Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snow & Propaganda

"Oh no! It might snow!" 

There's a 30% chance of it, which means there's a 99.9% chance that there is no milk, eggs, or bread left on the shelves of local stores. As a friend of my mom's likes to joke: Apparently everybody is going to be holed up in their houses making French toast.

Bring it on!

I, however, am not making French toast. I am making a Caribbean-inspired black bean soup that, as Emeril says, will transport your taste-buds to the islands. Having watched innumerable episodes of No Reservations and other travel documentaries about the Caribbean islands, I feel I have the authority to agree with Emeril on his assessment. And really, how can you go wrong with cilantro, orange, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, garlic, and jalapenos? Beats me.

To get started, you need to sort a bag of black beans. We did this last night while watching, online, the second half of a college basketball game. The beans soaked overnight and, after I drained them this morning, were ready to be used. Well, after a few other preparations...

You really need to begin your island adventure with the right music. You may opt for classic Bob Marley tunes or the Christian artist Propaganda. I actually popped in an old stand-by: a Caribbean steel bands CD that I bought at the dollar store probably 10 years ago now, after I first tried Johnny cakes and Jamaican-style sweet potatoes at an international market. (Note: I did switch to Propaganda after the CD finished playing.) Whatever music you choose, make sure it is something you can simultaneously cook and dance to.

Next comes my favorite part (besides eating): Vegetable prep.

I love the smell.

Don't throw the top and bottom away!
Save it for stock in a freezer bag.
Bell peppers pre-chopped from another meal. 
I love the ability to prep ahead.

Extra celery? Dehydrate some for future soups,
or save the ends in the afore-mentioned stock bag.

I love the blessing of fresh-tasting ingredients.

Isn't that lovely?

Ok, you cook down the veggies; then, add your water, your beans, and spices.

Plus, cilantro.

And an orange.

And wait for it to boil. While you wait, you might consider eating a few of those Parmesan-rosemary crackers you baked yesterday.

Crackers based on this recipe.

Once the mixture boils, you reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours or so, giving you ample time to pick back up on the book you resolved to read this year, study your Bible, and play with your cat. Did I mention that Christians need to study their Bibles? :)

I like to serve the soup with some saffron rice (yes, made from a mix because saffron costs much more than I am willing to pay for a single ingredient) and whole wheat French bread (usually made from scratch). Hello, flavor!

[By the way, if you are concerned about the overly-salty nature of most saffron rice mixes, there may be hope. I have found a saffron mix at a local wholesale-type store that uses sea salt, which has a much milder flavor.]

This is seriously one of the easiest, most delicious soups. All made, inexpensively, in your kitchen with the help of Emeril and Propaganda (or dollar store Caribbean steel bands). Here is the recipe: Black Bean Soup.

May your days be filled with snow, bright flavors, and a fresh Word from the Lord!