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Does anybody cook like me? March 15, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. My dear friend Huma just forwarded a black bean soup recipe from today’s New York Times that incorporates two packages of fresh spinach into the soup. She thought it sounded really good.

I’ll admit, I was intrigued as well. I love cooked spinach on its own with some balsamic vinegar and salt, but am less enamored of it in soups or dishes like lasagna, where it just seems stringy and pointless. But because black bean soup is so thick and rich, I thought it could probably accomodate all that spinach and add a dollop of healthy greens without ruining the flavor or texture.

But then I started thinking. Okay, I like the idea of incorporating greens. But wouldn’t baby arugula, with its spicy flavor, add more to black bean soup than spinach? And what about doubling or tripling the wimpy amount of cilantro in the recipe? Black bean soup is so rich it can stand up to a lot in the way of flavoring. How about adding fresh basil leaves for a hit of anise? Or, better yet, cinnamon basil leaves?

I like my own black bean soup recipe (search for it in the search bar at the upper right) way better than the New York Times version, but I’m ready and willing to add greens to mine as they did to theirs. Great idea! I’d even consider adding shredded lettuce with sour cream, grated white Cheddar, and hot sauce on top. Why not make it the best it can be? Yum, now I want to make it for dinner tonight!!!

So okay, I’m flexible. In fact, I’m really flexible. I can never see a recipe without wondering what I could do to make it better. It doesn’t take long for a bunch of ideas to occur to me. What about you? Are you by-the-book cooks, or are you like me, brazen adventurers?

          ‘Til next time,




1. Curmudgeon - March 15, 2009

I usually try to stick to the recipe the first time. Then after that I start playing. I love playing with recipes. But I’ll admit right away that the thought of spinach or arugula in my black beans is quite shocking. Black beans are such a cultural comfort food for me that I do not play with my recipe–if I did it would lose its ethnic flavor and its comfort value.

I was shocked at first, too, Curmudgeon! But then I remembered that Huma has a favorite dal recipe that incorporates greens (oops, at this point I can’t remember if it calls for spinach, cilantro, or a combination), so I could see why she liked the idea. Then, as I considered it, I thought, “You know, that *could* work IF… ” But now of course I want to know how YOU make black beans! Please post the recipe here or over at Weed Whackin’ Wenches!

2. linda - March 15, 2009

I usually can’t resist throwing in my own variations – chocolate can almost always be more chocolaty, for instance. I have to stifle myself when I make German Chocolate Cake for my husband. It’s his favorite and he likes it strictly by the book. (I think it needs more cowbell.)

I like recipe websites with reviews and I like seeing the modifications reviewers make, then modifying the modifications.

There are a few old favorite comfort foods I always make more or less the same (more or less since I rarely measure unless I’m baking.)

Ha, you sound like my kinda cook, Linda!

3. Daphne Gould - March 15, 2009

Recipe? What’s a recipe? Ok I do use recipes, but I’m very apt to change them. Each recipe is written to the taste of the author, which isn’t necessarily my taste or my husbands.

My take exactly, Daphne! Thank heavens I’ve cooked long enough to be able to look at any recipe and know how to change it to our taste!

4. joey - March 15, 2009

Rarely by the books (and I have hundreds), except when I bake and even then, have been cooking long enough (for eons), I take great liberties … isn’t that what ‘good’ cooks do 🙂

It sure is, Joey! And now I need to know—as someone who also has hundreds of cookbooks—which ones are your favorites? Do you have rare, crazed, eccentric ones you love? Which are your go-to standards? Please, tell all!

5. Rowena - March 16, 2009

At a certain point I stopped purchasing cookbooks (these days everyone is simply making adaptions of their own and sharing them on their personal blogs anyway). I cook by the seat of my pants!

Me, too, Rowena! (Though I still can’t resist cookbooks if they’re used, free, or remaindered, and fascinating!) Way to go, I say!!!

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