Monday, May 17, 2010

Holy Frijoles!

I was wondering the other day why I bother with this whole blog thing, and I came to the conclusion that for me it's like one of those old recipe boxes with index cards in it -- only it's electronic. It gives me a chance to get recipes down in a quick and easy format that I can go back to later instead of trying to find the original source. Why would that be a hassle, you ask? Well, my recipe books and magazines tend to look like this:

...which is great if you happen to be looking through one and want to zero-in on the interesting pages, but it pretty much sucks if you're trying to find something specific and you can't remember which of the 100 or so books, or gabillion or so magazines it happens to be in. I did try to write things down in a little book, you know, recipe name, source, page number, etc... but that got REAL old REAL quick. So, here we are.

Here are a couple of recipes to go with your righteous 'cue. I didn't post any of them last night because I was wiped after a looooooooong day in the driveway (I know, poor me.) Plus, the ribs post was kind of long, and anyway these are stand alone sides that you can use with any recipe -- plus, I would never find my beans recipe under something called Ribsmas Day. Holy Frijoles! is a WAY better name.

This recipe comes from an old Chile Pepper magazine (June 2002! Holy smokes, I am getting OLD!). The mag actually cribbed it from Matt Martinez's Culinary Frontier (just to know).

You'll need two cups of pinto beans (don't bother soaking -- according to Matt, his Granny doesn't soak them, and I am not about to argue with some Mexican Granny when it comes to cooking beans), 6 cups of water, 1 cup each of chopped celery/onion/bell pepper (I skipped the pepper), 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1/2 a bay leaf (seriously, 1/2 a bay leaf? I put two in), 1 whole zucchini (the recipe calls for a large one, but I've seen large zucchini that can't get through a door, let alone in a pot, so I went for a small one), 1 cup chopped cilantro (I skipped this since I didn't have any), 1/2 bottle of beer, and salt & pepper. I also added some dried epazote, which is a traditional herb that is good for beans. You pretty much can't buy this stuff and have to grow it, so if you don't have any, don't worry, you'll just fart more later.

Check you pinto beans for stones. This puppy would have lead to a nice trip to the dentist. Then rinse them.

Then all you do is put everything (except the salt and pepper and beer) in a pot -- how's that for technique! Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer with the lid on for two hours. After two hours, add the beer and continue to simmer, covered for another half an hour. Mine actually required a whole other hour to get soft, so be advised that this is a good dish to start early (say 3 1/2 hours before you need it). Once it's cooked, add salt and pepper to taste and let it sit until ready to eat (it will hold fine on the stove for quite a while.)

I like to serve the beans without much juice (in fact I drain the whole thing). You can serve them with a bit of the zucchini in there too, or just chuck it. Up to you --- give it a try before you serve up and see if you like it. The article says it adds "a special sweetness" to the beans. I don't really notice it, but hey, the world needs more ways to use up zucchini, so why not go with it? (Chile Pepper suggests you add some hot sauce when serving too -- go figure.)

The other side is just a sliced avocado with a squirt of lime and a sprinkle of salt. Deee-lish! I use 1/4 lime per half avocado.

I think it's worth noting how to cut a lime. It's easy to make unappealing quarters because there is a line of pith that runs from the stem to the blossom end, and this messes-up the look of the quarters if you cut the lime down the long side.

To avoid this, just place the lime in front of you with the stem and blossom ends pointing left and right.

Then, cut an "X" across this left/right line.

And, voila! Lovely quarters ready to go.

I haven't mentioned the garden in a while, so....

Here's a quick pic of the horseradish. It has started flowering in earnest, and all the cooky little wasps and stuff that like it have made their appearance in the garden.

This is a shot of the sweet cicely flowers. Those green pods are the young seeds. They are AMAZING things to nibble on in the garden when they are young and tender. They give a sweet blast of licorice flavour (I don't like regular licorcie, but I dig these things). Grow it if you can find some!

Peace, and good eatin'!

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