Thursday, March 8, 2012

Comfort yourself with pinto beans and corn cakes

The hail came suddenly on Friday evening, along with a wind that pummeled everything from a dangerous angle—not quite sidewise but on its way. We were in a restaurant surrounded by glass windows. Not a good place to be if a tornado hits. So when the hail subsided, we got into the truck for the 2-mile drive home. As we looked ahead, however, we saw a dark sky and we plowed into golf ball-sized hail.

We finally arrived home safely and spent the next two hours watching storm coverage on television and running into the cellar the three times that the tornado siren blared. The high winds caused damage but nothing like what they turned into as they traveled into eastern Kentucky. The tornados there ravaged the town of West Liberty, destroyed buildings in Salyersville, including the Catholic church, and wrought so much destruction that people didn’t know how to begin cleaning up.

Sometimes Mother Nature is not kind. My soggy garden and ripped greenhouse is a mere inconvenience compared to my neighbors in the mountains. As I pray for those who lost their homes, businesses and loved ones in the storm, I bring you a more comforting bit of Kentucky to warm you.

One of the first meals I remember after moving here was pinto beans and corn bread. I was lucky to marry a man who knows how to make a marvelous pinto bean soup. This week’s simple meal includes the soup and my friend Joyce’s honey corn cakes. On her blog, you’ll find the recipe along with her reflections, as someone who lives in the affected region, about the storm.

Jim’s Pinto Beans

Put 2 lb. dry pinto beans into a 2 gallon pot. Fill it 2/3 full with water and add 1 TBSP baking soda. Stir. Bring to boil. When the beans float, strain.

Add fresh water, 1 large chopped onion and 1 TBSP salt. Although this isn’t essential, it tastes better if you add either a ham hock, bacon or bacon grease. Bring to boil. When they reach a hard boil, turn to medium for a soft, rolling boil. Check beans once in awhile to see if you need to add more water. Beans should remain covered with water. Cook one hour or longer until beans are soft. How long that takes will depend on how fresh the beans are.

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