I always pass those multi-bean mixes when I’m perusing the bulk bin section at the supermarket. I’m tempted to buy them, but then I wonder how all those different varieties will cook together. I make enough beans and lentils to know that cooking times and textures vary.
Honestly, it’s taken me a long time to figure it all out and keep track of what results in the perfect bean in my book. No reason to ruin the good thing I’ve got going.
But last week, there I was again, staring at the mother of all bean mixes – 13 bean and lentil mix.
I always struggle with getting the right consistency for cooked brown lentils. And by right, I mean getting them the way I like them – slightly firm, but tender enough to enjoy. Usually, I get them boiling, get distracted and they are mushy before I realize it.
That’s fine for soups, but I enjoy eating them as more of a stir-fry or a skillet meal.
So this time around, I watched them like a hawk.
Actually, that’s a lie.
I almost bought a can of refried black beans the other day. I was doing that for a while a few years ago, when we were trying to stick to a slow carb eating plan. (If you are unfamiliar, it can be summed up as eating protein, veggies, and beans at just about every meal.) I’ve been trying to steer my food intake back in that direction since it was when I felt my fittest, but it’s been a slow process since we moved to the Central Valley and, you know, we were without a kitchen for a while this year.
Those cans were super convenient then, even though I knew they were loaded with sodium. But I stopped myself this time. I’m perfectly capable of making delicious beans, so I redirected myself over to the dried bean section and picked up a one pound bag of black beans.
For a long time, heirloom tomatoes were my absolute favorite thing about summer. Lately, though they have fallen ever so slightly in their ranking to make it closer to a tie with something else.
That probably seems a lot less exciting, but I think it’s because the older I’ve gotten, and the less I’ve had corn from our own garden growing up, the more I appreciate a really good ear.
I can still remember going to friend’s houses in the summer and my hosts joyfully proclaiming that we were having sweet corn for dinner. One bite into those chewy, tough kernels and it was all I could do not to set the ear down and leave it be for the rest of the meal.
That was not sweet corn. If you’ve ever had an ear at its peak ripeness, you know the difference. Good corn is crisp with kernels that literally explode with flavor in your mouth. There is nothing quite like it.
Fortunately, I haven’t had a difficult time finding good corn here. There is a farm nearby that grows corn in the summer and pumpkins in the fall and winter. I usually try to buy from them, but even the ears I pick up at the grocery store from time to time tend to be really great.
I realize that it’s way too early for comfort food, but lately I’ve had the urge to get out my Instant Pot and start making beans and lentils again.
My favorite thing is a one bowl meal, and now that I actually use a pressure cooker, they’ve gotten easier.
I don’t post a lot of IP recipes on here because I know everyone doesn’t have one (and I could never be convinced to use a traditional pressure cooker), but this simple lunch turned out so good that I had to share.
This post is sponsored by Sahadi’s.
Food access is important in my line of work. Well, if you love food, regardless of the type of work you do, it’s important. But when you are tasked to make specific foods or need to photograph a certain ingredient, you have to find it.
I’m the first one to admit that regularly accessing what I need isn’t always easy around here. Of course, this comes after spending 10 years in the surprisingly excellent local food scene of Central Kentucky, and then a few more years in the Bay Area. Which, I mean, come on. What can’t you find in the Bay Area?
Internet shopping for groceries is not only a fun pastime these days, it’s often a necessity.
Back in February, I attended a workshop with the food styling and food photography greats, Adam Pearson and Matt Armendariz. The course taught me so much about the art of working with food, but what was more unexpected was that it gave me some new inspiration for everyday cooking.
For one of the shoots, we prepared grain bowls with all kinds of good stuff like whole grains, lentils, nuts and roasted veggies. It was a build your own kind of thing for photographing. We never actually ate them.
I left that weekend thinking — I am so hungry for a grain bowl!
Every time we move to a new place it opens me up to a new world of ingredients. It’s probably obvious how that would happen with a move to Brazil. But I even felt this way when we moved back to a more rural area of Kentucky. Then, of course, there was the Bay Area.
This time around that new world of ingredients belongs to Mexican cuisine. I’ve barely scratched the surface on what is available to me. I’m also learning that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about these ingredients.
I discover something new every time I go to the market.
Soon, we’ll be frantically running out to the supermarket to get overlooked ingredients. Soon, we’ll forget what it’s like to shop during the holidays and find ourselves elbowing our way to a check-out line. Soon, we’ll be waiting in line at the post office (something we swore we’d never do again) to get gifts mailed before the last possible hour.
Soon, no matter how hard we try to stay in control, things are going to get crazy.
I love the holiday season, crazy or not. So I say bring it on! As long as I have some lights sparkling in the living room and cookies in the oven at some point throughout the season, I’ll take it.
One might look at these photos and say — who sits down to only a bowl of lentils?
The answer to that question would be me. I have lentils as a meal so often that I’ve run out of new ideas for preparing them.
That pretty well sums up how this recipe came about. The solution to my problem called a curry powder rut.