"Makes me a musical SOB …"

Most Americans interpret the phrase BeansForBreakfast as a reference to coffee. Brits might envision a can of those ubiquitous Heinz beans served over toast as a part of the Full English. I take the term literally, for beans constitute my favorite breakfast food. With The Muse traveling this week, I can partake of my favorite every meal, repeatedly reheating the pot until nothing but a few hock bones remain in the bottom of it. I proudly possess a peasant's palate, one more pleased by simplicity than by complication. Subtlety's usually lost on me. Even when I create one of my artful-looking supper dishes, each remains shit simple inside. I leave a slow oven or flaming cast iron to do most of my heavy lifting in the kitchen. My beans seem simplicity personified.

John Steinbeck insisted in his Travels With Charlie that it was possible to find a decent breakfast in every American town. Fifty some years later, this assertion no longer holds true.
Many towns feature no breakfast joint at all, and more offer sorry alternatives. Fast food breakfast remains oxymoronic. Chains might reliably produce iconic analogues to traditional breakfast fare, Disney-like authenticity featuring previously flash-frozen freshness and a FryMax® kind of flair designed more to fool the eye than please any palate. A diner might still provide the old reliables, but diners seem ever fewer and even further between. Here in Colorado, a decent breakfast burrito might still be had, but these hardly qualify as daily fare. The best breakfasts still existent anywhere seem to be served at home.

I'm not above a simple bowl of oat groat porridge or peanut butter toast. The eighties cholesterol scare chased me away from eggs, and though scientists have since sort of discounted their risks, I try to keep scientists out of my kitchen. Eggs don't settle that well with me anymore. Pancakes seem too carb-heavy for even a gluten hog like me, and the syrup, even the genuine kind, leaves me deflated an hour after the sugar rush artificially inflates me. I never was much for bacon, either.

I backed into beans as my all-purpose breakfast; an unconventional alternative, perhaps, but a dietarily defensible one. They're simple to create, relying more upon sloth than skill. A quart of dry beans soaked overnight in baking soda water, drained then drenched in stock before slow baking in a 300 degree oven all day or all night, perhaps with a ham hock thrown in, and breakfast's ready. No messy clean up, either, as the remainders can stay right in the pot preserved out in the back deck snow bank or inside the overflow fridge. Morning comes, and I transfer that pot back into a slow oven until I'm finished writing, usually four or five hours later, and the contents have just grown richer and more delectable. A single bowl and a spoon or two constitute all needing cleaning up after, and I'm good to go until suppertime, probably. If not, the same preparation sequence yields lunch and even supper, too, if The Muse is traveling.

For variation, I might throw in the braising medium leftover from last week's short rib supper, potatoes and all. The carrots progressively disappear with each reheating but the potatoes remain firm and present even when subjected to repeated slow reheatings. I might mix in a jar of my home-canned Hot Hatch chiles, or not, but always dress each steaming bowlful with a sprinkle of sea salt and a decent drizzle of oil. Toast alongside might complete the meal, though the toast seems entirely optional. When The Muse travels, I want nothing very much to do with food preparation. Gimme a crusty pot to switch out between heat and cold, and I'm golden for the week. Greater variety can reappear when she returns. Until then, it's BeansForBreakfast every meal, lunch and supper, too. With any luck, that one pot will see me through until she returns for Friday supper, when she'll find one clean-scrubbed bean pot drying on the stove top.

A final comment about bean choice. I consider neither pintos nor maracopas to be beans, for pintos produce glop and maracopas seem more fundamentally indigestible alternative renewable energy source than sustenance. I prefer a bean that won't wimp out after repeated reheatings, something that knows how to take slow heat without folding. And also something that won't set my gastrointestinal world on fire. Red or White Kidneys cooperate but so do traditional Black or small Red beans, which easily bake together, being of similar nature. I love the big broad-seeded beans, the speckled Christmas and Lima kinds, though these seem hard to find these days. Navy beans hold no allure for me. Lentils (other than the dals) seem perfectly acceptable and make terrific breakfast food, too. I have no use for mixes of beans, those curious combinations often sold as bean soup starter kits, as they include incompatible combinations of varieties, each requiring differing cooking regimens. They seem like recipes for disappointment. Garbanzos work best as hummus, a tremendous breakfast food with some grilled and drizzled toast.

As my old Truly Terribly Traveling Toon insists:
Beans for tea,
makes me a musical SOB …

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus