Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apple Cider Vinegar

I bought a bottle of Bragg's apple cider vinegar from Wheatsville, thinking that it would be a healthful addition to some of our dishes. Turns out I couldn't really think of what dish I wanted to taste more sour (none, really), so it just sat there for a few weeks. Additionally, there is no evidence that this folk remedy liquid is beneficial for your health. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago: I purchased some canned black and red beans for a protein source, as we have currently cut out red meat in our diet. Problem was, excluding for the exquisitely homecooked beans and rice I had at Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans, I have never liked a bean dish. Living in Texas, I can't understand how people regularly consume the gritty mush that is refried beans or sugar-loaded baked beans. True, I have in my possession a 3rd generation family red beans 'n rice recipe from kronicred that I will try once I devote a day to the slow cooker. Anyways, I had to figure out a way to make these mostly flavorless legumes palatable to us. After 2 rounds, I have come up with a winning umami-ful recipe that uses apple cider vinegar I'd like to share here. And if you have a problem with beans and gas, you can try soaking them in a water and apple cider vinegar mixture the night before.

1 large can of organic black beans (Eden Foods cans are BPA-free), drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 stalks of green onions, chopped (optional)
a few springs of parsley, leaves removed from stem (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c chicken stock
1 tsp apple cider vinegar, to taste
2 tsp soy sauce, to taste
dash of salt and pepper

Pour a bit of oil into a non-stick pan, turn heat to high. Drop the garlic in and sautee until fragrant. Add onions and turn down heat to medium. Sautee until translucent. Add bell pepper, sautee for a few minutes, then toss in all other ingredients. Stir gently. Remove from stove once the beans have absorbed all liquid and are beginning to turn soft. Serve hot.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Some Thoughts

• Right now, I'd rather spend money on novel experiences than on acquiring new things. Some friends' experiences I envy: camping in Scotland (while roaming Europe), visiting remote areas of Afghanistan, working and cooking at an "eco institute."
• Physical possessions, save for wear and tear, don't change; we change. That is why an item will never hold our (my) complete interest for long. That is the main reason I've come to abhor shopping: it offers the promise of happiness, which I see through immediately, yet am not immune to. The best we (I) can hope for in a physical belonging is that it will do its job for as long as possible, and look good doing it.
• I like to bake because it usually results in me making something good. Yet, following the same recipe each time does not lead to flow (this requires challenge and creativity). I must push myself more somehow, because my natural state is inaction. I can really sympathize with Jonathan Swift, to whom this quote is attributed: "I hate to write, but I love to have written."
• Right now, I am in the most self-centered phase in my life, not only because I have no dependents to take care of or authority figures to be accountable to, but also because I have the monetary means to do whatever I want. Yet, I feel that when I'm not going after my own pursuits, I should serve and give to others. It's a struggle to keep up regularly with friends, as everyone is busy and/or across town. One thing that stands out to me in my childhood is the occasion homemade meal, dessert, or even backyard garden harvest from church friends that we were able to enjoy. An unexpected tasty morsel made up of the labor of a loved one is something that money cannot buy. So, hopefully with my baking habit, I can bring some of this feeling to others.
• I have mulled over the handmade homelife and have come to the conclusion that I am grateful for our modern conveniences and factories that make food for us. I tried coconut yogurt for the first time yesterday- it was fantastic! There are posts online about how to make it and coconut kefir yourself, but I admit that I have little interest in doing it. Call me lazy, 'cause it sounds like work. I have a mountain of respect for people who make the majority of their food and eschew processed foods, either because they have to, or they find it fulfilling. But that's not me.