Mixed post: best Mexican beans &rice recipe ever, TV, books&documentary reviews (&no mention of Miley or the VMA's, I swear;)

     I made excellent Mexican rice AND excellent homemade refried beans yesterday. I've been looking for a good recipe for both for about twenty years (not. kidding.) and I think I've lucked into a couple of Holy Grail's, recipewise. Both are cheap (important!) and easy (also! important!) and neither require any esoteric chef type techniques or ingredients.

*the rice recipe: http://food52.com/recipes/1918-mexican-rice

It's submitted by a Food 52 user named 'lastnight'sdinner.' Food 52 is a marvelous site. They even have a 'Dirt Cheap Recipes' section, and a 'Community Winners' section (which has the best, easiest curry recipe I've ever found: http://food52.com/recipes/11867-cheap-creamy-chicken-curry). So the rice: you have to toast the uncooked rice, sans liquid, and then toast the tomato concentrate as well.  The toasting is the thing here, you can't skip it. I've made recipes very similar to this one, without toasting, and the end result is night and day. Who knew that toasting those little rices made all the difference? The nice thing about this recipe, besides the fact that it tastes great and is cheap and easy, is that you can modify the spices (less pepper, more chilies, etc). Also noteworthy, the onions should be cooked in bacon grease. I know. I KNOW, ok?  Just do it already and don't think about it.   If you haven't been keeping the drippings from your bacon in a jar in the fridge, all I can say is, that's your choice, but you're wrong. Don't even start with the health risks, I don't want to hear about it. It's a leeetle teeeny dollop of bacon drippings, not a dime bag.  You'll live, and what's more, you'll live with a great bowl of rice in your belly, and if that's not living, I don't know what is (no, I don't get out much lately, doesn't matter, I still know how to party with rice. It's a hardcore life but I can handle it).

*the bean recipe: http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2012/02/homemade-refried-beans/

I always thought that homemade beans were tricky. As it happens, nope,  not tricky at all.  They are, like the rice, cheap and easy and, here's the important part, so so much nicer and yummier than the canned kind. I really guess I thought that the only good beans and rice I'd ever get would be at a restaurant; I'm delighted to be proven wrong.   The recipe calls for a one pound bag of beans, and I don't think it made enough servings.  It fed three teens and one Me but there were no leftovers, and we pretty much live and die on leftovers around here. I gave the kids sandwiches, apples, oranges, rinse and repeat,  forrrrreeeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrrr (Sandlot!) (I seem! to be! using these! a lot! tonight! At least I spelled A LOT as Two Freaking Words, Get A Clue, Good People Of The Internet!) and finally in the last couple of years (after much unfair and ridiculous whining about ennui and diversification and wah poor me my lunch is boring type nonsense) I just said to hell (heck, I mean, {family blog}) with this and bought a bunch of tupperware and started giving the kids leftovers from supper.  Of course friends and classmates here gave them a hard time at first (the NJ kids would NOT have given anyone a difficult time about good food; they would have bogarted every drop they could get, but these KS kids are afraid of anything that's not bread {they do know their way around a good meatloaf, though, I'll give them that}). The kids have microwaves at school (which doesn't make sense to me; they run gun drills all the time but they leave a bunch of microwaves in the common room? I mean, I'm glad they do, but still, illogical safety wise. But then again running gun drills makes no sense to me if they don't lock the outside doors, and they don't, so whatever. I guess they have to make SOME sort of distinction between a school and a prison), (I seem to be using these ( ) a great deal tonight as well. Here's some more ((({{{[[[]]]}}}))) .............so the kids just reheat supper food, and it's been working out great. They're not longer coming home ready to pour ketchup on the cat because they're so hungry, and there are no more complaints about boring lunches.

Moving on. The recipe calls for a one pound bag of pinto beans, and I'm going to double or triple that next time. Also, I used red beans, not pinto, and it worked out fine. I'd like to mix up pinto/kidney/red beans and see what happens (like I said, I can party). And the beans aren't strictly, in the legal sense, refried, but I like them like this, so I'm not complaining.  I did soak the beans the day before in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, just to cut down on cooking time. It does take a while even with pre-soaking. Make sure to save the water they cook in, it's nice to be able to make the beans as thick or not as you want. Oh yeah, I forgot, I added a sprinkle of cumin (it's not in the recipe) because I think Mexican food needs cumin, period.  Just not the same without it. I shredded some medium sharp cheddar on top of the hot beans and served it in a bowl next to the rice and people, It Was Good. There's so much on my Life List Of Things I Said I Was Gonna Do that just isn't getting done, it brings me no end of joy to cross Find A Good Beans And Rice Recipe off the list.

Books I've read/am reading this week:

Eric by Terry Pratchett (it's his version of Faust, and like everything in the world, his version is better): http://www.amazon.com/Eric-Terry-Pratchett/dp/0380821214

Dandelion Wine (I usually re read it in the summer, late this year) by Ray Bradbury: http://www.amazon.com/Dandelion-Wine-A1922-Ray-Bradbury/dp/B001AD8NHI/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377665001&sr=1-2&keywords=dandelion+wine+by+ray+bradbury

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett: http://www.amazon.com/Equal-Rites-Discworld-Terry-Pratchett/dp/0062225693/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377665097&sr=1-1&keywords=equal+rites+terry+pratchett

I didn't finish this one, and have no intention of doing so in the future. I really did not like the five or so chapters I did start; it was not, to my way of thinking, beguiling (the cover quote totally lied):  The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman: http://www.amazon.com/Imperfectionists-Novel-Random-Readers-Circle/dp/0385343671/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377665170&sr=1-1&keywords=the+imperfectionists+by+tom+rachman

TV shows I've watched this week: 

Silk on PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/silk/  .  It was quite good, and I wish it hadn't been, as I am sick unto death of lawyers, lawyer shows, etc etc. Nevertheless, worth watching.

Farscape re-runs: http://www.henson.com/fantasy_scifi.php?content=farscape   . I'd watched this a long time ago, and forgotten how much I like it just for sheer weirdness content. Remember when Doctor Who wasn't cute and the show was off the charts weird? I thought Warehouse 13 was going to be good and weird, what a letdown that was. I like a good weird. Farscape is a good knitting show; I'm already panicking about Christmas knitting (I mean, I still owe Umi a baby blanket from his birth, I just finished Julie's Christmas present....if anything, I'm not panicking enough). I put on Farscape and knit and knit (see: more evidence of the hardcore life).

stitch count

Drunk History (I know I listed this before, I'm re-listing because I love it and Because I Can (adulthood, yay):  http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/drunk-history  . There are old ones on youtube if you aren't dumb enough to subscribe to cable, like me. It's still funny, and it's still a brilliant, brilliant idea. And, it must be said, this is far and away the least offensive show the kids watch, which adds to my overall fondness for it. I'm speaking as a person, a scarred, quiet suffering (well, ok, not suffering so quietly; I Shared Opinions From Time To Time if you must know) heroic soldier type person, who has watched more than one season of "The Hills," one entire season of "Pretty Little Liars," and a show I can't remember the name of where twin sisters do a parent trap but Sister A goes rogue and refuses to leave at the end of her tour of duty because this new family is Rich with a capital R, and her new mother isn't a stripper, she's just an alcoholic, she's awesome,  and then, THEN, she (Sister A, not the alcoholic mom) makes out with Sister B's boyfriend, she's a total skank, except it's okay, because Sister B Learns A Lesson in her new, unimproved situation about Poor People, They are Almost Just Like Real People Except With Ugly Clothes And Bad Food and Bad Cars, and then for some reason there's a party where someone drives a car into the lake and someone dies, except then that maybe that someone DOESN'T die, maybe, can you believe it? I. could. not. believe. it.

The Last Train Home on POV via PBS:  http://www.pbs.org/pov/lasttrainhome/  . This is a documentary about the million plus migration of Chinese workers to and from their homes in the countryside and their factory jobs in the city. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw something this depressing. It is Really Really Depressing. It's just almost unbearable. I mean, China, WTF? What are you thinking? And America! What the hell? What are we doing? The image of the starving workers sewing ten foot high piles of Levis is going to stay with me a while. It's bleak. Oh my word it is bleak. Am I glad I saw it? Weeeeeelll. I mean, I guess. Knowledge is good, understanding the world around you is important, sure thing, but wow, this one is hard to get through. It's grim enough to make you want go digging on youtube to find out what happened next in that one show with the Sisters A & B with that one story where they did that thing. Almost.

Pictures I liked this week:

franken phillipe faurlt everything is awful earphones shuandead ghost helmetviathemarysue

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