Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday Beads

I've always been interested in how quickly knowledge disappears, how soon we forget what really happened and how stories repeated become remembered truth. This is particularly common in families, I think, where everyone remembers the time Jimmy wanted to fly and jumped off the garage roof, or the time Cathy took her dress off during Christmas dinner. Well, everyone thinks they remember, but often the memory has been implanted by hearing the story over and over again until it becomes a visual recollection.
I don't remember much from my childhood. I look at the photographs and see my sister Nancy and me dressed in shorts sets on our annual Highlights-of-the-East summer car trips to Niagara Falls, Williamsburg, the Jersey shore, Washington, DC, the Skyline Drive or Cypress Gardens. I don't really remember those trips, though I do have a vague memory of throwing up on my sister's needle work somewhere in the mountains.
There are other "memories" I have that aren't visual but are still firmly embedded in my brain. I remember our mother telling me that Nancy got her head stuck between the spindles in the second floor railing and they had to call the fire department to get her out. To be clear, I don't recall the event but I recall the telling of it. My sister doesn't remember it. So did it happen or not?

Mom also told me that Nancy once stuck a bean up her nose. I have a clear picture in my mind of Nancy crying with a green bean up her nose, although sometimes it's a lima. I wasn't there and I guess I never asked Mom what kind of bean it was so the image, though perfectly clear, alters slightly depending on the day.

As it happens, Nancy is visiting us in Pittsburgh this week and I was excited that she'd be here for Monday Beans and I thought maybe she'd reprise the bean-up-the-nose trick.

But when I mentioned this to her she said, "Bead."



"What kind of bead?"

"I think it was a wooden bead, the kind you string. I don't really remember."

What?! She doesn't remember either? Did it even happen? I'm shattered. I have this clear picture of Nancy with a bean up her nose and I was going to cleverly tie that into Monday Beans and now I learn it's a bead and we don't even know for sure what kind of bead. The image in my mind is wrong and it makes me wonder what other memories and stories are suspect. With no actual memories of my own, I now have a childhood that's a vast empty tundra. And beanless.

Pigeon Peas and Rice

2 cups pigeon peas, soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf

Saute the chopped onion in a little olive oil until transparent. Add the pigeon peas and bay leaf and water to cover by an inch or two. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and cook until the pigeon peas are just tender.

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup sofrito (I used frozen, feel free to make your own)
1-1/2 cups rice
3 cups vegetable broth
liquid smoke
balsamic vinegar
Vegetarian worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Saute onion, garlic and pepper in a little olive oil until transparent. Stir in the spices and saute a few more minutes. Add sofrito and cook a few more minutes. Add the rice, stir until coated, then add the broth, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until rice is almost cooked. Add the drained pigeon peas, stir to combine. Add a little liquid smoke, some worcestershire and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro.

These were ok, not great. And Nancy wouldn't put any up her nose.


  1. Okay, so the beans weren't great, and I refused to reprise my bead performance. but we were together, cooking and talking and laughing. And that's an actual (and precious) memory!

  2. I was charmed by your memories and love the recipe. I found your blog by chance and am intrigued by what I found. I'll be back often to see what you've been cooking. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary