Thursday, September 30, 2010
My uncle in Houston passed away after suffering really horribly. All his internal organs failed one after the other and he had gangrene in his stomach. He passed peacefully last Monday evening, with my aunt and my mom by his side. That was the last bit of peace to be had for a while.
So I flew out to Texas to be with family; and all kinds of cousins showed up from California and France, people I hadn’t seen in many years. I’d previously mentioned that my Texas aunt is batshit crazy, and she is. She firmly believes that the doctors killed her husband, and she plans to get an autopsy and sue. My poor uncle had a funeral service this past weekend, but as I type this, he’s still not laid to rest – and probably won’t be for a good long while. I watched my aunt grieve in the weirdest and worst of ways, by being horribly mean and lashing out at everyone. Nothing anyone did for her was good enough. We all left one by one, parting ways with her in an unfulfilling way. I have no idea if she will get through this.
There’s a lot more to this story, so much more, but it’s sad and angry and depressing. I’ve been in a funk since I returned, only to be faced with tedious work issues and perhaps a mid-life crisis of some sort where I just really loathe my current job and am desperately looking for a way out. On the plus side, I came home to Atlanta, where lovely breezes blow through open windows, and the first smell of fall is in the air. It’s so good to be home.
For a number of reasons (change of season, work schedule, depression), I’ve been looking for comfort food that won’t take too long to make apart from a bit of prep work; and right now, a bit of hacking away with knives at things in the kitchen seems to be good therapy for me. I’m also trying to make things that aren’t too unhealthy; although having said that, if someone put a bowl of buttery mashed potatoes in front of me right now, I’d devour it (inexplicably, mashed potatoes are my favorite comfort food. So are bread and cheese). Yesterday I made my friend Ryan’s turkey chili with the last jalapeno from our yard. The jalapeno and the basil are the only things that survived the ridiculous heat we had this summer, and one lone pepper still hung from the plant, waiting to be plucked. For dinner tonight, I’ve made one of my recent standby comfort meals, which is beans and sausage. Sure, you can make your own sausage, but I will not (in the interest of time). Sure you can soak your own beans overnight – but I’m going to go the lazy route and use canned beans for this. Besides, I always have a ton of canned beans in the pantry. The point of this meal is that it’s satisfying, it’s fast, and it’s comforting in a not so comforting moment. It’s not super original, but at times like this, I don’t give a rat’s ass about originality.
Beans. Sausages. Heartily serves 4 (2 sausages per person).
. 8 sausages (you can buy already cooked, or a mix of several. i usually use turkey or chicken sausages)
. 3 cans of beans (I usually get a mix of white kidney, red kidney, and great Northern)
. Olive oil
. 1 small onion, diced
. 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, grated on a Microplane grater
. ¼ cup molasses
. ¼ cup ketchup
. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
. 1 tablespoon dry mustard
. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
. Hot sauce (to taste)
. salt and pepper
1. Brown the sausages on either a grill pan, or a grill, or a regular skillet heated to medium high. When they’re browned, set aside.
2. If you want to, you can chop up a couple of slices of bacon and sauté those in a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until they render all their fat and become crisp. Remove bacon bits and let drain on a paper towel lined plate, and then sweat the onion in the bacon fat left over in the pot. You don’t have to do this, but sometimes bacon makes everything better.
3. Open cans of beans and let drain in a sieve. Heat your pot to medium and add a tablespoon of olive oil (or go the bacon fat route). Add the onion and let it sweat (which means, don’t let it brown; you just want it to get soft) for a few minutes, while stirring every so often. If it’s getting too brown, turn the heat down. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
4. Add the beans, and stir. Add the rest of the ingredients, salt and pepper to taste, and a half cup of water. Stir well together and bring to a simmer. Add the browned sausages, stir while being careful not to break up the beans, and clamp on the lid to the pot. Turn heat to low, and walk away for a while and go do something else like answer 15 work related emails about time entry and invoicing. Oh so much fun.
I would say give this a good half hour for the sausages to be cooked all the way through. If you cooked bacon bits in the beginning, add those to the pot before serving, or sprinkle a few in your bowl after you've dished some of the beans and sausages out.