Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adventures in Cooking

I have a had a fun time of it, learning to cook with the available foods. My stove is a little temperamental, and only one of the burners works, so this stands as a further limitation. There is a farmer's market where produce is available most mornings, and little supermarkets and grocers where I can get more processed food items.

The most readily available and cheapest to cook food items are rice and beans. Of course, both take considerable amounts of time to cook, but in a position such as mine, time is readily available. My first adventure with cooking beans here could best be described as an abject failure, but I learned from it. I did not soak the beans in advance, and so tried the fast-soak method, where you bring the beans to a full boil and then soak for 90 minutes before cooking. It did not work with these black beans. I cooked them for hours, and they were not as soft as I wanted, and it was late at night, so I turned off the heat, leaving them to soak overnight, and went to bed. Even with that, they took a long time to soak the next day, and when they finally finished were very bland.

I next bought some lighter-colored beans, soaked them overnight, and began experimenting with hot sauce, cinnamon, and ketchup in the beans. They came out delicious, and that is now how I typically cook them. The black beans I used again, and they do alright as long as they soak overnight, but still don't have quite as much flavor as the lighter-colored beans. (They're probably either pinto beans or red beans, but I don't actually know.)

Rice I have had an easier time of. The first time I cooked brown rice, I didn't put enough water in, and so had a difficult time of it, but I have since got the proportions and level of heat just about right. Because I only have one working burner, I can't time the rice and beans to finish simultaneously, so I usually cook the beans first, set them aside, cook the rice, and then put the beans back on for just a couple of minutes to heat them up again.

These make for tasty meals, although I do like to have a little something on the side. Eggs sometimes, or fried okra and bell pepper. Today I chopped up bell pepper and cooked it right into the brown rice, stirring it in when the brown rice was about half done, and it came out deliciously. Then to drink I usually have orange juice or grapefruit juice (100% juice, no sugar added). My meals aren't quite as delicious as those cooked by the woman at the Hummingbird Farm, but they do closely resemble a vegetarian version of tasty Belizean cuisine.


  1. We almost always had a rice cooker in our mission apartments, which made it easier to time the meals so it's all warm; it also made it much easier to get the heat setting correct on the rice, as you just plug it in and push the button. I highly recommend it.

  2. My rice cooker browns the rice a tiny bit on the bottom.

    Pinto beans have brown and white speckles. Red beans are about the size of black beans but they are red. Kidney beans are much larger red beans.

  3. Dallen- I'll probably buy a rice cooker when I return to the states, but not while I'm down here. Then I'd either have to abandon it or carry it in my luggage all the way home.

    Lynn- They're probably kidney beans, based on your descriptions.

  4. Slow and low in a heavy pan and you don't really need a rice cooker. I did use mine at a church activity last night so I was able to serve hot fresh rice instead of slightly warm sticky rice.

  5. Slow and low is pretty much exactly what I do.
    I think I might start cooking more beans each time though, and then reheating the next day, so I don't have to spend two hours over the stove every night.



blogger templates | Make Money Online