Beans, beans are good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you fart. The more you fart, the better you feel, so eat your beans at every meal.
This little girl sure seems to think so...
This little girl sure seems to think so...
Yeah - not so much with me. If there is one food that I cannot stand - it is beans. Any beans that make it to the dinner table are just plain foul and have no business being food. Okay not all beans - I can make exceptions for green beans but that is about it. The other beans are just shit!
I have a long and rotten history with beans and I am feeling nauseous just thinking about them. As a kid growing up, I had a terrible time with beans. Absolutely terrible. Here is a story of one of the worst and best interactions I ever had with beans growing up.
Growing up baked beans were (and still are) my mortal enemy. I panicked every time I walked into the house from a long day of running in the woods and smelled that HORRID smell of baked beans. I knew I was fucked. By the time dinner was served, I was an anxious mess. I would whine and complain, whine and complain, and whine some more but I knew there was no way of getting out of eating beans.
Photo from www.lovetextures.com
Finally my judgment would come. The rest of the family would have cleared their plates and moved on to their nightly routines but not me. I would still be sitting at the dinner table in the midst of an epic staring contest with my beans. I always held hope that I could win this contest but all hope disappeared when my mom finally decided that it was do or die time and forced me to eat my beans. Early on I was able to swallow enough beans with a large milk chaser to escape the dinner table with just a feeling of nausea and my ego charred that I lost the battle. This all ended one night when I raised the stakes to finally win our endless competition.
I can remember the night vividly when my war with baked beans came to the end. I was sitting at our kitchen table at dinner like usual. The beans were on my plate taunting me that they would win and I would eat them. This night I had finished the rest of my food except the beans before everyone else had excused themselves from the table. I was whining like usual until my mother picked up my spoon and scooped beans into it. I knew I had lost! My mother forced me to eat those beans on her terms. I quickly grabbed my milk to dilute the nasty flavor and texture of baked beans in my mouth but it was too late. The nasty combination caused me to instantly regurgitate my entire dinner onto my plate, the dinner table, and myself. Of course the rest of my family started yelling and screaming at me and I was crying but I think I really knew that my battle with baked beans was over. I am sure I had to eat them again after that day but my memory still holds that day as my victory day and the last day I have ever had baked beans on my plate.
|A ruined steak and potato - that is right, I would not eat this steak.|
Photo from www.123rf.com
Photo from farm4.staticflickr.com
Beans In My Adult Life
As an adult, my relationship with beans still has not changed. I should mention now that this is one relationship that I am not going to look into as I look deep into myself. I have no interest in ever liking beans.
You would think that as an adult and living in your own space with people you made a conscious choice to live with, you could keep unwanted things away from yourself and out of your life. I found out that this is a very wrong assumption.
When Heather and I lived in Tampa, we invited Heather's best friend, Stacy, came to live with us for a while so she could get away from the intense world of Boston. Stacy needed a change of scenery and we were more than happy to have her visit. Stacy ended up moving to Florida and lived with us for a long time before we finally had to kick her out (sorry Stacy but that is how I saw it). This story is about Stacy's total disregard for my cooking utensils (again Stacy this is how I saw it and you know as well as anyone that my perception is almost always skewed).
I have always cooked. I enjoy cooking a lot so this is not a problem except when the boys are total asses and ungrateful for the food on the table. I used to have a rule (it has relaxed somewhat now) that no beans are EVER allowed in my kitchen. It is MY kitchen and if you want to bring beans into it you are not welcome - get the fuck out!
Even though I cooked, every now and then Stacy would offer to make dinner as part of her gratitude for letting her live with us. This was a welcomed break from my cooking duties on almost every occasion except for one.
Stacy had no idea about my extreme hatred and dysfunctional relationship with beans. She did not grow up with me and had only known me in my adult life. Regardless, I assumed she knew not to bring beans into my kitchen but clearly on this day she either did not know, forgot, or intentionally ignored this rule. Here is the conversation as I walked into the kitchen after work to get a beer while she was cooking dinner on that fateful day.
Me: Hi Honey (gives Heather a kiss). Hi Stacy. What is for dinner? (I walked past the stove on the way to the fridge for a beer).
Stacy: Soft tacos with refried beans.
Me: (As Stacy says this I spot the beans in my 1 quart sauce pan with a blue enamel coating (yes, I remember the pan). I instantly become enraged, very annoyed, and borderline irate) - WHAT THE FUCK ARE BEANS DOING IN MY HOUSE?!!!
Stacy: What are you talking about?
Me: STACY! You put beans in my pot and now I can never use it again. You ruined it.
Stacy: (Looking at me speechless with a look of disbelief) Are you serious? You are joking right?
Heather: Shut up Cameron. Stacy - I like beans and you can cook them for me anytime you want.
|Beans in the desecrated sauce pan.|
I knew I had lost, my pan was ruined, and beans were in my kitchen. This was a devastating defeat for me especially since I had gone years keeping beans out of my life.
As noted above, I lost the battle for keeping beans out of my house and one of my favorite sauce pans was tainted so much it could no longer be used to cook any other foods. What did this mean in the long run?
Well, it meant I was screwed. After that incident so long ago, Heather started cooking her own refried beans when we made Mexican food at home. I still refused to make them for her but she was allowed to bring beans into my kitchen to make them for herself. Heather respects that I do not like beans and she knows I have no interest of ever accepting them as a palatable food item. However, Heather really enjoys eating beans and wants our boys to learn to like them. Lately she has me completely confused because she has given up ground beef in her tacos completely in exchange for refried beans. What the fuck is up with that and why would anyone in their right mind ever consider something so blasphemous - tacos without meat?
|The only way to prepare a taco - with real meat!|
Photo from www.missionfoods.com
I have resigned myself to the fact that Heather is not in her right mind anymore - I guess age finally does that to some people. One thing is certain in my life as I grow old and gray - I will never like beans. I can just see my future now when a nursing home attendant will try to feed me beans just to have me regurgitate my entire meal onto them.
Even with my extreme hatred of beans, something has changed in me. As the cook in the house, I enjoy making meals that people will eat and enjoy. Since Heather will no longer eat ground beef (she has even given up hamburgers - what the fuck is up with that for the second time), I have been forced to completely rethink beans in my kitchen. In order to keep peace with myself for doing what I am about to admit to, I must remind you that I really enjoy cooking for other people and making them happy with the food I prepare.
Here is my biggest confession to date - I now cook refried beans. There I said it. I am not fucking happy about it but I do it. I typically will cook beans for Heather on taco night but that is it. I will also only use one of two pans - the same pan Stacy desecrated so many long years ago in Tampa (see picture above) and the frying pan below. These pans are already so fucked from previously being used to cook beans that it really doesn't matter anymore. What the hell - so I defile my kitchen every now and again. Doesn't this make me a better person?
I still do not understand why any human or other animal would ever eat refried beans. Just look at the photo below - just looking at it is making me gag. I have that pre-puke feeling in my throat jut writing this. That shit is NASTY - really NASTY! It holds the shape of the can it comes in. I would rather eat cat food.
|I would rather eat cat food.|
Rice and beans
Okay - I said above that I really enjoy cooking for other people. I love making people happy with food. It is a great feeling to give a part of myself to my friends and family with the food I make or create. As I write this, I am realizing that cooking and food have been a way in my life to get out of my head and truly be with other people. Interesting observation that I will need to explore and understand why I can do this with food but not with other activities. Hmm - a topic for therapy.
Back to the story. I excel on the grill which typically involves meat. Over the years, I learned that I needed to branch out beyond my carnivorous inclinations and learn to cook other foods. I have been very successful with these efforts but there is still one gaping hole in my cooking ability. I need figure out a way to include beans in my plans as an option for those that do not eat meat (it still shocks me that these people exist). I have come to the conclusion that rice and beans are a hell of a lot better to look at than refried beans so they are becoming my go-to alternative choice to meat. Meat will always still be served but for the vegetarians that intentionally deprive themselves of excellent sources of iron, I will begin to make rice and beans.
One of my first attempts at rice and beans came at a Center for Snake Conservation field trip in New Mexico just this past May. The boys and I were camping with a large group at Mills Canyon during the Spring Snake Count. Mills Canyon is a little known parcel of USFS managed land near Roy, NM. It has stunning beauty and no people which both are REQUIRED for me to fully enjoy time away from home. These is no potable water source which helps keep this gem hidden from mainstream tourists but there are outhouses for our human convenience.
|Mills Canyon, New Mexico|
This trip was open to all CSC members from anywhere in the world if they could make it. We were lucky and had two of our most supportive and active members make the trip from South Carolina as well as a new member from New Mexico come and meet us. We spent the next 5 days catching snakes and eating good food. Cooking while camping can be difficult but it can also be incredibly rewarding. I enjoy this challenge immensely because it gives me an opportunity to test my cooking skills and try new ways to cook meat. The Mills Canyon trip had a major hiccup in my plans - it just so happened that our guests from South Carolina were strict vegetarians. Oh shit!
|The Center for Snake Conservation Mills Canyon Crew|
Rice and beans were my only solution. While I resigned myself to the fact that I was really going to make rice and beans, I also placated my bean hating self by making the beans and rice separately. This was justifiable in my mind because I wanted rice with my soft taco but no beans. It didn't matter that I was expected to mix the two - that was absolutely not happening on my watch. To make up for the horrible indiscretion to my personal values (I know I said I am changing but I still believe there should no fucking beans anywhere or at anytime!), I also prepared an assortment of meats (steak and chicken) and fresh vegetables for our meal. I felt like I was buying my way out of my sin against my own beliefs but hey, whatever works. Our meal was FANTASTIC and everyone was completely satisfied.
|The rice and beans|
|The real spread - two types of meat and veggies|
I guess I am changing. I am changing a lot. I am changing for the better. I am changing because I want to. I am changing because I need to. I know I said I would never revisit my relationship with beans but after writing this blog post maybe I should give them a chance.
Beans, beans are good for your heart. The more you eat,
Nope. I tried. My personal relationship with beans is not going to change. I might cook them every now and again but I will never willingly eat beans so what is the point of trying to embrace this silly rhyme?