Beans for Breakfast – 01/15/22

Someone wanted to make a German Chocolate Cake for her birthday. Third store, strike three. Not a single baking bar for this cake to be found. To avoid having the trip become an absolute failure I stocked up on some dried beans. Picked up more beans for my Badass Black Eyed Peas – 2021 and more chickpeas because I like chickpeas. Two pounds of dried beans cost less than three bucks. I love beans not just for their taste, variety and health benefits but also as an excellent way to stretch the food budget.

More Beans Less Beef

We don’t eat meat everyday. Whether you’re looking to improve your health, save money, save the planet, or save a few cows less meat is better. Not that dedicated non-meat eaters need another reason for their lifestyles here you go:

Source: Economists to Cattle Ranchers: Stop Being So Emotional About the Monopolies Devouring Your Family Businesses

Four packing companies control 80% of the cattle industry. Another fine example of profits before people (and animals).

Read more here: https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/economists-to-cattle-ranchers-stop?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjozODkzNjMwNiwicG9zdF9pZCI6NDIyMzI2OTMsIl8iOiJOYUxWSCIsImlhdCI6MTY0MjI1NzA0OSwiZXhwIjoxNjQyMjYwNjQ5LCJpc3MiOiJwdWItMTE1MjQiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0.2IlNOUb3jKvQJb27eyofdRCYUa0igNDi1To8xbkyDPs

If you are a bean novice start here: https://usdrybeans.com/

I think I’ll makes some Sweet Potato and White Bean Hummus this week. It’s only around four years since I last made some.

Disclosure: I am not compensated for my fanatical obsession with beans but would gladly accept a sponsorship deal if offered one.

The Tale of Two Turkeys – 2021

T-Day this year was at our house and it was just the second time in nearly 20 years we hosted. For many years we traveled to Texas and one year we ended up in Owasso OK. But this year The Texans came north. We had a small gathering of five humans and one Aussie. Shopping for a small dinner crowd like this should have been simple. But as the Great Pandemic continues to affect aspects of our lives we all have not experienced I had to go to multiple stores to find what I needed. The sandwich meat and cheese purchase was left for the last day of shopping the day before T-Day. And as I circled the store searching for bargains I stumbled upon a refrigerated display of fresh turkeys.

Yup. Dried pasta is 50% more expensive per pound. A tub of strawberries was over $6.00 at the same store. Ground beef was seven times the price per pound. So I could not resist. I bought the little fellow.

nOn Sunday I roasted Turkey Two. I decided to cook the bird and freeze portions for future meals. My mind has been wandering to the many ways of making leftover turkey palatable. But it’s not been easy since we are tired of turkey right now. So in no particular order here’s what I learned this year shopping for the feast.

Take Home Lessons

  • During The Great Pandemic in the midst of shortages you will find items overbought and undersold in the stores. Take advantage of these situations if and when you find them. I’ve come across similar price reductions in different stores usually in the refrigerated departments. As an example, BOGO imported Danish Havarti with the sell by date out in March 2022. I guess none of my neighbors like Harvarti.
  • Be flexible. If you have to have strawberries you’ll pay up for them. But it might be time to eat other fruits that are more reasonably priced. Like bananas, apples, or those tiny oranges. Dried fruits work well too.
  • Eat lower on the food chain. I picked up a pound of dried black eyed peas for $1.50 because you have to have black eyed peas for New Years in my part of the world. Eat more beans because they are good for you and good for your checking account balance. Learn to like beans.
  • Add more meat-free meals to your diet. Yesterday for lunch I had Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew. Dinner tonight will be a massive mutant baked sweet potato and a side salad. You don’t need meat at every meal. Over the holiday weekend I happened to mention making Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole. The reaction from our guest was priceless. I guess some people don’t like squash.
  • A six pound turkey doesn’t have a lot of turkey in it. This little fellow was kind of like a huge chicken only bonier. Still, I think I have enough cooked bird in the freezer for three more entrees.

Yup. Looks large but not a lot of meat.

Attention Coffee Addicts

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coffee bean prices have doubled in the past year and may double again – what’s going on?
September 30, 2021
Author: Jonathan Morris Professor of History, University of Hertfordshire

International Coffee Day feels very different this year. Introduced by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) on October 1 2015 to raise awareness of the product and the challenges faced by producers, the day has usually focused on how low prices paid for unroasted beans barely cover farmers’ costs – let alone support their families.

Not this year, though. In the past 12 months, the C price – the benchmark price for commodity-grade Arabica coffee on the New York International Commodity Exchange – has risen from US$1.07 (£0.80) per pound (454g) to around US$1.95. Back in July, it touched US$2.08.

Nearly all contracts for coffee delivery are benchmarked against the C price, with the result that prices for green Arabica (unroasted beans) have risen by over 80% during the past year. Those for Robusta coffee – a cheaper, less palatable alternative – have risen over 30%. And there is every chance that these prices will rise higher in the coming months. We may be on the verge of a major price correction that shifts the market upwards for years to come.
Why coffee got expensive

The principal reason for surging prices is a series of environmental events in Brazil. By far the world’s leading coffee producer, Brazil accounts for around 35% of global harvest. The volume of production regularly fluctuates between “on” and “off” years, and usually this is not sufficient to greatly affect prices because producers mitigate their risks through stock management and hedging prices using the coffee futures market.

However, yields in 2021 are likely to be dramatically lower. This is due to a combination of a severe drought earlier in the season, which reduced the numbers of coffee cherries, and recent intense frosts that might further damage the fruit and even the trees. The Brazilian authorities are projecting the lowest Arabica harvest for 12 years.

The history of coffee has been characterised by extreme price volatility. Periods of excessive supplies have progressively driven down prices until a catastrophic event – either environmental or political – results in a correction.

During the 1930s, a combination of bumper harvests and weak consumer demand in the depression era led to a massive supply glut. To reduce excess stock, Brazil resorted to dumping coffee at sea and also converting it into locomotive fuel. At the other extreme, many coffee trees were killed in 1975 when Brazil was struck by a series of “black” frosts. This led to a 60% fall in output in the following harvest, and prices trebling between 1975 and 1977.

In 1962, the ICO introduced producer quotas to try and keep prices buoyant in the face of such highs and lows. This was supported by the United States to avoid communism spreading from Cuba to mainland Latin America, but it was abandoned on American insistence after 1989. This led to an over-supply and ultimately a coffee crisis at the end of the century in which the C price remained under US$1.00 for four straight years. It had tended to trade between about US$1.00 and US$2.00 per pound, and the price crash saw many producers going hungry.

The price only recovered when a coffee leaf rust infected a significant portion of Central American and Colombian production. The bitter irony of the coffee market is that prices for producers only improve when many of them suffer unsustainable losses.

The Robusta problem

Coffee prices fell in the latter part of the 2010s primarily as a result of the expansion of global production. Most notable was Vietnam, which is now the world’s second largest coffee producer and accounts for around 18% of total global production. As much as 95% of Vietnamese output is Robusta.

Robusta was actually first used for coffee cultivation because of an environmental catastrophe, when east Asia’s coffee production was virtually wiped out by coffee leaf rust during the late 19th century. In more recent times, procedures for “cleaning” Robusta to reduce off-flavours have improved to the point that roasters increasingly resort to raising its proportion within a blend. This is particularly done when targeting markets which are primarily driven by price, such as instant coffee.

If prices keep spiking now, using more Robusta in blends could prevent coffee from becoming too expensive for consumers. But this will be difficult to do, at least short-term, because of severe COVID restrictions in Vietnam. This has caused considerable disruptions both to transporting coffee from the central highlands to the export hub of Ho Chi Minh city, and then managing the onward shipping logistics. The same issues have arisen in many coffee-producing nations.

Consequently we have brokers battling to secure sufficient stocks, roasters contemplating how to pass on price rises to their business customers, and consumers facing the prospect of paying higher prices for household coffee products.

But will producers be the winners in this latest price surge? Those Brazilian agribusinesses that survive the immediate impact of the frosts surely will, as too the well-capitalised, medium-sized farms of Latin America.

What, though, of the smallholders and subsistence farmers who make up 95% of coffee farmers? For years, the ICO and its member states have presented these farmers as the victims of global market forces; now we will find out if these players are capable of delivering back to farmers the increased value their coffee is generating. If so, then International Coffee Day will indeed be something to celebrate.

Veggie Burrito Spice Blend

Spice Blend for Veggie Burritos

2 tsp chili powder – 1 tsp cumin – 1 tsp smoked paprika – 1/2 tsp coriander 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp garlic powder

Chickpea and Broccoli Burrito — https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito

This blend of spices is literally stolen from the chefs at https://www.badmanners.com/. The last time I took a theme on a spice blend the author tracked me down and threatened something close to legal action if I didn’t give her credit and a link to her website. So this time around I’m giving credit AND three links. I’m also not going to write down any instructions for making a roasted vegetable and chickpea filling for burritos. I suggest you go to the original recipe at https://www.badmanners.com/recipes/roasted-chickpea-and-broccoli-burrito if you need detailed instructions.

My Tips, Hints, and not too Secret Secrets

A really good tortilla makes all the difference. But today I’m going to wrap this filling in a Greek style whole wheat pita for lunch. I tend to roast vegetables for at least 40 minutes with a good stir midway through to prevent sticking. You can also add more olive oil at this point too. I hope I have a lime in the fridge. The last time I made this filling The Boss used it as a topping for a Taco Salad. She liked it. I hope she was telling the truth because when you cook up a pound of dried chickpeas it is a LOT of chickpeas. One cup dried will produce between 6 and 7 cups of beans. I used about 4 cups for today’s mix. The other 3 cups went into a Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew.

I used some metal pie pans as roasting pans because I didn’t want to use the big pan which is a pain in the ass to clean because of its size. Preheat your pan(s) before roasting. I leave the mixing bowl uncleaned and use it again once the veggies are roasted and done. Let the mixture cool for a bit, toss everything back into this bowl, mix well again to capture the spices that have stuck to the bowl and then adjust your seasonings.

Postscript

No lime. I used lemon instead.

I wasn’t kidding about using pie pans.

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

Have you ever roasted frozen vegetables? Me neither.  But a quick referral to Dr. Google offers up recipes and instructions for this time and money saving technique. Maybe this method actually works (because everything you read on the internet is TRUTH). So a few weeks ago during a Pandemic Pantry shopping trip I picked up a few one pound bags of frozen cauliflower ( a buck a bag). I also bought a small jar of minced garlic which I promised my younger self I would never use because fresh is better until I used some at my son’s house. Hmmm…..

Here’s the original Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan post from several years ago. Here’s what’s in the oven right now:

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

One package frozen cauliflower (32 ounces)
Extra virgin olive oil
Minced garlic
Dried thyme
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the florets into a baking/roasting pan with sides.
  3. Spread the pieces into the pan. Make sure they don’t touch each other.
  4. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil. Toss with a spoon. You want a nice thin coating of oil on each piece.
  5. Lightly salt and pepper, dust with Parmesan and sprinkle with a hint of thyme.
  6. Add two tablespoons of minced garlic. Toss lightly again
  7. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 35-40 minutes. Shake the pan or stir/toss every 10 minutes or so to ensure most of the surfaces of each floret get browned (this is why you want a pan with sides).
  8. When nicely browned add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese over the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl and add more Parmesan.
  10. Eat.

TIPS – The amount of garlic is personal preference and dependent upon how garlicky you like your food and the number of guests at the table. Same for the cheese but you can never have too much cheese or garlic. This dish is not vegan but if you must, leave out the cheese. Don’t forget the shake and/or stir part because when you use minced garlic it can and will burn.

Lessons learned – minced garlic DOES burn but despite appearances did not taste burned at all. Also, one pound of frozen cauliflower is not a lot of cauliflower.

Unfortunately this dish is also Not Tiny Taste Tester Approved.  She was not present for my roasted frozen vegetable experiment.

“Is a Collie Flower a dog?”

Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — Random Thoughts 01.02.21

Consistent self-weighing may help individuals maintain their successful weight loss by allowing them to catch weight gains before they escalate and make behavior changes to prevent additional weight gain. While change in self-weighing frequency is a marker for changes in other parameters of weight control, decreasing self-weighing frequency is also independently associated with greater weight gain.

Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18198319/

And another year of the lifelong struggle begins. I’d be lying if I said all of this effort is easy. It would also be a lie if I said substantial weight loss is easy. The hard truth is everyone is different and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. We are all somewhere along the continuum as we trudge ahead in year two of the Great Pandemic. In writing the memoir genre stands alone. The author picks and chooses what she wants to share. But memories dim with age and the memories themselves change over time. Many just disappear never to be brought to the surface again. Other memories get fleshed out by the memoirist and a really good piece of memoir writing is always part fiction. For the writer this technique is especially useful. We write with the intent to tell our stories even if some of the facts are muddled or made up.

I step onto The Digital Devil nearly every day. You might think I’m OCD (and in fact I’ve wondered that myself). But I’m not OCD because I know that 75% of people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off weigh themselves at least once a week and 36% weigh themselves daily according to published research. This March marks 14 years of feeding information to The National Weight Control Registry http://www.nwcr.ws/. Here’s proof I didn’t make this up:

Yes Eagle Eyes, same institution where Dr. Lee did his residency.

2020 was the year I got serious again about my weight. I’m where I want to be so 2021 is maintenance mode. Some the behavioral changes I made last year were easy. Other changes came about from the virus and turned out to be positives from a weight loss perspective. This year has just started and I’m not confident how long beer will remain on the Don’t Have It In the House List. All I know is no beer makes it a hell of a lot easier to keep my weight where I want it to be. At the same time a good beer is pure heaven on earth.

Due to the holidays there are two packages of tiny chocolate peanut butter cups in the Pandemic Pantry. I over bought chocolate and The Boss didn’t bake as many cookies as she could have. These tasty nasties belong on the Don’t Have It In the House List. But so far both bags are unopened. I’m not confident about the shelf life of these things. Could be short. Time to stop thinking about chocolate and get back to writing my future best seller.

YIKES! How did these things get in the house?

Black Eyed Peas – Pandemic Version 2020

Aliens wearing headlamps skinning up a mountain somewhere Aspen CO

I make black eyed peas once a year for New Year’s Day.  For good luck and good leftovers. 

I was at the grocery store yesterday and a lot of the shelves were bare. New Years plus an upcoming Oklahoma ice storm with predictions of up to 8 inches of snow sent a lot of people to the stores to clean out the shelves. I didn’t realize at the time that this year there would be no Badass Black Eyed Peas for the New Year. Not a single package of ground turkey. The only ground beef in the meat section were 10 pound rolls. I was fortunate to find some 80/20 in the butcher case. This too was almost gone. I forgot the bacon. The celery looked bad (but I knew I had one stalk left at the house). This year’s black eyed peas was definitely a Pandemic Pantry version.

Before we get to this year’s throw together recipe here are a few odd tips and tricks for this year’s version.

  • The beans still need to simmer for several hours.
  • The beans get an overnight soak in filtered water and you will change the water several times before preparation
  • Everyone in the pool? No, not this year.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this recipe has hints of chili.  But due to limited ingredients this year’s black eyed peas will be more chili-like.

So now that you know this isn’t Badass here’s what I had to do.

1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each smoked paprika, chili powder
1 T Mexican oregano
1 T cumin

1 14 oz can tomatoes with chilies
1 qt no sodium chicken broth (or more, see odd tips)
2 T tomato paste
1 lb black eyed peas
1 lb ground beef 80/20
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans. Change the soaking water at least twice.
  3. Turn burner up to high and heat up a large stock pot. When the pot is hot brown the beef and break up well. Don’t add any oil to the pot because you’ll have plenty of fat in the 80/20.
  4. When the meat is browned take off the burner and drain well.
  5. Bring the pot back to the burner and turn heat up to medium. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and saute until softened about five minutes. 
  6. Add the spices and saute another five minutes.
  7. Drain the beans (it’s OK if there’s a little water left).
  8. Now toss everything else into the pool.  Tomato paste, broth, tomatoes with chilies and the beans.
  9. The chicken broth needs to barely cover all of the ingredients.
  10. Bring to a boil then simmer for several hours with the pot partially covered.
  11. Check the pot and stir occasionally.  Add more broth as the peas cook and the dish thickens.
  12. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  13. Yum.  Makes about 10-12 servings.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  There is plenty of salt in the chili powder and broth so salt last.  As you adjust the seasonings you may want to add more chili powder and/or oregano.  I tend to use garlic powder (my less than top secret favorite flavor enhancer). I also added dried cilantro. I would have used beef broth but I didn’t have any. As the dish thickens add more broth (I had an open container of organic vegetable broth so this is what I used).

This dish might taste better on day two but I haven’t even tasted it on day one yet.

Texas Corn Bread of course.

We asked five health professionals if they would dine indoors at a restaurant. Four said no – and one had a surprising answer.

Some interesting studies have looked at the airflow and air currents in restaurants in relation to where people became infected. In one, a person was 20 feet away from the source for only about 5 minutes, but the person was directly in the airflow and became infected. It’s a reminder of what we’ve been saying – there’s nothing magical about 6 feet. The high degree of community disease in the U.S. right now increases the likelihood that another diner in the restaurant is infected. If you are tired of cooking and need a break, takeout is the way to go.

Would you eat indoors at a restaurant? We asked five health expertshttps://theconversation.com/would-you-eat-indoors-at-a-restaurant-we-asked-five-health-experts-152300

Good article.