This weekend our agenda was to have no agenda. After a harried and hurried month of February – full of Valentine’s Day festivities, Monday holidays, birthday parties, meetings and more – we needed a break. On Saturday, we slept in, made a late brunch of pumpkin pancakes and chicken sausage. We wore our jammies until noon. I can’t remember the last time I did that. It was glorious!
Saturday evening we invited our Haitian friend, Gerby, to dinner. He has been in town throughout the last six months for chemo and radiation treatments for cancer. Miraculously, he is growing stronger each day and his scans have been clear. Having him in our home was a fresh reminder that each day is precious and time together around the table is to be savored.
Gerby helped us make some of our favorite Haitian foods, while I wrote down and tinkered with the recipes. We made a huge pot of Soup Joumou (Pumpkin & Beef Soup). This recipe is part of a children’s writing project I’m working on. (I’ll have to share that one another time.)
We also cooked up a pot of my girls’ favorite – Haitian Rice & Beans. After living in and traveling to Haiti many times over the last decade, our family has come to love this staple in Haitian cuisine. It sounds simple but the flavors have a surprising depth with a mix of garlic, cloves and peppers to season the rice. When rice and beans are combined they have a certain synergy that makes them a “complete protein.” This also serves as a hearty main dish if you’re on a budget. We were all scraping the pot at the end for the last spoonful of “diri ak pwa!”
Haitian Rice & Beans
3 cloves garlic
1 cup dried red kidney beans or pinto beans
2 teaspoons salt, divided
6 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups rice
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon green pepper, minced
½ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart organic chicken broth
1. Add 6 cups of water to a pot. Rinse beans and add to water with 1 teaspoon salt and 3 whole cloves of garlic.
2. Boil the beans for 45 minutes to 1 hour until they are just soft. (You can test the beans by cooling one and pressing it together with your fingers. You do not want to overcook them because they will be heated again with the rice.)
3. Add 1 teaspoon salt & pepper. Set beans aside.
4. Dice green pepper.
5. In a large pot, brown butter. Add garlic, salt, thyme, cloves, and green pepper to saute for a few minutes.
6. Add olive oil and rice. Coat rice with oil and spices.
7. While rice begins to sauté, strain beans.
8. Add 1 quart organic chicken broth to the rice in pot and cook for 15 minutes on medium-high or until all liquid evaporates.
9. Add beans to rice and cook an additional 10 minutes or until rice and beans are fully cooked.
*Makes approximately 12 servings.