Fantastic Black Bean Soup!

Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. 2 Notes:  #1) The ham hock/bone is the only tricky ingredient. I found out though that Safeway usually puts out ham bones in the meat section or you can ask at the deli. #2) I usually add double the lime juice and lots of salt & pepper...ya know black beans need a little doctoring ;)

2 cups dried black beans
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 or 2 jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried coriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
8 cups water
1/2 small ham hock or ham bone
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro, plus 6 to 8 sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the salsa cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. purchased fresh salsa
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the salsa cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. purchased fresh salsa
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Pick over the beans, discarding any misshapen beans and stones, and rinse well. In a large pot, combine the beans with cold water to cover by 3 inches. Soak for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Alternatively, for a quick-soak method, bring the beans and water to a rapid simmer (but do not boil), then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the beans and set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chilies to taste, garlic, bell pepper, cumin, coriander and oregano. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and the mixture is very aromatic, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the beans, water and ham hock, cover partially and simmer over medium heat until the beans are soft, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. Remove from the heat and discard the ham hock.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches, leaving some texture, and return the soup to the pot. Alternatively, process with a handheld blender in the pot until the desired consistency is reached. Add the lime juice, minced cilantro, salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, thin it with water. (If you prefer a velvety consistency, puree the soup until smooth, then pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan.) Reheat gently over medium heat.

Just before serving, make the salsa cream: In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lime juice, salsa, salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each bowl with the salsa cream and a cilantro sprig. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Simon & Schuster, 2001).


Becoming more Dutch

After arriving at the cabin (2 1/2 weeks ago), Dan, Julie, Bjørn and I headed out towards La Conner to find the tulip fields. Bjørn promised us, as the driver, that he would find tulips. After 3 daffodil fields, and 4 already cut and cleared tulip fields, we finally found a small patch of tulips. 

Then as we drove back to the highway, we came upon this field. Quite beautiful. 

Julie, The Pink Tulip


Cabin pictures.

Looking for tulips...but settled for daffodils.

It had been a long canoe adventure...we were wet and ready to be done.
(notice how I got stuck in the middle)


Feliz dia de la madre!

WHAT?!, originally uploaded by The Enforcer.

Happy Mother's Day to my new mom.) (Sorry this is such a serious shot!


Fun in the Sun?

Bjørn asked me last night if I could say in one phrase what I wanted this weekend to be, what would it be? I responded "Fun in the Sun." Unfortunately, we woke up this morning and once again, it is cloudy with no chance of sun. 

At least we got to go for a picnic and walk at Lake Padden last night. I love how many different bodies of water we have within 30 min. of us!

And now, I am sitting on the couch as Bjørn makes me french toast and a smoothie. What a gem. 


Koneecheewa Dan & Jurie!

Say goodbye to these guys..., originally uploaded by The Enforcer.

Our x-roommates and good friends from TWU, Dan and Julie, are off to Korea to teach ESL and make cash money in a month! But they left BC and us this last weekend.

As a send-off, Bjørn and I set up using our Uncles' cabin (just south of Bham) at Cain Lake. The weather was awesome enough to spend a lot of time canoeing and boating out on the peaceful lake (no motorboats allowed)... and of course, a little Settlers in the evening! I still have yet to win a single Settlers game, yet somehow I am convinced it is a good game (weird?!).

We took lots of pictures, but they are all sitting on Dan and Julie's camera waiting to be uploaded and sent to me. So until then, here is a shot from February, when Jana, Julie and I had a girls weekend at the cabin.

P.S. I realize that "Koneecheewa" is Japanese, not Korean. One of our friends kept saying koneecheewa, because he didnt' know any Korean!

Fiesta Celebraccion

Tamales in a pot, originally uploaded by The Enforcer.

For the last day of my after-school program session #1, I made tamales for all the students to try. We did tamales since both the outside (a corn husk) and the inside (maza) come from corn, and our whole unit was all about corn.

Boy, were they a major pain in the butt to make though! I was thinking since I was going to all the effort to make them, I'd prefer to make a big batch, like 2 dozen. I miscalculated a little and made enough maza for 4 dozen... Boy do those corn husks get exhausting to tie! Maybe one day I'll actually get to use banana leaves for the shell, like they do in Guatemala!

Our Sequim Weekend Getaway

IMG_3100.JPG, originally uploaded by The Enforcer.

I finally posted pictures from when Bjørn and I went to Sequim (on the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula). Olympic game farm was the highlight. Lots of wild animals in your face. Literally.