Friday, July 29, 2011

Cool Beans!

Visitas de las Hermanas - Amado Peña

Today, Gene and I saw part of a fascinating episode of the show, Modern Marvels, entitled “Beans”, featured on the History Channel.  The topic is always one of interest, since Gene and I like eating beans so much.

The most popular bean worldwide is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea. Cooked, mashed garbanzo beans are the primary ingredient of hummus, a wonderful, creamy dip originating in the Middle East. Rich in vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6, hummus is an excellent source of fiber and protein, and is traditionally served with pita bread. You can find hummus in your local grocery store, and for a healthy snack, try it with baked pita chips, celery and carrots. Yum!

Below are links to a couple of delicious-sounding recipes using chickpeas that I’m going to try soon:

The second most popular bean in the world is the Pinto Bean, and most of us have tasted this wonderful bean in Mexican cuisine as refried beans. Interestingly, refried beans aren’t fried at all! Check out this interesting Food Tech video on the making of refried beans:

One of my most favorite pinto bean recipes comes from my friend, Drew, in Gatesville, Texas:

Miss Drew’s Beans
3 lbs. pinto beans
1 lb. bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I use maple-flavored bacon)
2 onions, chopped
3 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles
1 or 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

1. Wash and rinse the amount of beans you want to cook.
2. Using 1 quart of water for each cup of beans, cook up a big pot of pinto beans according to the package.
3. Do not add seasoning while cooking the beans.
4. If you pre-soaked the beans, cooking time will be 1 to 1 ½ hours. If you did not pre-soak the beans, cooking time will be 2 to 2 ½ hours. Stir occasionally, making sure beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, and add additional water if necessary.
5. Fry bacon and onion until cooked (bacon will not be crispy). Do not burn onions.
6. Add bacon and onion mixture (including bacon grease) to beans.
7. Add 3 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles.
8. Add chopped cilantro.
9. Salt to taste.
10. Cook 30 more minutes and serve hot. Enjoy!

Amado Peña

Amado Peña, renowned Southwest artist, created a painting, entitled Tres Hermanas, which depicts the Three Sisters – maize, beans and squash. These were the staples of the Ancient Pueblo People, as well as some of the later tribes, such as the Zuni, Hopi and Navaho.

Tres Hermanas - Amado Peña

The Native Americans used companion planting. First, they buried rotten fish, which acted as a fertilizer, in a mound with maize seeds. Once the stalks reached a certain height, they planted beans, which wrapped around the maize stalk. The beans provided nitrogen to the soil, and the stalk served as a pole up which the beans would grow. Squash plants encircled the base of the maize and beans to retain moisture in the ground, to provide ground cover, preventing sunlight from encouraging weed growth, and as a deterrent to pests due to the prickly hairs of the vine.

One cannot write about beans without mentioning the oh-so-dreaded side effect, flatulence. So, how can we prevent flatulence from beans? Try this tip while cooking your beans. Or, try Beano®, an enzyme-based, dietary supplement, used to reduce gas in the intestinal tract, thereby reducing flatulence. Beano® was developed by Alan Kligerman of AkPharma in 1990. He created this formula while researching lactates in an effort to provide a solution for people, who are lactose-intolerant. The man was a genius!

And, speaking of geniuses, Benjamin Franklin outlined the easiest of all solutions in the eloquent essay he wrote around 1781 entitled, “A Letter To A Royal Academy”:

“It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind. That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it. That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.”

Eat Beans & Hold Your Wind, Y’all!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Let 'Em Get Your Goat!

Last week, I paid a long overdue visit to my friend, Paula Tarver, who raises goats and chickens in her backyard. I’ve wanted to see the animals for some time now. Coincidentally, it was milking time for the nanny goat, and she was udderly ready!

Paula Tarver milking Eve

The goats were amazingly tame and friendly, enjoying a good scratch on the head and back (just like dogs). This up-close exposure to these very interesting animals caused me to ponder more upon goats.

The Tarver Milking Setup

Goats will eat just about anything in their path and I know a number of families in the country that raise goats to manage the brush levels on their ranches. When I was young, we sang songs during road trips, and one of our favorites was “Bill Grogan’s Goat”. To jar your memory about this infamous goat, click on the video below:

Ever heard the phrase, “get your goat”? It’s an idiom that originated in the early 1900s in American literature, which means to make annoyed or angry. According to The Phrase Finder, an alternate explanation of the phrase's origin stated that goats were placed with racehorses in order to keep them calm. When an evildoer wanted the racehorse to run badly, they would “get your goat”. However, there’s no evidence to support this latter theory.

Allergic to cow’s milk? Try goat's milk! Many individuals who are allergic to cow’s milk may be able to tolerate goat's milk and goat cheese. (However, people with lactose intolerance may still be unable to drink goat milk.) Although research studies have not been able to prove exactly why goat milk may be more easily digested by people allergic to cow’s milk, some studies indicate that cow’s milk contains certain alpha-casein proteins, lacking in goat's milk that can cause allergies.

Goat's milk has also been found to contain anti-inflammatory compounds that may benefit individuals suffering from asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic ear infections and eczema. Goat's milk is also an excellent source of calcium, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), potassium and protein!

Photo by Melissa Schneider
One of my most favorite cheeses is goat cheese. I love to crumble goat cheese in my salads. The tangy, interesting flavor of goat cheese is not as overpowering and sharp as blue cheese can be, and has just as many uses.

Photo by Melissa Schneider

The first time I ever tried goat cheese was on a gourmet pizza! Knowing all the benefits, we should all eat more goat cheese. Try sprinkling it on your soup or bake it on top of a sliced tomato. Yum!

For those meat eaters, there’s always goat meat, also known as cabrito or chevron. The Onion Creek Ranch, near Buda, TX, specializes in raising meat goats, the Tennessee Meat Goat™ in fact. Although I haven’t personally indulged, I am always “game” for new meats and foods. Click here to read about a great-sounding Cabrito Guisado recipe!

“Don’t approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side.” –Yiddish Proverb

“He who lets the goat be laid on his shoulders is soon after forced to carry the cow” –Italian Proverb

“If you put a silk dress on a goat he is a goat still.” --Irish Proverb

No Goats, No Glory, Y’all!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Simmering Summer Cold Remedies

On Friday just after leaving the Austin TX Chapter IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) monthly meeting, (which was very informative and interesting), I stopped off at Marshalls for a bargain-hunting shopping fix. I needed another set of workout togs and a new pair of tennis shoes.

Just as I spied a spectacular pair of Saucony athletic shoes, which I bought for $20 less than the last place I saw them, I began to sneeze...and sneeze...and sneeze.  I was gettin' blessed by all kinds of people. 

"Bless you!"

Well, it's time to cash in all those blessings, because I have definitely caught something crummy!  My head feels like somebody stuffed it full of cotton. My chest is cinched tight. I can't lay down without the sensation of drowning in my own sinus pools.  And, today, this crud has moved down to my throat and is threatening to invade my lungs. 

So, I've pulled out all the stops.  This morning began with a dose of nose spray, Listerine, Alka-Seltzer Cold & Flu Daytime, Loratadine (for allergies), Mucinex (the miracle mucus pill), a workout at Planet Fitness followed by a protein and "greens" shake, krill oil, and last, but not least - NeilMed Sinus Rinse.  You may recognize the name NeilMed® as the maker of the infamous Neti Pot.  (I, however, could never allow myself to use anything called a "neti pot".  That just sounds wrong to me.)

With all the medication I have doused down my throat today, it's a wonder I'm not comatose.  And, at the end of Day 2, I'm still sick.  The best I felt today was at the funeral we attended (R.I.P. Tony & Sussie Herrera), and even then I was having hot flashes throughout the entire service, which was beautiful and uplifting.

The odd thing is that I'm happy as a clam! (Are clams really happy? Click here to find out.)

Sniffling, snuffling, snorting, sick and smiling.  Weird, huh?  Yeah, I know.  I could win the Weird Woman Award and wear the ribbon with pride stuck to my forehead. 

I welcome any of your granny's or your own homegrown remedies for a summer sinus cold.  However, with 100+ temperatures here in Austin, chicken noodle soup is definitely out of the question. 

Pass the Kleenex, Y'all!