reflection’s for winter. Summer is for doing. (unless you’re George.)
Hey friends, we’re going to try an experiment here- Now, you were warned that this might happen (see here), however, I do feel the need, at least this first time, to give you a head’s up, so you can opt out if you’re not interested.
I’m going to try something that just a few years ago would’ve seemed impossible and insane-
I am going to write. About food. And share a recipe (of sorts).
Like sewing and gardening, cooking is a skill my mom tried to teach me growing up but, through sheer stubbornness and dependency (‘but why learn, when you’re so good at it already and you’re right down the road and will be for forever and ever?’) never quite stuck. It wasn’t until I was living in my first apartment, eating giant potfuls of beans and rice, and oatmeal for dinner that I started to take feeding myself (and anyone else I might be interested in impressing) seriously. This also happened to coincide with an absolutely amazing science class that looked at the food industry from all angles and dinner became, not just tasty, but a chance to nourish my body and vote with my fork. Thus began an investigation into cooking with whole foods, and a real relationship with flavors and tastes. Thanks to friends, family (mom!), the internet, trial and error, I’ve graduated from someone who can possibly make dinner with two hours, a recipe and a few trips to the store to Someone Who Can Make Dinner In a Reasonable Amount of Time And With What’s On Hand, Recipe Be Damned, which is really about as far as my cooking aspirations go. On one level, I want to celebrate that, but on another, I want to share these tasty things I’ve been making with you so that you can make them and share them with the people who love who will make them and share them with the people they love- This isn’t just thoughtless navel-gazing, people, this is a REVOLUTION.
IncrediBOWLy Tasty Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Rice Bowls
Like Conan and Fat Tire, or peanut butter and siracha, black beans and sweet potatoes are a pairing that have earned a special place in my heart, despite the naysayers. So much so, in fact, that when I start thinking about dinner (usually about 30 min before I want to be eating it) and I think ‘Gee, I have a sweet potato that needs to be eaten soon, I instantly think, “THANK HEAVENS THERE”S BEANS!” because there is. There’s always beans.
- First things first, you will need cooked rice (some?), beans (lots?) and roasted sweet potatoes (I used one, but who ever said no to more sweet potatoes?). If you’re using frozen beans and rice, get those out to thaw.
Then, congratulate yourself on being a grown up and a GENIUS.
If not, then open a can, or put some beans and rice on to cook. Meanwhile, roast that potato- scrub, dry and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with a little olive oil and salt. Roast at 425 F. Go live your life.
- After 30 to 40 minutes, they should look like this:
Now it’s time to make the queso;
- Like most sauces/dressings, this started out as someone else’s recipe which, through sheer laziness and ingredient availability has been simplified/substituted/bastardized. The base recipe for this particular sauce came from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, snarky vegan-food-fairy and author of Isa Does It. For this version of it, Add the following to a blender and blend until smooth:
3/4c. soaked cashews (Oh, what’s that? You haven’t been soaking cashews ahead of time? HAVE NO FEAR- for in my indolence I have made the following discovery: As long as you soak the cashews in really hot ((like, out of the kettle hot)) water for a few minutes while getting the rest of the ingredients, all is not lost), 1 c. veggie broth, 3 T nutritional yeast, 2 T. lemon juice, 1 T white miso paste, 2t. cumin, 2 garlic cloves, smashed, and a teaspoon or so of dried chipoltle powder if you have it, regular ol’ chill powder if you don’t. Blend the hell out of it, until smooth (ish). Pour into a small sauce pan, and heat over medium, stirring regularly.
until the whole thing is thick like queso sauce. How will you know when it’s reached the right consistency?
- And finally, it’s time to make the ‘meaty’ filling for the bowl:
In a large pan, saute some onion. After it’s just starting to brown, toss in the beans, a can of tomatoes, juice from one lime, some (?) cumin and a few sprigs of oregano. Cook on medium high heat until the liquid begins to evaporate.
- Assemble the bowls with rice, the bean mixture, sweet potatoes, and the sauce. Top with any taco fixings that tickle your fancy (red pepper, cilantro, avocado, etc.) and mow down. You can carefully arrange each component, OR toss it all in and smoosh around until every bite’s got a little bit of something else. Clearly I have a preference:
The last time I posted a love letter to swiss chard, I mentioned an unfulfilled dream I’ve had to start my own gardening site.
Since a) I’ve always wanted to keep this website as art/art practice centered as possible, and b) “To Blog”, in the grand scheme of things, is way too attainable a goal to have and not try for, I decided to do just that.
I admit, I was a bit timid, if not downright embarrassed at first-
I’ve spent three years getting this blog to where I feel comfortable with the appearance/layout- do I really want people to look at something so new and unfinished? do I have that much to say about plants, given that I’m no expert? will viewers who come for the art think that spending time writing about flowers is frivolous?
and so kept the whole thing under wraps* until now. Now that there’s a few posts up (and a few more in the works) I feel a little more comfortable about it. Who knows- maybe having a place for all my banal backyard-anectotes will lead to more focused and thoughtful writing here? Maybe I really will get that freelance job/bookdeal/radio special a lá the Splendid Table that will allow me to quit the day job to write and paint and write until I puke from happiness? Maybe. Maybe not.
What I do know is this: if all time not spent at work or attending to bodily needs is devoted to one of two things, it’s safe to say that both of those things are passions, and your passion(s) should be shared with the people you love (GROUP HUG).
*except for one awkward, blurted confession to a very confused coworker.
I’ve mentioned on here before that after art (and cats, and sci fi, and lost causes, and soapboxes) gardening- specifically gardening things I can eat- is high on my list of passions. In my dreams, I’ve started a gardening blog a lá YouGrowGirl where I write self deprecatingly about the trials and triumphs of urban gardening- which eventually leads to a book deal, a string of community gardens across the Midwest and the eventual vacating of my day job to spend my days painting, growing and writing.
Since this dream is about as likely right now as my other dream of building a time machine and joining a Japanese all girl leather-clad 90’s punk ensemble,I indulge in small doses. Like documenting this complimentary-colored chard that, despite an epic battle with flea beetles, survived long enough to become dinner last night.
The chard ended up being part of a chard-apple-onion frittata from Lynn Rosetto-Casper’s book How to Eat Supper.
(No pictures of the finished product because, as with most of my cooking, the finished product was not nearly as pretty as the ingredients.)