It’s a cool, rainy day in the south today. Fall is definitely here and within days there will be beautiful fall foliage exploding across the hills. That is if the heat this year didn’t do too much damage. Well, I’m expecting the best, so whether we have lots of color, or a little less than usual, I just know it will be beautiful and I’m excited!
Because I have the freedom to work from home, today just seemed like a good day to stay inside. So, along with making phone calls, sending emails, updates, and doing a little inventory, my thoughts naturally wandered to the more domestic challenges of the day.
I managed to do several loads of laundry and thought about what to do with the sausage in the refrigerator that needed to be used. Notice, I didn’t say “cooked,” because it’s already cooked. It really Just needs to be heated. Okay, it’s processed turkey sausage. Ugh. Anyway, there were also a few cans of red beans in the pantry, so I thought Red Beans and Rice sounded pretty tasty, as well as quick and easy. At least as far as my version is concerned.
I’m not an exotic cook, and I don’t fry foods. Sautee? Sometimes. Fry? Never. There’s nothing self-righteous about it, though. I just don’t care much for fried foods and, mostly, I can’t stand the mess.
I do like to try new things now and then, but I try to stick to things that are somewhat healthy. Not that exotic food isn’t healthy food, it just takes a lot more time and energy, and grocery shopping. Basically, it just takes more time.
When our son was at home (and usually with friends) and we had more get-togethers, I committed more time preparing meals. I learned to keep the basics on hand and that makes it so much easier to throw something together quickly.
When I cooked more often, we ate lots of grilled fish, chicken, and an occasional steak, that is when my husband cooked the steaks. His are the best. Otherwise, I tried to mix it up a little more by putting a healthier twist on the less healthy fare, and I tried new recipes way more often than I do now. Actually, we still eat like this.
I used to cook about five times a week and even milled my own wheat to make bread, muffins, pancakes, etc. Now I cook maybe once a week, because on an ordinary day it’s usually just my husband and me. Mostly, we eat out. But if I cook, I just try to do something healthy, easy, and quick. And he basically eats whatever I cook, so I’m lucky in that way.
He’s probably just happy to have food. He likes to eat it two or three times a day. To be fair, though, he fixes (we say it like that in the south) his own breakfast, picks up his own lunch, and before he comes home in the evening, he calls me to see if he needs to stop and pick up anything for dinner.
Did I mention I’m lucky? He’s very low maintenance. Lucky for both of us!
Back to dinner. I couldn’t quite remember how to season the Red Beans & Rice, so when I don’t have a recipe handy, or don’t want to spend the time searching through cookbooks, then I “Bing” or “Google” whatever it is I’d like to cook. I will generally find a long version and a short version of recipes, then I look to see what I have on hand to revise it accordingly.
In other words, my recipes are seldom, if ever, exact. Exact recipes are for baking. Otherwise, it’s the inexact science (or art?) of cooking for me.
I found my starting point right here , which gave me the minimum ingredients I could get by with in order to consider it Red Beans and Rice.
I had a tiny red bell pepper that someone had given me from their garden, so I sliced it and sautéed it along with some diced celery. Then I added the cut up sausage.
After that, I pretty much followed the recipe.
Well, sort of. I also added some Gumbo File (sounds like fee-lay), a dash of Creole Seasoning, salt, pepper, some thyme, a tiny bit of red pepper, and a bay leaf.
There is one more thing, and this is gonna sound so weird that I almost don’t want to admit it. I added a dash, and I mean like one little sprinkle, of cinnamon. Sounds weird, huh? I don’t know why I did it, but it tasted fine. More than a tiny sprinkle would have ruined it, though, because even at that I could tell it was in there. You could leave that out.
Oh, and I didn’t use white rice, I used instant brown. I don’t know if it makes any difference, being instant and all, but the fact that it was brown rice made me feel like I was making something healthier. My advice to anyone who can’t stand brown rice? Don’t use it. Go for the white. Why ruin an otherwise good meal with something that will ruin it for you? (Perhaps eat a little less of the white?)
This was so quick and easy. All I really did, after sautéing the bell pepper, celery, and sausage, was add everything to the pot and let it simmer for a while. Of course, the rice was cooked separately. That’s it! We’ve got beans, veggies, herbs, a whole grain. That’s a healthy meal, right?
One other confession, in addition to the cinnamon, is that we would not be having this for dinner if Daisy was here. Dinner would be cheese pizza, spaghetti (no sauce for her, she only likes butter on her pasta), or a Taco Bell soft taco. Or McDonald’s. That girl loves McDonald’s. Really, I think it’s just the play area that she likes.
Whatever she wants (most of the time), I’m down with it. Any day of the week.
Her mom and dad can fuss with her about food. Gigi doesn’t do that.