Cooking makes me feel good

Despite a bunch of wonderful things about today - pancake breakfast, lovely music, playing in leaves, fall sun, a full moon - I couldn't snap out of a funk.

I moped, and then I got hungry.

As usual, very little is in my fridge, and only a bit more in the pantry. I had been saving a can of black beans for The Minimalist's potato salad, but was chili- and lime-less this evening. Instead, a can of tomatoes and Bittman's
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian saved the night! The winner? White rice and black beans.

Disheartened because I was also without cilantro and, more importantly, a stove-friendly and oven-save pan, I gathered my ingredients and stared into the cabinet thinking of ways to doctor the already so simple recipe. As I had resigned myself to a stir fry concoction, dear Joe screwed the plastic handles off a pot, and bam - we were in business.

My misery eased as soon as I began chopping, and was gone completely by the time the onion, pepper, and garlic made it onto the burner. Following a recipe and watching the food transform with each stage is satisfying, dependable, and exciting. It's what I love about cooking and baking. And hiccups happen, of course - tonight I discovered a plate and cookie sheet left in the oven from this morning's pancakes and then burned myself while taking them out. Still, the process totally centered me.

This was perfect comfort food - warm, easy, and delicious. Thanks, Mark Bittman.

Rice and Black Beans
adapted from Mark Bittman's
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
makes 4 - 6 servings

extra virgin olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 - 2 cans of black beans
1 1/2 c long-grain rice
1 c canned tomato, chopped with their liquid
salt and pepper
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in the pot for about a minute. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans. Mash or use an immersion blender until about half of the beans are pureed. Stir in tomatoes and rice. Salt and pepper generously, adding a few pinches of chili powder is desired. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

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