Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Refried Beans

I'm currently reading In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Mainfesto by Michael Pollan, in which he states "Eat Food.  Not Too Much.  Mostly Plants."  It is the third book of his that I have started to read.  My problem is that I have been so busy lately that I get about 30 pages into one of his books and then I have to return it to the library.  I can't renew it because there's a wait list for it.  So far I'm doing much better with this one as I'm on page 69.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm dangerously close to just ordering them from Amazon so that I can read them at a pace that I have time for.
Michael Pollan is a Professor of Journalism at Berkeley and has written several books about food.  His books are easy to read and full of interesting information.  I recently read that someone took a class that included one of Mr. Pollan's books on the reading list and it was the most entertaining book they had to read that semester.
Anyway, we hear all the time how we need to eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Actually, Mr. Pollan would point out that we tend to translate this into the idea of eating more.  What we really need to do is replace some of the non-whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in our diets with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, thereby changing the ratio of the types of foods we eat.  This has me finally (again) trying to accomplish this feat.  Therefore, tonight's dinner was burritos made with homemade refried beans and brown rice.  As you sit there potentially thinking I have too much time on my hands if I'm making homemade refried beans, I am going to show you how simple it actually is and the taste is SO much better than what you'll get from a can.  I found this recipe in Huntly Dent's The Feast of Santa Fe.  I love this cookbook!  It not only has wonderful, authentic Southwestern recipes, but he does a lot of teaching about the hows and whys of cooking Southwestern-style foods (a major ingredient in an awesome cookbook - pun intended).
Refried Beans in Butter
3 cups cooked black kidney, or pinto beans, plus cooking liquid (a 27-ounce can, approximately)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Wedges of lime for garnish
Drain the cooked beans and reserve the liquid.  Combine the onion, garlic, butter and seasonings in a 10-inch skillet, stir over medium heat, and cover to allow the onion to wilt, about 5 minutes over low heat.  Uncover, turn heat up to medium, and add the beans.  Using a large slotted spoon, roughly mash the beans as you are heating them.  but not to the point that the beans lose all their shape.  Thin out of necessary with some of the reserved liquid.  Serve garnished with wedges of lime to squeeze on as the guests are served.
If you don't want to mash the beans yourself, you can also put half at a time into a food processor and pulse to the desired consistency.
Personal Notes:
  1. I have used canned black beans or pinto beans as well as dried beans that I soaked and cooked myself (the crockpot is wonderful for this).
  2. The amount of cayenne listed makes for quite the spicy dish.  I use about 1/4 of what is called for (i.e. 1/8 tsp)
Coming soon:
A series on potatoes (requested by my sister, who I'm sure is through her bag of potatoes by now - sorry!)
Treats for our K9 family members

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