koan:\ KOH-ahn \  , noun;

A nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.

While enjoying some reading in the wonderful foodblogging world I have noticed  some people holding  animosity towards using recipes to cook. This boggles.

You know you have a blog, right? That you print recipes on.

Yes it’s great you can sous vide everything, but where do you think you learned to do that from? A recipe. Yes it’s a technique, but it is part of a whole.

I don’t always cook from recipes. It depends on my mood, and like most, when I do, I make it my own, unless it doesn’t need me messing with the work that went into it to make it, well, a recipe.

Some may purely cook from recipes, and so what? Not everybody has the, confidence, skill, creativity, or the devotion to invent a new cookie.

Recipes do more for us then give us strict instruction. There are no recipe police. I promise no one is watching. Take out that raw onion. Foods go together. Some don’t. Do you know what is helpful to some people to know what gels? Recipes.

I appreciate the effort someone takes to make and test a recipe. There is not enough time in our lives to try every combination and measurement of foods. If we all do our part, we can enjoy the better ones and  we all don’t have to try putting bacon and grapefruit together. Recipes are especially important to me with foods from other countries besides my own. I do not know every condiment that exists, but I love when I find out about a new one, which is usually through a recipe. Oh, and how I love when traditional recipes are different in every family. No two paellas are the same, and I don’t think I could ever stop trying a new chili recipe.

I also think some people forget not everybody has unlimited amounts of money to spend on food, and food swag. There are some things in the food world I am sure I am unaware of for the mere fact I could never afford to cook with them on any kind of regular basis. We all can’t roll around in truffles. I would like to, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Most of the time fish is a luxury. Recipes help in giving you ideas for things like potatoes which are affordable, but you have had three thousand times and need some inspiration for.

Cooking with recipes has given me the skill to know what I like and don’t like. I would have never thought to put pumpkin and chocolate together, and I am glad I didn’t. It’s gross, but I enjoyed finding out.

There is also an aesthetic quality to a printed recipe for me. My handwriting is like a twelve-year-old boys. Suffice it to say I print a lot. I like fonts. I like books. I love pictures of food. I like the recipes I cut out of  magazines and organized crazily in 15 three-ring-binders. I cannot hold everything in my brain. Sometimes I am reminded that a grilled ham and cheese exists because I have a recipe for it. Not because I need a recipe for grilled ham and cheese, but because lots of times I decide what I cook by looking through recipes and deciding what I don’t want, and then I see grilled ham and cheese, and it’s so simple it slipped my mind, but it is exactly what I wanted the whole time.

There is a point to all this bitching! I love black bean soup. Love, love, love. After trying countless recipes, I gave up. I couldn’t find the one. Sometimes something simple is more difficult to conquer than say yeast, which was pleasantly easy for me, but I know lots of people are intimidated by. So I tried again and what resulted was black bean soup Utopia.

Bliss Black Bean Soup (no recipe used)

2 15 1/2 o cans black beans, separate 1/2 cup (rinsed as always)

5 slices of bacon (I used black pepper thick-cut), sliced into 1/2 inch strips

2 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth, separate 1/4 cup

1 bay leaf

2 celery stalks

2 carrots

1/2 large onion

1 jalapeno seeds removed

1 green hot pepper (use what ever second pepper you like)

1/2 tbls. freshly ground cumin

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne

4 garlic cloves

4 tomatillos





sour cream

avocado (optional)

Render bacon, when crispy remove from pan. Remove all but 1 tbls. of bacon fat.

Add 1 tbls. of butter, salt, add mire poix, and saute, for a few minutes. Add peppers. Saute until just softened, no color.

Add garlic, saute 30 seconds.

Add tomatillos, saute for a few minutes.

Add spices.

Add broth.

Add 1 1/2 cans of beans.

Bring to a boil. Turn own to a low simmer. Simmer for 50 minutes. Stir often. It will start to thicken. Add extra broth, and reserved beans. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes or until you think it tastes good. Minutes won’t hurt this soup.

When the soup is to your liking, add chopped cilantro a good fresh squeeze of lime, and top with sour cream.

* I did get an avocado to puree into the soup, but forgot about it. I don’t think it needs it, but would probably taste good for those of you who like the cado.

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