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Friday, March 9, 2012

Chucky's Favorite Things - Bamboo Steamer

"The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends."
 - Chinese Proverb

Hello there!  Did you know that smiles are contagious?  Don't believe me?  Go out today and try it!

I thought that I'd begin a new series of blog posts entitled "Chucky's Favorite Things" today.  My first item being introduced is the bamboo steamer.  But, before I begin, I shall extend the utmost credit and gratitude to Nick over at Macheesmo.  It was recently on his "Tuesday Treats:  Steamy!" blog post that Nick introduced (er... re-introduced?) me to the bamboo steamer.

Oh ~ I owned a steamer.  The metal type that came with my really nice copper clad Kirkland (Costco) cookware set.  I occasionally pull it out to use it and I stress the term "occasionally".  Then I purchased a "Hippie Steamer" at IKEA that was much easier and convenient to use.  Still though, I find myself rarely using a steamer.

Nick bragged and raves over the benefits of steaming with bamboo.  No excessive moisture, fresher tastier foods, healthier results, and so forth.  Nick is somewhat a blog food God so I know that I was not being led astray.  Oh yeah... for those of you an animal flesh eater ("carnivore") who may stumble upon this post, Nick's blog site is neither vegan nor vegetarian.  He simply has many, many meatless recipes on his site.  After you have read this blog post, check out Macheesmo.  You won't be sorry!

Bamboo Steamer (2 trays)

So, what does Chucky and Tiffany use this Asian cooking contraption for?  First and foremost, believe me when I say that you've never eaten vegetables until you have eaten them using a bamboo steamer!!!  Besides, it's very inexpensive (approximately $15), easy to clean, durable and made with the renewable bamboo plant.  Talk about going green?

Simple to use?  You betcha!  Just add a couple of cups of water (fresh herbs can be added to infuse exotic tastes to your meal) into a wok or any other large pan equal to or greater than the diameter of your steamer trays.  Turn the heat on high.  When the water comes to a boil, add you steamer trays filled with vegetables or whatever you wish to steam.  Cover and cook.  After it's done cooking you can simply turn off the heat, remove the wok from the burner and let it sit covered to keep the contents piping hot until you're ready to steam.  WARNING!!!  Always lift the lid away from you so that the steam escapes away from you.  You won't believe how much steam these steamer baskets can hold.  Awesome efficiency.

Besides breakfast scrambles, Tiffany and I make steam vegetables as a major part of our dinner each night.  You should see "The Seed" eyes gleam when steamed veggies are brought to the table!  We basically chop and steam whatever we have handy whether it be carrots, diced potato, spinach, kale, fresh mushroom, cabbage, diced celery, zucchini, yellow squash, onion or just about anything else.  Just be sure to chop the pieces larger than the open slats in the bamboo trays.  You can even line the tray with parchment (leaving some room for steam to rise) or use plates/bowls smaller than the steamer diameter.

I generally just toss the veggies into the tray and let the steamer do its thing.  I try to rinse the trays as soon as I have removed the veggies so that the food pieces don't dry and stick while I enjoy my dinner.  We keep the plates simple.  We use some Bragg's liquid amino acids, sprinkle on some herbs, or perhaps a dash of Molly McButter.

You really cannot go wrong.  You cannot burn food using simply steam.  Toss in a large steamer tray of chopped veggies, add the water into the wok, turn the burner on high, cover the tray, cook for 15-minutes, turn off the burner, and let the steamer tray sit covered while you prepare the rest of your meal.

You'll have fresh, tasty, and extremely nutritious food as part of your meal.  With boiling, the nutrients are leeching out during the cooking process.  Not entirely so with steaming.  I've never liked or eaten cabbage (except in Asian dishes) until this miraculous item found its way into our kitchen.  Thanks Nick!

Hi-dee hi-dee no-kitchen-should-be-without-a-bamboo-steamer-ho my friend.

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