Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ann’s Kidney Beans and Rice

When strangers meet - their paths likely never to cross again - the memory sometimes sticks. That’s what happened on a bright summer day in 1987, when I met Ann Schellekens.

Ann Schellekens: Remembering Dad
We were in Point Roberts, WA., a small American community that’s a bit of an anomaly. Bordered by the Pacific to its west and by Canada to its north, south, and east, the “Point” harbors simple summer cottages and magnificent oceanside homes. When I bumped into Ann, whom I had never met before and have not since, the conversation soon turned to cooking.

Ann - a Canadian of Dutch extraction - said she had a recipe Id enjoy. She was right. I’ve made Ann’s simple Kidney Beans and Rice dish countless times over the years, and think about our brief exchange about cooking each time I do. When I decided to add it to this online collection of favorite recipes, my thoughts again turned to Ann, so I thought I’d try to track her down. 

Bingo! Beginner’s luck! There she was in the very first call I made. When she gave me permission to publish this recipe, I asked about its origin. Ann’s Dad, Andries van Heukelom, passed it along many years ago. It was, she says, the one and only recipe her Dad ever knew how to cook. Ann speculates that her Dad - a ship’s engineer and WW II prisoner of war in Indonesia - may have learned how to prepare this from one of his shipmates. 

Sadly, Ann’s father died of heart failure at age 67, but this wonderful recipe remains in her memories of him. I scribbled the recipe down as Ann recited it to me by heart all those years ago. I can promise you that it’s every bit as good as the first time I cooked it. The only change I’ve made from the recipe Ann gave me is the addition of a little flour to thicken the sauce before it’s poured over rice. If you’d prefer to omit the flour, do.

If you’re a brand new cook, or cook only minimally, you’ll soon find this very easy recipe one of your favorites. If you’re unsure about cooking rice, consult the “How to” part of the Index.

Ann’s  Kidney Beans and Rice:

½ lb. bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
Two 14-oz. (398 mL each) cans kidney beans, undrained
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Dusting of coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Chop bacon into 2-in. pieces. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, fry bacon together with onion until bacon is soft and translucent. Remove bacon and onion with slotted spoon. Drain fat from skillet; blot bacon dry with paper toweling. 

Return bacon and onion to skillet with beans, soy sauce, brown sugar, and pepper. Simmer 3-to-5 min., allowing flavors to blend. 

Pour a little of the bean liquid into a small bowl. Cool slightly, whisking in flour until no lumps remain. Return to bean liquid remaining in skillet, stirring until liquid thickens slightly, about 2 min. Pour over hot cooked rice. Serves 6. 

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