|Red Beans and Rice a l'Alina|
For several days now, we have woken up in the early morn' and experienced the most blessed of all of Thailand's seasons: the cold season. Cold, depending on where you live, is a relative term. For us, not having to sleep with the air conditioner on all night is cold. Wearing socks in one's house means you are cold. Anything below 70 degrees is...cold. The 60 degrees I have woken up to every morning for the past week feels like a different kind of Heaven. I simply cannot imagine how we survived for almost three years in the never ending, sticky heat of Southern Thailand. It must have been God, or I would have gone insane.
We have sipped hot tea during home school, read our read-alouds under blankets and I have been craving hot comfort foods for lunch each day. Today, I made a nostalgic favorite: red beans and rice.
Why is it nostalgic? No, I didn't eat it at Grandma's, live in Louisiana (or some other very southern state with it's own genre of comfort foods...oh wait, I grew up in Texas...does Tex-mex count?), or have some sweet date with Treavor while eating it. It is nostalgic because it is what we ate about 6 times a week when we had barely enough money to get through each day. About two years into our marriage, while living in Waco, we had a hard time financially. Thankfully, we always had enough and were always able to pay our bills. God showed us miraculous provision at every turn. Those days were hard, but good. Good; because we learned to truly rely on Him.
I tried to get creative with making nutritious, cheap foods that we could enjoy...but after a while, beans and rice was an easy meal to throw together. Alas, it got old. Really old. It took a few years after that season for me to really enjoy eating this dish again. Now, when I get it, I just get thankful and nostalgic while thinking over all the ways God has been faithful to us over the years. He is good, all the time.
If you're ever looking for something relatively quick to throw together, but you don't want to drag yourself to the store again for the umpteenth time, make this:
Red Beans and Rice a l'Alina
1 can of red kidney beans (extra points for those of you who prepared them from dried beans...cheap!) - juice included!
1 can of seasoned diced tomatoes (we don't have those here, so I just threw in 3/4 cup chopped onions and 3/4 cup diced tomatoes that I had waiting patiently in my freezer)
4/5 cloves of fresh (or jarred, or powdered, whatever!) garlic, minced
Spices to taste (follow your heart and put in however much you like...I won't tell on you): parsley, ground cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper.
I simmered these all together for 1.5 hours while I was homeschooling, but probably bringing them to a medium boil for 10-15 minutes would do the trick if you're kids are yankin' on your skinny jeans to feed them something.
I poured the beans over 2 cups (uncooked measurement) brown rice that I cooked in my rice cooker. Use a rice cooker like me if you tend to burn things due to a short attention span.
Finally, I shredded a lonely chunk of cheddar cheese that was in my fridge and topped the beans/rice with this and some sour cream I had from last week's baked potatoes.
It fed myself and my three kids perfectly, but if you have a bigger family or teenage boys, I would make more!
Thanks for taking a walk with me down memory lane. Now, I am going to find my scarf and fuzzy socks while I try to stay warm in our frigid weather. You think I'm kidding you? Living here changes things...