Friday, March 11, 2011

A Rice & Beans Manifesto

It is with great humility that I've accepted my dear wife's invitation to author a guest post to this blog. I work in corporate-land as an engineer and in the interest of being frugal and healthy pack my lunch every day. My pal Adam introduced me to the idea of making rice & beans in bulk to have for lunch. So, after a few years of tweaking my recipe, here is how it's done in the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do household.

1) Soak beans overnight in crock pot. Add a few teaspoons of hot sauce while they're soaking to allow the beans to absorb the flavor. I recommend 2 standard grocery store sized bags of dry beans. 1 bag pinto and 1 bag black works well.

2) Rinse the beans once soaked and cook in the crock pot on low for however long it takes for them to get edible and soft (~6 hours).

3) Towards the end of when the beans are cooking in the crock pot, prepare the add-in ingredients. Since I'm an engineer, I, by nature, need to find ways to constantly improve designs. As such, the rice & beans recipe can never be static. That said, the following is a representative list of rice & beans add-ins. Diced Tomatoes and/or Tomato Sauce, Green Pepper, Banana Peppers, half and Onion, fresh Garlic, Pepperjack Cheese, Ground Black Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper, and Seasoning Salt.

4) Once the beans are finished cooking, drain the water from the crock pot and add the above ingredients. Turn crock pot to warm setting to allow the spices to mix and the cheese to melt.

5) Cook the rice. This really can be done at any stage, but I will often wait until the beans and ingredients are mixed prior to commencing the rice preparation. 1 standard sized bag of rice is an appropriate quantity of rice to go along with the beans. I recently have been cooking pearl barley rather than rice which makes the meal a bit heartier. Note that I often add olive or canola oil to the rice while it's cooking to make it less "gummy". If the crock pot is large enough, it's nice to mix the cooked rice with the bean concoction. The crock pot I've been using most recently does not permit such volume so I'll simply add the cooked rice to tupperware. It's best to use BPA-free or glass tupperware if you have some.

6) Combine the rice & beans in the tupperware containers and store in your refrigerator and/or freezer. I usually end up with about 10 lunch-sized containers.

Presto! (or whatever Emeril says) An added benefit to rice & beans is that they are gluten free. Even if you don't have a medical reason to avoid gluten, it's a good idea to not always have wheat in meals. Plus the beans have a ton of fiber. Avoiding something real grainy during lunch also (I think) contributes to me being less tired after lunch as I haven't chowed on a lot of grainy carbs.

Thanks for this opportunity, honey!

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