February 28, 2007

February: Bean Recipes For R.L. Howard

I am pretending, for the duration of this post, that it’s not quite March, that I’m writing in February. This is necessary in order to have this retrospective introduction archived with the February bean recipes. We all know now that I’m writing this on March 2, but in the future, if there is still electricity or phenomenon enough of whatever sort to run computers and networks, we won’t remember it, and will think this intro fits seamlessly with the Feb. theme. Or would, if I weren’t writing about it. Enough postmodern silliness.

At any rate, it’s pleasing, quite, to see these four recipes adorning our first full month here. You’ve no idea how therapeutic and purely fun this project is for me. Sitting here at my boring tech writing job, these posts are renegade bursts of something akin to creativity, little breaks from the (hyperbole alert!) drudgery of capitalism and service to The Man I'm forced to undertake to pay the rent. Breaks that give me pleasure and purpose.

I found out this week that there is a community garden in my neighborhood, and I am going to get me a plot. It’s been a few years since I was able to grow my own vegetables, so watch out. I may have to wax about it in here. If anyone else is doing culinary gardening, by all means share. Once we get into summer, a word about how an ingredient made it from plot to pot will add that always desirable hint of glamour to a recipe. If glamour and compost are as intertwined in your minds as they are in mine.

That said, underlying are the bean recipes that Lisa, Molly, Nancy T., and Aunt Janey sent in, then mine. I hope that, in some small part, this teensy tribute to my departed father will somehow let him know, through whatever ethereal relationship exists between cyberspace and spiritworld, that whatever neglect I demonstrated toward him during life, I still loved him and remember many things fondly – not the least of them his love of food and drink, which I have obviously inherited from both genetic pools, and thank him for, and you, and will, along with every bit of love that inexplicably manages to come my way, refuse to take for granted as long as I have the sense to know who and where I am.

Janey's 30 Minute Beef and Black Bean Soup

I do want to share this recipe because it is so simple, tastes good and is hearty. It can be either vegatarian, turkey or beef. I made this for Nancy and Daddy. They loved it, and Nancy gave the recipe to her hair dresser who tailgates at Rams and Cardinal games. She has served it to that gang and they loved it - especially in the fall.

This recipe doesn't take the place of a slow cooked bean soup recipe -- that slow cooked flavor can't be beat -- but this is a good quick one.

Aunt Janey Meek

1 lb. coarse or chili-grind beef chuck (I use a regular ground 93% or lower fat beef).
1 (11 or 19 ounce) can black bean soup (I always use Progresso)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained (I use 2 sometimes)
1 1/3 cup water
1 cup medium or hot chunky salsa

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup light sour cream
Fresh cilantro sprigs

1. In a Dutch oven, brown the beef over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until no longer pink, breaking up into crumbles.

2. Pour off the drippings.

3. Stir in the bean soup, beans, water and salsa. Bring to a boil (not a rolling boil), then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the green onions.

5. Remove from heat. (The instruction "remove from heat" always makes me smile. Like you would leave it on the stove forever!)

6. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro.

I do the green onions if I have them, the sour cream if I am trying to be fancy, and I don't keep cilantro. That would add a nice touch.

Makes 4 servings. Calories 510, Fat 23 g, Cholesterol 77 mg, Sodium 994 mg, Percent calories from fat 40%.

February 26, 2007

Nancy Thompson's Black Bean Soup

I think your Dad would have liked this one...

2 cups dry black beans
Cold water
2 teaspoons baking soda, divided
3 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons parsley
1/4 cup butter
1-2 cups chopped ham
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup white wine
Sour cream for topping
Grated cheese for topping
Chopped green onions for topping

1. Place beans in enough water to cover entirely.

2. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the beans.

3. Let soak for 2 hours and rinse.

4. Add water to cover and 1 teaspoon of baking soda and soak overnight (soda reduces the acid in the beans).

5. Rinse beans.

6. Cook beans in water in a large pan until soft, about 3-4 hours.

7. Saute onions, garlic, and parsley in butter, then add them to the beans.

8. Add the other ingredients.

9. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 more hours. Add water if it gets too thick.

10. Top with sour cream, grated cheese, and chopped green onions.

Yield: 10-15 servings.

Molly's Delicious Beans

My darling daughter said, "that [email] was about bean recipes? i didn't even read it. here. enjoy: "

1 can refried beans

1. heat up beans in a pan.

2. when they are warm add small cubes of your favorite cheese.

3. stir untill cheese is just melted.

4. put on a plate and cover in ketchup.

5. serve with corn chips.

serves 1-3, depending on how much you feel like eating.

i do what i can.

February 23, 2007

Lisa's Bean Dish!

Fast food! Also a great vegetarian dish! It's so quick and easy, all you have to do is throw it together. Works well with leftover rice, too.

Lisa's Mexicanish Kidney Bean Tostada Thingies

One can of Joan of Arc brand "Chili Beans" (mildly spiced kidney beans)
Hot cooked rice (one cup rice, 2 cups water and a good pinch of salt)
Pickled sliced jalepeno peppers (if you like 'em)
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite)
Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado (whatever you like)
Flour tortillas
Taco sauce, hot sauce, salsa and whatever else you'd like!

1. Warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave.

2. Spoon hot rice on the warm tortilla.

3. Add cheese.

4. Spoon hot beans on the rice.

5. Top with lettuce, tomato, jalepenos, and any sauces.

Submitted by Lisa

February 21, 2007

Beans in Honor

To commemorate my dad’s passing I’m posting one of his favorite recipes: Pinto beans and corn bread. This is also one of my favorite meals. I always assumed that my mom loved them, too, since she made them pretty regularly during my entire childhood. However, she’s just told me that she despises them, that she only made them because they were the one’s my dad liked! She had grown up with Great Northern beans, and reverted to those upon her divorce. Wow. I don’t remember ever having white beans at home. As a matter of fact, I recall quite clearly the feeling of culinary superiority that overcame me every time I was at a friend’s house and saw the shocking paleness of the beans they were forced to choke down – without any green relish! Maybe even without cornbread (can that be true?). This is so obviously a pre-second wave feminism story! These days, surely, one would make both types of beans. I mean, not at the same time. But alternate them. White, pinto; north, south; Yankee, rebel. But to give up one’s beans? Hardly. Ah, the sacrifices our poor mothers made. Anyway, she said that one night, when she and my dad were dating, he said to her, “My mom’s making cornbread and beans. Do you want to come over and eat?” Looking forward, of course, to the Great Northerns she said, “Sure.” Then, in the kitchen with Nonie she lifted the lid on the pot and, well, she says that Nonie told her she’d never forget the look on my mom's face when she saw the brown beans. “I’d never seen beans that color before!” she told me. So here they are. Beans of a different color.

The Lime Infused Cornbread is yummy, but feel free to use any cornbread you like. A cheesy one with hot peppers works fabulously.

Beans in Honor

A large, heavy pan, like a Dutch oven
A bag of pinto beans
1 big onion
Two bay leaves
(a ham hock)
(pinch of cayenne pepper)
3 TBS Olive oil
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Water (see package, but generally to cover plus two inches or so)

Serve with:
Green Tomato Relish (or pickle relish, if you must; chutney works nicely, too)
Hot Sauce
Lime Infused Cornbread (recipe follows)

1. Prepare the beans according to package directions. (Don’t add the salt until the end, when you’re adding the onions, or the beans could get tough.) If you’re using the ham hock add it when you turn the heat down after the boil.

2. Add the bay leaves, cayenne and black pepper, if you’re using that.

3. An hour before the beans are ready you may prepare the corn bread (below), so that it will come out of the oven when the beans are ready.

4. When the beans are almost done, sauté the onion in the olive oil. Add half the salt to the onions, half to the bean pot. Cook for 20 minutes or so.

5. To serve, put a piece of cornbread in a bowl and ladle beans over it. Top with the relish or chutney and a few dashes of hot sauce.

Lime Infused Cornbread

Lime and pepper work so well in cornbread, it’s amazing. I stumbled upon this combo by accident. I'd prepared the lime-infused yogurt to serve with a soup, then forgot to top the soup when I served it. A couple of days later, making cornbread, I tossed the forgotten yogurt into the batter in place of part of the liquid. Then, mysteriously, I added some fresh ground black and some white pepper. Wow. It turned out great!

1 box of cornbread mix (or your favorite basic recipe)
1 can corn, drained, liquid saved
2 TBLS fresh lime juice
Zest from 1 lime
½ cup yogurt*
2 eggs (even if the box calls for 1)
White and Black Peppers
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven according to box directions.

2. Zest and juice the lime and add both to the yogurt*. Refrigerate the yogurt over night to infuse.

3. Prepare the cornbread according to package directions, with the following exceptions:

4. Use TWO EGGS if it calls for only ONE.

5. Add the drained can of corn.

6. Replace the liquid called for on the box with the yogurt, and enough of the drained and saved corn juice to make up the called for volume plus 1/8 cup.

7. Heat the oil in an iron skillet over high heat for a moment, until it is very hot but NOT smoking.

8. Pour a teaspoon of the hot oil into the cornbread batter, then give it a quick (almost perfunctory) stir.

9. Pour the batter into the hot pan and quickly put the pan in the oven.

10. Bake according to package directions, more or less, but definitely until the thin-object-comes-out-clean-when-inserted-in-the-center rule takes hold.

11. Let cool for 15 minutes or so, then invert onto a platter and serve.

* I use a homemade yogurt I make from goat milk. It’s fairly runny. Use your favorite yogurt, but if you can get hold of some European style (especially Greek), try using that.

Note: The hot skillet method, as we all know, makes a very nice crustiness on the bottom and sides of the cornbread. I suppose we all also know that the less stirring of the cornbread, the better -- stir it just enough to get the job done, no more.

Submitted by Margaret Howard