Archive for the ‘Beans’ Category

It was a bacon smokin’ Saturday yesterday so I decided I wanted something simple for dinner – tacos. As usual, my simple dinner grew and expanded into a monster. Before the pork sides were even snugly in the smoker, the menu had become grande.

Frit-No Lay Bean Dip

I started off with bean dip. Test Subject Bill loves Frito’s bean dip. Since I’m not crazy about him eating out of cans, I found this taste-alike recipe and decided to give it a try. It was ridiculously simple. If you buy that canned crap, please try this and you’ll save not only money but score one for your health too! Bill said it was very close to the canned version (I wouldn’t know) but I had used smoked paprika instead of regular and it threw it off a bit. Lesson for next time…

I tossed together some guacamole and got my taco seasoning ready for the Nature’s Harmony ground beef. Finally, it was time for the big deal: I was going to make tortillas.

I carefully selected this recipe from Allrecipes. It was simple and had good reviews. And it calls for LARD. Not freaking Crisco or “shortening” or some other mystery sludge that will make your arteries harden up like the statue of liberty in the Day After Tomorrow. Ok, so the author’s insistence on lard is what really turned me on to this recipe.

Tortilla in pan, rolled and waiting, and ball of tortilla to-be

Anyway, I mixed up my flour and baking powder and salt. When it came to the lard, it calls for two tablespoons. Two…for four cups of flour? No way. I used four tablespoons of lard. That made me happy. The water went it and I mixed it all up, then split it up into 24 little balls. Things were getting exciting. I was ready to roll out and fry ’em up. I heated my Lodge cast iron skillet and rolled out my first tortilla.

It was reasonably round, although it took a lot of flour to keep it from sticking to the counter. I tossed it in the hot skillet and got to work on the next, and the next. Each tortilla got flipped shortly after it bubbled up. Brown is good, black is bad. Simple enough, right? All was well until Test Subject Bill came down stairs and started looking around the kitchen.

“What are you burning?” he asked.

Husbands have lost body parts for asking that question.

Non-Smoking Tortilla

“It’s pretty smoky in here,” he continued after I completely ignored him. I looked around. He was right. Crap. The excess flour on my tortillas was falling off into the pan and…well…burning. Double crap. “You’re going to set off the smoke detector.”

At that very second the damn thing began WAILING. I understand a smoke alarm is either on or off but it was acting like it was Dante’s Inferno. Panic entered the Kung Fu Kitchen. I screamed at Bill to shut it off (which he can’t) and dashed to start opening windows. After we opened four windows and I turned the heat off the alarm shut up. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a KKF first. I have never before set off the smoke alarm. And Bill is the first spouse to survive asking that question.

All limbs in tact, Test Subject Bill snags a tortilla.

Older and wiser, and with windows open, I got back to my tortillas. This time I made sure to shake off ALL excess flour and rolled them out super thin. I discovered that it was actually a good thing for them to stick to the countertop – it held them in place to get rolled out thin, and they were elastic enough to pull off without tearing. KKF is good, KKF is wise.

It took a good hour for me to make it through my 24 tortillas. I had some that were sort of round, some that were quite amoeba-like, and one that looked suspiciously like Australia. They were ugly as sin…but they tasted great! I have to agree that they really are so much better homemade than store-bought, plus you can be assured that they are made with healthful pastured lard when you do it yourself!

KKF tortilla topped with guac, bean dip, salsa and cheese!

Test Subject Bill and I enjoyed our Mexican fiesta while watching The Guild: Seasons 1 & 2
on Netflix streaming through the Blu-Ray. Well…we were able to get through most of Season 2 before Netflix started crapping out and we had to call it. However, with a yummy taco with guac and salsa I canned last summer and bean dip and a homemade flour tortilla…I was able to survive many technical difficulties!

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Bull Burger: Revenge!

Nothing could strike fear into the heart of a kid on the farm more than The Bull. The Bull was irritable, angered by even the sight of a kid on the pasture. Being chased down by The Bull would mean certain death, so you always had to be on your guard. My brother told me that if I got chased, that I should take my shirt off and throw it behind me because The Bull would stop to sniff it, giving me a chance to escape over the gate into the safety of the yard.

I don’t know if all that was true, but from my perspective as an eight year old it was and that was all that mattered. A few times I thought I felt The Bull looking at me, sending me on a wild sprint over the fence. Fear of the bull didn’t stop us from trekking accross the pasture to play in the creek, though. Neither did the threat of leeches or creepy crawdaddies (we called them crayfish in Iowa), but I digress.

Recently I procured some bull burger from Anthony Stokes from Stokes Family Farm. When a bull is “retired” (read: your calf makin’ days are over, buddy), you end up with bull burger, some of the tastiest, leanest hamburger I’ve ever had. It’s rare to come by the stuff, so I seized the opportunity to have some good eats and some pay back.

When I took the burger out of the package, the bright red color really struck me. This had to be good stuff. It smelled fresh and clean. I decided to make some chili before the weather warmed up too much and chili season was over. 

The beef was very flavorful just on its own. Stirred in with some bean-y goodness and served with corn bread made from cornmeal I got in my CSA box, it was the bomb. I used this recipe for the chili and it turned out really well. Of course, with top-notch ingredients like this, it’s hard to go wrong.

Bull burger chili and corn breadThe lesson learned: don’t chase me across the pasture, or I’ll EAT you.

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Many moons ago my mom showed me an easy enchilada recipe. After a series of adjustments, this is pretty much how I’ve been making them for the past eight or nine years: brown ground beef. Fill flour tortilla with beef, some canned enchilada sauce, chipotle sauce, roll up. Put them in a glass baking dish, cover with more canned enchi sauce and pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Add cheese and bake another five minutes or so. That’s it.

Well, that’s all fine and good but since I’m…well, me…I decided to seek out a homemade enchi sauce. Based on this recipe and the ensuing comments, this is pretty much what I did: melt 3 T butter in a sauce pan. Stir in 3 T flour to make a roux. Stir in 1/4 cup chili powder. Stir in 2 cups of chicken stock. Stir in a little over half a can of tomato sauce.  Add 1 t garlic powder, 1 t oregano and 1 t cumin. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Repeat as above but using the homemade sauce (and I added some black beans to the beef mix since I was making a few more than usual).

Store bought (top) vs. home made (bottom). Topped with white cheddar from a local Georgia dairy farm!

Store bought (top) vs. home made (bottom). Topped with white cheddar from a local Georgia dairy farm!

I was nervous about how the homemade sauce would turn out so I did two pans of enchiladas – one with the homemade sauce and one with the canned sauce (just in case it was a disaster we would still have dinner).  The darker one is the stuff I made. It looked a lot like the canned version, just darker. Smelled good and tasted ok on its own. But the real test was Test Subject Bill. Would he approve the new sauce? Would his highly refined taste buds (er, whatever) reject the non-Old El Paso version?

Bill commented that the canned stuff is sweeter, but he complained that both versions were missing “something.” The elusive “something” remains unknown. His half Mexican heritage did not help us one bit in the spice detection department. However, upon adding more cumin and more chili powder, he announced the homemade version acceptable. “Ok,” he said. “You can make enchiladas using your sauce.”

Wooooohooooo! It’s every kung fu girl’s dream to have her sauce deemed acceptable. I felt so validated.

Beef and bean enchiladas and guacamole!

Beef (local Georgia grass-fed, of course) and bean enchiladas and guacamole!

Now, for the nitty gritty. I think what will make this sauce better is to saute fresh garlic with the butter and forget the powder. I hate to add sugar, but I think honey would make it taste funny. So he might have to live without it. Also, I plan to seek out some higher quality chili powder and use a little more tomato sauce next time. Other than that, I think it was a pretty tasty experiment.

As for the accompaniment, I love guacamole. And it’s so easy – once I learned how to make it I couldn’t figure out what they sell those stupid spice packets for in the store. Mash two avocados. Mince three or so cloves of garlic (or to taste). Finely chop a jalapeno (I used the fresh one that come out of my garden! I couldn’t believe it!). Squeeze the juice out of half a lime. Mix all together with a little salt and pepper and you’ve got yourself some fresh, tasty guac. I used to make it with only one avocado but Bill would eat it all and I would get none so I had to add the second one.

So the only serious problem I have with my enchiladas right now is the tortillas. I am highly suspicious of the ones I get at the store. There’s questionable ingredients on the package. (At least I avoided the one that listed partially hydrogenated vegetable oil….gag me.) I guess that just leaves one alternative…I am going to have to learn how to make tortillas.

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Usually the 4th of July holiday finds Bill and I at home, chilling out, having some wine and watching random fireworks from our back deck. This year, however, we ventured out to a friend’s house to celebrate our nation’s birthday together.

4th wine1When you’re wine snobs like us but don’t have the budget for Caymus as a daily drinker, you have to carefully choose your wine to balance cost and quality. Here’s the two we brought to share, Ergot tempranillo (Spain) and Gascon Malbec (Argentina). These two run about $10.99 a bottle at our local wine store, making them a budget-friendly vino, and are very impressive for the price.

We had an appetizer of a chevre goat cheese from Cole’s Lake Dairy (local Georgia dairy) I got in my CSA box. I don’t have a picture of it because it was gone in a matter of moments. Um, it was super yum…trust me.

4th salad1Our salad was a tasty mixture of lettuce leaves, cucumber and red bell pepper (provided by our gracious host) and green peppers and cherry tomatoes from my CSA box. I made a dressing of equal parts honey (local), balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Our host used his croutons to soak up the rest of the dressing in his salad bowl so I think he liked it 🙂 Nothing better than easy and tasty.

The main event centered around a 3.2 lb. pastured chicken from Nature’s Harmony Farm. Using a combination of a few recipes from this website I brined the bird for about four hours, then dried it off and headed to our host’s house. Using the rub recipe they recommend for chicken, we drizzled the bird with olive oil and saturated it with the rub. I felt kind of like I was molesting the bird by rubbing my fingers all over its naked skin, but Bill didn’t seem upset so I guess it’s ok. The rubbed bird went onto the smoker/grill for about two hours with applewood smoker chips smoldering over the coals.

4th chicken done1We were suprised that it finished that quickly, but the thermometer in the breast read 167 degrees so we pulled it. However, even though it looked fantastic we discovered that parts of the thigh were not done and had to go back on the grill for a few minutes. We think the temperature probe maybe wasn’t properly placed. None of us had smoked a whole chicken before so it was a learning experience! Outside of the thigh under-doneness the bird was fantastic. Super moist and delicious (I’ve never had a chicken breast that moist EVER), but I have to say the rub was the big winner of the day. All three of us raved about it and can’t wait to use it on something else. Rub recipe is here. 

4th veg kabobs1We also made veggie kabobs for the grill with baby bella mushrooms, sweet onion, some funky greenish-yellow pepper (CSA box), cherry tomatoes (CSA box), and patty pan squash (CSA store). Everything was good, but that squash was the bomb diggity. Raw or grilled it was fantastic.

We also steamed my CSA green beans in a foil packet on the grill. Just a little butter, salt and pepper and they were heavenly. Real food doesn’t need to be messed with too much. Simple is good!

4th plate done1We enjoyed our meal with a glass of wine, some of my bread that I made yesterday and some good laughs. I’m so thankful for the abundance of food we have at our disposal, the ability to make food choices (local and imported) and the right to fight to keep our choices. God bless America!

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My favorite snack that I used to buy pre-made that I now make myself has to be hummus. Hummus is so yummy and flexible yet EASY to make that I can’t figure out why I ever bought it in the first place. I make regular garlic hummus, black bean hummus and tonight I made roasted red pepper hummus for the first time.

I never measure when I make hummus. It usually goes like this:

Toss a rinsed can of chickpeas into the food processor. (Ok, not the can. Just the beans.)

Add roughly 1/3 cup of tahini (more on this later) and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Throw in as many garlic cloves as I’m in the mood for. (Usually four. Five or six if I’m really feeling frisky.)

Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice (jarred in a pinch), about one lemon’s worth.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Turn on the processor and let it rip. Taste. Add lemon juice/salt/water/etc until I get the taste and consistency I want. I kind of like mine light and fluffy.

Tonight when I made it with roasted red pepper, I did everything the same except add about half a cup of roasted red peppers (from a jar, I didn’t do it myself but I will soon) and probably used a little less tahini. It turned out orange, which I think would make it cool at a Halloween party or something. When I made black bean hummus….and this is huge….I used black beans instead of chickpeas. It was purple and kind of cool looking. Tasty, too. (Hey, a side by side dish with orange hummus on one side and deep purple on the other…totally sounds like Halloween party snack to me…)

Since hummus takes all of fifteen minutes to make I always make my own and think that everyone else should too! It might take a few tries to get it right but it’s well worth the effort. You can put it on crackers, bread or serve with vegetable sticks (carrot, celery, red pepper, use your imagination). You can use it as a spread on sandwiches. Take it to a club meeting and impress your friends and neighbors. Don’t be afraid to explore!

Now, I said I would go back to tahini. You can buy it pre-made and it’s pretty good. It’s also very handy. But if you can’t find tahini at your grocery store you can make it yourself:

Get yourself a jar of sesame seeds. Toast the seeds lightly in a frying pan. Dump the whole thing into the food processor and let it rip until you’ve got a paste. Ta-dah! Tahini. I’ve done it and it’s a breeze.

I’m gearing up for my next big project but I don’t know what it’s going to be. I’m looking at a lot of different things like canning my own jam, making sushi, pizza and pasta. Decisions, decisions.

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