Musical pairing – You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song), Jeffrey Osborne
There is a running joke in the family that The Professor and I never dated . . . and we didn’t . . . even though we spent quite a bit of time together, it was never, ever called ‘a date’. Once we decided we were getting married, the wedding took place within 10 days – yes, you read that correctly, 10 days and it was quite lovely. But the first meal The Professor ever cooked for me (on a ‘non-date’ night of course) is still one of my all-time favorites and always takes me back to that house on 38th Street, the galley kitchen and the cute little dining room with hardwood floors.
Black Beans & Rice, packaged salad mix, non-fat bottled Italian dressing, a roll with ‘lite’ butter and non-fat ice cream for dessert; he was eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet and I was eating a full-on fat, lots-of-meat diet. It gives us both a good laugh whenever we talk about it but he cooked for me people, and he was wooing me even if he didn’t realize it. I moved into that house after we were married and together we created a home. There were a multitude of meals made in that kitchen – some triumphs and some major fails . . . uhm, like the dish created by The Professor which included barbecue sauce and dried chickpeas that hadn’t been soaked . . . but hey, I count myself lucky – his mother reports that, as a young boy, he used her blender to grind up worms, seeds and heaven-knows-what to feed a baby bird he had found. And that’s exactly what I love about The Professor, he’s fearless when it comes to trying new things!
But there were also some terrific meals prepared in that kitchen as well; things like Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Remoulade, Hummingbird Cake, Strawberry Angel Food Cake, Pork Chops with Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce, coconut cream pies, strawberry jams and Spaghetti. We had wonderful gatherings and parties in that house too: Grandma’s 80th birthday party, Mother’s Day Brunches, a sister-in-law’s birthday that involved a ‘Jenny Gymnast’ doll (get Cheryl going and it’s laughter so hard that tears stream and you find yourself wishing you’d worn Depends), Easter suppers and a Thanksgiving meal for 15 where we were packed so tight in that dining room, that if anyone needed a potty break, everyone had to stand up to let you pass. Happy sigh . . . such wonderful, wonderful memories and ones that I will always cherish.
I’m still a meat-eater but much, much less these days; The Professor now eats meat as well and I’ve recruited him over to the dark side of full-fat, real food (using less) rather than a bunch of artificial and chemically altered fats. Our palettes are always eager to explore the culture and world around us. Oysters, duck, bison and vegetables like ramp, patty-pan zucchini, kale or tomatillos and even some of the old standards like meatloaf or pot roast have been given a unique twist using a few new ingredients or techniques. And 12 years later, he still cooks for me.
What food memories do you have about dating or ‘non-dating’ whether it’s one you cooked or ate at a restaurant?
By the way, the musical pairing was covered by The Professor’s 80s band, ‘The Colour Scheme’ – ahhhh, memories!
THE PROFESSOR’S BLACK BEANS & RICE
Adapted from who knows where – but if you do, please let me know so we can credit
1 Small Onion, diced approx ½ Cup
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 15-ounce can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Cup Cooked Rice; we usually use leftover brown rice OR 1 pkg Trader Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Cumin (optional)
Garnish with Green Onion and/or Cilantro, rough chop, approx 1-2 Tablespoons (optional)
In a non-stick pan, add oil, onion, minced garlic; season with a small pinch of salt and pepper, sauté over medium heat until onions are soft. Add leftover rice OR Trader Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice; season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until rice is heated through; add black beans, another small pinch of salt and pepper and the Cumin if using, stir to combine all the ingredients. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until everything is heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and cilantro if using and serve.
SMITH BITES NOTES: Most of the time, we serve this as a side to any type of Southwestern meal: enchiladas, tacos, etc. But you can certainly add it to any type of burrito filling or you can add chicken, pork, beef or shrimp to the rice mixture and serve as a main dish.