Archive forNovember, 2008

Cowboy Beans and Mexican-Seasoned Rice

Every so often I get it into my head that Mark and I aren’t eating enough iron. This weekend was one of those times. Then I found myself flipping through Simply Heavenly!, in which Abbott George Burke pretty much assures me eternal life if I eat dried beans cooked in a pressure cooker every day. Knowing that dried beans are a good source of iron, I decided to follow his advice and stocked up on several different kinds. The bean dish I made tonight is an adaptation of what he calls Cowboy Beans. I don’t know that I’ve ever had cowboy beans, to be honest with you, and googling it turned up a lot of recipes that call for smothering beans in barbecue sauce, and a few that seemed more like meatastic versions of this one, so I don’t know if there is some discrepancy about what cowboy beans are or what, but I’m going to go ahead and call ’em Cowboy Beans because it reminds me of the time my family and I went out west and pretended we were cowboys. And girls. I think the others may have eaten cowboy beans, but I was vegetarian at the time, so I stuck to the cowboy coffee.

Cowboy Beans

2 cups dried pinto or pink beans (I used pink)
4 cups vegan “chicken” broth
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (crushed red pepper is shown in the photograph because it’s what the original recipe called for, but a jalapeno made much more sense to me)
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup vegan “bacon” bits

Place beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for one hour. (Alternatively, soak in cold water overnight.) Drain beans.

In a pressure cooker if you have one, or large pot if you don’t, combine broth, liquid smoke, sage, and oregano and bring to a boil. Add the beans. If using a pressure cooker, bring up to pressure and cook for 10-12 minutes. If not using a pressure cooker, cover and simmer for a long time, until beans are soft: maybe 3 hours?

Bring pressure cooker down from pressure if using, and uncover. If there is more broth remaining than is required to cover beans by about half an inch, ladle it out. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Liquid will have reduced, but will still be a little “brothy”.

Serve with seasoned rice (recipe follows).

Mexican-Seasoned Rice

4 cups cooked rice, medium grain preferred (all I had was brown jasmine but I survived), optionally cooked in vegan “chicken” stock
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup sofrito
chopped cilantro (I used a frozen cube from Trader Joe’s)

Cook the rice using your preferred method; mine is a rice cooker. Warm some olive oil in a medium-large pot, then add the onions and bell pepper and saute until onions are golden.

Add the garlic and sofrito (and if using frozen cilantro, the cilantro) and cook for another minute.

Stir in the rice and cilantro (if using fresh).

Serve with cowboy beans (recipe above).

This meal, particularly the beans, was very good. For reasons known only to him, when dinner was announced, Mark helped himself only to the rice – especially strange considering he informed me he’d had rice for lunch (“Rice and what?” I asked. “Just rice.”) – and returned to the dining room table and gobbled it up. Then he asked if he could taste some beans from my plate. “Oh my god!!” he exclaimed, swallowing, then darted into the kitchen as fast as his legs could take him. “These are amazing!” Then he burned his mouth trying to eat them too fast. There’s probably a lesson buried in there somewhere for him to learn, but I doubt he’ll find it. The lesson I learned is: cooking with dried beans doesn’t have to involve planning the night before and soaking them, and can actually be pretty fast (with a pressure cooker anyway), much more delicious than you might think, and of course cheap and healthy.

So where are the cats, you’re wondering? Well, I was wondering that myself when I was pulling this together, until I wandered into the library to check my messages and found this:

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and now for something completely different

This is a different sort of tutorial. It’s not food-related, but as most vegans seem to be at least somewhat concerned about the environment and our human impact upon it, I figured I’d push my pro-handkerchief, anti-tissue agenda on you. I must confess that although Mark is in general very supportive of everything I do, he hates this aspect of me. He finds it disgusting and unsanitary, although I put forth the notion that it is actually more sanitary to use handkerchiefs than tissues. For example, most people sneeze into their hands rather than hunt around for and then “waste” a tissue to sneeze into. But then they end up wiping their hands on their pants or something. And a lot of tissues are so thin I’m sure they’re not really protecting you or the rest of the world from all your germs. Anyway, handkerchiefs are softer, sturdier, cheaper, and all-around just better. They are also hard to find these days, so I just make my own. Here’s how:

Snot Rags

flannel – This can be purchased from a sale bin at the fabric store or scavenged from worn-out pajamas. “Gen-Xers” can use also use their old flannel shirts from the ’90s, but don’t tell Mark because he’s planning to single-handedly bring back grunge.

First, cut the flannel into handkerchief shapes. I find a rotary cutter makes this job particularly easy, but just use regular shears if you don’t have one.

I made 8″ squares, but you can adjust this to whatever surface area you feel you may need to contain your snot. I didn’t even bother making sure the squares were perfectly straight because, jeez, I’m just going to be blowing my nose on it.

Choose the zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine.

Line up one of the flannel squares under the presser foot so that as it zig-zags, the needle will go from piercing the fabric on the left to just hitting the right edge of the fabric:

Continue zig-zagging all four edges.

Repeat for each of your flannel squares.

Trim the dangling threads from each.

Now just keep one in your pocket or purse, use when necessary, and toss in with your laundry to clean!

And I’ll be back with a food post hopefully later this weekend. I’ve been in the kitchen for a few hours today but haven’t managed to make anything that qualifies for the blog. Mark and I drove up to Pangea today and purchased a ton of Cheezly, then Mark requested I try a deep-dish pizza (as opposed to the Neopolitan and New York-style crusts I usually make), so I’m about to stick that in the oven, but it’s pretty experimental. We’ll see how that goes.

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