Crowd Pleasing on a Budget

Life has been a little hectic lately. Interesting but hectic. I am down in what we call “the Valley” of South Texas. Yup, the Rio Grande Valley to be exact. It’s not a glamorous place by any means. The sky has a perpetual haze, and border patrol agents are more visible than law enforcement officers. They actually take the place of door greeters at the local Walmart sometimes. No joke.

Desert sun. That halo though!

I have been down here for work, but it’s taking a little longer than expected to get the ball rolling. My friend D and her family have been super generous and tolerant of my crazy ways while I stay with them. I have been trying to make myself useful and cook since the whole work thing isn’t panning out the way I had envisioned. Cooking for five is already a challenge for me because I usually just cook for one or two. Luckily, everyone has been keeping a pretty open mind to my plant-based creations.

I already know that the whole family loves beans, and my friend mentioned she bought a bag. Perfect! I soaked the whole bag overnight. This will yield enough beans for a small army. All five of us ate dinner, I had two more bowls later that night, and I made a batch of black bean burgers, 11 to be exact, and there are still some beans left. So by all means, half or quarter the recipe, or freeze some for a quick weeknight dinner on a chilly night.

When you soak the beans, make sure they are completely covered with water and they are in a large bowl because they will expand. Once it’s cooking time, chop one large onion, four stalks of celery, four carrots, five cloves of garlic, one jalapeno if you like it spicy, half of a green bell pepper, and half of a red bell pepper. Over medium-low heat, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pot. Add the onion and allow to cook until translucent. Add the rest of your chopped veggies and garlic along with 1-2 tablespoons of cumin depending upon how strong your cumin love is. I also added 1 teaspoon of turmeric, black pepper, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon Old Bay, 2 tablespoons of Tony Chachere’s, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, and a dash of ground ginger. Saute everything for a few minutes.

Once the veggies start to get tender, add one can of beer, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke, and a dash or two of rice wine vinegar. I used PBR. Now you can add the soaked-and-drained beans and enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low so that the beans simmer. Taste them but keep in mind that the flavors will get stronger as the liquid evaporates. I usually end up adding more Tony’s, but since my friend’s mom doesn’t like spicy foods, I just added salt at this point. You will want to stir occasionally and keep checking the seasoning. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly, add more water. You want the beans to be covered with liquid during the entire cooking process. When the beans are tender but not mushy, they are done. I also made a loaf of beer bread using another can of PBR to serve with this. Cornbread would be awesome too!


  • 1 package of dried black beans, sorted, soaked overnight, drained
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • half a green bell pepper, chopped
  • half a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • dash of ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 12-ounce can or bottle of beer
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • dash of rice wine vinegar
  • water
  • olive oil

Over medium low heat, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pot. Add the onion and cook until translucent.

Add the remaining veggies and the dry spices. Cook for a few minutes until the veggies start to get tender.

Add vinegar, soy sauce, beer, liquid smoke, and drained beans. Cover with water.

Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about two hours.

Stir and check the seasoning several times while they simmer. Make sure the beans are completely covered with liquid during the whole cooking process.

Once the beans are tender but not mushy, they are done.



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