In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Forensic Motherhood, and Black Beans recipe

Envision yourself coming home from an afternoon of shopping (dad gives mom of three kids a well-deserved break), and as mom walks up to her house, she finds it deserted. BUT, there is a trail of blood leading up the stairs, and the front door is wide open. What happened? Who got hurt? Where did everybody go?...
This happened to my mom some 40 years ago -- before the days of cell phones, or, apparently, before the days of pencil of paper. My mother nearly went out of her mind until my dad finally arrived back from the hospital, where my little sister had gotten stitches on her forehead, after having run into my brother on the swing (remember those wooden boards with sharp edges -- this was before someone smart designed the soft butt-hugging type that does not require surgery when you rammed another kid...)

Nothing that scary happened to me, but the other day I got home from work to a rather strange scenario, hubby having taken the kids to their music lessons in town.

Door is wide open...
I walk into the kitchen: there are 4 cereal bowl with the remains of milk and granola. I only have 2 kids living at home, so how is that possible? Easy, teenage son probably ate 3 bowls, and the 4th belongs to his little sister.
I need to get some dinner started, so I turn to the stove. There is a black liquid oozing out from under the stove, and a yellowish-red powder dusting the counters and floor. Several pots and pans are on top of the stove, with various blackish-graying substances on them. Ahhh, now I remember, they had wanted to cook black beans for burritos -- Son had declared that he was tired of PB&J, and wanted to learn how to make burritos, from scratch!
I had soaked some black beans overnight. Instructions were to "cook until soft", mash them with a potato masher for "Refritos", then add spices. Turns out the pot of beans boiled over, explaining the black ooze. There was an attempt made to mash the beans BEFORE they were soft, which caused quite a few chunks of gray-black matter decorating my kitchen. Lastly, Son attempted to grind the spices -- problem was that he opened the lid while the blade was still spinning....

There are days where I would have been mad at the mess, but that day I only chuckled, being rather proud of myself for having figured out what happened. This is as close to CSI (=Crime Scene Investigation, which Germans would call a "Krimi" ) as I'll ever get -- I love watching the TV series -- the scientist in me enjoys a bit of detective work that goes into figuring out the clues left in the evidence...

Ahhh, the joys of forensic motherhood!

Now for how to cook Black Beans (pay attention, Son!)

Soak beans overnight.
Change water.
Boil on LOW until soft (they will be very mushy, and fall apart!)
This will take a LONG time, like, several video games worth.
Keep an eye on the beans -- don't let them boil over, or let them boil dry...

Refritos de Frijoles Negros
(=Refried Black Beans)

cooked beans (make sure not too watery -- drain first, if needed)
oil, onions, garlic
spice mix: cumin, coriander, black pepper, red pepper flakes

Heat oil, cook onions and garlic. Add beans, mashing with a potato masher (or use the bottom of a glass). When nice and mushy, add salt and spices "to taste"
Optional: if you want really spicy MANLY refritos, add chorizo that's been fried really HARD.

Photo credit to for the blood spatter picture,
and for the beans picture.

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