Good news! Rob and I will not be homeless come May 1!
Having been thoroughly spoiled in our current home, we tried to balance what we wanted with our new place. Turns out we were wooed by suburbia. We are currently living at the East end of the city of Toronto, and will be moving all the way to the Western-most outskirts of the city of Toronto. My daily cycling commute will change to 9 km, which will probably be around 35 minutes but I have yet to try it out (still faster than transit). While we aren’t exactly thrilled with living in a cookie-cutter community, what we do appreciate is living in a 10-year old home that has been well-kept by the current owners (never before a rental!), a space for me to hibernate for studying purposes and the real bonus was a garage for us to keep our bikes. No more storing the bikes in the dining room! The kitchen is also pretty nice, roomy and complete with a gas stove (and a dishwasher!). Don’t laugh, we contemplated living in a few places without a dishwasher- it is more common than you might think.
What we’ve sacrificed for this gem of a house is basically location. Not only are we an extra 2km from downtown, but the subway is 2km away, necessitating a bus or street-car ride on rainy days. While I have located my new health store for my tempeh and dino kale fixes, sadly Sunny’s and Better Bulk are now quite a hike. Travelling East/West in midtown Toronto is definitely not very efficient, so I think I will have to plan for grocery shopping primarily at No Frills instead (cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes, anyone?). I am actually looking at this as an opportunity to force myself to eat through my pantry. Eat all my beans before we trek out to Texas. I can replenish my stash from Rancho Gordo once we settle there, hehe. ;)
To celebrate our impending moves, I decided to make a Mexican bean dish. This time simply spicy, citrus black beans. I changed Elise’s spicy citrus black bean recipe slightly, but the nontraditional Janet-ism was adding the spinach because I wanted some greens. Omit it for normal Mexican beany uses. My other changes were taming the spices, using only Aleppo chile flakes and smoked paprika, but feel free to add chipotles in adobo or whatever floats your boat. I also increased the lime juice and added in orange zest for more pronounced citrus flavours. The citrus paired incredibly well with the heat from the beans. This is definitely one of my favourite solo bean recipes to date.
Mexican Spicy Citrus Black Beans with Spinach
Adapted from Simply Recipes
2 cups dried black beans, soaked in water overnight
5 cups water
5-6 fresh sprigs oregano (or 2 tsp dried)
2 bay leaves
2 large sage leaves (or 3/4 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped (2 cups chopped)
1 chopped pepper – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded (2 cups red bell pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Zest from 1 orange
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (half an orange)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 bunches fresh spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped (500g) – optional
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
1. Add soaked beans to a large pot with 5 cups of water. Add oregano, bay leaves, and sage. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. Mine took an hour but I’ve had other black beans take much longer.
2. Meanwhile, heat a frypan on medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until soft, approximately 10 minutes. Add chile flakes, smoked paprika, cumin, and garlic. Stir until spices are fragrant, around 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside until the beans are ready.
3. Once the beans are ready, remove and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot of beans. Remove (but reserve and set aside) extra cooking liquid until there is about 1/2-inch of liquid above beans.
4. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened and your desired amount (or lack of) soupiness. Add reserved liquid if needed.
5. Add the orange zest and half of the orange juice, and simmer. Taste and adjust chili heat at this point, add more heat to taste.
6. If adding spinach, add to pot while still simmering. Cover with lid and allow the spinach to wilt, around 3-4 minutes. Stir into the beans.
7. Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve with or in your favourite Mexican foods (tostadas, tacos, burritos) or just with tortillas, rice and salsa.