Posted in Room and Board

Scandalous Black Bean Soup


In my search to find the perfect black bean soup recipe, I ended up creating my own.  I have at least ten in my collection, but nothing was . . . quite right.  So it was a little less like this recipe, more like that one, OH! let’s add that . . and the next thing you know I had exactly what I was looking for.  Just in time for Autumn!  The weather channel is talking possible frost in St. Paul this week, but I’ll be warm and toasty, and yes — a little spicy with my black bean soup.

The next task, after creating a recipe, is coming up with a name.  Would you listen to me?  Suddenly I’m a how-to expert on creating recipes!  If you do a search on black bean soup you’re going to find a million options.  Try narrowing your search with spicy black bean soup.  You’re now down to half a million.  Ok, I didn’t really count.  The point is, I needed something to set it apart from the crowd.  Enter the thesaurus!  Synonyms for spicy came up as zesty, tasty, seasoned, blah, blah, blah . . . boring!  Working further down the list I found the word scandalous!  Perfect!


For starters, I use the crock-pot to cook my beans, as touted in The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  The beans are rinsed, covered with water by a few inches, and cooked on low until they are done.  Kathy also mentions that beans can be frozen in 1-1/2 cup portions to use later in recipes that call for a can of beans.  Am I the only one who didn’t know all this?  This book has changed my life!

Scandalous Black Bean Soupdscn0535

1 T. Olive Oil
2 Stalk Celery, diced
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Carrot, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Jalepeno Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 t. Chili Powder
1/4 t. Paprika
1/2 t. Cumin
1-1/2 t. Salt
3/4 t. Pepper
1 pound dry, cooked Black Beans
or 4 cans rinsed and drained Black Beans
1 can diced Tomatoes with Mild Green Chilies
2 c. Vegetable Broth
2 c. Whole Kernel Corn
2 Bay Leaves
2 T. Lime Juice
1/4 t. Cayenne
1 c. chopped Cilantro


Heat olive oil in a stock pot.  Saute celery, onion, and carrot in the oil for 1 minute.  Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.  Stir until well blended and heated through.

Add beans, tomatoes, vegetable broth, corn, and bay leaf.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove soup from heat, discard bay leaves.  Stir in lime juice, cayenne and cilantro.

If desired, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, or fresh cilantro.  Of course you can lower the intensity by decreasing the amount of spices you add, but then you are serving up Spirited Black Bean Soup, or Lively Black Bean Soup.

dscn0559Serves 8

Calories 222, Fat 3 g, Carbs 39 g, Fiber 13 g, Pro 13 g

Posted in Room and Board

Seitan. The Other Non-Meat.


This was bound to happen.  Hang around me long enough and eventually I talk about food.  I made seitan (pronounced SAY-tahn) last weekend.  Prepared primarily from wheat flour, it really has little in common with bread.  Traditionally, the wheat dough is rinsed repeatedly until only the gluten is remaining.  It is a good source of protein and low in fat.  Like everything else, if you make it at home you have more control over what goes into it.

bookThe recipe I used is from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester which calls for vital wheat gluten, and no rinsing is required.  The little dough patties are thrown into a broth and slow-cooked for a few hours.  Simple!  If you are looking for something similar, check out this post by Cathe’s Kitchen.

Because everyone seems to need a label these days, some call people like me flexitarians.  The seitan was made not out of a necessity for a meat alternative, but out of curiosity.  Generally speaking, I really don’t go for fake foods.  I never order chicken “nuggets.”  I don’t like “mock” crab.  I’m not keen on anything “I Can’t Believe It’s Not.”  When I go without meat for a meal it’s because I really prefer the taste of meatless menus.  In my opinion, stir fry doesn’t need meat.  Sandwiches or salads don’t need meat.  Chili doesn’t need meat.  Even burgers don’t need meat.  But if I want a real hamburger, I certainly will eat one.  And if I want crab, by golly I will eat crab and dunk it in real butter!

7888564968_ce51e7acdd1Last night I made nachos with my homemade “Chick’N Seitan.  I pulled out the little patty.  It looked eerily like a real cooked chicken breast.  I sliced it.  It sliced so much like a real chicken breast, that I almost forgot it wasn’t!

I sauteed the seitan with cayenne, cumin, chili powder and paprika and layered it with cheese on some really great tortilla chips.  All the other fixin’s were added, like peppers, onions, and jalapenos before melting the cheese in the microwave.  Lastly, I added shredded red lettuce leaves.7888563478_458a2372161

If I hadn’t been so hungry, I would have remembered to add black beans, corn and salsa.  It was all I could do to take these quick pictures before devouring it all!  I would have added tomatoes and avocados too, but I was fresh out.  I take my nachos seriously.

The verdict?  All in all, the nachos were tasty.  The seitan texture was curiously like chicken.  I still say nachos don’t need meat.  If I happen to want chicken nachos, I will probably make real chicken nachos in the future.

7888562498_f159b453e61Seitan might just be one of those things I have to get used to.  Like tofu.  I used to think of tofu as a meat substitute, and I’ve told you how I feel about substitute food.  But now I think of tofu as . . . TOFU!  I even crave it.  Maybe someday I will say, “You know I could really go for a nice big juicy piece of seitan right now!”