Monday, December 22, 2014


The sibilant sigh of
solstice snow. It comes
shrouding familiar scene,
quelling hurried time.
Hushing, shushing, damping, tramping.
Mantling branch and twig in vestal down.

The infant cry of
Infinite Man. He comes
bearing familiar frame,
dwelling in measured time.
Hushing, shushing, forever crushing shame.
Mantling mankind in matchless worth. 

Merry Christmas EVERYONE!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What I Mean by Tacos

Just to make things absolutely clear, when I use the term "taco" I refer to all types of meals wrapped in a tortilla but expressly NOT one of those tasteless, pre-cooked, cardboard-y things sold in packs of 10 in the grocery store. I mean a vast assortment of delicious foods folded or wrapped in fresh, warmed or fried tortillas, either flour or corn. Okay? Just wanted to get that established from the beginning. 

It just so happens that I have jumped into my bean blogging career mid-week, mid-bean batch. Stay with me and you'll undoubtedly get the whole process eventually. Yesterday I found a small bit of salmon left over in the fridge from last weekend and decided on fish tacos with this week's black beans on the side. I thought you might enjoy seeing one on my variations on taco building. Here we go in random, non recipe fashion:

I placed some fresh corn tortillas on a cookie sheet and spread about a half teaspoon of olive oil mayo on each one, then drizzled Sriracha sauce onto that.
I placed them in a 350* oven to warm. Then I put about a half cup of beans in a couple of ramekins. Here's a little hint for you: when reheating beans in the microwave, place a moist paper towel over them before heating. It prevents them from exploding all over your microwave. I zapped them and left them in the oven. Then in a sizzling steel skillet, I drizzled a little amount of excellent olive oil and seared the thin salmon until it turned white around the edges. Because it was so thin, this only took about three minutes. I flipped the fish, turned off the skillet, and finished cooking it by chopping it up with the spatula, stirring as it cooked. 

I pulled the tortillas out of the oven and plated them. On top of each tortilla, I put a whole leaf of lettuce, then the salmon, some grated cheese and confetti-ed red pepper. All over this I drizzled some more olive oil mayo and Sriracha.  I served this with some of that marshmallow and cool whip salad type thing that I made up at the last minute using left over cranberry relish. To make it really special I toasted some chopped pecans and tossed them in at the last minute. Incredible!!
The lettuce leaf makes the taco almost bomb-proof easy to eat and everything was well timed and delicious. 

I forgot to mention this took less than half an hour to throw together. I'm nothing if not practical. I usually serve the largest meal at lunch. In the mornings, I come down to my studio on the lowest level of the house where the kitchen and dining room are also. I lay out my paints, maybe start a painting, and then begin thinking about lunch. If the beans haven't already been cooked, they are started, some meat might be thawed or the leftovers appraised. I make the meal in small increments until it's time to toss it all together just before lunch. This is fun, creative, and most importantly, gets me out of my painting brain which can get too narrow focused, too nitpicky unless I frequently step away from the canvas, breathe some outside air, toss the ball for the dogs, bug Tim in his studio, or fuss in the kitchen. 

I said I would tell you how I became the Queen of Beans, but got all excited about cooking and didn't get around to it. Next time, perhaps. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Beans and Such

I have been wanting to start writing again but apparently a huge log jam of ideas has got me bound up.  So, yesterday it occurred to me: I need to write about something different.  Or write about things differently.  And it just came to me:  beans, I bet no one is blogging about.... BEANS.

I love lentils, red and blacks, northerns, pintos and navies. Every week I cook about two pounds.  I start by soaking them in a large bowl of water for at least 10 hours. Next day I rinse and drain the beans and put them in the slow cooker with enough water to cover.  Into that goes a couple thick slices of bacon (or 2 T olive oil if going vegan,) 2 T of salt, and three or four large cloves of garlic; this is my basic, foundational recipe. I simmer them on high for 3-5 hours, depending on the beans** until they are creamy but still meaty and delicious. On day one, we usually just have a bowl of plain beans, with perhaps some fresh corn tortillas, plain or fried, or a small salad on the side. But beans are the main course.

This week I added to the basic recipe 2 T finely ground coffee and 1 T of pure chili powder (not the blend but "chili puro" from New Mexico.) These black beans needed an extra hour or two to soften but when they did, they were fantastic!!!  Yesterday (day two) I added some left over taco meat (ground beef) and served it over a small portion of rice.  This is how the week usually progresses. Tomorrow I'll probably make some tacos al pastor (fresh tortillas, not fried) with beans on the side, or maybe they'll morph into chili.... and so forth until the beans are all gone or I get sick of them. Usually there is only a half a cup or so left at the end of the week that gets tossed so that I can start fresh.

**By the way, if you wonder about the intestinal discomfort from dried beans, a word of warning and encouragement.  Soaking the beans adequately tends to break down some of the enzymes that are hard to digest so by all means, soak them beans!  And make sure you rinse, drain, and then BOIL especially pintos and kidneys rapidly for 10 minutes before simmering them. These have an unusually high amount of the toxin.  If your slow cooker doesn't get hot enough to simmer the beans adequately, you may need to boil all your beans before cooking them in a crock pot.  My slow cooker has an adequate 'high' setting so I cook everything in it right from the start except for pintos and kidneys.

Next time I'll tell you a little bit about how this passion began.  Oh, did I mention coffee beans? Hope you enjoy it.