Ham and Beans and Sadness

Sunday I made ham and beans and cornbread.  And I love love love ham and beans and cornbread.  Why?  Because it tastes good.  Duh.  Also, it basically consists of throwing stuff in a pot and walking away, which leaves me lots of time for doing other, more fun things, like watching Teen Mom and judging people.

You might now be wondering why, if I’m doing the fun things I just mentioned, I would entitle this post “Ham and Beans and Sadness.”  And I’ll tell you….it’s because I was shown another side to my beloved Pioneer Woman.  Coincidentally, the ham and beans recipe I was using was from her website, and I’ll give you that in a minute, because they were really good. 

Also, I was sad because my camera battery was dead, so I couldn’t take any pictures of the ham and bean and cornbread making; I only got the finished product.  Boo. Hiss.

Okay, so let’s chat about PW for a minute.  I found her site maybe a year or two ago while I was looking for recipes, and I was immediately sucked in.  Her food always looks good, the recipes are easy to follow, and I enjoy her photography.  And she’s pretty funny, in a self-depriciating, record-her-own-burp-sounds kind of way.  I’ve been checking in and reading about her antics almost daily, and I’ve made several meals and desserts using her recipes.  I think maybe one didn’t turn out as good as she made it sound, which is definitely forgiveable.  It’s not like I’ve never cooked nasty food before….ask Trent.  He’d be happy to tell you about the soupy tuna casserole (FAIL) or the asian-fusion peanut chicken stuff (EXTREME FAIL) I made that one time.

Anyway.

It turns out there are a lot of people who really don’t like the Pioneer Woman.  I mean, they REALLY DON’T LIKE HER.  There are websites devoted to ridiculing her and exposing her as a greedy fraud who’s sold her soul to advertising.  Honestly, I was surprised and saddened.  (Sometimes I’m really naive.)  My first thought was, “How dare they say these horrible things about my friend PW?!?!”  I had to stop looking at those terrible things, so I stomped around my house for awhile mumbling about mean people sucking and things of that nature. 

But….I’ve always considered myself to be an open-minded person, so I decided to look again, just to see if there was any substance to what those miscreant trolls out there were saying.  I also reminded myself that me and PW are not actually friends, she has no one idea who I am, and I really don’t know her at all.  So I took a more objective approach as I began reading some of the information on these sites.  And boy was that interesting.  And maybe those people aren’t really miscreant trolls.  According to public farm records (or whatever), their family is worth millions, and that’s not including the revenue she gets from her website.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being worth millions, but when you call yourself an average farm wife…well, the average farm wife doesn’t shop at Anthropologie and spent tens of thousands renovating a guest house.  Also, according to “local townspeople,” PW’s rude and can barely deign to grace them with her presence unless she’s accompanied by a film crew for her new cooking show on the Food Network.  And guess who else sucks besides mean people?  Rude people.

So, is any of that stuff true?  I have no idea.  But I do know that the interwebs are a cruel, cruel place, and whatever you put out there, people are going to criticize, dissect, and make a mockery of it.  I do, however, still like the Pioneer Woman, and I’ll continue to visit her site, contribute to her crazy high traffic, and probably earn her a buck or two with every click of my mouse.   But I’ve got a more discerning eye now, and I don’t think it will ever be the same.  My blinders were lifted.  Sniff, sniff.

Anyway.  I’m not even really sure why I felt the need to relay all that information.  So how about an abrupt subject change to lighten the mood?

Food!

Let’s talk about ham and beans and cornbread for a sec.  Like I said, the ham and beans recipe came from PW.  They’re SPICY ham and beans, which was exactly what I was in the mood for.  I’ve made regular ham and beans plenty of times, but I’ve never added jalapenos and red peppers and chili powder.  I gotta say, those additions make a big difference, and in a good way.

The cornbread recipe came from allrecipes.com, my number one go-to place for recipes, meal ideas, and just when I’m bored.  Yes, I troll around on a recipe website in my down time.  It’s an exciting life I lead.

Spicy Ham and Beans
1 lb. dry pinto beans, soaked and rinsed
cut up ham, as much or as little as you like
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeno, chopped (leave the seeds in for more spice)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt
pepper
chili powder

Sort the dry beans, then soak and rinse per directions on the bag.  After they’re soaked and rinsed, put the beans in a big stock pot and cover with water….there should be about 2 inches of water above the beans.  These will cook for about 2 hours, and then you need to add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 20 – 30 minutes or until beans are tender.  Don’t forget to taste test and make sure you have enough salt and pepper in there.  And don’t try to get cute like I did with the sour cream and cilantro….it looks pretty in the picture but it didn’t really do much for the flavor.

Cornbread
(Disclaimer: This is not healthy.  At all.)
1/2 c. butter, melted
2/3 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have this, you can add vinegar to milk, I think.  Not sure though, so google it.)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a cast iron skillet (preferably) or a baking dish and put it in the oven to get hot.  Meanwhile, mix the butter, sugar, and eggs until well blended.  Combine the baking soda with the buttermilk before mixing both in with the butter mixture.  Stir in the cornmeal, flour, and salt until mixed.  Remove skillet from oven, and pour batter into it.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cut into squares, slather with butter (yes, more butter), and feel no guilt about the 200+ calories per square you are consuming.  Or feel guilty if you want to, your choice.

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