I used to journal all the time. It helped me process. Especially in high school when boyfriend problems were a huge deal, you fought constantly with your mother, and who gets to ask who to the winter formal dance was high drama. A girl's got to get through those hard times. Journaling made thoughts and feelings seem legitimate once they were down on paper. Later, I started journaling in letter format, writing in a voice as though someone may read my words. This felt more natural, more "like me." I love letters. I stopped about a year after college. I know this only because my last journal is in the back of my car. I keep wanting to throw it away because it makes me feel awkward when I flip through and read old stuff, but that awkward feeling may turn to endearment one day. Which is why it lingers somewhere between a box of keepsakes in the garage and the trash... my car.
Writing here has taken the place of the writing I used to do for me. At least for the time being. I think I always wanted someone to read what I was thinking, even if it wasn't fully fleshed out, emotional stuff, just the casual chatter. We've been journaling on Sprouted Kitchen, by way of recipes, photos and stories for almost four years, and much like personal journals, I don't really go back and look at older stuff. I know I will at some point years from now, so I try to weave our real life into this space as to have memories within the collection of recipes. Our first book was nominated for a James Beard award a few weeks ago, and I want to mark here how honored I have felt because of that (hey, future self reading this, this was/is a big deal!). I have wrestled with myself about food writing being "my career" and the timing of this nomination marked the first time in a while that I felt I didn't have to defend my work to myself. Writing a blog and book and working at a market and teaching classes and infrequent catering is a long answer when someone asks "what do you do?" Long answers aren't such a bad thing. It would have felt wonderful at any time, but there was something really special about it coming during this season for me. I'm humbled and grateful, and I do a happy dance when I think about it. I know this nomination is a high honor, and I won't forget it.
This is a simple, modest bowl of a meal. Made of very affordable ingredients, delicately spiced, and pretty easy to tweak to your tastes. Clearly I am still clearing out my pantry. It is not the most creative recipe that's come out of my kitchen, but sometimes it's the less fussy stuff that is quietly satisfying. Leftovers nest well in a burrito with melty cheese. A comfy, warm meal before we roll into a season of salads and fresh fruits and tender asparagus.
P.S. I forgot to mention last post that Hugh is planning on doing a few portrait sessions while we're away. He says he has to work to keep his croissant budget in check. If you happen to be in Paris, Antwerp or Amsterdam, he mentions the dates on his site.
BEAN BOWLS WITH POACHED EGG // Serves 4
The texture comes out like a stew and you want some of the liquid to be in the pot. Once you break the yolk from the egg, it makes a sauce with the bean broth. Add more broth to the pot if needed, it absorbs moisture as it cools, and adjust the spices to your liking.
I cooked my beans from scratch and drained off the excess liquid before adding the broth from there. They don't need to be completely drained by any means, but I wanted my broth flavor to not taste too strongly of bean. I'd guess you could use canned beans in a pinch, the texture will just be a bit less substantial.
- 1/2 lb. dried black beans (rinsed and soaked overnight)
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tsp. chile powder
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced in 1'' cubes
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- 4-8 eggs (use 1-2 eggs per person)
- cilantro and hot sauce to finish
- cotija, queso fresco or goat cheese optional
Drain and rinse the beans from soaking. Place them in a large pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are cooked through and just tender (one to one and a half hours depending on freshness of beans), avoid overcooking. They should still have a tooth to them. Remove from heat, add a pinch of salt. Let the beans cool for about ten minutes before draining. Add the cumin, cinnamon, garlic, chile powder, hearty pinch of salt and broth. Bring the mixture to a low simmer.
Add the sweet potato to the warm beans, give it a stir and cover the pot. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Stir in the tomato paste and olive oil and taste for salt, you'll likely need another pinch or two, and spices. You could add heat with a pinch of red pepper flakes or chipotle. Cover and keep warm until ready.
Bring a large pot of salted water with a splash of vinegar to a low boil. Poach the eggs to desired doneness (two eggs at a time is what I can manage. I deliver the eggs to the water in a ramekin, seems to help them stay together well). For a medium poach, simmer them 2-3 minutes. If you like the yolk more firm, take them 4-5 minutes. Serve each portion with a hearty scoop of the beans and poached egg on top. Finish with hot sauce, cilantro and cheese if using.