A pot of beans. Seriously, a pot of beans?! Silence for months and then, hello 2017, I’m bringing you beans.
When I logged in to share this blog, even I was surprised by the date on my last post: November 13. I haven’t shared a blog since before the holiday season, and now it’s all but over. My New Year’s resolution is to send out birthday cards on time, but considering it’s been seven weeks since I dusted off my hobby, perhaps I should revise my resolution to something like, blog more. Perhaps there is room for them both.
I’m presently armed with a handful of cards and stamps. With a cousin celebrating a birthday on the 4th and a friend celebrating on the 7th, I’ll be tested early and often. I also have at least three dishes I’ve made and photographed, so let’s see if I can get around to sharing those comfort foods before spring rolls around.
A 2015 recap was one of my favorite blog posts to write last year, so I’m starting off this year with a recap as well. Last year I didn’t post my recap until the 24th day of the month, so I already feel like I’m off to a good start.
So, 2016. It started off well, but I think the general feeling about the year was one of all-around suck. When I took a closer look though, I found a lot of light balanced out the shade. Here’s how it went:
My New Year’s resolution last year was to read the Bible. I figured I grew up with those teachings, so perhaps I should actually read the book. I found comfort in it until I got scared of the violence (there is a lot of violence in the Bible) and the cold weather and dark nights that kept me huddled up on the couch – prime reading conditions – grew warm and light. My resolve crumbled.
I felt the city get excited as the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl. I watched the Panthers lose the Super Bowl.
I learned a lot about myself when I stood outside a restaurant on the last day of February and a friend said to me, “Hey, I want to get your opinion on [insert subject] because you always have one.” My jaw dropped. I do always have an opinion. Her comment was not intended to call me out on my attitude, but was actually a sort of a compliment on my ability to make up my mind. This serves me well for making decisions. It does not serve me well for letting go of grudges.
Convinced Mary to go with me to Hickory to see Anne Lamott speak. For free! I called the box office approximately 243 times over the course of an hour to get those tickets, but wouldn’t you know it, I got the tickets!
I bought my first new car. Six weeks later I got laid off. The timing on those life events could have been better.
I kept myself remarkably busy working through the back log of my life while I didn’t have a job to go to every day, but about six weeks in to my forced unemployment, I really just wanted to get back to work. It’s how I find my meaning.
And soon enough, I did. I got a job offer that turned out to be for the best job I’ve ever had. The work involves subjects I would mess around with in my spare time regardless of my employment status. My co-workers are people I truly enjoy spending time around. The pay is not bad. The irony is back in business school I told a friend that if I had to work for a bank, I’d probably try and hurt myself. Now I work for a bank, and I love it.
I did something I said I’d never do and joined a book club. I took a class on how to make French macaroons. I have not made macaroons since. I attended classes on how to monetize my blog, make blog videos, hand letter various items, and decorate sugar cookies with royal icing. I have not yet monetized my blog, made any videos, hand lettered anything, or decorated sugar cookies…but now I have the potential.
Woke up at 6 a.m. on the day we turned the clocks ahead (ugh!) to attend the first Piedmont Culinary Guild food and beverage symposium. Learned all about making cheese at home, fermenting foods at home, making shrubs to drink, heirloom seeds, and the business of North Carolina wine.
Ate at four new restaurants and visited two new breweries. Went to one beer dinner and attended one beer festival where I discovered a dozen new sour beers to adore.
Laughed harder than I remembered possible at The Book of Mormon. Enjoyed Beauty and the Beast with my mom, sister, and niece. Thoroughly enjoyed Cabaret thanks to a friend.
Went paddle boarding on a lovely June day. I love paddle boarding. It’s one of my favorite things. I get on that board and just unwind.
Spent a long weekend in Savannah with my mom and sister. Spent another long weekend in Asheville with some of my closest friends. Visited Ohio four times because that is where my people are.
Attended two surprise birthday parties. Watched a friend get married in the most unique set of circumstances. Said goodbye to two friends who blatantly ignored my “no one is leaving unless I leave” memo and moved away.
Brewed some beer. Got one new piercing in each ear. Watched the Olympics! Moved to a new place. Walked in to Ohio Stadium to watch the Buckeyes play. Walked out and saw John Cooper.
Picked up the phone when my sister called early one Sunday morning. I started talking about coordinating family pictures, since that’s what we were texting about the night before, and she conversed right back. Once all that got straightened out, she told me, “Well, I just had a baby.” Are.you.kidding.me. It’s a girl!
Received evidence the universe communicates in literal, albeit delayed, terms. In 2007, I was motoring around town with an “Anyone but Hillary” bumper sticker on my car. In 2016, I realized I didn’t really mean anyone.
Enjoyed a lovely holiday season where I ate my first Raclette, saw the Nutcracker, watched the best hockey game ever, got together with old friends, and viewed a lovely Chinese lanterns display.
My proudest accomplishment of 2016 was working with four bloggers – that I’m happy to call friends – to reestablish the Charlotte Food Bloggers. This allowed me to meet a lot of new bloggers who I can also now call friends. We live in this physical world where we think we know people through computer or our phones. Now I actually get to know these people in real life, and I’m grateful for that.
My mom starts about every conversation I have with her with, “What’s new?” And I reply, “Nothing’s new”. Over the course of a few days or weeks, life doesn’t seem to change that much, but when I look back at where I was last year to where I am today, I could not have predicted I’d have a new job, new digs, or some new friends. So, I guess there is a lot that’s new. Sometimes you just need 365 days to see it.
Oh, and here’s the deal with the beans. Yes, a recipe for beans is unassuming, but this dish can feed you for days on the cheap. Beans are a good source of non-meat protein that serve as a great supporting act to other star meals. You can eat them alone or alongside some rice. Stuff them in tacos or layer them in a dip. Consider this recipe an easy weekend project that will feed you all week. Enjoy!
Pot Beans with Tomatoes, Basil & Parmesan Cheese
Yield 4 -6
Plan ahead: you will need to soak the dried beans overnight before cooking!
- 1 pound dried beans of your choice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup finely shredded fresh basil, loosely packed
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Rinse and drain the dried beans, then place them in a bowl and cover with one to two inches of water. Allow the beans to soak overnight before cooking.
- When you are ready to start cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Saute the onion and garlic until softened and translucent, about five minutes.
- Stir in the red pepper flakes, if using, followed by the soaked and drained beans.
- Cover the beans with one inch of water and raise the heat from low to bring the pot to a boil.
- Reduce the heat again to bring the pot to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook the beans until they are tender. This can take anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours depending on the size of the beans and how long they soaked.
- Check the beans every hour for tenderness. Add more water to the pot as needed during cooking if the beans are not yet tender and start to dry out.
- When the beans are tender to your liking, stir in the salt and pepper, tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan cheese.
If you forget to soak the beans overnight and really want to make a pot of beans, you can take a shortcut. Put the beans in a pot, cover with two to three inches of water, and bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans stand for one hour before proceeding with the recipe.One pound of dried beans will yield about 5 cups of cooked beans.