Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"It's a Picnic!" & "Summertime Food" - Barbecued Frankfurters and Black Beans with Anchos

Date I made these recipes: August 29, 2011

It’s A Picnic! by Nancy Fair McIntyre
Published by: Gramercy Publishing Company
© 1969
Recipe: Barbecued Hot Dogs – p. 8

Summertime Food by Miriam Ungerer
Published by: Random House
© 1966, 1989
Recipe: Black Beans with Anchos – p. 215

This week is State Fair week here in Minnesota and if my friend, Dan, is correct (and I think he is), then temperatures will drop on or around Labor Day, heralding the (unofficial) start of fall in Minnesota.

When I whined last year about how the temperatures were 100 degrees one day and then 70 the next, Dan pointed out this weather phenomena to me. I wasn’t quite convinced until this year when sure enough, in a span of a few days, we’ve gone from 86 and humid to today’s balmy temperature of 69. I.am.freezing.

This (low temperature) weather makes me ornery. Really, really ornery! And sad because I love summer and hate to see the end of hot weather, a great tan, being outdoors (in an urban setting, of course!) and summertime food. Not that there’s a timer on when one should stop making summer salads and barbecues, but my friends, our days seem to be numbered.

And so this is why, in an effort to keep the dream alive, I made these two summertime foods. Sure, I still have Labor Day left but we could have snow by then and I don’t want to take any chances.

I am happy to report that the barbecued franks were pretty tasty albeit a little salty for my taste. Could have been the hot dog or it could have been the ingredients, I don’t know. Sadly, I can’t recall the last time I had a hot dog—last year maybe? This makes me feel so, well, un-American all of a sudden! Must fix that.

As to the beans, well, I am unhappy to report that they were a complete failure. Not a minor failure, a complete bomb. And I’m scratching my head to understand why.

My husband pointed out that for whatever reason I’ve never had good luck with black beans. Whether it’s because they are hardier than other beans or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that I followed the directions to the letter – and then some – and they were still inedible.

As directed, I soaked the beans overnight. Actually, it was more like a night and a half. And then I cooked the beans and celery for an hour and then added the rest of the ingredients and cooked for two more hours. And…nothing. So I kept them on the stove longer, adding water so they wouldn’t burn and still nothing. So I put them in the microwave at various intervals, adding water again so they wouldn’t burn and nothing. Nothing plus nothing plus nothing equals nothing.

Finally after what seemed a bazillion hours after I started, I pulled over the garbage can and dumped the beans into the waste basket. Good thing I made only half a recipe as I hate to waste food but not only were the beans not done but there wasn’t any flavor to the beans.

I remain mystified.

And so, dear reader, we had hot dogs for dinner and that was that.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my long underwear.

Barbecued Hot Dogs – serving size not noted although hint, you will use 6 frankfurters!
6 frankfurters
¼ cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp salad oil
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
6 Tbsp chili sauce
6 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco

Saute the onions in the salad oil. (Ann’s note – I think 2 Tbsp oil is too much for a ¼ cup of onions but that’s just me.) Add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Score the frankfurters and marinate them in the sauce a couple of hours.

Black Beans with Anchos – serves 6 to 8
1 pound dried black (turtle) beans
2 dried ancho chili peppers (Ann’s note: dried anchos are really dried poblanos. If you don’t see anchos in the grocery store, but do see poblanos, use that as a substitute.)
1 or 2 stalks celery
3 small strips smoked country bacon (also known as “speck”)
1 cup mined onion
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Pick over, rinse, and soak the beans in cold water to cover overnight. (Or bring to a boil, simmer one minute, turn off heat, and let soak for 1 hour before proceeding.) Drain.

Wash the anchos, split them and discard the stems and seeds. Pour on just enough boiling water to cover them, weight them under it, and leave to soak for an hour. Then puree them along with their soaking water.

Cover the beans and celery with fresh water, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 1 hour. Do NOT add salt. Add the bacon. Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil and add them to the beans along with salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste.

Continue to simmer the beans until tender, which usually takes about 2 hours, sometimes less. (Ann’s note: Ha! Liar, liar, pants on fire!) It’s a good idea to bake them for the latter hour because they’ll be less apt to stick. Black beans should be a little soupy; the juice cooks to a dark, thick pot liquor treasured by most bean fanciers.

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