Tofu Cheesefake

The problem with gluten and casein intolerance is cheesecake. Well, okay, not directly. But once in a while, you miss little things like a billion calories in a vehicle of rich, thick flavored cream cheese.

So what’s a girl to do?

Cheesefake.

I’ll leave the choice of crust to you. This is an amazing dessert even if you tolerate gluten well.  So a premade graham cracker crust would work fine. The original recipe called for a 9 inch spring-form pan. To that I say “Fie!” Whatever you use, it needs to be cool and ready to go when you finish mixing the filling.

The filling is often tricky. Mine will sometimes form cracks which call for creative decorating like strawberry slices or pecans. It’s probably because I use egg yolks in the recipe which shockingly had no fat in the original. What were they thinking?

Leave the yolks out if you want to trim the fat. It won’t hurt the outcome. But in my case, nixing the fat would definitely hurt my sense of Yum.

This is a time intensive process, but it can be made ahead and it keeps well in the fridge for about a week.

Preheat your oven to 350.

1.5 pounds of tofu crème cheese (Tofutti makes a good one)

10.5 oz of silken tofu. In a pinch, soft or medium will do; but it might crack.

¾ cup sugar. You might know of a way to make stevia work, I have not figured that one out yet. Sugar is necessary for the body.

2 tablespoons arrowroot starch

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Blend well in a food processor until smooth. In batches if you have a small processor.

Pour mix into cooled crust. Bake for 50 minutes. Turn off oven and leave the cheesecake in the warm oven for another hour. Remove and cool completely before putting it in the fridge with a tight wrap to prevent uneven cooling (and probably cracks). Cool at least four hours until well chilled.

When you are ready to serve it, hide any cracks with fruit, dabs of whole fruit jelly, whipped cream or any other gilding of the lily you think is necessary. Trust me, this is so good and so light, you might just be tempted to eat it all in one sitting, so to heck with how it looks.

I was so impressed by the nutritional information on this one I actually kept it on hand:

3670 calories in the entire cake. So divide total calories by number of servings. 1 serving = 3670 calories, 2 = 1835, etc. Stop dividing when the guilt goes away.

But they list it as 10 servings, so:

5 g. protein

26 g. fat

28 g carbohydrates

1 g. fiber

450 mg sodium

Less heart clogging than a traditional cheesecake and it makes a great breakfast food too.

 

Wild Rice Stuffing with Nuts and Cherries

This needs to be cooled before stuffing the turkey, so prep this at least an hour before the turkey is ready to go in the oven. Or to cook separately, put it in a covered baking dish at 350 for 20 minutes.

Obviously you can cook your rices at the same time, they just cook at different speeds, so different pots (natch).

2 cups of white rice

Cook the rice in 4.5 cups water (or broth for the best taste) for about 25 minutes.

1 cup of wild rice

Cook the rice in 4.5 cups water (or broth for the best taste) for about 45 minutes. Mix with white rice.

While the rice is cooking, dice:

1 cup of onion

1 cup celery

To which you will add:

1 cup of dried cherries

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 cup pecan halves

1 cup of pitted prunes, quartered

And you can also add:

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried marjoram

In a heated pan: 2 tablespoons of fat (your choice), toss in the vegetables and fruit. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until the vegetables are wilted.

Mix together, add salt and pepper. Stuff and bake.

“Butterball” Turkey

Here is a sinful addition to a plain old turkey that will make your guests reach for their nitroglycerine.

You know it’s good when a recipe suggestion starts with: Take a pound of butter. Sweet unsalted is best.

You can mix one or all of the following into the softened butter:

Fresh or rubbed sage

Crushed rosemary leaves

Crushed Russian sage leaves

Black pepper

Or Curry Powder

On the turkey you will want to take a fillet knife (or a thin butcher knife) and lifting the skin near the neck opening above the breast, cut the membrane holding the skin to the breast (and legs, moving in toward the drumstick from the lower leg. Cut slits as needed to reach all areas). Detach as much of the skin as possible while leaving it intact on the turkey.

Take the butter and spice mix, stuffing it under the skin so that it is evenly distributed across the meaty areas.

You will need to massage and pat the butter mix into place. Don’t worry it if it’s a little lumpy. It just needs to be somewhat evenly distributed.

Even though basting seems moot at this point, do it anyway. It makes the skin nice and brown.

This is not a good recipe to serve your friends who are watching the amount of fat they eat. Or who have wives who are in any way concerned about the intake of dietary fat of anybody within speaking distance. This recipe has caused divorce proceedings on those grounds alone.

 

Raw Cranberry Relish

The Mister likes to relate a story of his youth when his parents could not get him to eat cranberry jelly. Then along comes the botulism scare in which people were warned not to eat any canned cranberries. Naturally, after the announcement, all he wanted was cranberry jelly.

Well, there is too much sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup hiding in that delicious treat. I make a much more mouth-puckering raw version (because I’m sweet enough).

Here you will complain that the amounts given are too vague. But every year, no matter how precise I am, the mixture needs a little more X. So, I will give you a general outline and you can discover the balance of ingredients that suits your taste. It is helpful to have a taster who is not working with you in the kitchen. Their noses are clear and they haven’t been sneaking eats that pollute their palette.

2 (+/-) cups of whole frozen cranberries

1 (+) can of drained crushed pineapple

1 (+) cup of shelled pecans

Put a mix of each ingredient in a food processor and grind until you have a very coarse relish. If you have half cranberries remaining, you’ll want to keep grinding.

You’ll end up processing several batches and putting the mixture in a bowl. After it’s all processed, stir well and call in your taster. You may need to add pineapple or nuts, but rarely more cranberries.

For those who aren’t fans of incredibly “whangy” (i.e. super tart/slightly bitter) foods, you might want to add a little frozen condensed apple juice. I find additional pineapple works for me.

This is a great addition to any meal with heavy fats or rich, savory spices. And it reaches it’s best flavor when you make it a day or two ahead.

The Lazy Cook ponders ways to cook Spam (so that it doesn’t suck).

Once in a while the Lazy Cook finds her taste for the usual main dish proteins (bean/rice, chicken, pork, beef, fish) has gone off the rails. It might be the restlessness I often feel in the Fall season. It might be the need for a change after a summer of cooking and eating mostly fresh foods. Whatever the reason, I found myself picking up a can of Spam from our cellar stores just the other day.

Winter brings ice storms to our state; nothing as lovely or prosaic as snow. Ice that brings down sappy pines en masse. Ice that weighs on power lines to the point of a sudden brittle snap. Ice that routinely results in power outages lasting for days. No power, no fridge. Fresh foods are a luxury at that point. And living on outlying county roads mean we don’t get service until the main byways have been dealt with, so there is no “running over to the store”. Hence the Spam and other goods both processed and home canned, waiting in our cellar.

The Spam was purchased from the local Big Lots. It’s the 70th Anniversary Edition. And the 3 collector’s cans have graphics and background designs from a variety older advertisements. Snazzy cans aside, it was very….inexpensive.

70th Anniversary

70th Anniversary

No, I don’t think its 70 year old Spam. At least I hope not.

So, when I picked it up the other day, I realized I hadn’t actually eaten spam for about half the span of their entire existence as a brand. I had used it as a worm substitute for fishing in the 80’s by cutting into long strips and microwaving it until it was shriveled and tough. The fish really like it.

For our dinner, however, I figured that the basic frying-a-slice would be the way to go. Sides for the meal were home canned collards with balsamic vinaigrette, pintos and rice. I had wanted cornbread, but found myself without the eggs necessary to make a loaf. As for cooking the Spam,. I did make a last minute executive decision to slather brown mustard on one side, then flip it over to fry the mustard onto the meat. It created a brownish, crispy crust for the meat and ended up being a good addition.

My first bite, while not exactly a spit-take, found me resisting the urge to open my mouth over my plate so I could push the meat out with my tongue.

Salt. Lots of salt. Seemingly more salt than your average country ham. The Mister’s family history of heart disease means I only add small amounts of sea salt to recipes and those partaking in the meal are free to salt as they will. He wryly commented, after his first taste, that this meal comprised the whole of his weekly sodium intake.

Then there’s the texture issue. The Mister doesn’t seem to heed textural issues in the same way I do. So he had little to say on the matter. But I don’t think it’s putting too fine a point on it to call the texture Horrific.

Meat has a certain resistance in the mouth; both to the teeth and to the tongue. It is not supposed to feel like a slimy, chunky Jello. It is not supposed to be meat pudding. Even Livermush, which is a loaf of ground pig’s liver, head-meat and cornmeal (or rice) has a density and heft that Spam lacks.

The, nominal “best parts”, were the slices that were thinner with more of the moisture cooked out. They were slightly chewy with a tiny crust of resistance to the teeth. So the dinner challenge became: “Ways to cook spam so that it doesn’t suck.

The brainstorming session left us with some interesting ideas like Spam Sushi. Coat small rectangles of Spam with Wasabi, fry them, then roll them up in sticky rice with a vegetable, say a spicy Chow-Chow that will cut the salt and compliment the ham.

Or cubed fried Spam in Kraut

Or Budget Meal with fried cubed Spam.  Now Budget Meal is a favorite if, as yet, untried recipe from Goya Foods. I was making hummus one day using dried Goya Chickpeas. While waiting for the peas to cook, I was perusing the plastic bag and spied their suggestion for an inexpensive meal. It was called “Budget Meal” and was basically a ground chickpea soup with hotdogs cut up and added in. Even though I am loathe to consider Budget Meal as something I would actually cook, I can see how the Spam would be a good hotdog substitute.

Note that each recipe requires the Spam be fried.

The other option we came up with was to slice the Spam and immerse it in tap water. The actions of reverse osmosis should pull some of the salt out of the meat, much like the process used with salted pole beans or country ham. What would we be left with then? As close as I can figure it would be Pork Jello. Not an aspic, mind you. Pork. Jello.

The Lazy Cook welcomes any adventurous (and printable) suggestions as to what she might do with the remaining cans of Spam in her stores.

The Lazy Cook Makes Pasta Sauce for the Coming Year

My mother taught me to can. Not to cook mind you, well, not directly anyway. That was my sister’s thing. I was the official “guy” of the house; fixing the lawnmower, changing the oil in the cars. I didn’t start cooking until I was away from home.

But canning enough food for the coming year requires more than two people, so I helped prep vegetables, wash jars, tend the cooker and in general take orders while staying out of the way.

And over the years I watched my mother drag out her canner, can a batch of something and put it away. A few weeks later when another batch of something was ready, she would drag it out again.

When making pasta sauce this was not nearly lazy enough for me. Tomatoes are fickle. Too little rain means they wait to flower and fruit. A lot of rain often means blossom end rot and few tomatoes. Sporadic rain means batches of randomly ripe tomatoes.

So the Lazy Cook came up with a plan. We are lucky enough to have the space for an upright freezer; as many farms and rural households do. So as the tomatoes ripen, into the freezer they go. And when the season is through, you can bring them all out at once and make a weekend of it.

Freezing the tomatoes has the added benefit of making them easy to peel. Spending a lot of time up to my elbows in raw tomatoes irritates my skin. If I can dip the frozen fruit into boiling water for a few seconds, the skin slips right off and I can cut out bad spots and chunk them with relatively little mess.

Yes, it’s cold; but much less messy. Besides, there will be plenty of time to warm hands once the cooking starts.

This year, I’m trying out Amish Paste Tomatoes. They are an heirloom variety, so if they make a tasty sauce, I’ll just keep planting them as I need them in the future with no fear of Monsanto coming in and busting up the joint.

Many people add sugar to their sauce to offset a bitterness that can arise in the process of cooking away the excess liquid that regular tomatoes often have. Adding sugar is unnecessary and, frankly, an affront to the tomato. Here are some ways to avoid this, which are also conveniently lazy:

– Use sauce tomatoes which are less juicy. Roma, Amish Paste and quite a few other varieties are less watery.

– Use a sweet onion in your sauce. I use Vidalia onions; and a lot of them. It’s almost impossible to get your sauce too “onion-y” with these. Sometimes, if I want a different flavor, I’ll sautee the chopped onions to the point of crisping the edges. Sometimes I just dump them in raw. Add a few grated carrots too.

– Roast your sauce. Yes, Roast Your Sauce. Best lazy move I ever made.

You’ll need enamel pans or Corning ware. I end up stacking pans on dishes on pots in my oven. The very occasional stirring becomes more complicated, but on the whole it’s much easier. I have yet to burn a batch of oven-roasted sauce, unlike some of my early stovetop batches.

Turn your oven onto its lowest setting. I use propane and have a newer stove, so the lowest oven temp I have to work with is 170 degrees. My last stove’s lowest setting was 120 degrees. I miss that oven. Because, in this case, the slower you can cook the sauce, the better it will taste. So it might take all day, but you won’t have to stand over a hot stove. Unless you want to stick around because your hands are still cold from dealing with frozen tomatoes.

The sauce ends up with this amazing sun-dried flavor. Not a hint of bitterness even though I don’t remove the seeds. (Lazy)

Roast a batch, adding your spices in somewhere along the line. I tend to wait until it is almost “done”. My logic is: some spices don’t like extended cooking. Because I’m going to have it boiling in a canner for another 30 minutes with an additional hour to cool off, the flavor will have plenty of time to release. This allows me to make individualized batches. I just have to remember label them properly after the jars are cooled.

Put the roasted sauce in a suitable (non-metal) container and stick it in the fridge. Repeat until all tomatoes are processed. Then you can re-warm the sauce to a suitable temperature for the canning process.

If you decide to freeze it, reconsider when to add the spices. I make no promised here, as I’ve never tried freezing sauce.

Have fun.

Lots of work for a Lazy Cook, but well worth it: Brownie Waffles

The Lazy Cook often likes to “discover” recipes in process. In other words, if it’s in the fridge and it seems like it will work, throw it in the mix.

However, there are some foods that are difficult to tinker with successfully; baked goods being the primary example. The ratios of leavening to flours to the components that allow the item to remain spongy, flaky, etc. are….. finely honed. But in some instances, not too delicate for judicious tinkering.

I will make cheesefakes (tofu cheesecakes: I’ll post that sometime in November and relate the “Pecan Pie CheeseFake” attempt) or cookies and bend the recipe rules, but on the whole, I get my baked goods from a box or a store. I have no patience for fallen cakes or “Baked Dizastas”.

Since our household tries to adhere to a gluten free / milk free regimen, I am especially leery of turning out a decent cake or brownie. Gluten (and to some degree Casein) is the substance that allows for spongy lightness; and in the Mister for eczema and bloating.

So I use (no, he’s not my sponsor – I wish) Bob’s Red Mill for my brownie making. I’ll try different producers for white cake, but Bob’s brownie mix has excellent flavor and moistness. In terms of texture, it’s a little dense and the mouth-feel is slightly gooey and very slightly grainy. But it is, bar none, the best gluten free brownie mix I have tried so far.

So one day, in the process of gathering up the tools and ingredients, I’m pondering on how tasty the brownies are going to be; and debating whether to add walnuts or pecans or dried cherries or Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, or hell, all of the above. Suddenly my brain starts transmitting a better idea.

Pull out the waffle maker…

What?

Pull Out The WAFFLE MAKER!!!

Oh, that’s what I thought you said. Why?

Browwwnieee Waaaaffullssss…

What’s with the wavery voice, chica?

Anyway, I stopped talking to myself and pulled out the waffle maker.  Sometimes it’s just better not to argue.

After prepping and mixing and starting the process, I quickly realized that the brownie batter was going to be much too thick for the waffle maker. I was going to end up with done on the outside, liquid on the inside, chunky puddles of mess. So I kept thinning it with water (instead of the coconut/rice milk mixture I used to make the batter) for several small tests.

The best result ended up being a surprisingly thin batter. (Really? You think I kept track of how much water?…haven’t you read any of my other posts?….Lazy Cook… “LAZY”. I have a Master’s Degree in Eyeballing it.) Density-wise it has the consistency of a thinnish yogurt, just barely pourable. This ends up meaning a large number of waffle brownies. Luckily they freeze exceptionally well. And they taste just as amazing when thawed and gently warmed. Better yet, the additional water and the thinness of the waffle work to remove the dense and gooey qualities that I don’t care for.

The other things I discovered: Duh! They don’t cook like waffle batter. There is a lot more sugar, so they want to stick. And while I’m not a huge fan of non-stick cooking surfaces (I won’t link you to the horror stories about the Teflon studies, Google as you will.) I am grateful when it comes to prepping these.

They require fairly constant tending as it is difficult to ascertain when they are “done”. Waffles get dark. Brownies are dark. Waffles have a certain structure when done. You can pick them up by an edge and they remain fairly horizontal. Brownie waffles are much more….relaxed.

Here’s where the chopstix come in. As they are done, (and trust me you’ll have plenty of taste testers to help you determine this) take a wooden chopstick and gently separate the waffle quarters along the raised ridge of the iron. You could use a knife if working with a cast-iron maker, but so far the lazy cook hasn’t had the luck of running across one of those in a thrift shop. This makes them easier to remove and creates a nice pre-made serving size.

And because they are made individually rather than in a pan, as a batch, it takes a while. This has an added bonus of filling up the space (I’ve made them at a “free concert” in the old county jail, which is now a music venue.) with the most amazing smell, which lingers very soft and full, for quite a while after they are all cooked.

Negatives: Lots of work.

Positives: Lots of waffle brownies. Nice smelling house.

Today, I’ve also pulled out the Pizzelle baker my Mother In-Law graciously sent down from Pittsburgh. If I’m correct in my assumptions, the batter will require a bit more water. (Edit: Having actually read the directions and recipes provided…quelle horror….it turns out that a thicker batter is preferred. And yes, they were fan-tabulous)

List of things to (seriously) add, individually or in combination to the brownie waffles: a little sesame oil, coconut milk, dried cherries, pecans, walnuts, unsweetened coconut, flax seed, rum, chocolate chips. After they are done, you can add most of the things listed above, plus cream cheese (or Tofutti’s Better than Cream Cheese), vanilla ice cream, caramel…you get the drift. Decadent.

If you want to make a party of it, divide the batter up and try various combinations of things in the different batches.

Enjoy.

Basil Mayonnaise

Basil Mayonnaise

1 cup of Dukes Mayonnaise. I make no guarantees for any other items making claims to mayo-hood.

1/8 cup of fresh chopped basil.

If this were a mass production, I’d just toss it all in my little food processor. But the simplest thing is to chop the basil, turn it into the mayo and mix well.

Let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavors can have an intimate discussion without you being all Nosy-Parker and there you have it.

This is awesome on homegrown, fresh from the garden tomato sandwiches, with lots of black pepper (of course) and a little sea salt.

It’s also good on a quick salad or as a base coating for today’s recipe: Chicken Breast Strips crusted in Fresh Basil, Almond Flour and Brined Green Peppercorns.

Enjoy

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Chicken Breast Strips crusted in Fresh Basil, Almond Flour and Brined Green Peppercorns

(a gluten free recipe)

You know how these things go.

This started out as black cracked pepper on Chicken Strips, but I realized I had some fresh basil. You really have to keep the basil pinched back or it heads off and gets leggy, fast! Half of it is already flowering; which tells you that in addition to being a lazy cook, I’m also a rather lazy gardener.

So, it turned into Fresh Basil Chicken Strips.

About mid morning, in the process of transferring the 48 ounces of Duke’s Mayonnaise (the ONLY mayonnaise, in my humble opinion and no, I WISH they were giving me a kickback) from the wretched plastic containers they’ve started using (what the hell were they thinking?) to mason jars I had to find some room in the over-packed fridge and came across a jar with about a cup of almond flour.

The Lazy Cook is allergic to casein and the Mister has a family history of Celiacs Disease; with some degree of sub-clinical symptoms, so almond milk and rice milk are the creamy beverages of choice.

Rice Milk is fairly easy to find and not as expensive as the less available (in a small southern town) almond, so I bought some in bulk and put it back. It has come in handy for the Chard Almond Loaf.

So, as it is with the Lazy Cook, it turned into Chicken Strips crusted with Fresh Basil and Almond Flour.

Then I found the brined green peppercorns……

The Lazy Cook is an adventurous eater. And there is a fantastic Hmong Market in the city nearby. They carry all the standard Asian foodstuff, plus the in-store kitchen makes treats like the “rice bombs” (as we call them) wrapped in fresh bamboo leaves. But I digress.

Initially I picked up the brined green pepper corns because they looked interesting. That’s it. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They’re from Thailand, out of Bangkok via Chicago. Go figure.

The flavor is an interesting mix of green citrus zing from the immature corns, with the expected spice of pepper and a slow heat that lingers on the lips and tongue for a bit; and obviously the salt.

I am pretty sure that the citrus notes from the peppercorns will play nicely off the smoother, deeper basil flavors. We shall see.

So, in the end, it became Chicken Breast Strips crusted in Fresh Basil, Almond Flour and Brined Green Peppercorns.

Here’s the plan:

Once the chicken is thawed, I’ll pat it dry with a paper towel after setting the oven to 350.

While the oven is heating up, I’ll brush on some of the basil mayonnaise I made this morning (which started this whole mess) and roll the strips in a mixture of almond flour, chopped fresh basil and slightly crushed green peppercorns.

Sorry the only measurement I can really give you is a cup of almond flour to a pound of meat. The basil mayo is just a suggestion. Any oil will do: olive, coconut, lard. Or leave damp with the juices if you are watching the cals. (Me? I scoff at cals)

With the fresh chopped basil, I’d stick with around 1/8 cup. Dried, I’d use a couple of tablespoons.

Not all of us have a Hmong market nearby, so pepper on-hand options: powdered black- to taste, but I’d say about 1 generous tablespoon. Coming to the South from the Northern regions, the Mister said he’d never seen so much black pepper used in his life.  And to keep the citrus note, sprinkle a little lemon or lime juice on before coating it.

Cracked pepper, use more, but keep it coarse.

With the green, I’ll end up using about 2 tablespoons.

Because I want this to remain fairly “dry” (rather than sitting in the “broth” the chicken processors inject into the meat) I’ll space it out on a baking sheet (or tin foil or one of those enameled pans with the raised center panel….whatever you’ve got on hand) With just the thinnest dab of grease so it doesn’t stick.

Cook for 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven type, altitude and so on. But check it after 20 to test for doneness vs. dryness.

I’ll serve this with white rice and some black-eyed peas I made up for the Barley-SouthWest Salad (which the Mister found quite tasty) and a fresh sliced tomato topped with a dab of basil mayo. I’ve got some young carrots from the garden. I might steam them slightly, roast them in some coconut oil then toss them in a slightly sweet wheat-free tamari (also courtesy of the Hmong market) while the chicken is cooking.

If I had my druthers, as we are want to say in these parts, I’d use brown rice, skip the legumes and have a cucumber, onion and tomato salad, from today’s garden pickin’s or use a green veg instead; steamed Asparagus with garlic butter springs to mind. But, alas….

As with all the Lazy Cooks recipes, there are no guarantees. Only adventure.

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Today’s Recipe Mash-up: Barley South-West Salad

(a gluten free recipe) (very easily modified to vegan)

Rachel Ray has a great Barley Salad in her Big Orange Book. Nothing against Ms. Ray, I think she’s fun. But her recipes are…well, not for the lazy. Just reading the book and having to remember what EVOO means generally calls for a nap.

And Donna Klein offered a Quinoa Salad Recipe in some newspaper clipping that is so old it’s almost brittle.

I’ve got barley on hand, but no quinoa. Right now, it’s too warm and sticky for the Quinoa’s call for cumin. For me cumin is warm and heavy; comforting. Like a curried food or fall or winter food. And right now it’s so hot, it’s all I can do not to run around starkers (naked) in the yard. I don’t need warm, heavy or comforting.

One recipe serves 8, the other 4, so some lazy math will be involved to make a 4 person recipe.

So I’ll just pick the things I like, leave the things I don’t and use the things I’ve got.

We’ll see how the Mr. likes it and let you know.

So here’s a basic recipe for a gain and bean salad with some summer veg thrown in

2 cups of chicken stock (or the same amount of water with a little salt and/or wheat free tamari. Then add bacon fat or butter or olive oil …or all 3, but no more than a heaping tablespoon total)

½ tsp. fresh garlic (whatever you’ve got, crushed, chopped. Use less if it’s dried and powdered)

¾ cup of barley (Ms. Ray calls for pearled….I don’t know if mine is and I’m not going to look. It’ll be fine)

1 cup of cooked black beans (or if you are using canned, you can use the whole thing…it’s okay….really. And if you want, you can skip other beans….or not. I like beans, so the more the merrier.)

1 cup of bean X (black-eyed peas are best, but pintos or crowders or some combination thereof will work in a pinch)

1 cup +/- corn kernels

Some ripe tomatoes. Cherry, plum, whatever is on hand. But you’ll need chop enough to fill ¾ cup +/-   I personally wouldn’t like this without fresh, but would understand if you wanted to use canned tomatoes or even a bit of salsa.

Scallions (the last of my onion tops is what I’m using.  Red or white/Vidalia onions in a pinch) thinly sliced and chopped so you get about ¼ cup.

Black pepper to taste

That’s the basic recipe. The little black dress, as it were.  From here you can go a couple of ways; toward the SouthWest or more of a summer salad. Pick and choose to suit yourself. On past the cooking directions are a few things you might add to give it the flair you want.

Bring the stock (water) to boil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and barley. Return to boiling, and then turn to low, cooking until the liquid is gone. This should be about 45 minutes. (Honestly, I just use my rice cooker and dump it all in at once. Watching a sauce pan is too much work)

When it’s tender (not mushy, barley is great because it’s a tiny bit Al Dente) put it in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain. Put the barley in the bowl with your dressing of choice (tomato based, oil/vinegar, what have you…I’m easy)

Add other ingredients. Mix, toss or make your kids do it.

Things you might add if you’ve got them on hand:

Fresh or canned Jalepeno to taste: If fresh, get all the seeds out and chop it finely. (WASH YOUR HANDS! Avoid touching your face- or your guy parts, if you’re a guy- until your hands are clean). Fresh Jalpeno? I’m not going there. Too much work. Besides, if I want hot, that’s what burn sauce is for.

Cucumbers: (which I’ve got and will use) peeled, quartered and chopped. I use pickling cukes because I like the flavor. 1 cup +/-

Celery:  chopped chunky, for some texture. If you use the middle stalks, leave the leafy tops on. 3 – 5 stalks

A vinaigrette or Italian dressing: approximately ¼ cup.

Or alternately add salsa or picante sauce to taste: between ½ to 1 ½ cups

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