Denver has been in a deluge for the last week. We have been pounded by some severe thunderstorms, hail, strong winds, and lots and lots of magnificent lightning. Last night was an amazing storm. I have never seen such bright lightning, it was blinding. The thunder was the kind that makes you jump out of your skin because even though you know its happening, the sheer intensity of the noise makes everything inside and around you vibrate. It was quite scary actually, but exhilarating at the same time. Mother Nature has such force and we are insignificant beings in its path.
I, however, just love thunderstorms. I love the noise and the lightning, the wind, the force with which the rain pounds everything around us. This is what I miss about Texas the most, all the tropical storms. We were up in Rocky Mountain National Park last week just to walk around the lakes but that was cut short by the arrival of a spectacular storm. The lightning was hitting so close to us and just booming as it echoed around the mountains. The clouds hung so low and shrouded the mountains in a ghostly cloak of mist. It was just beautiful and while I felt sorry for all the out of towners who were visiting the park that day, I was having a blast experiencing my backyard in this new and exciting way.
|Rocky Mountain National Park|
Each storm has been different. Every day I have seen a different variation, a different kind of rain, different kinds of clouds and the lightning has lit up the sky in its own unique way each day. As much as I’ve loved all this beautiful nature this week, I would like it to hold off a little because my best friend arrives tonight and I have things planned!
Rainy weather though, just makes you want to cuddle up in bed, read a book and have a hot cup of tea. That’s what I’ve been doing. Not reading a book unfortunately, but some interesting articles on the internet. Dinner has been a ‘throw something together quickly’ affair.
I wasn’t originally going to post this recipe but the other day I was finishing off the leftovers and it was so good, I feel as though I should. It’s a recipe for vegetarian beans and rice; one of my meatless Monday recipes (not really, we don’t eat meatless every Monday; it just sounded catchy!)
My local farm in Texas used to have fresh pinto beans, creamer peas, lima beans and a couple other varieties. I loved buying these fresh beans because they cooked up so quickly and were creamy and delicious. When their season was done, I started making it from dried beans. Like any creamy beans and rice dish, it works better with dried, soaked beans than the tinned variety.
For the rice, I like to use brown rice and cook it with golden, caramelised onions. The rice takes on a warm, sweet flavour from the onions and is then doused with the creamy beans, the combination is quite stellar. I like to serve a nice, crunchy salad with a tart dressing to contrast all the sweetness and creaminess.
Makes 6 servings
Beans and Rice
1 ½ cups/340g of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
6 cups/1.5L of water
1 small onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green chilli, Serrano or jalapeno, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ cup/59ml olive oil
2 cups/473ml cooking liquid from beans
handful cilantro, chopped
NOTE: if you forget to soak the beans overnight or you decide in the morning to make this dish, you can put the beans a pot of water and bring up to boil. After the water boils, turn off the stove and cover the pot. Let soak for at least 3 to 4 hours.
Put the soaked beans in a large pot or pressure cooker and add the 6 cups water, onion quarters and garlic cloves.
Add a touch of oil to stop the foaming of the beans.
I cook my beans in a pressure cooker and if you have one, use it!
Beans cooked in a pressure cooker take 8-10 minutes.
If you don’t have one, then just bring up your beans to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour or till beans are tender. Stir occasionally and check the beans.
Once the beans are done, let them cool and drain them, reserving the cooking liquid.
In another braiser or pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat.
Add the onions and red bell peppers and cook till soft.
Add the garlic and cook a minute or so, till fragrant.
Add the beans, tomatoes, cumin, chilli and the 2 cups cooking liquid.
Simmer the beans until they start to thicken.
Add more cooking liquid if you it gets too thick or if you want a looser consistency.
I usually take about 2 cups of the mixture and blend in a blender or a hand blender.
Add the pureed beans back to the pot.
Check for salt and pepper and consistency.
The beans should be creamy and thick.
Add the cilantro at the end and stir through.
2 cups/380g brown rice or rice pilaf mix
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups/1L of water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Put olive oil in a pot and cook the onions till golden brown
Add the brown rice.
Add the water and bring to boil.
Lower the heat and cook for 50 minutes or till rice is done.
If you have a pressure cooker, use it. Brown rice cooks in 15 minutes in a pressure cooker. Follow your cooker directions.
Hope it has been drier where you are but not too dry. We all need some rain.
I will be out of commission the next few days because my friend is visiting from Houston. I cannot wait to see her! We have things planned and none of them involves the kitchen. I want to enjoy myself with her and not have to be stuck in a kitchen. My dearest husband has offered to baby sit the children while she and I enjoy a couple of ladies nights out.
I hope you all have great weekend and as always thank you so much for reading. I shall be back next week.