Friday, January 22, 2010

Vegetables, "The Guardian Service Way"

Of all the food we prepare with our Guardian Service cookware, vegetables shine—literally. The superior color and texture of vegetables prepared “The Guardian Service Way,” are a result of the nutrient-retaining method of waterless cooking. Of course, the real beauty is that those vitamins and minerals, which would go up in steam or down the drain in other cooking methods, will instead nourish you and your beloveds.
“Waterless” doesn't mean no water at all—in fact what you actually are doing is super-heating the water within the food itself as pressure slowly drives heat into the cells of the food, vaporizing its own juices.
photo: Chris Martin

In brief, the technique is to get your Guardian Service pan hot at first to encourage steam, then turn the heat down to cook gently. Water vaporizes inside the vegetables’ cells, which stay intact, and every bite is delicious and nutritious.
First, clean and prep your vegetables, but with most, avoid peeling: it requires more scrubbing, but it preserves so much flavor and nutrition—another argument to buy organic produce when you can.
Remember that the finer something is chopped, the quicker it will cook. You can bake whole potatoes in GS (and they are spectacular) but to speed up the process, chop them—true for parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets, any of the starchy vegetables. When we want it fast, we chop it fine, but if we’re not in a hurry, we quarter them or chop them in half and let them linger on low flame for a bit longer.
After cleaning and prepping your vegetables, place them in an unheated, corresponding-sized pot and rinse them with a small amount of cold water (1/2 cup or so), then pour off the excess liquid. That small amount of moisture is all that’s needed. You may notice that discarded water is already tinged with the vegetables’ color from a quick cold rinse—just imagine what you lose when you boil...
Cover unit and set over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the lid is warm to the touch. Within minutes you'll see steam rolling down the inside of the glass lid like a delicious science project. Now turn the heat way, way down, until (if you’re cooking with gas) the flame is barely flickering.
Check for doneness after 15 minutes or so, depending on the vegetable. You may wish to add a pat of butter and dash of salt, then stir or shake and serve (right in the unit—another economic benefit: each Guardian Service piece is designed to go from stove to table-top, so there are fewer pots to clean).

We typically reserve organic vegetable scraps in a freezer bag, then cook them down into soup stock when we have a surplus. But some trimmings can be profitably cooked right along with your vegetables. For example, broccoli: instead of throwing out the woody stalks, lay them at the bottom of the pot, then layer the broccoli florets on top. As you cook them together, the stalks will protect the upper florets and suffuse them with extra moisture, flavor, and even vitamins.

Guardian Service is Depression-era cooking not only because of the conservation of nutrition but because it is incredibly frugal with carbon (meaning heating energy, whether gas or electric). Aluminum is highly efficient at conducting and retaining heat, and when the amount of heat that is streaming into the pan from the burner equals the amount of heat radiating off the outside, your food cooks at its ideal temperature. The technique “slow cooks” your food (but quickly!) with the heat that is initially built up inside the metal.

It's common sense: keeping the lid on conserves heat and moisture. You may have noticed the succulent aromas sealed inside the lid, which only escape when you lift it. This is key to flavor—aromas are flavor essence, and scents that are in your kitchen, delightful as they may be, are in the air, not in your food.

(Excerpt from the 1935 "GUARDIAN SERVICE Tested Recipes" Cookbook by "Director, Betty Gay")
  1. Wash vegetables carefully, even though they look clean. Scrub, remove only decayed portions and tough outer stalks or leaves as necessary. Remember, when you are tempted to peel—vital food values are wasted in parings. A wire vegetable brush is less of a culprit than the paring knife.
  2. Select a GUARDIAN SERVICE unit that corresponds in size to quanity of vegetable.
  3. Place in unheated unit. If vegetables are not strictly fresh or if, when peeled, some of the natural moisture has been removed, then replace moisture by adding a very small amount of water. This also applies in the case of preparing a small quantity of food in a large unit, there being insufficient moisture in the food to fill the unity with vapor.
  4. Cover unit and start over MEDIUM HEAT. Never use high heat. Heat will spread evenly and quickly to every part of your GUARDIAN SERVICE unit. Too much heat at first may cause food to stick before vapor has formed with unit.
  5. Keep on MEDIUM flame about 5 minutes, until cover of unit becomes quite warm to touch.
  6. Reduce heat to LOW. Do not wait for vapor to escape before reducing heat. Escaping vapor, at any time, means that flame is too high. Low heat will be as easy on the vegetables as on the fuel bill.
  7. Season any time after vapor forms. Because rich, natural mineral salts and juices are largely retained, very little or no seasoning is required. The addition of butter just before serving is sufficient in most cases. Never, never add soda to vegetables as it not only gives them an artificial appearance, but actually breaks down the fiber and destroys flavor and vitamin content.
  8. Avoid lifting covers unnecessarily during preparation period as this prolongs time and allow vapor to escape. Raising the heat will not speed up the process, and may cause food to dry out and stick or burn.
  9. Test for tenderness at end of preparation period (See time chart, page 9.) Vegetables are done when tender, but still firm and natural in color. Do not soften to mushy, breaking apart stage.
  10. GUARDIAN SERVICE is constructed to retain heat over a long period of time. Therefore to prevent loss of color through over cooking, remove cover from the following vegetables as soon as tender: Asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans, peas, greens, cabbage and cauliflower.

1 comment:

  1. The taste was absolutely remarkable! It was like eating them for the first time.