Black Bean Bonanza

by Rhonda Dragomir

Hubby will be home in 30 minutes, and 30 minutes after that, we will rush to mid-week service at church. Hmmm—what’s for dinner?

I’m a planner, not a pantser—for my novel writing, that is. For meals? I’m the take-out queen. Since quitting my job to write full-time, those last-minute forays out for dinner are cost prohibitive. Whether I like it or not, I need to think about dinner in the mornings instead of 5:05 p.m.

One ally in my meal-prep war is my trusty Crock-Pot®. It was a wedding gift, and it didn’t quit working when I set it on the stove and accidentally turned on the wrong burner. It works just as well on three feet instead of four. I’ve been married 41 years and my husband still likes to tell that story!

I’m fond of dump-and-go recipes, but I also don’t want to turn into a stereotypical overweight writer who can’t squeeze through a doorway without using Crisco. I’ve created a delicious, healthy, quick recipe that helps the bottom line. Literally.

Black beans are a fountain of good health. High in protein and low in fat, they also have loads of fiber. This dish is vegan friendly, gluten-free, filling, and versatile.

Most recipes begin by soaking dried beans, but canned beans are more convenient. Another boon is that canned beans cooked slowly have lower amounts of the undigestible sugars that turn you into a rootin’ tootin’ clown of the solo rodeo.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 4 cans black beans, drained (I like Member’s Mark Organic Black Beans from Sam’s Club, only $10 for a package of 8 cans.)
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic (Leave this out if you like kissin’.)
  • 1 medium sweet onion (Dice and pitch; no need to sauté. I hate fancy French cooking lingo.)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (Say “cilantro” out loud ten times as you chop—it’s relaxing.)

Throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, cook for 6-8 hours on low, and they’re ready. I’m OCD enough that I don’t like bean juice contaminating my other food, so I drain them first. If you find they are too dry, you may leave the liquids from one or two cans.

Do you want to spruce up your beans? Try these add-ins:

  • ½ pound taco-seasoned ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons jalapenos or diced bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

You may serve the beans as a main dish because they have so much protein, or you may use them as a side dish for other meals. They are delicious tucked in a burrito, added to a taco salad, or mixed with rice in a traditional African or Caribbean recipe. When serving, try these beautiful garnishes:

  • A dollop of sour cream (Say dollop out loud as you add it, just because it’s a fun word.)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro (Can one have too much cilantro? No, I say—NEVER!)
  • Chopped green onion
  • Shredded cheese, any flavor
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • A spoonful of salsa (Just a spoonful of salsa makes the black beans go down, come on, sing along!)
  • Your favorite red hot sauce (Add as much as you dare.)

My final advice? Even if your family does not eat these all in one meal, they freeze well for later consumption (To clarify, I’m using the word to connote eating, not tuberculosis—I write historical romance).

If I am to be completely honest, when my pantser genes kick in, I’ve made these on the stove top at the last minute. The onion is still crunchy, but variety makes life interesting.

Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, I wish you healthy eating and happy writing!

Writing prompt:  How many “b” words can you slip into one sentence with the words “black beans”? Share your sentence in the comments.

Click-to-Tweet: Author Rhonda Dragomir is fond of “dump and go” recipes, so her Black Bean Bonanza #crockpot meal is perfect for writers. Just don’t forget to plug it in. #cooking #amwriting


Rhonda Dragomir and her family live in Kentucky horse country, in the idyllic small town of Wilmore. A graduate of Asbury University with a degree in Social Work, she is a committed pastor’s wife and Bible teacher. Rhonda is also an award-winning writer, with published works in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and Spark magazine. She also wrote an opinion column in her local newspaper for four years, in which some views garnered national attention.

Rhonda and her husband formed The Dragomir Group to offer websites, typesetting, and design services to writers. She also writes a blog, Find the Pony, building a platform for a career in traditional publishing. Her newsletter Writers LifeHacks, shares tips and insights to encourage other writers and simplify the writing process. Rhonda has won many writing awards, including being named the 2019 Writer of the Year by Serious Writer, Inc.

Media

Websites:             www.rhondadragomir.com (Author site)

www.dragomirgroup.com (Writers’ services)

Blogs:              www.findthepony.blog (personal inspiration)

www.writerslifehacks.com (tips for writers)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Rhonda.Dragomir.Author

Instagram: www.instagram.com/RhondaDragomir

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/RhondaDragomir

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/RhondaDragomirAuthor/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6rst96IuXBwt7oy3unLU8g

LinkedIn:            www.linkedin.com/in/rhonda-dragomir

Cooking in the 18th Century

 By Sheila Ingle           

My visiting of historical sites in SC, especially the outdoor kitchens, has given me a renewed appreciation for my modern kitchen.

Perhaps you have seen the large cast iron skillets and pots hanging over the coals; a large three-pronged trivet holds one of the pots off the coals. Others hang on large iron swinging crane. Close by are long utensils, like ladles, spoons, knives, tongs, and slotted ladles.

Do you remember the children’s rhyme?

“Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old; Some like it hot, some like it cold, Some like it in the pot, nine days old.”

Often a stew or soup would cook for days. Adding more vegetables and water made it last.

Empty?! You took all the cookies!
They were crying to get out of the jar… Cookies get claustrophobia too, you know! ― Charles M. Schulz

I like to bake, and cookies are some of my favorites. During this Revolutionary War period in our history, cookies were called cakes. Mothers passed down good receipts, we call them recipes, to their daughters. Ant there were a few cookbooks available.

In The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, 1747, by Hannah Glasse, this recipe is entitled “Another Sort of Little Cakes.”

A pound of flour, and half a pound of sugar, beat half a pound of butter with your hand, and mix them well together, bake it in little cakes.

3 1/2 Cups flour
1 Cup sugar
1/2 lb butter

Blend butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add flour till it turns into large crumbs.   Press into pan.  Bake 30 minutes then score to the size of pieces you wish.

An earlier version of “Another Sort of Little Cakes” is in The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, published in 1758.

Take a pound of flour and a pound of butter, rub the butter into the flour; two spoonfuls of yeast and two eggs, make it up into a paste; slick white paper; roll your paste out the thickness of a crown; cut them out with the top of a tin canister; sift fine sugar over them, and lay them on the slick’d paper; bake them after tarts an hour.

Originally published in London in 1727, The Compleat Housewife was the first cookbook printed in the United States. William Parks, a Virginia printer, printed and sold the cookbook believing there would be a strong market for it among Virginia housewives who wanted to keep up with the latest London fashions—the book was a best-seller there.

Perhaps her use of the word “compleat” in her title can be found in her words on the title page.

“Being a collection of several hundred approved receipts, in cookery, pastry, confectionery, preserving, pickles, cakes, creams, jellies, made wines, cordials. And also bills of fare for every month of the year. To which is added, a collection of nearly two hundred family receipts of medicines; viz. drinks, syrups, salves, ointments, and many other things of sovereign and approved efficacy in most distempers, pains, aches, wounds, sores, etc. never before made publick in these parts; fit either for private families, or such public-spirited gentlewomen as would be beneficent to their poor neighbours.” (Believe it or not, you can order a copy of this historical jewel on Amazon.)

Since fall is almost here, I start thinking of gingerbread. I love the smell of it baking. The whole house announces cooler weather is here.

Looking again at Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple, here is her version.

Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, one large nutmeg grated, then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread stiff; roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a teacup, or small glass; or roll them out like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a slack oven.

And if you would like to watch a video on making gingerbread in the 18th century, this little girl is precious. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Z2qwyHcPo

On this cloudy Saturday morning, I am going to make some oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. It is that kind of day.

I believe Cookie Monster said it well. “Home is where heart is. Heart where cookie is. Math is clear: Home is cookie.”

Click-to-Tweet: “Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine…” –an 18th century receipt (recipe). @sheilaingle1 talks about baking “cakes” via @InspiredPrompt


Sheila C. Ingle

A graduate of Converse College with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Sheila Ingle is a lifelong resident of S.C.

Her published books, Courageous Kate, Fearless Martha, Brave Elizabeth, and Walking with Eliza focus on the bravery of Patriot women living in Revolutionary War South Carolina. Tales of a Cosmic Possum, not only shares Ingle family history, but also South Carolina and cotton mill history.

Serving on the board for eight years of Children’s Security Blanket (a 5013c) organization that serves families that have children with cancer; she is the Board Chairman. She is also a member of Chapter D PEO, where she served as vice president and chaplain; Circle 555(a local women’s giving group), where she has served on the grant committee; and a board member of Spartanburg County Historical Association, serving on the Walnut Grove Committee.

Sheila is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonists, Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, and Magna Carta Dames and Barons.

Married for forty years to John Ingle, they have one son Scott. Besides being avid readers, the South Carolina beaches are their favorite spots for vacations.

www.sheilaingle.com

Twitter: @sheilaingle1

Facebook: Sheila Ingle, Author

 

 

 

A New Twist on a Down-home Dish

My mother’s family is from Eastern Kentucky. She was born and raised there. Appalachia is known for  the food traditions of area families. One staple at every meal was gravy based on the meat being served; my favorite being breakfast with sausage gravy over biscuits and eggs. Yum, yum.

Our summer visits to Prestonsburg, Kentucky meant Mamaw would have cupcakes made and that the extended family would get together for a meal. Cousins, aunts, uncles would come together on the Saturday afternoon after having spent the morning in the kitchen cooking. I can still smell the chicken-flavored air in Mamaw’s small house; the kind you walked through the living room, a bedroom, and a sitting room to get to the kitchen. The air was thick with it.

The horseshoe tournament would ensue while the women put out the meal. In addition to golden-fried chicken, gravy (of course), and potato salad, we would have coleslaw.

Like other dishes, as a child I didn’t like coleslaw, but as I’ve matured, I’ve learned to enjoy it. But only made the way Mamaw made it. Not an easy thing to duplicate. Several years ago, when I ordered a buffalo chicken meal at Buckheads Grill here in Louisville, they offered blue cheese coleslaw. A twist on a recipe I could never duplicate from Mamaw’s house. I gave it a try and absolutely loved it! The blue cheese gave it a new zing that gave me the freedom to enjoy coleslaw without comparing to Mamaw’s.

To make it at home I combined the recipe I found on Allrecipes with some down-home improvising. Give it a try:

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz. bag of Classic Coleslaw (gone are the days of buying cabbage and carrots just to shred)
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of blue cheese dressing
  • ½ cup blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice*
  • Touch of sugar*
  • *add to taste

Mix bag of Classic Coleslaw in large bowl with other ingredients. Do it just like Ma-maw, with your bare hands. Hum a little song, add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 minutes and serve. Enjoyed best with the ones you love, laughing and swappin’ stories. Fodder for any writer.


Writing prompt: What meal transports you to another time and place? Write a scene to include the meal. Who’s sitting at the table? Who’s the cook?


Click to tweet: The blue cheese gave it a new zing that gave me the freedom to enjoy coleslaw without comparing to Mamaw’s.

The Right Recipe for the Write Day

Welcome to September! We’ve planned a fun month at Inspired Prompt and would like to invite you along as our crew and friends talk about cooking and share some of their favorite easy recipes.

Writers need EASY recipes, right? Many authors juggle full-time jobs with childrearing and other things like conferences, meetings, church, and sports. Sometimes writing is delegated to the level of “spare time” activities.

A treasure-trove of easy recipes can be a lifesaver. I love using my crockpot, especially in winter when soups and stews are favorites in my home. But in summer, I prefer something quick, like stir-fried meals. Okay, I didn’t plan ahead enough to put something in the crockpot, so I’m scanning my larder for something simple, that doesn’t take long to cook. One of my favorites requires only a few minutes and is a big palate pleaser—Korean beef and rice.

You can find easy recipes for the ground beef-based meal on Pinterest. As usual, I’ve made a few changes to mine, incorporating personal preferences. One thing to keep in mind, this recipe does call for sugar. Of course, you can substitute a natural product like stevia and use brown rice to increase the fiber.

And if you don’t really like the taste of sesame oil, you can substitute olive oil or even coconut oil, but be aware that it will no longer be “Korean” beef. You can rename it Luau Beef if you use coconut oil, or Roma Beef if you’re using EVOO. I’m kidding, of course. Whatever you call it, it’s yummy.

This meal can be prepared in advance and even stored in individual microwavable bowls. If you add edamame, steamed carrots or other veggies, and fresh berries, you can call it a power bowl. 😊

Here’s the recipe:

Korean Beef Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
¼ – ½ cup brown sugar (I use ¼ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. molasses because I love the taste)
¼ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
½ tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 large clove minced garlic
½ to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Green onions to garnish

  1. Heat skillet. Add sesame oil and brown meat with garlic until meat is done. Drain excess oil/fat.
  2. Add brown sugar (and molasses if using), soy sauce, ginger, red pepper (if using), salt and pepper to taste. Simmer a few minutes, stirring often. Don’t allow it to dry out. If it seems too dry, add a little water or broth (by spoonsful so you don’t overdo it). Serve over rice and garnish with chopped green onions.

I add steamed carrots or broccoli to make this a complete meal. Buy a bag of frozen veggies, prepare, and serve over the beef and rice, or prepare in a bowl as stated above for a neat power bowl.

Other substitutions: you can dice up regular onions (red, white, or yellow) to garnish if you don’t have green onions.

Sometimes, the rice is the most difficult part of this dish! Make it super simple by using instant rice.

What’s your favorite easy recipe? I hope you’ll find several to add to your regular menu rotation as our writers share theirs. We’ll be here every Monday and Friday with a new post and as always, you’re invited to add yours in the comment section.

Welcome to September! We’ve planned a fun month at Inspired Prompt and would like to invite you along as our crew and friends talk about cooking and share some of their favorite easy recipes. — You can Tweet this!

Writing Prompt: It’s almost five in the evening. Marie’s boss and her husband would arrive at seven. She has some frozen chicken breasts in the freezer and a few lonely veggies in the fridge, a box of angel hair pasta in the pantry. What can she do?

Thanksgiving Cheeseball

by Harriet E. Michael

Thanksgiving! So many thoughts come to mind with that word—pilgrims, Indians, harvest, fields of cornstalks against a blue sky, frost on the pumpkins, crunchy leaves, crisp air—and of course, food!thanksgiving-pic

Others are writing about various Thanksgiving food items, but I wanted to add one of my favorite side dishes, or perhaps it might be served as an hors d’oeuvre .

I found this recipe a few years ago, and fell in love with both the taste and the appearance of it. I have made it every year since and I also serve it at Thanksgiving related functions. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Turkey Cheeseball*

2 pkgs. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (about 8 oz.)
¼ cup buttermilk
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/3 tsp minced red pepper
2 scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs chopped fresh dill

Garnishes

Cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, sugar snap peas, apples or other fruits or vegetables arranged to look like a turkey tail, beak, and legs. 2 cloves for eyes (see picture)

  • Line 6” diameter bowl with enough plastic wrap to overhang the sides by 4” In a separate bowl, on medium-low speed, beat cream cheese, buttermilk, lemon juice. Worcestershire, paprika, garlic salt, and pepper until blended. With a spoon, stir in red peppers, scallions, parsley, and dill. Spoon into lined bowl. Cover with overhanging wrap; refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  • Garnish to look like a turkey. (see picture)cheese-ball-2
*Recipe reprinted from Woman's World magazine, 12/2/2013 issue.

Writing Prompt: Give one of your favorite Thanksgiving foods or decorating ideas.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save