Braise up

January 1, 2010

I’ve been taking advantage of my brief unemployment to do all of the things I never do when I’m working – going grocery shopping in the middle of the day, spending 5 hours waiting to have my picture taken at the DMV, actually using the daytime minutes on my cell phone, and cooking pounds and pounds of beans to stock the freezer. On Monday, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled programming, and I’m fairly sure that none of these things will be possible. Unless I have a hot plate in my new office.

We were out running errands the other day and stopped to eat lunch at a place that offered braised white beans as a side dish. I was all over that, until the waitress brought it out and warned me that there was chicken stock in it, and I had to part with it for some (delicious) roasted veg. But I literally couldn’t stop thinking about braised beans, so I ended up making my own.

braised white beans with kale + baked sweet potato

That picture is seriously terrible. But the meal was great. Especially after a fun-filled day at the DMV.

I did this as kind of a dry run for tonight’s lucky New Year’s main dish – braised black-eyed peas and collards.

prosperity in a bowl

Braised Beans and Greens (serves 4)

You need

  • Olive oil
  • Several cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 cups of cooked beans (adjust based on your hunger level)
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of liquid (water, vegetable broth, or a combo)
  • 1 lb greens

To do:

  1. Heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet (with a lid)
  2. When the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, add beans and liquid (for tonight’s meal I used a little leftover Prosecco from our NYE toast in addition to vegetable broth) and bring to a boil
  3. Add greens*, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and give it all a good stir
  4. Cover and reduce heat to low for 10-15 minutes
  5. Uncover, increase heat (add a bit more liquid if needed), and cook over medium for 5 or so minutes

*If you’re using more delicate greens, wait until you uncover the pan to add them. I did this with the kale, and it was tender but still bright green and presumably all anti-oxidanty. Collards are a bit tougher and need to cook longer, so I put them in right after the beans.

After a few weeks of fairly erratic meals, it’s nice to get back into the habit of cooking meals I feel good about. Not that all those pizzas weren’t delicious, cookies for breakfast can be quite lovely, really. But sometimes it’s good to reset the system.

Happy new year!

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Better late than never

January 2, 2009

I had every intention of making a traditional Southern New Years meal last night, but it didn’t work out that way. In the name of being more flexible (one of my 2009 goals), I decided to make it tonight instead.

brown rice, collard greens, and blackeye peas

brown rice, collard greens, and black-eyed peas

I used canned black-eyed peas, because they were out of dried, so I just rinsed them and heated them with a little vegetable broth. For the greens, I used Mark Bittman’s “Double Garlic Collards” from How to Cook Everything. And for the rice, I used the method recommend by Uncle Ben on the back of the box. Even a day late, this was really tasty and filling and I’m sure it put us right on track to having an excellent 2009. Still not as good as my grandmother or mom would have made, but I’m learning.

Speaking of fresh starts, we’ve decided to do a food experiment to keep things interesting. We’re going to attempt to go meatless for the entire month of January. We don’t eat a lot of meat around here, but I can’t remember the last time I went more than a week or so without poultry or seafood of some kind, so this should be interesting. More than anything, I’m hoping it pushes me out of my comfort zone and gives me the chance to get more use out of all of the cookbooks I’ve accumulated over the past year.

Luckily, desserts tend to be meatless, so I’m off to enjoy one.


Soul food

October 17, 2008

Last night before our class event, I had dinner at Donna’s with a few other teachers. She had the day off work and slaved over a hot stove for hours to prepare this delightful meal for us:

Black-eyed peas with spinach and mustard greens, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat cornbread. It as awesome – I’m already planning to make that cornbread for Thanksgiving. She also made an experimental fruit salad with a spicy dressing:

It was really good had quite the kick from some of those seeds you see there. I have to recommend Tara’s interpretation of the meal, which is far more impressive than mine, I must say.

It was just what I needed to power me through a two and a half hour musical. Maybe Donna will post some recipes for us in the comments.

I would share a picture of tonight’s dinner, which is cooking as I write this, but I bet you know what a frozen pizza and salad bar salad look like. We’re about to head out to our first basketball event of the season, so I opted out of cooking. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get the inspiration back.

Okay, it’s hoops time!