Monday, October 19, 2009

New Jersey - Saturday

The gracious hosts, Paul (A.) and Catherine with an old woman

After we finished lunch, Doug and I returned to his Toyota Celica and headed for New Jersey to the home of Paul (A.) and his lovely wife Catherine. I finally rode the New Jersey Turnpike, about which I have heard so much. The traffic was not bad that day. I saw the port, rows and rows of empty containers, the oil storage tanks, the utility company structures, the most scenic features of the Garden State. (Ouch! That's a low blow. Sorry, New Jerseyites, I couldn't resist.)

Doug is a good driver, and with only one pit stop for Doug to buy cheaper New Jersey gas and a visit to the facilities, and a stop at a Filipino bakery in town to buy dessert, we made our way to Paul and Catherine's home. Paul emailed Doug clear and detailed directions, and he found his way to the house without difficulty.

Paul, Catherine, their beautiful daughter Elizabeth, and Allie were waiting for us. Allie looked wonderfully intact, considering that she had been thrown off her bicycle by a hit and run driver only days before. I was so happy to see gorgeous Allie looking so good. See for yourself below. I'm thinking that black is perhaps not my color, or maybe I just look that bad in any color. Oy!

Allie and me

Catherine and Paul(?) prepared a delicious meal for us which included appetizers of salmon, cheese, and crackers, and large and delicious boiled shrimp with a spicey dip. You know the shrimp were tasty if I say so, because I'm accustomed to good Louisiana shrimp. Paul didn't know where they came from. Oh, I nearly forgot the fresh strawberries from the garden.

While we had our drinks of choice and nibbled the appetizers, Deborah arrived. It was not until well into the visit that I realized that we had a priest in our midst. Deborah is the rector of the church that the family and Allie attend. I said, "Oh, you're a priest!" and I gave Deborah a big hug, just in case I had embarrassed my hosts and Allie in front of their rector. They said no, that she was cool and not easily embarrassed.

Then we had dinner. The menu consisted of a black bean and sweet potato stew, risotto, and salad. Everything was delicious. The ingredients for the stew sound like an unlikely combination, but it was gooood. Catherine sent me the recipe, which is below.

Two good-looking dudes - Doug and Paul

Last course was dessert. Allie made a scrumptious toffee-banana pie. It was the best. And we had the desserts from the bakery, and perhaps more. My memory is fading. Another lovely evening. And Doug was kind enough to put up with me all day Saturday. Poor man.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 25 minutes | makes 2 to 3 servings
I really like this recipe, its similar to chili but different enough to be interesting.
large saucepan, knife

3 Tbsps. Olive Oil
1 C. chopped Onion
1 Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 1/2 C. diced peeled Sweet Potato (about 6 oz.)
1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes (14-16 oz.)
1 can Black beans or 2 cups drained cooked Black Beans, rinsed.
3 Tbsps. chopped cilantro
1/2 tsps. Tabasco or Hot Pepper Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste (it may not need it)

1) In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add the onion, green pepper,
and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the chili powder and cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and sweet potato. Cover and cook
until potatoes can be pierced with a sharp knife, about 10 minutes.

2) Add the stewed tomatoes and beans, breaking the tomatoes up into smaller chunks
with the side of the spoon. Simmer the stew uncovered over medium-low heat until
the potato is very tender, about 8 minutes. To thicken the sauce slightly, mash about
a quarter of the beans against the side of the pan.

3) Stir in cilantro and season with Tabasco and salt and pepper (if desired).

Recipe from Post Punk Kitchen.