We eat a lot of beans these days now that meat is so expensive and hard to find. As a result of all this bean eating, I've been trying to find a beans and rice recipe that Oliver will not just endure, but love. This is a hard sell. I am realizing now that we eat every meal together just how much our tastebuds differ. I'm the girl who likes simple flavors; pasta with olive oil and a couple seasonings is right up my alley, and I always gravitate toward the plain chips when we buy them. Oliver, however, thinks simple pasta is unappetizing and would rather eat potato chips with fifteen different flavor combinations on them. Add to this the fact that rice and beans are not at all high on his list of fun foods to eat (two years in Brazil at least gave him the ability to appreciate them on some level), and finding something we can both enjoy can be a real challenge at times.
Last night, I found a new recipe that looked sort of like a chili-inspired beans and rice with some extra veggies thrown in. We had nearly everything for it except the green pepper, which seemed crucial. So, I went to the store yesterday in hopes of finding a green pepper for dinner. There were two left, and both had issues, but I picked the best looking one and hope it would be work out. I was perusing the remaining selections in hopes of finding something new when I spied this fine looking specimen:
I about did a happy dance right then and there. Fresh broccoli? And it actually looks fresh?! There were three bunches, but I only took the one I knew we could eat before it got soft. Best to leave some for everyone else to fight over.
Grocery shopping here is very much a treasure hunt. You never quite know what you're going to find when you get there. I've gotten in the habit of buying several when I find something I can freeze or is shelf stable because it could be months before it reappears, if it ever does. Plus, there is always the hope that if it sells out fast, the people running the store might decide to carry it more often.
I tend to plan my meals around what I have or know I can get. My trip to the store yesterday just to buy a meal ingredient was actually a rare event; I typically don't even bother falling in love with a recipe before I know that I have things on hand. I've gotten pretty good at substituting and coming up with things on the fly. (Soup is perfect for this, as is shepherd's pie).
I am glad I was able to buy that green pepper, though. The beans and rice were a big hit with all of us. It's also a very adaptable recipe, so I can change it up if I can't get the same vegetables the next time we decide to have it. That's a huge plus these days.
Here's a link to the recipe in case you are intrigued. I would have taken a picture, but it was all gone by the time I thought to do so. I think the liquids are a little off, and it needed salt according to the reviews I read. I just added about a cup of the bean juice from the beans. I cooked them with a little salt, and that seemed about right.