Category Archives: beans

the good life: black beans & rice

i have had a long affair with black beans and rice. it all started when i moved to texas in my early 20’s. i was lucky enough to get a job at the coolest, hippy-ist (not hip-ist) cafe in town, one of those places where your boss would bail you out of jail, you can pretty much assume that all the cooks are hungover, and a waitress might just run off with the band to whom she  just served coffee. it was here that i was first introduced to what would become one the food staples of my life–black beans and rice. it was born, like many things, out of necessity. it was cheap, easliy accessible, and nutritious. these are the three most important qualities of a meal when you’re on a budget whether due to youth, job status, or financial strain.

this brings me to the real reason for this post. i was lucky enough to be asked to be part of a group of food bloggers in a challenge to bring awareness to the problem of hunger here in our fair city and it’s outlying areas. This is a project inspired by the capital area food bank, one of it’s proud volunteers, kristi willis of austin farm to table, and austin american-statesman food writer, addie broyles. the food bank feeds 48 thousand people per week in 21 counties. in addition to canned & packaged foods and meat products , they are proud to be the 2nd largest distributor of fresh produce of any food bank in the nation. this means fruits and veggies, people–real food! not only do they offer food via 360 partner agencies ’round these parts, they’re also involved in the food stamp program (SNAP), a senior outreach program, kid’s cafe, mobile pantries, and they offer nutritional education, menu planning, and recipe & cooking classes. whew!

most of the food bloggers involved in this awareness program are doing their own personal challenges; some are posting every meal from a typical week’s worth of food from the food bank, some are posting daily updates, and some like me are writing a simple, singular post in the hopes that it will inspire you to reach out, volunteer, donate, or otherwise do what will float your your philanthropic boat. saturday, may 8th is also the annual stamp out hunger food drive, whereby you can simply leave non-perishible goods in a bag by your mailbox–it doesn’t get any easier than that. if you’d like to read more about the food blogger challenge, please visit the rest of the bloggers involved  from this central site: food blogger hunger awareness project.

black beans & rice (serves 4)

this is not so much a recipe as a method. you can substitute any type of beans or rice that you like. i prefer black beans and brown rice for sentimental reasons and this combo packs a nutritious wallop.

1/2 lb dried black turtle beans

1/2 onion, chopped

a few bay leaves

a handful of salt

1 cup brown rice

soak beans overnight or use the quick soak method. be sure to change to soaking water to fresh. cover soaked beans with a few inches of fresh cold water. add the chopped onion, bay leaves, and salt and bring to a boil. simmer, semi covered with a lid for a little over an hour until tender but not mushy.

make the brown rice according to package directions bearing in mind brown rice takes about twice as long to cook as white rice, so give yourself plenty of time. i like to add a bit of olive oil and water and a pinch of salt to the rice and water for a boost of flavor.

if you have a bit of veggies, onion, or pickled jalapenos, chop ’em up and add on top. or you could just simply eat it as is with a few dashes of cholula or your favorite hot sauce.

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fresh lady creamer peas

 

creamer peas-finished

at the risk of sounding unpopular, sometimes due to the extreme heat, crushing crowds, and added expense of it all, i just have to take time off from the farmer’s market. don’t get me wrong, i love to support local growers, organic or otherwise (you’d be hard-pressed to find any farmer’s at the market who use chemicals or sprays, anyhow), but i am not a competitive person by nature, so sometimes all the nudging to get at the best tomatoes, peaches, and eggs can get a bit much for me. but after a break from it a few weeks back, i come with new eyes and spot some fresh lady creamer peas. this is exactly the type of thing that makes each farmer’s market unique: the distinct nature of the local produce. this, of course, begged the question: what to do with them? after poking around online and coming up with with virtually nothing about this very specific item, i had my suspicions about where to turn for assistance, robb walsh‘s ‘the texas cowboy cookbook’. robb has become an expert in regional cooking, including cowboy and tex-mex cooking styles, real texas barbeque, texas gulf specialties (like oysters, etc), you name it. if you love anything texas, these books are for you.

creamer peas -book

these  peas, which are interchangeable with any fresh field peas such as black eyed or purple hull peas in their cooking style, are a cinch to make and compliment a great texas summer meal. we had ours with grilled pork loin and summer squash, and cornbread.

creamer peas

fresh lady creamer peas (serves 4-6 as a side dish)

1 pound shelled lady creamer, black -eyed, purple hull peas (about 3 cups)

2-3 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups stock (preferably homemade chicken or veggie)

salt & pepper

hot pepper sauce of your choice (i prefer cholula, the best hot sauce on earth, that’s just me)

rinse and drain peas. in a large skillet over low-medium heat add bacon to pan. remember you are rendering the fat from the bacon. it’s important to cook it on the slow side, otherwise you end up with most of the fat still clinging to the meat of the bacon instead on as liquid in the pan. when bacon is crisp, remove meaty pieces and set aside to drain on paper toweling. alternatively, you can leave them in the pan, but since i prefer my bacon a bit crisp, not limp, i take it out and add it back in at the end of cooking. add diced onion and cook until softened and translucent. add stock and peas. bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer peas until desired tenderness, about 15-20 minutes, checking liquid level and adding more stock (or water) as necessary. i like them a little firm, but this is not the usual texan way. add bacon back in (if removed) and season with salt & pepper. serve with a little pot likker (some of the cooking liquid, i know it’s not greens but, hey…it’s good), hot sauce, and corn bread to sop it all up.

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Filed under bacon, beans, side dish

smoky goodness

smoky-baked-beans

looking around for something to compliment a slowly smoked sunday brisket,  I came across these super smoky beans that caught my eye, not to mention teased my palate. plus i had just about everything i needed already on hand, with the exception of the barbeque sauce. we often make our own, but i was feeling lazy so went and picked up some stubb’s barbeque sauce at the corner store. lucky us, living in texas. we LOVE barbeque. we even had our wedding catered by the salt lick.

it starts off with freshly cooked beans. use canned if you must, but the toothsome-ness of  homemade really makes this dish. you can read about the virtue of making homemade beans and get a primer on quick-soaking and cooking beans here.

raw-small-white-beans

the next step requires the services of small can that packs a big wallop: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. these are red jalapenos that have been smoked and packed in the spiciest, smokiest, sweetest tomatoey sauce that you can imagine.

chipotles

add in some other goodies and the whole mess gets popped in the oven for about an hour. it should look a little soupy when it goes in, like the picture below, or else it’ll end up too dry in the end. there were only a few of us eating, so i halved the recipe and still had enough for the meal and 3-4 lunches.

unbaked-beans

hot & smoky baked beans (adapted from bon appetit)

3-4 bacon slices, finely chopped (we used our own! will be posting soon!)

1 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups your favorite barbecue sauce

3/4 cup dark beer-i used saint arnold winter stout

1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1-2 minced canned chipotle chilies, depending on your taste*

5-6 cups (1 lb dry) fresh cooked  great northern or other white beans (or 4  -16 ounce canned beans, rinsed and drained)

*be careful– for half of this recipe, i used one pepper and a bit of the sauce from the can of peppers and one taster proclaimed it as “a little too hot”.

 

preheat oven to 350°F. cook bacon and onion in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. add next 7 ingredients to bowl and whisk to blend. whisk in chipotle chilies, depending on spiciness desired. stir in beans. transfer bean mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake uncovered until liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes.

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Filed under beans, side dish