Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 197- Beans and Rice

A certain get-out-of-debt personal finance guru-type is big on beans and rice. Being veg, I'm kinda fond of them myself, but no one ever tells you how to make them palatable.

'cause face it- there's not much worse at dinner than trying to choke down dry beans and flavorless rice. indeed, the only worse things I can think of are *much* worse- weevil-y bread, no food at all, bad prison movie food. But, for the things you're actually ever likely to serve yourself, dry beans and rice is pretty high up there for blegh factor.

So you gotta make it not-dry and not-flavorless. I do that with a variety of sauces, most made up on the spot, and salting the rice. I used to season it with saffron as well, but there is no way this budget is ever stretching that far.

Yesterday I finished cooking the black beans. I have about 1.5 cups of beans left in the fridge, in a little container. With all those beans, and plenty of rice still in the pantry, I decided to do something with the canned tomatoes I got from Mom. I made something that tasted kinda like chili, while really having only 3 ingredients- the rest are spices and whatnot.

Cheap Black Bean Chili-
  • 1C cooked black beans
  • 1/2C canned diced tomatoes in tomato juice (give or take)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1T oil
  • 1T vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • large dash each- paprika, cayenne, garlic, onion powders
Heat oil in pan, add onion and garlic. Fry until lightly browned, then add tomatoes, smooshing slightly to break up clumps and release extra liquid. If too dry, add up to 1/4 cup water. Add spices, salt, and vinegar. stir. Add beans and cook until slightly thickened and heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over 2x as much rice as chili. Makes 2 "servings."

Optional- Add shredded chicken, corn, chopped fresh peppers, fried ground meat, top with sliced avocado, use different or more or fewer spices.

Made the same thing again for "dinner"- half of which is sitting next to me, waiting to be finished. I live like a frat boy, sometimes.

The rice is good because it cuts the heat from the spices and bulks out the meal so you don't have to use as much of the more expensive stuff. I think the second time I used a little less than 1/3rd cup of tomatoes and juice and it still turned out fine.Leaving the sauce a little runnier also lets it soak into the rice a bit more, for more tastier rice.

I also bought 1 .53lb onion yesterday. I think that might be my only purchase this week. It was 37 cents plus a penny in tax. Guess next week is for big shopping, huh?

Do you have a good way to make rice and beans edible?


  1. See, I had my indoctrination to rice and beans in New Orleans, and it never occurred to me that they could be bland.

  2. Rice, I think, makes everything taste dry-er. Fine when you've got too much sauce, not so great in, say, a burrito...

  3. I never considered rice to be bland... I still havent had beans that were bad (Caribbean food can't ever be bland). Maybe if you added a tablespoon of oil or olive oil (per cup of rice) to the rice? I'm not sure if you already do that, but some people don't. Salt, even if it's a bit, is a must. Would corn be within your budget? You could make yummy yellow rice if you had some. Or even colorful rice with peas, cooked carrots, onions and/or corn.

  4. Rice really only gets dry when it isn't cooked properly, or served soon enough. It's also important to choose the right kind of rice for the dish.

  5. TJ- I've had beans taht were bad, but mainly because the flavor isn't something I like- think black-eyed peas, which taste like dirt to me, no matter how much I wash, cook, or season them. Beans and rice aren't *always* caribbean, either- sometimes they're kinda southwest, sometimes Indian, and sometimes they're just the last two things in the pantry. I usually skip corn because it costs as much as other frozen veg, weight-wise, but offers not much in calories or nutrition. Plus, I only use it in a few things. Do you add the oil while the rice is cooking? doesn't that slow absorption? I'm concerned it would throw off the timing and make the rice burn in the cooker...

    Kim- it's not that the rice is dry as in undercooked, it's that it's dry as in lacking flavor and sucking all moisture out of my mouth. Adding something like butter or oil to it might help, but I suspect I just don't like boring, cheap, grocery store white rice. I don't have as much trouble with basmati or even the super overpriced sushi rice. It's really more of a texture/ flavor problem. If I could find un-enriched rice, that'd probably fix half the problem, but...

  6. I just cook the rice in a regular pan with lid, that might make a difference... We put water to boil with oil and salt and then dump the rice, stir stir stir, lower the fire, cover and let rest in low for another half hour and done. What I meant was that I have yet to see rice done (down where I lived) in a way that would make it bland. :) I am sure the cooker wouldnt mind if you add a bit of spices? After all, a little spice with all that steam moving around should go a long way, same with the salt. I dont think adding oil will affect your cooking, but I've never used a rice cooker before, so... In a pot, rice can be done within 30 minutes. You start with enough water to cover the rice in the pot, so absorbtion doesn't seem to be a problem with oil. Olive oil gives it a bit of extra taste.

    I agree with Kim that the type of rice would affect how it comes out in the end. Do you buy rice in big bulks? We get the 50lb bag of rice... figures. Have never bought anything below 20lbs. At those quantities, I am sure your budget will be hurting while you balance it out, but the bulk prices might allow you to buy some higher quality rice.

  7. J,

    Are you buying converted rice? That is meant to be drier when cooked.

  8. nope, just bog-standard enriched white rice.

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  10. Ever think of having greek style rice? I'll have to look up the recipe myself since I haven't had it in quite a while. While it's cooking in the cooker/pan add olive oil, oregano and lemon juice. I know your vegan but it's super delicous next to broasted oregano/lemon greek chicken. (Man I miss Chicago and Greek town!)