I am a graduate assistant in the accounting school here at UGA, and the professor I worked for last year is a Louisiana man. I remember him telling me once that when Hurricane Katrina hit, and many students at Louisiana universities were relocated to UGA, that he and his wife had a group of those transfer over one night and cooked red beans and rice and talked about home with them. I thought that was awesome. I love the New Orleans area (though I've only been once, and that was on a disaster relief mission trip after the hurricane hit)--I'm not really sure why. Maybe the French influence, maybe the profound sense of belonging that people from there seem to have... maybe partly because A Streetcar Named Desire, which was an excellent play, was set there. Anyway, one thing is for sure--I love the food.
I tell this story because, one day after grading exams with my professor, it occurred to me that I had never really had "authentic" red beans and rice, and that if I wanted to know how to make them with a true Louisiana flair, he would be the perfect person to talk to about it. So I asked him how he makes his red beans and rice.
He gave me a dissertation! Whew! And though he usually uses meats to flavor his beans, he knew that I "like to keep a vegetarian palate" and shaped his recommendation around that. Anyway, here are my red beans and rice, inspired by my professor, Dr. Harvey.
1 pound small red beans
1 tablespoon boullion
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
Several dashes of hot sauce
2-3 bay leaves
2 small onions
1 green bell pepper
5-6 stalks celery
2-3 cloves garlic
About 6-7 cups of water
Dice the veggies very finely. Throw everything into a pot and let it simmer for several hours (or throw everything into a crockpot and let it cook all day long). Once the beans are very tender, remove several scoops of them and purée them to make a paste. (Or just put them in a bowl and mash the heck out of them, like I did.) Stir them back into the pot. Serve with brown rice and fresh parsley.
The first time I made them, I cooked them on the stove and pre-soaked the beans. This time, though, I decided to press my rarely used crockpot into service. I started them at about 9:00 this morning and let them cook until about 7:00 tonight. I forgot how easy crockpot cooking was--you don't have to pre-soak the beans, you don't have to worry about anything boiling over, or having a hot stove to work around. You don't even have to stay home with it while it cooks!
This was just excellent. Very much on the spicy side, I have to say, but excellent. Bob said it wasn't too spicy for him, so there's my seal of approval.
This time I made my own seasoning blend to use, which I found on the web. I combined:
3 T. black pepper
2 T. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 t. nutmeg
2 T. dried parsley
4 T. cayenne pepper
2 T. chili powder
Well, now I've rambled enough about red beans and rice. I wanted to ask a question to all the vegans out there. How do you feel about honey consumption? I know that many vegans think, of course a vegan shouldn't eat honey--it's an animal product. But there are many vegans also who don't think twice about consuming honey. I have never felt extremely convicted about honey, I guess. I use honey substitutes when I cook and I feel good about that, but my general rule when buying cereal or granola bars or whatever it may be, has been that if honey is the only ingredient that keeps it from being vegan, and it doesn't contain large amounts of honey, then I'll probably still use it. I just feel like I would be hypocritical if I refused to eat honey when I don't feel that strongly about it, just on the principle that "it's not vegan."
The Vegan Outreach website linked to this article about honey. I guess it pretty much sums up the way I feel about honey... But I was wondering what other vegans think.
Bob and I are going to visit my family this weekend, for the first time since we went veg. Yikes! Any well-wishes would be greatly appreciated--I'm not sure about how it's going to go over. And tonight, there is a concert event here in Athens called "20/20 Vision: Changing the Power at the Pump." Its purpose is to raise awareness about global warming, and several environmentally minded politicians will be there to speak. I'm really excited about it. And... Bob's band is headlining at the event! In fact, I should probably leave for that now...