Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tastes Like... Chemicals

In the pre-healthy-food days of yore, one of the big treats of road trips was seasoned curly fries.  You know how it is: You make a potty stop at a fast food place, but since rest rooms are really only for customers, you need to make some sort of obligatory purchase to justify your status as a customer.

Our go-to purchase was seasoned curly fries.  We'd get an order and share it.  Extra salt. Yummm. We never bought seasoned curly fries in real life. Only on road trips.

And, plain fries were medicine. They were the thing to eat when one's stomach was revolting.

So, last Thursday we were on our way home from Sacramento, and something I'd eaten had left my stomach in that delicate, needing plain fries state.  

We got to our final gas and Starbucks stop at West Laval Road, and Spouse suggested I get some fries.

I'd heard that fast-food fries are often cooked in grease shared with gluteny items, and some fries are coated in a "modified starch" -- i.e., gluten.  So, if I got some, he couldn't have any.  I hate eating things in front of him that he can't have.  It just seems mean.

He assured me that, since plain fries are medicine, he'd have no temptation.

So, across the parking lot I went to the fast food purveyor to buy one order of plain fries. Got back in the car, opened the bag, and grabbed a small hand full. 

My stomach was looking forward to the soothing combination of crispy moist potato and salt.

I lifted the fries to my mouth, opened my lips, and inserted the long, tender strands of starchy, salty, greasy goodness. 

Brought my teeth down on them, crushing their crisp outsides, and unleashing their potato-ey insides.

I began chewing, anticipating the soothing, gentle flavor of....



The (bleep) things tasted like... chemicals!!

Where was the starchy salty stomach-soothing goodness I'd remembered?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  And, there's nothing like an upset stomach on a road trip to make one slightly insane.  So, I took two more bites.

And then came to my senses. Rolled the top of the bag closed, set it on the floor board, and tossed it when we got home.

The good news is, the chemicals didn't make my stomach worse. 

The other good news is, this particulare fast food purveyor posts its ingredients online.  Just in case you were wondering, some of the ingredients in their fries include:
  • natural beef flavor (including hydrolized wheat and hydrolyzed milk)
  • dextrose
  • sodium acid pyrophosphate
  • citric acid
  • dimethylpolysiloxane
  • hydrogenated soybean oil with THBQ

But, what's a THBQ?  And, do I really want to know?

Actually, this fast food purveyor gets points for posting their ingredients online.  And, they do have some food items that just include food.   Too bad that fries aren't among their food-only foods.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Molitos: Mole-inspired Black Bean Pancakes

Some leftover black beans were in the fridge, in grave danger of becoming green and gray beans if I didn't do something with them soon.

It was 7:20 AM, first cup of Via down, and time to think about the Spouse's breakfast.

Ages ago I made green pea biscuits and had been thinking of making some black bean biscuits.  Wouldn't that be just the thing for October?

On Tuesday a friend had sent a link to a recipe for socca -- a chickpea pancake.  I'd love to make some of those for Spouse.

But, I have leftover black beans on hand. And I can't find my garbanzo flour.

What if I made black bean pancakes?  What would you put in them?

Spouse loves, loves, loves mole.  And, it's hard or impossible to find gluten free mole. So, the black bean pancakes have to contain mole-like stuff.

Here's what I came up with... all measurements approximate, since I really just dumped things in a bowl and mixed.

About 1.5 cups of overcooked black beans, undrained
1 lg egg
2Tbsp flax meal
3Tbsp cocoa powder
1-2 Tbsp pecorino romano
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground ancho chili
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp dry chopped onion
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
pinch of nutmeg
pinch cayenne
pinch of salt

  1. Smoosh the black beans with a potato smasher. Dump everything else in, to taste. Mix it up.
  2. Heat a little more olive oil in a nonstick pan.
  3. Spoon pancake-sized amounts of the black bean goo into the pan.
  4. Cook until it's almost dry on top.
  5. Flip to brown the other side.
  6. Remove to plate and garnish with a little more pecorino romano and a dollop of salsa.

Results:  Spouse like 'em, but I think they could be improved. Maybe more egg and flax for better binding, more almond butter, and more of just about all the seasonings.