Stepping Out

Ok, so at the ripe old age of 63 this is my first serious attempt at blogging.  My motivation is driven by my desire to participate in Tuesdays with Dorie (They’ve already baked through one of Dorie Greenspan’s book and are starting on Baking with Julia in February).  I’m also recovering from a nasty femur fracture that I experienced in November so I’m hoping this will push me to get moving and back in the kitchen.  My posts will probably be a little stiff at the beginning but please bear with me as I cut my teeth on this new experience.
I’ll start with a little about me since this is my blog and I guess it can be “all about me”.  I spent 32 years in education as a teacher and administrator.  After I retired three years ago I decided to pursue some of the things I had always wanted to do, but had never had the time for.  The most important of these was to enjoy my five grandchildren and the second one was to attend culinary school.  I graduated from the Culinary School of Fort Worth in August of 2010 with the Chef Pro certificate and completed the Pastry Pro requirements in May 2011.  I have been working there as a class assistant since August of 2010.  Enough about me.  Now on to the food which is why we are really here.
My first post needed to be something simple so we’re staring with classic Texas Pinto Beans.  Start with a sack (1 pound bag) of pintos (Sorry since I’m new at this I forgot the picture, but you know what they look like…the little brownish spotted things.)  Be sure to sort through them on your prep surface and pull out any little lava looking rocks that might be there.  Give them a good rinsing in a colander then put in a Dutch oven size pan with lots of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Allow the beans to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Pour back into the colander and rinse again.  This sounds a little silly, I know, but it does eliminate the need to purchase Gas-X to serve for dessert. 🙂
Now, on to the good stuff that will make your house smell wonderful.  You will need:
1 onion, medium dice
2 stalks celery, medium dice
Several cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 strips of Bacon cut in thin strips
1 can Rotel Tomatoes
6 cups water
1/2 T. Ground Cumin
Bay Leaves
1 bunch fresh Cilantro
Kosher Salt
Ground Pepper

On medium-high heat render the bacon in the Dutch oven you just used (Render is just a fancy word for frying it a little bit.)  When the bacon is sizzling really good.  Add the onion and celery and cook stirring occasionally until they are softened.  Add the garlic, continuing to stir for 30 seconds to a minute. Add cumin, and cook and stir another minute.  Return beans to the pan, add water, Rotel tomatoes and bay leaves.  Give everything a good stir.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once bubbles start forming reduce heat to low and simmer beans covered for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring from time to time.

Walk outside for a few minutes and when you walk back inside you’ll smell the most amazing aroma.  Taste your beans and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Most likely they will need quite a lot of salt. 
Pull out the bay leaves.
Add chopped, fresh cilantro.  My family likes a lot of this!
You can serve as a side using a slotted spoon to drain off the liquid or use a ladle and serve in bowls like soup.  Either way they are delicious plain or dressed with sweet relish, and/or diced or minced fresh onion or jalapeño.
Add some cornbread or toasted and buttered, chewy, whole grain bread.      
 Such a delicious, simple meal!!!
Whew!!  The meal was easy but actually writing it down was a lot more difficult for me.  Hope you enjoyed my first post and will continue to follow my food and family escapades.  I’m very excited to be a part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group and look forward to sharing many wonderful days in the kitchen with you.