Let me share with you the best way to travel.
I am not talking about priceline or other websites which have lower prices on hotels. Been there, done that. I have never liked hotels, anyways. Without a kitchen and other homely accessories, I still feel out of my element.
Last week, I was in Calgary for a conference. Fortuitously, only half the cost of the hotel room would be covered by my employer, and I could not find another person to share a room. So I looked for alternatives.
I discovered Air BnB (and no, I get nothing to shamelessly promote this). A site where people rent out their homes just like a hotel room. Granted, each listing is bound to be different, but I really lucked out in Calgary. For half the price of the conference hotel room, I rented out an entire 2 bedroom bungalow that was not too far from downtown. It had a well-stocked kitchen, a living room complete with board games and oodles of books to read, if I actually had the time. Of course, I was drawn to the kitchen, so I could easily whip up my routine breakfast oatmeal and other healthy meals. With an Asian grocer a few blocks away, I had access to cheap groceries as well.
While I think of travel as a vacation from blogging as well, I was wrong. I desperately wanted to share some of the quick and easy meals that I pulled together. I brought quinoa with me so that I could turn any vegetable stir fry into a quick main meal but I ended up going more elaborate with this curried tomato and kidney bean bowl. The results were worth it and have already been incorporated into repeater meals in my own kitchen.
The ingredients seem so simple, so the bulk of flavour comes from the high quality curry powder. When I spotted a local Artisan curry powder (Bridget’s) at Community Natural Foods, it was then that I decided to make this. Shallots (or onions), ginger and garlic are sautéed and added to the curry powder. A can of tomatoes turns this into a great sauce that simmers with some kidney beans and quinoa. I added chopped baby bok choy for some greenery and crunch. Susan originally made this as a lettuce wrap with chickpeas. I have since made this since my return with chickpeas and more quinoa; it is a very forgiving recipe. Like most curries, this was great as leftovers. And yes, I was thrilled that my kitchen in Calgary also had plastic containers for me to tote my meals to the conference.
Who would have thought I’d eat so well away from home?
Curried Beans and Quinoa with Baby Bok Choy
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
1 tsp oil of choice
3 shallots, chopped, or 1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced gingerroot
1.5 tsp good curry powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
15 oz canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1.5 cups cooked red kidney beans (or beans of choice, chickpeas are good, too), rinsed and drained if canned
6 baby bok choy, leaves separated, chopped
1. If you do not have 1 cup of cooked quinoa, begin by bringing 3/4 cup of water (or vegetable broth) to a boil). Add rinsed quinoa, simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed, then allow to sit, with lid on, for an additional 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, head a large skillet with the oil up to medium-high. When hot, add the shallot (or onion), sprinkle with salt and cook until the onions soften, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir and saute for another minute. Add the curry powder and chile flakes (if using) and allow to toast for 15 seconds until fragrant.
3. Deglaze the pan with the undrained canned tomatoes and add the beans. Add your cooked quinoa when it is ready. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, clean and chop your baby bok choy. Separate the leaves from the stems. Slice the stems cross-wise, into thin slivers. Add to the curry after 5 minutes of simmering. Thinly slice the baby bok choy leaves and add them in after another 3 minutes. Stir and allow the heat to wilt the greens. Season to taste.