It’s been a crazy sort of few weeks around our house. Which made it a great time to work on a new slow cooker meal that’s up and cooking a big pot of dinner in not too many minutes at all. Isn’t that how slow cooker recipes should be?! Welcome SLOW COOKER BLACK BEANS WITH CHORIZO AND HAM….just in time for November football games and holiday gatherings…or for just the two of you with a few quarts in the freezer for later. Move over chili, there’s another great pot in the house easy to customize with your very favorite usual suspect toppings, including crushed tortilla chips, red onions, queso fresco or Cheddar, lime crema, tomatoes, avocado, sliced jalapeños, or….
But….why has it been crazy? For quite a while, we’ve barely held our heads above water. Good pun, but you’ll need to know the story. Sad, but true.
You know how when you eat with that same someone in various restaurants over the years, you can nearly look at the menu and figure out what they’ll order? “I knew you’d get that.” Hm. Right again. Such smugness. It’s not totally always, but my husband will regularly choose the fish tacos should they have, like magic (not), appeared on the list. And if he has a choice of beans (pintos or black), he’ll choose black even though at home he swears by my pinto beans. So if I’m one smart cookie, I’ll keep nearly-always-the-choice fish tacos on permanent rotation at our house. And I do. But they need a little tweaking or updating from year to year, especially during FRIDAY FISH weeks. This time, not only did they morph into “Fish Fajitas,” but they’re made in the air fryer. Because I could. But could you bake them in the oven? (See recipe) Of course. Might you fry them in oil? Sure. But I hope you’ll choose the air fryer method. It’s fast; it’s healthy; it’s fun.
Last year, I made a ham for Super Bowl Sunday and was never happier than I was with that choice for a big game day spread. Rolls and biscuits, butter (think a sorta-kinda American jambon-buerre, though ham and biscuits -with butter- is a world unto itself in the American south), spicy mustard, all the cheese you’d need, and tons of pickles. A few basic sides…oh, wings, of course… and we were good to go. But the best part may have been what came a couple of days after the baked ham, which was a big pot of ham and beans with a fresh pan of hot cornbread.
While I’m not a football fan, I’m happy to provide the halftime food, reading the Sunday New York Times for the rest of the afternoon while everyone else yells at the tv. And if you’re skipping game day all together, as some do, you can still make my ham and beans because they’re good just about any time and not much is simpler to cook or clean up as it’s a one-pot meal.
Of course it’s holiday time. And while we’re busy with festivities, trying to get cookies baked, attempting to find or wrap gifts, spreading words of good cheer, going to concerts, figuring out if we’re naughty or nice (I know what I am) and maybe even decorating the house, we still have to eat. Magazines, newspapers, tv shows, and social media feeds are full of cheeseballs topped with red and green peppers, hard-looking painted sugar cookies (not my style), and awesome instructions for making the perfect Christmas day roast beef, should you be able to afford one. But right now we’re still wondering, “What’s for dinner?” If you’re anything like me, you feel like a very rich woman indeed when a slow cooker is bubbling away all day in the kitchen promising dinner minus the 5pm shuffle to the fridge and the eye-roll glance into the pantry to see what you can come up with. Dinner’s a done deal. You could have skied or shopped all day because come 6 o’clock, there’s nothing left to do but grab a bowl, get a spoon, and pour the wine. And if you love spit pea soup, but never make it, my simple version’s the one for you. There’s a tish of prep before you dump — an unfortunate cooking expression if ever there was one — everything in the pot and push the start button, but I promise it’s not much and offers greatly increased taste. So don’t skip it, ok?
If you drove through Colorado north to south and west to east, you would be fairly amazed at the amount of farmland in the state most often thought of as full of rocky mountains or The Rocky Mountains! You would also be overwhelmed with the beauty of our land.
Next to my reading chair I typically keep a big, messy stack of books and magazines; sometimes the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES rests there until the next Sunday rolls around. In the pile are that month’s book club books (I try and keep up with three book clubs plus a cookbook club, though I often don’t succeed) along with another new one or two someone’s told me about or loaned me. If I’m really lucky, and I often am, I also keep a precious something I can read piecemeal, a tiny bit at a time when I need to get off my feet or have an extra 10 minutes before needing to stir a pot or leave for an appointment.
When the corn is way higher than “knee-high at the Fourth of July,”and is, in fact, “as high as an elephant’s eye” (that would be right now), it’s time to use every little bit of it without delay. The very best corn is cooked within a few hours of being picked or even sooner if you’re lucky enough to own a corn field, but if there’s an ear or two in the fridge cooked yesterday or even fresh corn that’s been refrigerated for longer than it should be (tsk, tsk), skip the corn-on-the cob side and and make my Fresh Corn and Bacon Salsa. (Of course really fresh corn is also totally acceptable!) Perfect with salty, crispy-crunchy tortilla chips, it’s even better as a black bean soup topping–or how about on chili?
Every year on January 2, many people around the world wake upknowing they’re just one cookie away from a bigger pants size. Gyms memberships rise, WW (Weight Watchers) Workshop chairs fill up, and dog walkers double their pet’s exercise along with their own. I began WW for the 4th (5th?) time just before the start of December, so while I didn’t wait until after the Christmas fudge tin was empty, I did move into this arena right upon finishing the last piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
Sometimes holidays are not what you planned. Often they take on a life of their own. Perhaps that’s what Christmas is all about. Welcoming or being open to something new, something loving, maybe even moving on from what you thought you had to have.