Monday, October 15, 2012

The Musical Fruit

I remember being a kid & sometimes seeing a pot of beans covered in water on the kitchen counter. My mom was soaking beans for that evening's meal. She didn't know it, but I loved reaching my hand in those beans & playing with them. I'd grab handfuls of beans & let them fall through my fingers. I'd swirl my hands  in the middle of the cold, wet pellets, around & around. I'd pinch them between my thumb & forefinger.
And later, at the dinner table, I'd watch as everyone ate & think, "I have touched every single bean you are eating."

About 5 years ago I received a Christmas gift. It was a jar filled with all the makings for Mexican Bean Soup. Today I pulled that exact jar of Mexican Bean Soup out of the pantry for supper. (Is that bad?) Everything has been sealed up tight for all those years: the macaroni noodles, the rice, the spices, the two different kinds of beans. It was layered all pretty-like in a small mouthed mason jar, the recipe attached to the lid with some pretty blue & gold plaid wire ribbon.

Step 1: Rinse & pick over beans.
Ok, first of all, believe it or not, I have NEVER cooked beans in my life. (I obviously didn't pay attention to what happened to that pot of beans on the counter as a kid.) I don't know what it means to "pick over beans". Like, pick out the ugly or deformed ones? Is it going to be obvious when I see an ugly bean? I'm not sure what I'm doing.

In the next step, I'm supposed to bring them to a boil & let them sit for an hour. Then, after draining the beans, & returning them to the pot, I'm supposed to boil & simmer them for an hour, until the beans are firm-tender. According to the recipe, the time for beans to get firm-tender will vary, depending on the age of the beans. Well, who knows how old these beans really are. They've been sitting in that cupboard of mine for 5 years. So, in bean years, they're probably almost dead. Simmering them may take a lifetime.

As I watch for the pot to boil, which I've heard never works, the pot of water, beans & spices actually starts to foam. Orange colored  foam (orange from the spices) begins rising to the rim. It is not boiling. It is raging.
I have made a pot of rabid soup.

I finally get things under control. The spices smell delicious. If the soup is too spicy though, my children will not eat it. I'm crossing my fingers that it's a family friendly soup. Several night's ago I made a new recipe for the first time: Orange chipotle chicken with cilantro rice. It was so yummy, but spicy. It ended up being a PB&J night for the littles. Tonight I have sandwich supplies on standby.

I'm anxious for 6 o'clock to roll around. So I can scoop up a bowl full of soupy goodness & see how my efforts have paid off. I'm not certain if this meal will be a success or not.
But one thing is for sure: I have touched 
every single bean we will eat.


  1. I love this post. How did it turn out? Try Red Beans and Rice next.

    1. Surprisingly, it didn't have a whole lot of flavor. But the beans turned out a nice (normal) consistency. When I reheat the leftovers, I will add some of my own spices. I served it with cheese quesadillas & a dollop of sour cream.
      I will definitely have to try red beans & rice next.


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