Two culinary adventures

Note: I almost never do anything that remotely resembles cooking, so what counts as an adventure for me is pretty low on the adventure scale for many other people. (No advice, please.)

1. A couple of times recently, I’ve acquired a bundle of scallions. I’ve then occasionally chopped one up and mixed it in with cream cheese for my morning bagel, or with eggs on the rare occasion when I make scrambled eggs, or with egg salad.

But then I was reminded that Kam can’t eat raw scallions, so it occurred to me that I could chop up several scallions and put them in a small Pyrex container in the fridge and then add them to my own portions of whatever I’m eating that would go well with scallions. So far, it’s worked pretty well. And I’ve managed to use all of the scallions in each bundle before they rot, which I’m not sure I’ve ever done before.

2. Some months ago, I bought two cans of Cadia organic vegetarian refried black beans. (I hadn’t tried that brand of refried beans before, but I’ve had and liked plenty of other Cadia food.) I opened one of the cans and ate some beans (along with other things)—only to discover that I found them pretty unpleasant. The texture was sort of gelatinous, and they tasted awful to me—very little flavor, and not remotely like I’m used to refried beans tasting. (Apologies to those of you who like the texture and flavor of these—different people have different tastes.) I looked at the can again and found that I had missed the phrase “fat-free” on the label. The ingredients looked reasonable—beans, oil, salt—but the result was not something that I wanted to eat.

I got through them eventually, because I hate wasting food and I could eat them in combination with other stuff. But then the other can sat on my pantry shelf for months because I didn’t want to open it.

Finally the other day I thought to myself, Surely it can’t be as bad as I remember it. So I opened the second can—

and yep, it was as bad as I remembered it.

But I remembered the wise words of a friend who used to say “There’s nothing wrong with this fat-free food that a little fat wouldn’t fix.” So I tried adding some butter. Well, ghee, really, because I’ve had half a jar of ghee in my fridge for a long time and I rarely remember to use it. I also added some salt. I heated up the beans/ghee/salt combo in the microwave, mixed them, heated them some more, tasted it.

Maybe slightly better? But not much.

I added a bit of milk, but the only milk I had easily available was 1%, which seemed unlikely to help much with the missing-fat issue. So I also added some cheese. More microwaving, more mixing, more tasting.

Again slightly better, but still not much.

So I went back to my pantry and looked at the can of non-fat-free vegetarian refried beans there (from a different brand). (Yes, this means that I have other refried beans that I could have eaten instead of the fat-free version. But I wanted to use up the fat-free version.)

The ingredients list for the non-fat-free version said, approximately: beans, water, oil, vinegar, chiles, garlic powder, onion powder, and other unspecified spices and flavorings.

Unfortunately, I have no garlic. But I rummaged through my spice cabinet (full of little jars of things that I essentially never use) looking for garlic powder, and instead found a jar of dried crumbled jalapeño. So I added some of that, plus some more salt.

Sadly, at this point I discovered that I had added too much salt.

And the mixture still didn’t taste very good, and I felt like I had pretty much run out of useful stuff to add.

But then I realized that I had one thing left to add.

(…No, not scallions. In retrospect, I probably should have sauteed the scallions and added them. But adding the raw scallions just didn’t feel to me like a good fit (…says the guy who had just added butter…), and anyway I wanted to save the remaining scallions for other things that I would enjoy them more in.)

I had planned to heat up the beans and to also heat up some spaghetti sauce, and to roll both of them in a heated tortilla with cheese and lettuce and salsa. (It’s sort of vaguely like a cross between a soft taco and an enchilada, I guess, only with spaghetti sauce instead of enchilada sauce? It’s something I’ve been occasionally making for dinner for years.)

And so I realized that I could mix in the spaghetti sauce instead of keeping it separate. It has spices in it!

So I did that. And the whole mixture turned into something that I could eat without too much distaste.

I would still not call it tasty. And I hope/intend to never again purchase fat-free refried beans.

But it was significantly more acceptable than it had started out.

(Wrote this about three weeks ago, neglected to post it ’til now.)

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