Thursday, December 10, 2009

Planning for the bean...

In an effort to evaluate cost-saving measures, potentially avoid any BPA traces in canned foods and truly explore the nature of one our favorite foods I decided to try out homemade refried beans. I bought a huge bag of pinto beans from WholeFoods for ~$2.00. I soaked them in a bowl of water overnight, drained them, and then boiled them for 2 hours with some water, garlic, bay leaves and kosher salt. Once the beans were tender I drained them and kept the bean stock. In order to "re-fry" the beans I placed the beans in a pot and added some oil and heated them up while smashing them. I also added some bean stock back to the pot to smoothen them out. Concerning the preservation of bean stock -- I read recently about ways to multipurpose cooking elements like re-using cooking waters for various purposes -- including pasta water, water used for boiling veggies and the like -- and incorporating the water into recipes instead of plain water. The seasoned water is a natural thickener and flavor enhancer. So with no further ado I present my bean stock:

strained bean stock with hints of garlic and bay leaves in stock container from Penzey's

Betty was grossed out by the two unappealing jars of stock that were in the fridge but I was excited to use them in some future recipe.

The refried beans turned out pretty good. They were a little bland -- but i do have a bad habit of not adding too much salt to my food. What I noticed most was the texture of the beans. Definitely more substance and hence filling which was a good thing. So most our meals that week consisted of classic CK staples including...

bean burritos with trader joe's whole wheat wrappers, shredded ched, lazily chopped onions and the retun of the el yucateco paso doble

surprise remix. same burritos as before but with cilantro.

nachos. i know big surprise. diced jalapenos to boot.

So...Beans...and I used them for bean burritos and nachos which is a good portion of what we typically eat...but what about the yucky looking bean stock?

Well I decided to make jambalaya and utilized the remaining pinto beans and my bean stock along with the following:
  • ground turkey from Trader Joes
  • potatoes
  • zuccini
  • squash
  • onions
  • bay leaves
  • chili con carne powder from Penzey's
  • chipotle salsa from Trader Joes
  • andouille sausage from Trader Joes
  • corn

jambalaya. boom.

For plating I decided to cook up some grits that I purchased when Betty and I were down in Louisville earlier this year and added a fried egg on top for kicks.

CK's extreme jambalaya. boom.

The jambalaya was the jam. The grits absorbed and inherited the smoky flavor of the jambalaya and were surprisingly smooth and creamy. The sausage and veggies provided additional texture which made each bite very hearty. The tang of the egg yolk took each lucky bite to the moon. I've cooked jambalaya twice this year. That's twice more than I ever have before and am looking for ways to remix this dish.

So the bean has come full circle for CK. I am aware of the health concerns of purchasing canned foods as previously mentioned for BPA concerns and sodium concerns -- but I do have trouble resisting canned refried beans for the convenience factor since we eat them often. There are healthier brands that have less sodium and are organic but those also cost twice-to-three-times as much. This cooking experience has been fun and revealing. It definitely takes more time to make beans from scratch -- but you get more beans for your buck for sure and of course you get the bean stock as an added enhancer for other meals. In the end it's all about planning. Planning for the bean...and that is something this bear will just have to do...Plan for the bean. Be the Bean. Eat the bean.

There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpy.

Betty and I decided to carve a pumpkin despite the fact that Halloween had come and gone. We wanted to name our pumpkin pumpy cause that's a cool name. Betty took the lead since I hadn't carved a pumpkin since I was in kin-bear-garten.

Betty drawing up potential faces for pumpy. Her fur sure looks strange.

Betty opening up pumpy's head. I didn't know she was gonna kill him!

Pumpy's seeds. We toasted these with oil, salt and pepper and they were delicious.

Pumpy has a face...

Pumpy all done.

Pumpy sleeping.

Making pumpy was a lot of fun and I got to learn more about pumpkins along the way. I sure hope pumpy rises out of the chateau again next year flying through the air bringing toys to all the bears of the world!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

cholesterolking lives...

Don't count Betty and me out just yet!

this is a scary picture of pumpy the pumpkin.

see he's not that scary with the lights on.