to soften, chop some veggies. I used one carrot and a red pepper. It takes awhile, so have a quick shower or answer some emails.
~You’re still waiting, so wash and pick apart some leafy greens. I used Swiss Chard (blitva) from the farmers’ market.
~When the lentils taste like they’ve softened enough to be edible, throw in some pasta. I prefer whole wheat, but I used some found penne. Make sure there’s enough liquid in the pot to boil your noodles.
~Pasta should take about 10 minutes, so five minutes after you add it, toss in your veggies. Overcooked veggies are the worst.
~Pour in some white wine! (I used a found Bello Vino from a very classy liter-sized bottle with a beer cap instead of a cork.)
~Two more minutes and you’ll be eating. Throw in your Swiss Chard (spinach would be good, too and takes the same amount of time to cook.) You can turn off the heat, leave on the lid, and just let the greens steam on top of the food, or you can leave the heat on for a moment more.
~Toss in some salt and pepper! Don’t be shy.
Take a photo, then tuck in!
Lentil veggie stew
Serves two normal people, or one Lara.