Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Mouth Knows--or--BACON IS MY NEMESIS (Red beans)

I have been bad lately.  In my boredom and impatience I pushed the envelope a little too far.  And this time it didn't have anything to do with Brownies.

Have you ever tried to make red beans without onions, or garlic, sausage, or most of the spices one would normally use?  Or rice for that matter?  Here is what I have to work with on Day 1:

Proteins:  Chicken, Egg, Sardines
Starches:  Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Quinoa, Rye
Vegetables:  Kale, Cabbage, Green beans
Fruits:  Raspberry, Peach
Dairy:  None
Nuts, Seeds, Oils:  Peanut, Sesame
Flavor Enhancers:  Rosemary, Oregano, Coffee

In the beginning, I also had bell peppers to work with, but we switched them to Day 4 due to an alarming lack of color on that day.  (You'll see when I show you--everything was orange and brown!)

I should also mention that I start my rotation "day" at dinnertime.  That way I can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, provided they are safe and I don't react to them.  But as I am eating Day 1, for instance, I may be planning for or even already cooking Day 2.  It's hard not to mix them together during that process.

So what's the point of cooking kidney beans without all that other stuff?  I caved this week.  
First I put a little kombu seaweed in them to soften them.  Kombu is nowhere on any of my lists.  Didn't get tested for it, it's in a food family all by itself, so basically, I have no way of knowing whether I'm reactive to it or not.  I'm not supposed to add any new foods for a month.  Cheat number 1.

Then I put orange bell peppers on top, and chicken on top of that.  (and of course, lots of sea salt)  Bell peppers are, as I said, a day 4 food now, so I was cheating a little on that too, trying to extend day 4 a little into day 1.  Cheat number 2.

Then, after it had cooked a little bit, I panicked.  "My family is not going to eat this!  It needs more flavor!"  So I found some bacon in my fridge.

"Oh, bacon, it will be fine.  It's a Day 4 food, but since I didn't have it this time on Day 4, I should be able to extend it to Day 1, no big deal.  So it has a little sugar, a few nitrites, a few nitrates...how bad could it be?  I'll put a couple of pieces in too add some flavor and I'll take them out before we eat it.  In fact, I might have a few pieces right now since it is technically still day 4..."  Cheat number 3.

Aaaaaand it's back to square one.  The sad thing is, I didn't even use the spices that were available to me that day.  Oregano would have given it a nice flavor.  I have a little oregano plant right outside and it is delicious.  Rosemary--probably too strong.

How did I know this was a bad idea?  Well, after putting the bacon in the beans, and THEN deciding to eat some as a snack (I snack constantly during the day), my mouth was in pain almost immediately.  My throat started scratching, I started coughing, then my throat, my tonsils, the sides of my tongue began swelling and throbbing.  I looked at my beans then and said to myself, this is not going to be fun.

I assumed the pain would eventually go away, and took a "well, now I know" attitude and resigned myself to the fact that I would have to eat the beans that night for dinner, and just enjoy the flavor, knowing my throat would probably be a little sore afterward.

Two days later, my throat still hurts.  Like I'm getting sick.  But that can't be possible with all the vitamin C I'm taking!  Live and learn, right?  Only now I don't even know whether it is just the bacon because the next day I decided I needed some coffee--hey it's on my list for day 1--but..."I can add a tiny bit of sugar and a tiny bit of milk to make it palatable.  How bad could it be?"  (Cheat numbers 4 and 5.)

The answer is, I don't know.  Because it was already bad after the bacon.  I don't know if I'm reactive to the milk and sugar, or one or the other, if they exacerbated the problem, or I had no reaction to them at all, because I was still hurting from the day before.  Weirdly, the coffee actually seemed to soothe my throat a little, which makes things even more confusing.

Then last night I made apple fries and sprinkled a little truvia on them.  (Cheat number 6) Afterward I felt full and groggy, but my stomach still felt hungry.  And my throat was still hurting. So what is that about?  The truvia?  The milk?  The sugar?  The bacon still?

Ahh, life on a rotation diet.  I can't get away with cheating.  I am supersensitive to anything not on my list, it seems, and it always manifests in my mouth first.  No processed food means NO processed food, not even a little bit.  Single ingredients are best if possible.  If not, at least start out with single ingredients and combine them  at your own risk.

Most food tastes better in its natural state.  I can't think of a better way to prepare vegetables than steaming. Of course, beans don't really work that way.  At least not for me, not yet.  But next time I make them, here's what I'll probably do.

2 cups dry kidney beans in the slow cooker
4-5 cups of water.  (6 is too much--still working on the measurement for that).
Peanut or sesame oil--about a tablespoon
Add some sprigs of fresh oregano or a teaspoon or 2 dried
Add salt to taste and to soften beans

Cook on High for 2 hours if possible, then

Set chicken right on top--skinless boneless chicken breasts work fine, but a bone would probably give it more flavor.

Cook on low for 6 more hours.

My beans turn out wonderfully in texture in the slow cooker--best I've ever made.  Just fine tuning the flavor now and balancing that need with the need not to have a sore throat!  The mouth always knows.

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