Sunday, March 30, 2014

Refried Beans

Here in China it is difficult to find refried beans, and almost impossible to find dry pinto beans.  We have been using red kidney beans in most of our recipes.  But we have had to go to a store that sells imported food to buy refried beans, so we decided to make them ourselves.  We made a large quantity, so I just divided up the rest in ziplock bags and froze it.  Then over the next couple of weeks, whenever I needed refried beans, I just pulled out a bag.  It tasted just as good as it did the first day I made it!  I think from now on, even after I return to America, I'm going to make my own refried beans, and freeze them.

This recipe is simple, and I don't have exact quantities.  You can vary it according to your taste.  But trust me, you can't do too much wrong if you follow this recipe.

Dry beans (pinto, kidney, or black)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
oil or shortening

Soak beans in water over night.  You should make sure they are covered with at least 3 inches of water.  I would suggest using at least a pound of beans.

Drain the beans and put in a pot.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Simmer at a low boil for about 2 hours until beans are soft.  Make sure they are soft!  If they are older beans, they might take longer.  Or, you could also cook them for about an hour in a pressure cooker. (Once the pressure lid starts to "whistle", reduce heat.  When they are done, let them cool for about 20 minutes before opening the lid.  If you try to open it right away, you could get scalded, or they might explode.)

In a separate pan, heat about 2 TBL of oil or shortening.  Add the onion, and cook until softened and golden brown.  Add the garlic the last couple of  minutes.   Add the beans, and begin to mash with a potato masher.  I add a little water at this point just to keep the pan from getting too dry.  My husband adds oil, but I don't like that much fat in my beans.

When the beans are  mashed well, and have thickened up, add a little milk.  That little bit of creaminess really helps the texture.  Season to taste.

When the beans have cooled, you can bag up the leftovers in freezer bags to be used another day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow Peas With Mushrooms

This is a simple Chinese dish with very few ingredients, but it tastes good! 

Fresh Snow Peas--about 3 cups  (Wash them, and remove the stem and stringy part.)

Fresh mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced --about 2 cups

Two cloves of garlic, minced

Combine the following:

3 TB oyster flavor sauce

2 tsp light soy sauce

Salt to taste

Heat a wok and add 2-4 tablespoons of oil.  Cook the mushrooms until they start to soften, stir frying constantly.  Add more oil if the pan gets too dry.  Add the peas and stir fry for a few minutes.  You want the peas to still have some crunch to them when you eat them, so don't overcook.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so.  Add the soy sauce mixture and stir fry until the vegetables are evenly coated, and the sauce has had a chance to heat up.  Serve while hot!  If you aren't going to eat right away, I recommend you keep it in an oven safe dish in the oven on warm.