Here are a couple of basic recipes that I make all the time. One is your basic beans and rice--nothing fancy, but good eating. The other is for cornmeal mush, again a real basic. I use a crockpot for the beans, and a microwave for the mush, but both can be made on top of the stove (in home or camp stove) or probably even in a solar cooker.
We genuinely love these dishes--beans and mush is my favorite. As I’ve gotten older, I tend to eat less meat, and these days I like beans more than I like meat. With the mush, or with the rice, they are delicious. The way they are cooked here is nutritious and healthy. You can leave out the meat and onion of course--but they both add a good deal of flavor.
We tend to use a lot of pintos or black beans. Michael likes both and so do I. But you can cook most any dried beans this way.
1 lb beans
1 large onion
1 piece smoked jowl (or smoked ham hock or whatever fatty meat you have)
Soak the beans overnight. I’ve tried the boil and soak for an hour method, but I think the beans are simply better soaked overnight. In the morning, drain the beans and rinse them a couple of times. Then add water to cover the beans to about two inches above the beans. Chop the onion and add that. Then add the piece of smoked jowl--this will add a lot of flavor to the dish. Set the crockpot on high for about an hour, then turn it to low and let it cook for 4-6 hours or until the beans are soft. Take out the jowl and cut the meaty part off of the fat. I throw the fat bit to the dogs, but only because I can’t think of another use for it. Send ideas if you have any. Put the meaty bits back into the beans. Taste for seasoning, add salt and whatever (hot red pepper, other spices) needed. Serve over rice or mush.
Ingredients (serves 2 people for a couple of meals)
1 ½ cup rice
3 cups water
Put rice, water and salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stir, then lower the heat to simmer and cover. Check the timing on the package (varies it is it white rice, brown rice, jasmine, basmati, etc.) and do NOT uncover the rice until the time is up. The steam inside the pan is essential. If you uncover your rice to peek at it, you’ll mess it up. When it is done, fluff it up with a fork and add butter.
I really prefer brown rice both for nutrients and for taste, but we’ve stored a lot of white rice, because the brown rice can go rancid. Brown rice can only be stored for 6 months or less--which is fine if you are going to eat it regularly. You can add any spices you wish to the rice or some diced vegetables to vary the flavor.
Corn Meal Mush
We have a bag of corn from the feed store and a grinder, so we start with grinding the corn into meal. As I said, I use the microwave for this, and microwaves vary. Ours is a large one, so judge the recipe accordingly.
1 ¼ cup cornmeal
4 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 TBS butter
Some shredded cheese
Place the cornmeal, water and salt into a big bowl. Cook uncovered for 6 minutes in the microwave on high. When done, stir the cornmeal well. Then put it back in the microwave for another 6 minutes. Take it out and stir in the butter and the cheese and let it cool just a bit. Then pour it into a greased pan and put it in the fridge. When it cools down, you’ll have a firm cornmeal mush that you can cut into squares and fry, or just serve it with beans. I’ve also served the mush with a venison stew made in the crockpot. It is a basic grain dish you can serve with lots of stuff--tomatoes and zucchini or any other sautéed veggy/meat combo.
With these three basics, you can serve a lot of meals. The corn mush can be fried for breakfast, or you can poach eggs in the beans for that matter. (Put beans in a skillet, with some of their liquid, bring to a boil, break a few eggs into the beans and let the eggs poach.) Use your imagination and get creative. These inexpensive foods can be stored so you’ll always have something on hand, and they make very tasty eating. It doesn’t have to be awful eating your stored foods!