Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rice and Beans

Recently I have been caught in that gap between being a MOM and being a professional.  Sometimes the two worlds work really well together and sometimes they don't.

I recently read an article about a blogger who was sued for her opinion.  Granted it was a pretty strong opinion(s) and it went too far. $2.3 million has gotta hit you pretty hard in the pocketbook.

I then read an article about the "forbidden word list".  Really?  I had no idea a list even existed.

I loved the article about home bloggers not being Chefs.  (rolling eyes)  Don't get me wrong, I understand the difference between the two but do we have to always elevate ourselves above another human.  Not to mention I have many blogging friends who are indeed chefs too.

Then there are the countless articles about balancing career and motherhood.  My opinion is that some of us do it very well and some don't.  Then there are those of us in the middle that could easily qualify as a circus act.  You know the one, she spins all of these plates on long wooden dowels hoping that they don't fall.  She has perfected the art of keeping them all spinning, maybe not all fast, but they keep moving.

I felt a little overwhelmed this week with so much information being thrown my way. I actually started to doubt myself on so many levels.  

The simple truth is this.  I blog about food.  I take pictures.  I create recipes.  I make other bloggers recipes.  I am a Mom first.  A wife.  I write.  I share.  I am happy.

I don't need validation from another journalist, because quite simply I don't have a journaling degree. I just love to tell the stories that are surrounded around the food that I make and eat.  I have to remind myself that I started this blog for my kids, my nieces, and nephews…my family.  I write for them and for my readers. 

 Do I make mistakes?  Absolutely. 

 Do I use stupid words like…yummy, EVOO (technically not a word..but it was on the list), foodie, etc

It's who I am.  

I don't need to compete with chefs.   I have cooked for 30+ years.  I am by all respects a home cook and proud of this fact.  I learned from my grandmother and Mom. Believe me, if I had to do a few things over in my life, I would have gone to school to become a chef.  Back then, my passion for food was different and I chose to focus on different things, like photography.   I think what got me the most was last night I watched Chopped.  They had a very experienced chef up against one young girl in particular who was still "learning" to be a chef.  She was humble and grateful.  I loved watching her.  The other was pompous and rude.  He was shocked when he lost to someone of her "abilities".

To the chefs of the world: I am not trying to take your job.  I value your cookbooks and buy them frequently.  I love your cooking shows.  Many of you are my heroes in the kitchen.  With this said though,  am I not allowed to attempt making a few of the things that you make without being looked down upon for "copying" a recipe?  It's challenging to make croissants, the perfect hollandaise sauce, and curd.  It's actually inspiring to those of us kitchen cooks when something turns out that once appeared to be daunting.   Our readers like to see that something fabulous can easily be made by someone who hasn't had the professional training that a chef has had.  

I am not going to deny the fact that doing a blog is a lot of work.  It's a lot of pressure that I put on myself.  I could easily walk away from it all but I love what I do.   I remember once when I went to a photography group in UT and the discussion turned to the market being flooded by photographers.  They felt that every Tom, Dick, and Harry had a camera and they were paranoid about their businesses being taken away or dropping.   I was surprised when they admonished the photographers in the group to stop mentoring their friends and families about taking pictures because "we don't need any more photographers".   Suffice it to say, I did not go back.  

I don't live by that fear and "lack of " mentality.  If there is anything this blogging world and my fan page has taught me is this.

1.  There is plenty to go around.

2.  As cooks and bloggers we come in all shapes and sizes.  

3.  Every day there are new people being introduced to the love and passion of cooking.

4.  Staying positive is the kind of motivation I want in my life.

5.  There is a balance that only you/I can make and determine.

6.  Becoming the next Rachel Ray/Martha Stewart never crossed my mind.  I admire those that seek after this type of spot light but it is not something I want.  I like being little ol' me.

This is my passion, my joy and my journey.  I have my families support and best wishes.  At the end of the day I am happy.

I am happy to cook, to do the dishes, to print off new recipes, to talk with my fan page friends, to take a few pictures (ok, a lot of pictures), to inspire others.  Bottom line is that I am happy being a food blogger and a food photographer.  I am always trying to better myself and I will continue to read these articles that are shared on line.  I believe we are all  teachers, but mostly students, and I enjoy learning.  I just wish  sometimes that it was not an us and them mentality but one of unity and support.

Despite all of the supposed rules, formats and opinions I still have to be me and true to who I am at the end of the day.

I am sharing a recipe with you that I printed off, started to make and then added my own twist to it.  I quilt the same way.  I start off with a pattern and then make changes.  

I printed this recipe for Cuban Black Beans and I honestly had every intention of following it to a tee.  After tasting the final result, it lacked a little something and so I added an extra spice and some chicken broth to deepen the flavor a bit.  So I am just going to call it rice and beans.  

Recipe: Rice and Beans

1 T. olive oil
1 cup of diced bell peppers
1/2 cup of red onion
1 tsp. of minced garlic
1 can of black beans, drained
1 cup of chicken broth
1-2 tsp. of cumin
1/2 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of oregano
1 bay leaf, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of left over rice, I used Minnesota Wild Rice

diced avocados
blanco queso cheese, crumbled

In a large sauce pan, saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil.  Add the can of drained black beans and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the rice, chicken broth, spices and herbs.  Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally.  The chicken broth with reduce and you will have a thick batch of rice and beans.

I served the rice and beans with a large basket of corn tortilla chips.  I also topped the rice and beans with fresh avocado and blanco queso cheese.  This cheese can be found at most grocery stores in the cheese section.  I learned that the cheese that is "squishy" is the one to use for cheese dips and the firmer variety is easier to use in these types of dishes.

I served this dish with grilled veggies and jalapeno poppers made on my grill.


  1. Love this post and I am right there with you! So well put and I appreciate how well you expressed yourself and your opinion.

    1. Thank you Margaret. It's a funny world we live in sometimes…LOL

  2. A good tip for rice is boiling it in chicken broth, rather then adding it later. The rice sucks up the flavor and ends up delicious.

    It works with pasta too :-)

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