Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't wear white

I wear white t-shirts a lot.  My uniform is pretty much jeans and a white v-neck tee, worn with boots or sandals depending on the season.  My college roommates can attest to watching me get ready to go out on the weekends--as I plowed through my closet, trying on colorful dresses and patterned shirts that, upon buying, I thought I would wear all the time, until after two hours of dressing and undressing I would surrender and sheepishly throw on what I always did: jeans and a white v-neck tee (swapping white out for dark grey or maybe even black if I was feeling risky).
So, if you're anything like me and patterns make you hyperventilate, take some deep breaths and don't wear white while making this recipe.  You're probably thinking, "well, duh, I wouldn't wear white while I was cooking anyway, who could be that dumb?" Well, me. I could be that dumb.  Don't make the same mistake or your favorite white tank will be permanently demoted to undershirt.

Like white tees, I'm also a sucker for beets.  But, sadly I just don't eat them that much. I guess it goes back to the ol' cooking dried beans syndrome--thinking it just takes way too much time and effort.  But, how wrong I was!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jazzy black bean salad

Before I left for Central America, I was so looking forward to eating rice and beans at every meal.  The last time I had been in Costa Rica, where the traditional dish is gallo pinto (rice and beans), I was completely satisfied scarfing down black beans all three meals a day.  The rice and bean combination is so simple yet so delicious--I don't know if I can think of two ingredients that go together better.  Well, I probably could if I tried.  But the fact remains--I love black beans.
Growing up, my mom always had a pot of beans on the stove.  The back burner was reserved for the pot of beans that always seemed to "need more time."  Once I started cooking, I joined the rest of the world in thinking that it took days on end to cook dried beans and really, who has the time for that?  All that cleaning and soaking and rinsing and picking and cooking, it just seemed overwhelmingly complicated.  Well, being that I had the time what with no job and all, I figured I'd take the extra time to cook up a bag of dried beans.

And turns out, cooking dried beans, not all that hard!  Yes, they need time to cook but it is not at all time-consuming.  The beans just cook themselves, with just a little helping hand adding some water from time to time.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still going to keep some canned beans in the house for all those times when I need beans in a hurry but when time is not an issue, dried beans are the way to go--they're inexpensive and have a lot less sodium than those that are canned.  Either way, though, eat your beans--they're jam packed with nutritional goodness including soluble fiber, iron, and protein and they're absolutely scrumptious.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

10 degrees north

Well, I'm back in the States after a rather adventurous stay on an organic farm in rural Costa Rica.  I apologize for my absence, it has been a hectic couple of weeks with shaky internet and overbooked planes--but the good news is I'm ready to get back in the groove and back in the kitchen.  Before I get back to the cookery, I thought I'd take some time to share the highlights of my trip--before the visions of hoeing and tilling under the Costa Rican sun become nothing but a distant memory.
My good friend, Laura, and I arrived at the farm by way of an old American school bus that took us on a very bumpy ride up and over the green mountains of the San Jose province to the small pueblo of Mastatal.  A full ten minutes before we arrived at our "stop" (the one and only grocery store in town run out of a woman's house), it started to downpour and I was happy about my last minute decision to pack a raincoat. We were greeted by two volunteers and put onto yet another old American school bus for a short 5 minute ride up the dirt road to the entrance of the farm.  Stepping off the bus and into a giant puddle of mud, I hear a voice yell, "Welcome to the rainy season in Costa Rica!"