Discover more from Broccoli Rising, the Newsletter from Ellen Kanner
Broccoli Rising, Black Beans and Civil Disobedience
As a kid, my parents let me eat and read anything I wanted. Maybe they were intentionally empowering, more likely they were busy doing other things, but they trusted I could figure things out. They were right. I made a few poor food choices but I learned from the process and I learned something from every damn book I read.
Florida’s governor doesn’t want to take that chance. He’s led the pack on:
anti-LGBTQ laws and other extremist legislation designed to control what we can read, think and say.
I’m only half-joking when I say next thing you know, beans will be branded WOKE and vanish from our shelves and our lives.
This brings me to Saturday. I was in my grocery store checkout line, buying my usual — oat milk, beans, spinach, mushrooms, kale, tomatoes and lemons. I wore a T-shirt that said VEGAN emblazoned on the front. The bag boy asked, “Are you a real vegan?”
He asked it like, “Are you a real elf?” or “Are you a real alien?’
I assured him I’m a legit vegan. My kind walks amongst you.
“How do you get to be one?”
Oh, man, I wanted to take this kid home and feed him, but instead, I answered all his basic questions — why did you become vegan, what do you eat, and finally, can I do it?
“Of course you can. You’ll be a great vegan.”
“Wow,” he said, looking at the floor. “You can’t even say the word vegan in my neighborhood. They’ll think you’re crazy.”
“Why is it crazy to eat differently? To take care of yourself? To save the animals and protect the environment?”
But what he really wants is to save his grandma. “She has diabetes.” High blood sugar and a diet high in simple carbs. Not a good combination.
This kid isn’t crazy. He’s loving, smart . . . and afraid. Afraid of losing his grandmother, afraid for his own health, afraid his family and friends will make fun of him and his food choices.
I waved my bag of beans at him and suggested he start by making black beans with his abuela. They’re comforting, culturally appropriate in his Latino household and a great gateway into plantbased. They’re high in fiber and protein, with a low glycemic index. They’re totally delicious and nothing to be afraid of.
Even in our current culture of fearmongering, we still have certain freedoms, so let’s use them. So yes, you can say vegan, you can be vegan, you can support public libraries and public schools and the right to read everything. You can buy and read books, not ban them, join a Banned Books Club, and call out censorship and repression. You have the right to vote in our democracy, to learn our history. You have the right to have people honor your food choices, your gender identity and all the flavors that make you who you are. You have the right to cook beans. Call it an edible act of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is part of our history. You can join the ranks of greats like Thoreau, Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
So I say unto you, go, cook black beans and eat them to celebrate Latin American Heritage Month, to keep nourished during Banned Books Week, and as an act of civil disobedience. It’s the American thing to do.
Cuban Black Beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 sweet red pepper chopped
1 hot pepper like a jalapeño, chopped
1 pound dried black beans cooked
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 head kale or Swiss chard sliced into skinny ribbons (aka chiffonade)
sea salt to taste
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until they start to sweat, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and both the sweet and hot pepper.
Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes, until they're softened and aromatic. Add cumin, tomato paste and smoked paprika, and stir until combined, and vegetables have taken on a warm and rosy glow.
Stir in the black beans and about 1 cup of the bean cooking broth. Reduce heat to medium, set the pot lid on halfway, leaving a little steam vent. Cook the beans for an hour, longer if you've got the time. Add more bean broth, 1/2 cup at a time, if beans seem dry. Aim for thick, not over-dry. The goal is a divine beanly sludge.
Stir in the sherry or cider vinegar. Remove from heat.
Add the chiffonade of kale or chard by the handful. Stir gently, letting the greens wilt into the beans.
Season generously with sea salt to taste.
Looking for a printable version of this recipe? Grab it here.
National Latin American Heritage Month through October 15
October 1-7 Banned Books Week
October 9 Indigenous Peoples Day
October 10 World Mental Health Day
October 12-19 Feed those in need in your community #UniversalPlate through Social Gastronomy Movement
October 31 Halloween
More delicious plantbased ways to celebrate
Latin American Heritage Month
Cuban black beans pair perfectly with this vegan spin on Cuban steak
Oozy, easy, cheesy queso fundido
Have a terrific Taco Tuesday (or any day) with these pumpkin poblano tacos
Eddie Garza’s spicy eggplant
Mexican chocolate love bites make for a warmly spiced, sweet finish
Starting in October, look for more Broccoli Confidential online cooking classes, interviews, and other special events and opportunities for paid subscribers. Free subscribers, you’ll always receive my free weekly Broccoli Rising newsfeed. But consider upgrading to paid membership. I’d hate you to miss out.
Thanks to you all for reading and subscribing. This issue of Broccoli Rising is free. Please spread the broccoli love and share.