Monthly Archives: December 2009

Caribbean Black Beans, etc.


Tonight’s dinner is Caribbean black beans over brown rice accompanied by cooked chayote and orange-mango chutney.

The beans are an adaptation of a recipe in The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  The Moosewood Collective’s recipe makes enough to serve an army, so I downsized it a little bit.  My variation is as follows:

Saute half a chopped white onion and a minced clove of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.  When the onions are soft, add to them one teaspoon of grated fresh ginger and a pinch of dried thyme.  The original recipe calls for allspice, but I did not have any.  Let this mixture saute for another couple of minutes.  Then add one 16 oz can of drained and rinsed black beans to the onion mixture.  (If you want to cook beans from scratch do it by all means.  I take the help whenever I can get it).  Add the juice of one orange.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and reduce the flame to low.  Let the beans simmer for about 7 minutes.

I served this over brown rice.  Again, you can make the rice from scratch while the beans cook, but I just nuked some frozen brown rice.

While the beans were cooking, I cut up a chayote (also known as alligator pear, mirliton, or choko depending on your locale).  I just cooked the pieces in salted water for about 15 minutes.  After draining the pieces, I simply seasoned them with a little salt, cracked pepper, and non-hydrogenated margarine.  (If you’re not watching your cholesterol, then use butter — I would!)

Finally, I had some orange-mango chutney that I made a couple of weeks ago and froze.   I really don’t have a recipe for the chutney.  Basically, I threw into a slow cooker a few peeled and sectioned oranges, a bag of frozen mango chunks, a roughly chopped onion and red bell pepper, and some golden raisins.  I added grated ginger, a few minced garlic cloves, a teaspoon of cardamom, some dried hot pepper flakes, and two cinnamon sticks.  To sweeten it, I put in some agave nectar.  Then I crocked the whole thing for several hours.  Oh, did it smell good!   If you want to make this, you’ll just have to experiment like I did.

So, I am eating this repast while I type this.   The beans have a sweet and sour flavor which I like, but they needed a little zip so I added a dash of  salt and a shot of hot sauce.  I’m thinking that for a non-vegetarian version, some smoked sausage would be a good addition to this.

I’m not going to do anymore cooking for a few days because of various New Year’s festivities involving the consumption of unhealthy food, but I will be studying my books for my next experiment.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Lori G (c) 2009


Cooking Through My Bookshelves


One of my favorite movies this year was Julie and Julia.    The movie is comprised of two intertwined true stories:  how chef Julia Child wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking and how office worker Julie Powell got herself out of a career rut by blogging about her experience cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child book in one year.   This movie deals with French food, relationships, true love, blogging, changing one’s life, overcoming creative blocks, and butter.  Lots and lots of butter.

After watching this movie again today, I had an idea…. no, I’m not going to dive into French cooking–  but I do need to start eating better and I have three bookshelves of cookbooks with a number of volumes on vegetarian and healthful cooking.    So I am going to attempt to cook at least one recipe  a week for the next year, each recipe from one of my cookbooks.  I don’t want to commit to any more than that because I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen.   Already for that reason, I do most of my cooking on Sunday afternoons and eat what I made all week.    If I can I’ll do more, but it may be overly ambitious for me and I may fail.

But at least today I was able to cook something from one of my books.  This afternoon I made Hungarian Mushroom Soup from The New Moosewood Cookbook. (I had a copy of the original Moosewood Cookbook but it fell apart).

I was able to find this recipe online, so if you are interested in it, go to Hungarian Mushroom Soup at Global Gourmet.

I deviated a bit from the Moosewood recipe.  I used 2 cups of mirapoix instead of plain onion, and the mushrooms were a  mixture of white buttons and creminis (baby portobellos).    I did not have any mild paprika so I used smoked Spanish instead.  There is way too much salt in this recipe so I used about half as much as the recipe called for, and I used reduced fat milk.  However, I did indulge myself by using butter and full-fat sour cream.  (Okay, okay… I know — a heart attack in a bowl).

It turned out with a silky texture but not heavy at all.  And the smoked paprika perfectly melded with the fresh dill.    The cremini mushrooms gave the soup an almost beefy flavor.   All-in-all, a very appetite satisfying bowl of soup.

I served it with a grilled reduced-fat Swiss cheese on onion rye bread sandwich.



Lori G. (c) 2009