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!


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.


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  5. Yes, mom – our little instigator! But I’d say we’ve done alright these past 12 years!

  6. The song makes me homesick for the band practicing in our basement.

  7. Okay, Mom will have to set this story straight. NO ONE would eat anything blended in our blender after the blended worm incident. I came home from an evening meeting and saw a plastic container in the frig. with a note on top that said: “Don’t Eat – bird food.” Now, these birds were a still science experiment eggs that had not hatched as yet. (and they never did.) And I am responsible for that wedding! They called and said they were going to Florida together for spring break. I said, “Well, you might as well get married and make it a honeymoon.” So they did.

  8. Barbara ~ I’ve just loved the responses I’ve received about husbands/partners cooking! Such sweet memories and some pretty good laughs too – and kudos to your husband on the crab cakes! I’ll add the mojo sauce to our dish next time – I think that will add just the right ‘tweak!’

  9. Loved your story here. I tried to remember what my husband first “cooked” for me, but we’ve been together since high school, it’s been 40 years since then, etc. Maybe a PBJ sandwich? Cheese and crackers? He cooked sensational fresh crab cakes last night, though.

    My thanks to “the professor” for the BB and rice recipe, which is considered comfort food here in FL. A tot of mojo sauce added to the dish also works well.

  10. Susan ~ I’m thinking that taking on Moo Goo Gai Pan while dating gives him a pass for at least a couple of years . . . not sure a 24 year pass . . . I did, however, laugh out loud at the clean up scene! I’ve had more fun with this post than any so far!!

  11. What a coincidence! I have some black beans simmering on the stove right now. I loved your story. After 24 years of marriage, I have similar recollections. The first (and only) meal my husband ever cooked for me was Moo Goo Gai Pan when we were dating. It took about 3 hours for him to prepare it, and another 2 hours to clean up the mess in the kitchen! He never cooked again. Sigh…..

  12. Love this meal! I am following you on Twitter now! Great site!

  13. Thank you so much Mary – I’m glad you enjoyed the story and I’m happy to know you’ll be back!

  14. What a wonderful story. The beans ain’t bad either. I found your blog by chance but I’ll be back often.I really love what you are doing here. Blessings…Mary

  15. Oh Kim ~ My eyes are all misty! Cut from the same cloth, we are! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  16. First, these look lovely!

    Second, I have to share my story. We didn’t “date,” either. One day, Mr. RGBistro invited me over for a casual dinner… kind of an informal first date. I brought a bottle of wine, some St. Agur bleu cheese and a baguette. After dinner, I insisted on helping him clean up. He watched me put all the forks into one dishwasher cubby hole, all the knives in another dishwasher cubby hole, etc. and said, “I thought I was the only one that did that!!!” I looked at him and said, Really?! I thought I was the only one that did that?!?!?!”

    Seriously? A man who organizes the utensils in his dishwasher?

    I might have stayed over that night. Moved in within 30 days. We’ve been together ever since…

    Love, love, love…

    I’ll never forget that night!


  17. Ooooo, Marly – you said the magic word around here – POTATO! Makes my mouth water just thinking about the possibility of adding potatoes to this – YUM! Thanks for stopping by and saying ‘hey!’

  18. This looks delicious. My husband makes something similar, but he adds diced potatoes to it as well. I like how you serve it on a soft taco shell too. Great recipe!

  19. Sweetlife – I really cherish those memories and I absolutely love that we still cook together now; I know I’m really fortunate cuz’ there aren’t too many husbands who will. Thanks for visiting!

  20. what a great recipe and story..I love date nights that include food prep..oh those dates…memories

    nice blog

  21. Great job Barbara – that you made sure ALL your children knew about food! Both my sons enjoying cooking so it’s something we share, which is quite nice! Thanks for visiting!

  22. Loved your post! My husband knew absolutely NOTHING about cooking and still doesn’t. Funny. It’s OK, I’m used to it. But I made certain all my kids knew about food and knew how to cook. My daughter is a more adventurous cook than I, so I did a good job! And both my boys can put out a good meal.
    I’d’ rather avoid worms and seeds but think your guy did a super job with the black beans and rice!

  23. Audrey ~ I love that you cook AND that your husband encourages you to keep trying – don’t give up!!! Writing this piece helped to remind me of where we’ve been and it’s exciting to think about all the food experiences/memories we’ll share together in the future.

  24. OH I love this entry, such a fresh appealing recipe! When my husband and I were also non-dating (we did something very similar to you guys) I used to make him these awful horrible “meals”. I couldn’t cook, and have just recently started learning over the past couple of years. So I would make undercoooked brown rice and overcooked vegetables and these horrible fajita things…I don’t even know what to call them, but they were fried with cheese, cheese, cheese. But he would always eat them and give me these sincere compliments and I think it was so heartwarming to him that I even wanted to cook him a meal. I’m getting better at cooking now, but you’d think I was a master chef on the day we met the way he treated me. Kind of makes me teary to think about how much love and food go together…

  25. Thanks Rowdy Chowgirl – full-fat and life are TOTALLY worth celebrating!!

  26. Hooray for full-fat, real food and the sweethearts who cook for us! What a lovely story.

  27. Your photo of black bean and rice looks very appetizing. One of my favorite meal is black bean and rice as well. Also, your story is wonderfully presented. A related post on how to make black beans from scratch is at You may find it useful. In there no seasoning was used.

  28. Happy to inspire you on a Monday morning, Cindy!

    Carol ~ Whoda Thunk indeed!

    Sasa ~ Sooooooo true about ‘low-fat’ stuff – they should ALL be destroyed!! We only use organic, no-hormone milk in our recipes and don’t really drink the stuff; started using Almond or Soy in coffee about a year ago and like it quite well. And isn’t it a funny thing about ‘dating?’

  29. I’ve always been a non-dater, it might be a Kiwi thing – I just seem to be in a relationship all of a sudden ;P Glad you converted The Professor away from low-fat. Low fat versions of full fat products (except maybe milk) are evil and must be destroyed.

  30. …..and it is no joke – you didn’t date and you did get married in the blink of an eye! Whoda thunk.. : )

  31. omigosh-looking at this made my stomach growl! I am making this today!


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