By Stephanie Politte
It was bound to happen. With as much use as my trusty 10-cup food processor sees on a weekly basis, its demise was a sure bet, at some point. Apart from my knives, that processor was my favorite kitchen tool. Some of my go-to menu items simply can’t come to be without it. But alas, right in the middle of shredding some carrots, the motor burned out. It’s just disappointing, you know? There are very few belongings in my house that I really feel attached to, but for some reason the things I use in the kitchen are near and dear. And when you’ve got one really broken in, it’s hard to say goodbye.
I am on a mission to replace it, but so far I’ve been unable to find the same make and model. I will likely have to settle for the new and improved version, and I’m sure we’ll come to love each other. But it’s kind of like splitting the crotch seam area in your favorite jeans and realizing you have to finally admit they’re history, then trying to move on with a new pair of jeans that just doesn’t have that lived-in feel. I have temporarily purchased an old 8-cup processor for $4 at a garage sale to get me by until I meet Mr. Right. It is less than impressive, but better than nothing.
I know a few people who don’t have a food processor, or even worse, say they have one and have never used it. I’m not sure whether to be disappointed in their decision-making capabilities, or just sad for their quality of life. How are people functioning without the use of a food processor!!????
Have you seen how fast these things can shred a block of cheese?? (And I know you can just buy shredded cheese, but did you know that packaged shredded cheese contains something called cellulose, which is basically sawdust added for the purpose of avoiding clumping? Mmmm… sawdust.) Just think of the rich, delicious fondue you could whip up with all that beautifully shredded cheese. And it’s going to melt better without the cellulose. Potatoes! Shred two potatoes lickity-split to make your savory breakfast potato cake, with green onions, parmesan cheese and garlic fried to a crisp and topped with a dollop of sour cream? And what’s trendier (or tastier) than hot wing dip right now? Sure, you can buy a can of chunked chicken to make yours, you know, if you’re comfortable with putting slimy, pink, weird canned chicken in your dish. Ewww. Why do that when you could bake a couple of chicken breasts and pulse them a few times in the processor and toss normal, white meat, identifiable chicken in your party-favorite dip? Zucchini bread??? Apple carrot kugel? Homemade breadcrumbs? Perfect cucumber slices for your veggie tray. Pureed steamed carrots for your baby. A way to “hide” the onions from your picky eaters. Need I go on?
But the one thing I can’t do without, the one thing that my children eat without complaining, is homemade refried beans. We feast on this scrumtrulescent culinary offering on nearly a weekly basis. You may be thinking “that’s not my bag.” However, you are wrong. Many people who have always despised refried beans (such as myself) have tasted this recipe and forever changed their minds. My 2 year old, Campbell, will eat her weight in this stuff if I let her. (And for a kid with several food allergies, I sometimes oblige as refried beans are on the “safe” list.) Even my husband, who opposes refried beans fervently, enjoys this dish:
1 lb dry pinto beans
1 pkg onion soup mix (or 1 medium yellow onion, diced)
1 tsp salt plus ½ tsp
Rinse beans thoroughly in colander and place colander in larger bowl
Fill to top with water, soak overnight
Drain and re-rinse beans in morning
Place beans in large pot with lid or dutch oven
Add onion and salt
Fill to 1 in below top of pot with water
Turn heat to medium high and bring to boil, uncovered
Boil for 40 min, stirring occasionally
Add water as needed if water level isn’t above the beans
Cover with lid and reduce heat to medium low
Cook for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed
Remove beans with a spider or strainer and place in food processor
Add ½ tsp salt and ¼ cup bean liquid
Process until smooth
We like to enjoy them as part of taco night, or for lunch on a corn tortilla with a little shredded cheese and hot sauce, or as the base for Mexicali Bean Dip (a recipe for another post), or for Campbell- in a bowl with a spoon.
The smell in your house as you cook these beans will knock your socks off! I love the way they make the house smell. When I want to kick it up, I add a 4 oz can of diced green chiles right before I puree them. So good!
Even if you are not a fan of refried beans, I challenge you to give this recipe a try. They are filling, full of protein, and heart-healthy. Besides that they taste amazing. So, step up to the plate and take a swing. You just might decide to change your mind with regard to this oft avoided treat. You probably need a change of pace with your current menu, anyway.
What food do you enjoy that others seem to side-step? Do you have a recipe for it that you think would change the minds of naysayers?