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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 01, 2008

Black Beans for One

Black Beans for One (taken from "Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant")
(makes two servings)

The original recipe:
1T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can black beans
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

In mdeium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until they've started to brown. Add the beans and their liquid, stir and lower heat.

Simmer beans, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens a bit and is smooth, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The writer suggests serving over rice or split pieces of cornbread. He also suggests stirring shredded cheese (doesn't specify what kind) into the rice before serving.

Here's what I did differently:

Because I like beans AND rice rather than beans on rice, I wanted to cook the rice in with the beans.  Plus, any can of black beans I've ever opened has much less liquid in the can than most other types of beans so I kind of wondered about his referring to "until the liquid thickens".  So I decided to try adding a half cup of chicken broth and 1/4 cup of rice to the beans after I had stirred them in with the onions and garlic.  After that cooked for a while, I added a little water and could have added more.  They were quite thick, but the rice was perfectly cooked.  Oh, and I added a dash of cayenne pepper - I use that sparingly always cause I don't want to get it to spicy to enjoy.  I could have added a little more to this, probably. 

I really enjoyed the finished dish - it had a very earthy, rich flavor.  I tried the cheddar cheese part and it was very tasty but I didn't feel like I needed it on the entire dish.  I also tried a sample with some olive oil drizzled over it (my really good stuff from Italy) and that was an interesting taste too.  But the rest I ate "as is" with a little toasted bread to help scoop it up. 

I had enough for a second night and decided I would cut up some smoked sausage, saute it, and stir the beans into the skillet cause I've always enjoyed red beans and rice and hoppin' John with the smoked sausage.  And it was all right, but it kind of lost the taste of the beans so I think I will stick with the basic recipe in future.  However, I also think I will add probably at least another 1/4 cup of liquid, just to make it a little soupier - don't want black bean soup, but wouldn't mind having a little juice to mop up!

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