Thursday, March 23, 2017

Eat Like a Real Local, Anywhere.

In my short lifetime (only 58, have plans to age 200), whenever I have traveled, it was always important to find local eateries to experience the food.  Why?  Basically, how would I learn about different cuisines, if all I ever ate was what I already knew about?  If I didn’t like it, seaweed salad for instance, then no loss to me if I never ate it again.  What if it was something absolutely amazing, soft shelled crab sandwich (yep, you eat the shell and all with this crab), and I missed out?  Alright, I hear, “Well if you never tried it, how could you ever miss it?”   While that might be a good point for those who are complacent, have no curiosity or spirit of adventure; it’s definitely not good enough for me. 

Think of it this way, you heard about Aunt So and So, never met her; saw photos, heard about how great she was.  Suddenly, you hear that she passed away and feel an emptiness inside; a sadness, not just for her passing, but that you missed out on meeting this wonderful person.  That’s what people should feel about life in general; don’t let it pass you by while you make excuses; or are afraid you won’t like an experience.  You never know definitely, if you hide in a cocoon indefinitely.

My initial experience with Southwestern and Mexican cuisines were, sadly, chain restaurants who supposedly offered up authentic recipes.  Imagine my surprise, moving to the Southwest, finally dining on the “real stuff”, and pondering what the chains were serving.  Even ingredients, such as chile peppers, refried beans, black beans and hominy were novelty items in the supermarkets’ “international aisle”.  That’s why, with the recipe I am giving, it contains Lima beans, not white pinto beans aka Great Northern beans; didn’t find those till I came out to Utah.  I also wanted a brighter color to break up the monotony of red and black beans mixed together in a red sauce.  Since an Amish favorite is “Barbecued Lima Beans”, I certainly thought they would be a delicious addition to my version of Southwestern Beans.  Served with roast beef, barbecued ribs or chicken; along with fluffy buttermilk biscuits or cornbread, this recipe is a perfect side dish.

Why wonder what you’re missing out on, go find out!


Southwestern Beans


2 medium onions, chopped
2 large Jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 (12 -16 oz.) package thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans
3 (16 oz.) cans butter beans aka Lima beans
2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans

(Beans – drain, do not rinse)

2 (18 oz.) bottles barbecue sauce (smoked hickory flavored)


Spray 6 quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.  Layer onions, Jalapenos, bacon, black pepper and garlic in bottom.


Add layers of beans separately; or mix beans together and then place inside crock pot.  Pour barbecue sauce overall; cover; set on low for 5 hours.


Makes 20 – one cup servings.


 Bonus Recipe – Baked Barbecue Chicken Leg Quarters


4 chicken leg quarters (leave skin on)
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 (12 oz.) bottle brown sugar barbecue sauce


Preheat oven to 450F; line jelly roll pan with aluminum foil; spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place chicken on pan, drizzle olive oil over all; sprinkle salt and pepper over all.  Roast for one hour; remove pan, brush on half bottle of barbecue sauce over chicken.  Place back in oven for 10 minutes; repeat.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: the high temperature will melt the fat on the chicken, leaving the skin crispy, yet sealing juices into the chicken.

Mary Cokenour

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