I am now certain there is a “strangely sentimental for inanimate objects” gene in my DNA. I attach memories to scraps of paper. I keep movie stubs, even if I didn’t like the movie. I probably have programs from every wedding, play, or school musical I’ve ever attended. Giant piles of cards, random scraps of material, mini golf balls, and other miscellaneous doodads that I probably won’t remember the significance of years later, all live in shoe boxes together, somewhere.
It must be a dominant gene. My husband thinks I’m wacky for keeping all this stuff, but the lineage is easily traceable from my mother to me, and from me to my oldest who is now 7 years old. She earned her stripes when she expressed disappointment over Grammie bringing us a new bathroom rug. “Awww,” she said when she saw it lying on the linoleum, synthetic fibers glowing a lovely glass green. “What about the old bathroom rug? I’ll miss it and all the memories.”
“What memories do you have of the old bathroom rug?” I asked, trying to keep a straight face.
“Like when Celia was potty training and she peed on the rug,” she says. (Potty training was still in progress.)
“Oh,” I said. “Well, eventually you’ll have some nice memories with the new rug,” I told her.
There must be some evolutionary purpose to attaching memories to ordinary objects. Maybe our ancestors survived because they hung onto their favorite fire poking sticks that later saved them from wild dogs, and so they lived a little longer to reproduce. Or something like that.
I also believe Mac & Cheese is part of my DNA somehow. I’m pretty sure one of the four types of nucleotides, inheritable genetic information, is in the shape of elbow macaroni. How else can you explain why a box of dried noodles and powdered cheese is so comforting to kids and adults alike?
Even the pickiest kids love Mac & Cheese. It’s really hard to get my oldest, my picky eater, to try new foods. When I get the thumbs up on one of my experimental dinners it’s not unlike winning a marathon (for someone who doesn’t even run.)
I make a crock pot meal once a week as part of our family dinner survival strategy, and have enjoyed creating some new bean recipes this winter. This black bean recipe is very basic. I wouldn’t have thought of sharing it, except for the two thumbs and two big toes up from my picky eater (all at once, balanced on her kitchen chair). She asked if this could be one of our “all the time” dinners. I jokingly asked her if it is better than Mac & Cheese, and she said yes! :O
Is it a groundbreaking new recipe? No. Is it yummy and satisfying? Yes. Better than macaroni and cheese? Well, one picky 7 year old makes this claim, but I’ll let you be the judge.
1 lb dry black beans
3 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1 Bay leaf
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 14.5 oz can beef broth
6 cups water
salt to taste (after kielbasa has heated thru because it will add salt)
1) Rinse the beans, dice the veggies, and crush the garlic. Throw it all into a crock pot (I use a six quart) with the seasonings, broth, and enough water to cover by at least a couple of inches-6 cups for a six quart.
2) Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or however long it takes to drop off the kids, go to work, pick up the kids, and come home hungry.
3) When you get home, start your rice. Cut kielbasa into bite-sized chunks and stir it into the beans. Set the table while the sausage heats up and the rice has little circle patterns where bubbles used to be.
4) Serve the rice, beans, and sausage all together in lovely, steaming bowls.