Dear Melissa, These Are The Refried Beans of Your Dreams. Love, Sobby.

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For my sister, Melissa.

My weirdo sister has been taco obsessed since the early 1980’s. She is a maverick this way, ahead of any millennial trend that frankly BORES THE FUCK OUT OF US O.G. GENERATION X TACO EATERS. We are also bitter people, if you need proof re-read the last sentence.

Old Aunt Stinky Smell, as she is now known (although honestly she smells real nice), became an ethical vegetarian when she was 14 or 15. What this means is that when she had hankering for Mexican food, which was nearly every damned day, she ate a shit ton of refried beans and really greasy quesadillas filled with chihuahua cheese, in these little hole in the walls that she insisted I drive her to. I am not sure how she found out where to go since THERE WAS NO INTERNET (wrap your pie hole around that), but I dutifully drove her because I am the good child. We didn’t know that these beans also probably contained tons of lard (NO INTERNET, remember), and also in the 1980’s there was not a lot of back and forth with your server regarding what was in or what was not in the food. They did not say their names or let you know they would be taking care of you. There was no inquiry regarding food allergies and they didn’t suggest sharing 3 or 4 small plates. There was an unspoken assumption that you might have BEEN IN A RESTAURANT SOMETIME BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE AND KNEW HOW TO OPEN A MENU AND READ IT. You  would read it, then close the menu. Prompted by the magical closing of your menu, the server would reappear, you told them the order, they wrote it down, then a while later they returned with the food you requested. It was a much simpler transaction back then, with a lot less chat.

We often tried to recreate these beans at home, which involved a can of refried beans, water and a microwave. It never really worked. You also cannot make a hole-in-the-wall taqueria style quesadilla using corn tortillas, cheddar cheese and a microwave. We felt very sad when we tried this. If you try it this way at home, you’ll be very sad too so don’t do it.

30+ years later, I have discovered that it takes two things to make really good refried beans: A $1.29 package of Goya Mayo Coba Beans (sometimes called canary beans) and a pressure cooker.

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The above is a Mayo Coba/canary bean. A small, thin-skinned, pale yellow friend that when cooked, melts into velvety deliciousness. This bean comes to us courtesy of Peru (“Thanks, Peru!” –although I will take a moment here to say “No Thanks, Peru!” to your horrible pan flutes), and because it is texturally superior to the pinto bean, no lard is necessary. Who has the macros for lard? I sure don’t. If you have macros for lard, by all means eat lard. Otherwise follow the recipe below. When I eat them, I am always magically reminded of my little sister, dingy taquerias and the 1980’s. You may be reminded of something else. Or you may just be in the present eating your beans mindfully but if you are going to do that pipe down about it and keep it to yourself- this is not a Yoga studio.

Creamy Refried Beans à la Melissa

  • Servings: 7 or 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Macros/100 Gram Serving: 120 Calories | 7 P | 1 F| 21 C . Fiber= 8 grams

Leave out the bacon for a vegan/vegetarian version. (Macros would be 6 P | 1 F |21 C for the baconless version). You will need a pressure cooker and a potato masher. I don’t use any cumin or any spices except salt and pepper but if you like go ahead and add after you have sautéed the vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 6 ml olive oil
  • 50 grams onion, finely chopped
  • 100 grams raw carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (get a nice firm one) finely chopped (de-vein and de-seed if you cannot handle the !Caliente! )
  • 150 grams dried Mayo Coba beans, sometimes called canary beans. Don’t break my damned heart and use a pinto bean for this.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sliced of pre-cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water

Directions

1.Pick through the canary beans and remove any stones, broken beans and general detritus you might find in there. If you are unsure whether or not something qualifies as detritus, ask yourself “Does this look like a bean?”. If the answer is no, it’s detritus, toss it. Cover the beans that survived your careful inspection with cold water and soak them for 30 minutes.

2.Drain the beans, pour into the pressure cooker with 1 tsp of salt, (I use the Instant Pot), cover with 2 inches of new water and cook on manual for 16 minutes. Depressurize the pot and drain the beans again. They should be about 3/4 cooked through, so a bit al dente at this stage. If they are very very hard, give it another 3-4 minutes under pressure.

3.Sauté all the rest of the ingredients in the 6 ml of olive oil. If your pressure cooker has a sauté function, do it in there. If not, a pan on the stove top. Season with salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for about 5-6 minutes.

4.Add the beans and mash them with the potato masher. Some of the veg might get mashed- that’s totes fine. Really get in there. Add this back into the pressure cooker (unless it is already in there) and add 1 -2  cups of water. This is a bit instinctive. You do not want them to be too soupy but you need enough so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

5.Close up the pressure cooker and go another 10 minutes on manual. Depressurize the pot and voilà- The beans of Aunt Stinky Smell’s dreams!

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Lentils. Why I Disparaged You For So Long Is Beyond My Comprehension. Welcome Back My Little Pulse!

20170520_122012

One of the sillier things that happened in Shebnation was the promotion of the “no bueno” policy of the humble legume. Now that we have calmed down the rhetoric and dismissed the needless vilification of perfectly nutritious food groups, beans and pulses are back, but not all day, like rosé or anything. Let’s be smart about it, for once, can’t we?

People that follow a paleo diet voice concerns about phytic acid and phytates. If you are concerned about the anti-nutritive effect of these items, please know that unless you have a chronic health condition, or are in the throes of severe malnutrition, your not-so-feeble-body  can actually HANDLE THIS SHIT, and human bodies have been handling them since Neolithic times! Please also know that if you are in relatively good health, and eating in a balanced manner, even up to 2000 grams of phytic acid per day will most likely not negatively affect you. Also, that’s a fuck tons of beans, oil or peanuts! If you ate that many damned beans (or oil or peanuts) you would have a lot of other problems in your life, believe you me! Like gas and leaky stools. No-one enjoys a leaky stool. Or gas.

Here’s the thing about dried pulses and beans: a little goes a long way. Yes they have protein, yes they have fiber (glorious amounts) but they are very very calorically and nutrient dense. For instance, in this upcoming recipe, there are 50 grams of dried lentils per serving. That is a mere 1/3 cup. Cooked of course, the yield is greater. But that small handful of pulses supplies nearly all the carbohydrates for the dish, as well as a large percentage of the fiber. So think of them as a nourishing, but small accompaniment to your main protein source.

** Please note: I am an equal opportunity bean eater. Canned is great!  But if you have the resources and space to purchase and store an instant pot, you should consider this appliance. I worried about it being a large pain in the rear that took up a lot of counter space. But now that I have it, I use it about 8 times a week. For me its become an indispensable kitchen tool that speeds ups food prep and insures incredible textures on almost everything- beans, brown rice, oatmeal and chicken- but especially beans.***

Flank Steak with a Mustardy Lentil and Bacon Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Macros/Serving: 468 Calories | P 43 | F 18| C 30. Fiber is 7 grams per serving

Another lunch prep for my Snackary. I am positive it will get 4 “goods” out of 4 because he’s kind of predictable that way.

Ingredients

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 25 grams shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 485 grams flank steak (I used farmer’s market Piedmontese beef which is lower in fat than the typical flank. You may have to make a macro adjustment if you do not have access to this beef)
  • 3 tbsp Herbs de Provence
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200 grams dried brown lentils that have been soaked in cold water for 30 minutes.
  • 8 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped (It’s what I had. Using raw bacon again might call for a macro adjustment)
  • 100 grams green onion, chopped
  • 300 grams raw spinach, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions

1.Using the shallot, vinegar, mustard and 2.5 tbsp of the olive oil, make the vinaigrette. Recipe here, but only make half.

2.Season the flank steak generously on each side with salt, pepper and the Herbs de Provence. Place the 2 bay on top and drizzle the remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil over it. Let it hang out for about 10 minutes.

3.Cook the lentils. You can do this on the stove top or in a pressure cooker. I used an instant pot and cooked on manual for 8 minutes. Drain after cooking.

4.Sauté the chopped bacon until it is crispy and add the spinach. Cook this down, until completely wilted, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Add to the lentils, stir in the chopped green onion and all of the vinaigrette. Combine well. Divide into four containers.

5.Heat a cast iron skillet, or grill pan until very hot. Sear the flank steak to your desired doneness (Snackary likes medium rare). Let rest and slice against the grain. Divide into four portions and lay atop your lentil salad. Boom! Lunch for 4 days.

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Soup Is Life. Weekend Lunch Prep.

20170518_122012

Shebnation recently spent time in the beautiful country of Scotland, where everybody is endearingly polite and the soups are especially delicious. Hot as fuck, but delicious. I am not talking spicy hot either.  Scalding soups and tea that would erode several layers of skin if you spilled it on yourself. My little partner in crime bought a tea atop a large mountain an enormous hill we had climbed in order to see a castle and was not able to drink this tea until we had walked all the way back down. I may mention too the outside temperature was a balmy 42 F and we were being “caressed” by frigid ocean breezes. That goddamned tea stayed hot for at least 30 minutes! As for me, I burnt my tongue several times on soups (so tasty!!! I couldn’t wait) which is a huge nuisance. But the soups were glorious. I had several different versions of this basic Mulligatawny, a throw back to the days and conquest and colonization which I would prefer not to get into. I am working on an all Scotland Shebnation post, until then make some soup!!!!

Mulligatawny aka A Thick, Chicken & Curry Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Macros/Serving: P 29 | F 14| C 27. Fiber is 5 grams per serving

I made this for Snackary’s lunches last week and his rating was “4 goods” out of 4 possible goods!

Ingredients

  • 20 ml coconut oil
  • 150 grams carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 600 grams raw sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 100 grams raw onion, chopped
  • 100 grams raw apple, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
  • 181 ml canned crushed tomatoes (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 Tbsp madras or other mild curry blend
  • 1 Liter chicken stock (boxed or homemade)
  • 60 ml coconut milk (I freeze it in ice cube trays for future uses, 1 can is too much)
  • 640 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Directions

  1. Season the chicken thighs with the 1/2 the curry powder and salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven until cooked through. Let cool then shred with your fingers, or chop with a knife if the feeling of chicken between your fingers disquiets you.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot and add the cut onion, carrot, apple, sweet potatoes and smashed garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté on medium heat for about 7 minutes, stirring now and then so nothing sticks. Add the remaining curry powder and stir to distribute.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, cool the soup and purée in a blender until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning if needed.
  5. Divide the chicken among 4 containers and pour 1/4 (my total was 1400 ml of soup so each lunch got a whopping 350 ml!!) of the soup atop the chicken. Boom lunch for 4 days!

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