Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cook Like a Peasant...


...eat like a king!!

I did it...I finally after 42 years learned how to make a decent pot of slow-cooked beans...the deep, rich, savory sort that tastes good no matter how many days you eat it. Or at least that's how I feel about it right now, yay!

I've made some awful beans in my day, so I've been making a real effort to improve things. I made some bangup red beans the other day I wasn't sure I could top, and I'm doing it from scratch, from dried beans. To others, this was a skill they probably learned at age 3, but for me, I usually only bought beans in the can, for chili and such, only occasionally. Cow peas such as pink-eye purple hull were our substitute growing up, and you'll hear no complaints from me about them.

This weekend I made a big ol' pot of slowcooked pintos...the world's simplest meal. And I made cornbread (salty buttery crisp southern cornbread, not the sweet cakey stuff), kale, and roasted a caribbean pumpkin/winter squash. Yep, that's them shown in the pic above (except for the kale), all crumbled up together and steaming hot. I won't make the cover of Gourmet, for sure, but there's nothing else I want right now. It's homespun and messy and perfectly simple...sometimes more is just more.

It's a little nippy outside just now, wonder of wonders. And I just simply don't remember peasant food ever tasting so good.

Here's what we washed it down with...kombucha decanted into recycled wine bottles. Sweet and slightly bubbly and semi-sour in a dry cidery way, mmmm!


I know better than to think I'll ever be a vegetarian, but this meal makes me sooooo happy I don't even think about eating meat.

Love your beans, your cornbread, your roasted winter squash? I raise my 3 week vintage kombucha and toast you! (the temps here in my neck of Florida are for once dipping down into the 30s...a rare treat...I believe I'm giddy on remembrances of Real Winters Past, ha!)

Slainte!

:)

P.S. I've been lazing around today, ignoring the stack of dishes remaining from my cooking frenzy of two days ago. I really truly will be answering emails and comments soon. As soon as I finish my second Cary Grant movie...this one with Ingrid Bergman. Ah, I love home!

18 comments:

Joanna said...

Notorious? was my mother's all time favorite! I've seen it many times and just love it.

My MIL says she always puts a dollop of peanutbutter in her pinto's while they cook.

I wish you were my neighbor or coworker, we'd get along fabulously. :-)

barbara (in Tennessee) said...

So, was the Cary Grant movie "Indiscreet"? I love that movie, I also love beans and cornbread, and sweet potatoes, or winter squash, and kale or turnip greens!!

Barbara

Robbyn said...

I love Notorious, too! This one was Indiscreet, back to back after seeing That Touch of Mink. I'll have to try that dollop of PB, hmmm (the wheels a-turnin'...) Yes, I wish we were neighbors, too! If I could pick my neighbors, I'd have everyone on my sidebar...you know, all us crazy nuts who want our privacy?? lol So glad to know you though the internet, even if not just down the street :)

Barbara in TN, Yes!! I don't have TV service or cable and really miss all those old movies. We only have a few oldies on VHS or DVD, and I've pretty much worn them out. I'm with you on the home cooking...these foods are what I think of as southern foods, even though I know folks everywhere cook them. I hold to the Deep South conviction that Everything's Better With Cornbread ;-)

jayedee said...

beans, rice, and collard greens! food for the gods, girl! and southern cornbread is spot on! none of that yellow stuff for me....i want the real deal, dripping with melted butter....oh my heck! now i'm hungry!

Mel said...

Mmmmm, homemade baked beans, cornbread, and all the trimmings, any leftovers?

Paulette said...

One of our favorites...dried pinto beans for hours, cornbread and freshly cooked turnip greens. And no sweet cornbread, totally agreed.

My grandmother always put a tsp of sugar and a TBSP of butter in her big pot of pinto beans. Not sure what it did for them, but they were always delicious. I do add the butter, but not the sugar.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

This was a beautiful post! I could just feel your happiness through your deliciously descriptive words. Now, how about a recipe for those beans and cornbread? Please? :-)

Robbyn said...

Jayedee, oh yeahhhh! (me, too!)

Mel, we've eaten on the leftovers now to the point I'm going to have to make more :)

Paulette, thanks for the tip...I'll have to try that!

Danni, sure! I've been cleaning out the pantry, so was using some "vintage" (ha) cornbread mix (Martha White buttermilk). Any buttermilk cornbread recipe that doesn't use sugar would work. I grew up making it in a cast iron skillet and using bacon drippings, but we don't eat pork now, and for some reason I don't have a cast iron skillet (yes, the world is cruel, ha! I'll get one someday) It can be made with oil instead, and I take the oil that's called for in the recipe and heat it in the skillet a couple minutes before adding it to the cornbread recipe, then pour the slightly thick (not thin) cornbread batter into the sizzling hot oiled skillet before popping it into the oven. With the beans, I made them from dried beans first boiled a while, then drained, then put into a crockpot. I turned it on high, added enough water to cover (and a bit more), and added the spices. I have a refrigerated jar of fresh Sofrito from the store (no preservatives, etc) and it seems to be basically fresh garlic, onion, peppers (not sure what kind), and cilantro pureed together. A few tablespoons of that goes into the beans, a chopped onion or two, some salt and pepper, a dash of oregano, a teaspoon of cumin (or to taste). When that begins to simmer, I let it simmer a bit then turn it to Low and let it cook all day. I check it now and then to see if the broth is getting low, and once it does, I topped it off with beef stock (which I just realized doesnt make this vegetarian, but you could add any other sort of stock). Adjust spices to your taste, and then put a couple dashes, to taste, of cayenne pepper. You could add minced carrot, but I didnt have any. Anyway, you can pretty much keep it on warm as long as there's enough liquid. I just keep topping it off with beef broth at taht point, but they're good without it, too. I'm no pro, but just so happy I got them to taste better then my first attempts! My hubby loves beans pressure cooked, but I dont have one so we'll wait on that :) Oh yes, if you like stone ground cornbread, Hodgson Mills has one with a recipe on the back that we used all the time growing up, on their yellow stoneground cornmeal sack. It's grittier, but delish!

Robbyn said...

Danni, oops, forgot to add that we can't ever seem to get enough garlic...I put more into the beans than most folks might

Paulette said...

Oh, one more thing...(can you tell this is a favorite post? Nothing like pinto beans and cornbread)

...Sometimes I quarter medium sized potatoes and drop them in the bean pot about an hour from the end. They all cook together to the end then.

Yes, I'm hungry now.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I MUST do a search on your blog for more information on the kombucha! I bought some kombucha something in a can at Grocery Outlet once; not knowing what to expect I was off-put by the flavor at first but it grew on me some. I really don't have any idea what it is.

EJ said...

Cornbread recipe, please....

edifice rex said...

Oh, man I love pintos and real cornbread! I guess that is a southern thing but on a cold winters day! wooo! nothing beats that!
Oh, yeah, and Cary Grant. Another favorite! North By Northwest or To Catch A Thief.

Robbyn said...

Paulette, great tip...I'll try it!

Michelle, I didn't prefer the taste of the store-bought when we first tried it, except for the green tea one, which I liked better. For some reason I like the kind I make at home better because you can decide how far into the fermentation process you want to drink it...and the rest you can bottle and put into the fridge for later...at least for a few days. Kombucha is simply sweet tea transformed into a nutritious and powerful probiotic, and is quite QUITE delicious...so easy to make at home. You have to get past the strangeness of the "mushrooom" that floats on top...you add the "mushroom" to room temp sweet tea, let it sit there covered with a clean cloth cover for a week, give or take, and then strain the liquid and drink...mmm! I love it over ice. We like it so much, we keep about 6 or 7 gallons going at a time.

EJ, any buttermilk cornbread recipe will do, as long as it doesn't include sugar. Cook it up crisp in a greased cast iron skillet...yum!

Annie, oh we love those two movies!

Paulette said...

Robbyn, I would love to try kombucha, but I've read that you have to be careful with drug interactions...and I take a blood pressure and cholesterol med. Have you read or heard anything about that?

Robbyn said...

Paulette, it pays to be careful always with those things. I'd call someone with a lot of experience such as the man at Happy Herbalist to discuss it further, though we always have to decide for ourselves the risks and so on. I'm not recommending anything either direction, but just reporting my own experience. I'm on some meds, but everyone's different. I am diabetic and so let my kombucha get more on the tart side rather than remain as sweet before drinking. When in doubt, play it safe, and if deciding to try something, test small amounts at a time to watch for allergies. I will say that kombucha is a powerful probiotic and can produce what's called a healing crisis for a time. When in doubt, talk to a professional :)(for myself, I'd go the direction of a naturopath or herbalist)

Paulette said...

Thanks Robbyn, the herbalist idea is good, and there happens to be a good one nearby. I'll definitely do that.

duane marcus Facebook me! said...

There is nothing more satisfying in our house than a bowl of pinto beans garnished with some home made chow chow and a big slice of hot cornbread dripping with butter from locally raised cows. Oh, yea and a side of greens.