March 24, 2011 § 9 Comments
For the last few years, finances have been pretty uncertain for our family. And when I say uncertain, I don’t mean asking questions like “Will we be still able to take our family vacation this year?” No. The uncertainty has been more like “Mommy? Are we going to make it to school this morning?” (because the red E is glaring at us and I have exactly $0 to spend on more gas) We’ve lost our house, moved in with my in-laws (with our four children! These are amazing people), and because we’re always paying off debt, we’re still month-to-month with money. Sometimes, day-to-day. There have been some ugly moments. I’ve had meltdowns. I’ve sworn and yelled and cried. I’ve thought, deservedly, “This isn’t supposed to be my life!”
The odd thing is, having less has been so good for me: I’ve learned I can do jobs I didn’t think I could stand, and lived without things I ridiculously thought necessary (vacations? Sadly, not necessary to life). I guess I could be just getting used to it or learning how to make the best of a “bad” situation. Or, maybe my entitlement is starting to crumble. I don’t really know. But, I do know I feel softer and in having less, I’m more attune to how good I actually have it.
This recipe, a staple in our house, has become a symbol to me of how rich you can be, even when you’re broke. Humble, everyday ingredients transformed into something that’s both beautiful (contrasting, bold colors) and full of intense flavors. It reminds me that there are so many gifts around me, most of them costing little or nothing to experience, and that I really don’t want to miss them by wasting time, wishing we had more money. I know it’s just beans, but it’s a reminder.
I found this recipe in Gourmet a few years ago, when we were all in better financial shape (the magazine and my family). I loved it then, but have since changed some of the ingredients because of cost (good sherry and avocado are typically out). But, even if you do use the pricier items on the list, this is still an extremely inexpensive way to feed a crowd, and satisfies in a way you don’t expect from beans and rice. It’s a great recipe.
Kemp’s Black Beans (Gourmet April 2007)
- 1 lb dried black beans (about 2 1/3 cups), picked over and rinsed (but not soaked)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- **1/4 cup Sherry (cream or medium-dry)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Goes well with:
- sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed (1″), and roasted (with a little olive oil and kosher salt on 450 for 20-30 minutes)
- grated cheese (any kind you like)
- Pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)
- Chopped red or white onion (or shallot)
- Chopped cilantro
- Avocado, cubed
- sour cream
- Lime wedges, for squeezing on top
- Hot sauce