Refried Black Beans

Do you ever had trouble with leftovers? Do you find containers in your refrigerator that have been pushed into a corner, only to be found months later, covered with green mold?

It’s my experience that when there is only two of you (sometimes three or four when my stepdaughter and grandson come over to eat), you can end up with several containers a week of leftover food.

Luckily, we don’t have that problem at our house. I’m a real stickler for not wasting food.

A good case in point was the other night. I had fixed a smoked chicken that we bought from the Forest River Hutterite Colony a few days earlier. With just Therese and I eating that night, there was quite a bit of meat left over, even after using some of the fowl on a couple of homemade buns for lunch.

So, I decided to make some chicken burritos, using a packaged mix and a little water. With a little salsa, lettuce and grated cheese, it was a quick and nutritious dish. 

The coup de grace for the meal was the homemade refried black beans. All the recipe called for was two 15½-ounce cans of black beans, an onion, a little seasoning and some water. (I cut the recipe in half.) They were ready in less than 15 minutes.

I found the recipe on the Internet, courtesy of the Food Network. It was credited to Sara Moulton, the executive chef of Gourmet magazine and a cookbook author. She was the host of the cooking shows including "Sara’s Secrets" and "Cooking Live" during the early days of the Food Network in the mid-1990s.

So, if you find yourself with some leftover chicken, try making your own burritos, and don’t forget the refried beans.

Refried Black Beans
2 32-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cumin
Puree 2 cans of black beans in 2 cups water in food processor. Heat the lard or other fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions with the salt and cumin until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the beans form a creamy mass that pulls away from the bottom and sides of the pan, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Pizza Time

Pizza is one of my weaknesses. There aren’t too many that have crossed my palate that I haven’t liked.

Just the other day, I had a few slices at the Italian Moon in Grand Forks after a rigorous ice skating exercise in which my grandson Rakeem’s hockey team took on their fathers and other family members in a game at Gambucci Arena, but that’s a story for another time. But back to the pizza, the Moon’s taco version rates right up there with the best I’ve eaten.

Speaking of the best pizza, Rhombus Guys Pizza owners Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks recently were named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2009 Region VIII Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner. They were selected from "an elite group of entrepreneurs and community leaders representing Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming."

Congratuations, guys.

If you’ve never tried a Rhombus Pizza, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s about the best pizza I’ve ever had. They’re located at 312 Kittson Ave. in downtown Grand Forks, in the original Sanders 1907 building.

One of my goals when the weather gets nice is to try making a pizza on the grill, although I don’t think it will be in the Rhombus Guys’ class. I’ve come across several good recipes, one of which is listed below.

Give it a try, or head to Rhombus Guys instead.

Grilled Tomato and Olive Pizza
½ pint cocktail or grape tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons each: pitted kalamata olives, drained, chopped sun-dried tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 package unbaked pizza dough, stretched into 12-inch round, or prepared (12-inch) pizza crust (see note)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
¼ to ½ cup shredded fontina
2 tablespoons each: torn basil leaves, shredded
Heat a grill to high. Combine the tomatoes, onion, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl, tossing to coat with your hands. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over both sides of the pizza crust.|
Place the dough over a direct heat on grill; cook until puffy, about 2 minutes; turn over. Cook 2 minutes. Move crust to a cooler part of the grill; top with the tomato-olive mixture. Sprinkle the parsley, fontina and basil over the top. Cover grill; cook until cheese melts, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover; cook until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from grill; cut into wedges.
Note: If you are using a prepared crust, follow directions on the package for cooking instructions.
Yield: Serves 3.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 624 calories, 50 percent of calories from fat, 35 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 13 milligrams cholesterol, 63 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 1,045 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Hurray for Sandwiches

I can relate with the people of Fargo-Moorhead. After all, it was just 12 years ago, during the Flood of 1997, that we were in the same boat so to speak.

The time leading up to the evacuations of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks was pretty hectic. Many people spent hours upon hours sandbagging, moving personal property from their basements and doing whatever they could do salvage what they could.

One thing that sticks in my mind was how volunteers from everywhere helped out. One of the most important things to people before the evacuation and during the cleanup was the donations of food. Heaven knows we didn’t have time to cook much less the facilities to do it in.

It meant a lot to people whenever the Salvation Army truck came around with sandwiches and the like. I’m sure the same is going on down in the F-M area.

With that in mind, it was refreshing to hear how volunteers at UND Food Services have been busy the past few days makings sandwiches for volunteers and people who are fighting to save their property.

According to Denny Hogan, a UND employee, a group of about 30 people made 3,000 sandwiches this morning at Wilkerson Hall to be distributed to flood workers and those who have been displaced. He said that brings the total to 7,000 sandwiches, with another 3,000 or so to be made Monday.

It’s efforts such as this that show what people of our area are made of.

When things start to settle down a little, I have a couple of sandwich recipes you might like to try. One is for Beer-Braised Ham with Melted Onions. The other is for Ham and Gruyere Sandwiches with Melted Onions.

And with Easter just around the corner and ham popular in many homes, this might be just the ticket for leftovers.

Beer-Braised Ham with Melted Onions
3 large sweet onions, halved, thickly cut into wedges
1 bottle (12 ounces) pilsner beer
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 small fully cooked smoked ham, 8 to 9 pounds
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the onions, beer, mustard, brown sugar and pepper in the bottom of a large roasting pan, spreading the onions in an even layer over the bottom. Place the ham, cut side down, over the onions. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil; bake until heated through, about 2 hours.
Remove the ham to a cutting board; cover with foil. Put the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, to reduce the pan juices and glaze the onions, about 25 minutes; cool. Thinly slice the ham; serve with the onions.
Yield: Serves 16.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 304 calories, 16 percent of calories from fat, 5.4 grams fat (1.6 grams saturated), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams carbohydrates, 41 grams protein, 2,072 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Ham and Gruyere Sandwiches with Melted Onions
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chili sauce
1 to 2 dashes hot red pepper sauce, optional
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 loaves (1 pound each) round or oval unsliced bread, such as Italian, Vienna or sourdough bread
½ pound thinly sliced Grueyere or Jarlsberg cheese
1 cup melted onions from ham, see recipe above
2 pounds thinly sliced beer-braised ham, see recipe above
Mix the mayonnaise, chili sauce, hot sauce and cilantro in a small bowl; set aside (refrigerate if making ahead). Up to several hours before serving, cut the tops off the bread loaves about one-third of the way down the bread. Use your fingers to hollow out the bottoms of the bread and to remove a little of the inside top bread. (Save the soft bread for crumbs.)
Generously smear the mayonnaise sauce on the inside bottoms and tops of the breads. Arrange a layer of the cheese slices on the bottoms. Top each with half of the onions and a thick layer of ham slices. Top with another layer of the remaining cheese. Place the tops of the bread in place. Wrap each loaf in heavy-duty foil. (Refrigerate up to 2 hours if desired.)
Shortly before serving, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the wrapped bread loaves on a baking sheet. Bake until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted, about 40 minutes (slightly longer if the loaf has been refrigerated). Cool slightly in the foil. Cut into large wedges with a serrated knife.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 461 calories, 35 percent of calories from fat, 18 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 48 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 1,330 milligrams sodium, 2.3 grams fiber.

Seeds of Change

This time of the year, like a lot of other people who garden, we’re still enjoying the fruits of our labor. Besides a few frozen veggies, we have jars and jars of canned goodies, including pickled beets, dill and sweet pickles and tomato juice, which should last well into the summer, perhaps even the fall.

But since all good things come to an end, I went shopping for seeds today, in search of some 10-cents-a-pack seeds but came up short. So, I decided to buy some brand-name varieties to supplement what seeds are left over from last year.

I imagine a lot of you already have ordered you seeds and received them for this year’s gardens. I haven’t gotten into ordering seeds from the likes of big companies such as Gurney’s or Burpree, but I may do so, especially after viewing a recent e-mail.

The e-mail was from Seeds of Change, which was formed in 1989, with a simple mission: to preserve biodiversity and promote sustainable, organic agriculture.

What really appealed to me was viewing the extensive range of organically grown vegetable, flower, herb and cover crop seeds that are available for purchase. It’s just the sort of outlet I’ve been looking for since my garden is chemical-free.

Seeds of Changes develops their lines of seeds at a research farm on six acres of river valley flood plain along the Rio Grande River in El Guique, N.M., at about 5,600 feet elevation. All of their seeds are 100 percent certified 0rganic.

After a quick perusal of some of ther seeds, I discovered they have several that have found their way into my gardens over the years, including Detroit Dark Red Beets, which have been a favorite of mine.

And now for those of you who might be planting some beets this summer and want to can some, here’s my grandma’s recipe for pickled beets.

Grandma Menard’s Pickled Beets
3 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 sticks whole cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
Place about two to three dozen small to medium-size beets in 1 gallon of water that contains 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook until tender.
While beets are cooking, mix the other ingredients and bring to a boil.
When beets are done, pack in hot pint jars, and cover with brine. Process 30 minutes in water bath.

Take Comfort in Food

Like most people, I turn to food for comfort in times of stress. While that may not always be the most healthy thing to do (depending on what you eat), it sure can make you feel better.

And with the flood raging up and down the Red River Valley, I’m sure a lot of people are taking comfort in food.

With that in mind, I used a McClatchy Tribune story about comfort food on the Herald food page this past week. The story featured a recipe for tuna noodle casserole, which looked quite tasty, and also talked about other comfort foods.

The top one, in the opinion of the author, was chocolate. I’m sure a lot of your would agree. Ruth Christianson of Grand Forks does. While talking to her about comfort foods, she said chocolate tops her list. In fact, she planned on making cupcakes for her husband Dale’s  birthday that were filled with cream cheese and, you guessed it, chocolate, in the form of minichips.

I told her my favorites were mashed potatoes, meatloaf and apple crisp, with a scoop of ice cream. After that conversation, my thoughts turned to making a 9-by-13-inch pan of apple crisps this weekend.

I can’t think of a better way to forget about the Red River.

If you’re in the same boat as me and want to give the apple crisps a try, the recipe is below, along with a tasty one for meatloaf sandwiches with spicy mayonnaise.

If not, just tuck them away for a rainy day.

P.S. The Feeding the Village First" discussion Sunday at UND has been canceled.

Northwood School Apple Crisp

6 cups apples 1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup butter
Cinnamon to taste
Pinch of salt
    Put apples in a 8-by-13 inch baking dish. Cover with white sugar and sprinkle cinnamon on top of mixture.
    Mix the remaining ingredients to form the topping. When mixed thoroughly, put crumble on top of apple mixture.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55.

Meatloaf Sandwiches with Spicy Mayonnaise
1/3 cup regular or light mayonnaise
1 canned chipotle chili, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground pepper
4 slices sourdough bread or other rustic bread
4 thin slices leftover meatloaf
Baby lettuces
    Mix mayonnaise, chili, lime juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread over each of the bread slices.
    Place 2 slices of the meatloaf on 2 of the bread slices. Mound lettuces generously on top. Cover with remaining bread slices. Cut sandwiches in half.
    Yield: Serves 2.
    Approximate nutritional information per serving: 678 calories, 61 percent of calories from fat, 45 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 123 milligramsg cholesterol, 38 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 1,093 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Men Gone Wild

If you’ve visited my blog since it started last week, you probably have noticed a feature on the right called "Men Gone Wild." Today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about this fixture.

Being a hunter and a cook, I’ve come up with a lot of recipes for game such as pheasant, waterfowl, venison and the like. I’ve also picked up several wild game cookbooks over the years that have a lot of pretty tasty recipes.

Whenever I’ve written about wild game on the Herald food page, the response from men (and even some women) has been tremendous, not surprising with the large number of hunters in our area. It seems that everyone is looking for new ways fix their game.

While I do most of the cooking of wild game in our house, my wife, Therese, isn’t averse to it, which isn’t always the case in other households. The biggest complaint I hear from men is that their wives or girlfriends won’t cook wild game, much less eat it.

So, when I decided to start blogging, a feature telling men how to cook wild game seemed like a natural. I’ve already posted about a half-dozen recipes on this site and plan to add three or four every week. Most of the recipes are fairly simple, so you shouldn’t be intimidated. And they are fairly tasty. I’ve turned nongame eaters into aficiandos after they’ve tried some of my creations.

Below are a couple of my favorite recipes, one fairly easy, the other a little more work but well worth it. Give them a try. I’m sure you’ll like them.

And as always, it’s very important to take care with your game after you’ve harvested it. Next fall, when hunting season rolls along, look for some tips here about caring for your game. 

Meat Marinade

1 cup of teriyaki
½ cup of orange juice
½ cup of honey
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary (optional)
Mix ingredients and then put in meat; let it sit in fridge for at least a day.
Note: Any kind of meat works well, from wild game such as venison, upland birds or waterfowl as well as domestic cuts (beef, pork, buffalo) and chicken. Recipe can be doubled easily.
Note: Wrapping the meat (breasts, tenderloins, etc) in a strip of bacon and grilling it is out of this world.

Baked Pheasant

6 to 8 deboned pheasant breasts 1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 to 1½ cups wild rice
1 10½-ounce can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup
½ to 1 cup red wine
½ cup cooking sherry
½ pint half and half
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon Louisiana Cajun seasoning
½ cup olive oil
1 cup water
Mix the flour, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and Louisiana Cajun spice in a bowl. Roll pheasant breasts in flour mixture and brown in olive oil.
Mix the onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and wild rice with red wine, soup and water in a large roasting pan. When you are finished browning the breasts, place them atop the wild rice mixture. Deglaze the frying pan with the cooking sherry and pour over the pheasants. Top with the half and half.
Bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours or until done. If rice mixture gets a little dry, occasionally add some water. Serve with a vegetable and salad.

Beets, Bakery, Borscht and Other Goodies

I’m heading over the the Dakota Harvest Bakery in downtown Grand Forks on Thursday. Besides their tasty pastries and breads, the artisans over there also serve several kinds of homemade soup.

On Thursday, one of the soups they’ll be featuring (for the second or third time, I think) is borscht, a recipe made popular by Germans from Russia. Its main ingredient is beets but also contains several other veggies. I’m going to pick up some and take it home for lunch.

I love borscht and plan on making some this weekend. (I was planning on making some last weekend, but things didn’t work out.) I’m going to be using a recipe given to me by a former co-worker, Steve Schmidt, himself descended from Germans from Russia. If I recall, it is a variation of his grandma’s recipe. (Steve says it’s best after a night in the fridge.)

If you want to try it yourself, the recipe follows, as does another ethnic specialty, which I picked up from a former co-worker, Candance Decker. It’s called Knoephla, Sausage and Sauerkraut. Candace said she learned the recipe from two aunts from Dickinson, N.D., and her mother from Bismarck.

"They taught me this family recipe, which I wrote down to preserve the yummy dish that’s always been passed down through `cooking classes’," Candace said.

And if you don’t feel ambitious, head over to Dakota Harvest Bakery. I’ve never been disappointed.


German-Russian Borscht
1 to 2 pounds boneless chuck steak, cubed
¼ to ½ pound soup bones
3 quarts water
1 stalk celery (leaves included)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes
Mix ingredients and cook for 2 to 3 hours. Strain stock, saving the meat and bones. Let stock sit, overnight if possible. Skim fat. Reheat and add more water to make about 3 quarts.
Next, add:
3 bay leaves
1 quart tomato juice
3 or 4 grated beets, with a dozen tops
3 tomatoes or 1 or 2 14½-ounce cans
1 pint of green garden beans
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped, or 8 green ones
1 clove of garlic
2 stalks of celery, chopped
½ cup or a handful of rice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 carrots, sliced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh dill (or a mix of dill, caraway seed and parsley or chives)
Simmer for a good hour (or all morning).
Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream to soup when done and sprinkle on some fresh dill weed. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or half-and-half, with a sprinkle or two of herb vinegar.
Note: Soup is best after a night in the refrigerator.

Knoephla, Sausage and Sauerkraut
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour, plus up to ¼ cup more
Combine the ingredients and add enough flour to make the dough stiff. Mix by hand or with a spoon.
Add a little salt to a very large kettle of water and bring it to a boil. Either spoon and flick small pieces of dough into the kettle (load up one spoon with dough, then "cut" about the size of a penny off with another spoon and flick) or add tablespoon-sized dough balls to the water, then use a pasta spoon to pick up the dough balls and cut them into smaller pieces with scissors.
Let dumplings cook for 20 to 45 minutes. Once your dough bowl is empty, you usually can remove the entire pot from the stove. Drain. Put the shortening of your choice into a frying pan. Fry the white, somewhat slimy dumplings to your liking (they’ll turn brown and slightly crunchy).
Add salt and pepper to taste. (Remember the sauerkraut is salty.)
Cook a package of sausage links (country-style, venison or whatever is you favorite) like you normally would, then cut the sausage into small circles.
Chop one onion, saute in butter, add up to 2 cans of drained sauerkraut and heat the mixture together. Add ¾ to 1 pint (or more) of cream and bring the mixture to a boil.
Pour the sausage circles and the onion, sauerkraut and cream mixture over the dumplings. Mix well. Serve hot.

For more tasty recipes, go the Herald food page.

Quick Food for New Moms

If you’re looking for a gift for a new mom, I have just the thing for you.

Thief River Falls native Lisa (Ault) Jost recently  published her first cookbook, "The Doula’s Cookbook for New Moms: Ideas and Recipes for a New Parent, Busy Parent or Doula."

Jost, who attended UND, is a doula (a woman trained for labor, birth and postpartum care of a mother offering continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother and her family). Her book offers more than 100 easy-to-prepare recipes and ideas, organized by meal type, and are put together to ensure efficiency and ease of use. The recipes are short and simple to make, according to a press release.

Says Jost: “It became evident that I needed to streamline mealtimes both at my home and with my clients,” she said. “Meal ideas and preparation time can be a real issue when your family is hungry now.

“My belief is that every new mother deserves to have an advocate and be taken care of to ensure a positive birth and postpartum experience,” Jost added. “After working with some of my postpartum mothers, I realized it would be convenient to have this collection of meal ideas in my bag to help them decide what to eat.”

According to the release, Jost is a birth and postpartum doula with Everyday Miracles, a Twin Cities based nonprofit agency that provides pregnancy and labor support as well as prenatal education in a supportive, non-judgmental community for at-risk pregnant.

Jost lives in Maple Grove, Minn., with her three children. Her husband is serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

The cookbook is available online at major bookstores including, and through her publisher,

For some tasty recipes, go the Herald food page.


Home-grown Goodies

For lunch Wednesday in the Grand Forks Public Schools, it’s North Dakota Products Day. Among the items students and staff can choose from are potatoes, chili and organic Cloverdale wieners, which goes to show you don’t have to go far from home to get good food.

I’ve decided to share a couple of my favorite recipes that have products with local roots. Both recipes contain pasta, which we all know is made from wheat, one of the top crops in our area. And one, Pasta Fagioli, contains great northern or navy beans as well as pasta.

And the nice thing about both recipes is that they are easy to fix and can be on the table within a half-hour. And they’re very economical, too.


For more tasty recipes, go the Herald food page.


Broccoli with Rigatoni
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch broccoli, separated into florets (reserve stems for another use)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 pound rigatoni
Fresh parsley, chopped
Grated cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter and gently brown the garlic. Add broccoli and stir gently until pan gets very hot. Add chicken broth, cover, and simmer just until broccoli is al dente.
Add half the fresh basil and the drained hot rigatoni, cooked al dente, to the skillet and mix thoroughly. Put on a hot serving dish and sprinkle with parsley, pepper, grated cheese and remaining basil.

Yield: Serves 4.

Pasta Fagioli
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
18-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 16-ounce can great northern or navy beans
½ pound elbow macaroni
Fresh parsley, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, fry the garlic gently in the oil until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce and water and let cook for 10 minutes. Add beans, stir gently, continue to cook on simmer.
Cook pasta al dente, drain and add to bean mixture. Stir gently. If it gets too thick, add a little more water. Add parsley.
Serve immediately or else the pasta will absorb all the liquid.

Yield: Serves 4.

For more tasty recipes, go the Herald food page.

Feeding the Village First

Spring is finally here!

And that means gardening season isn’t far behind.

Even though we’re still enjoying the fruits of last year’s garden, be it frozen (beans, brussels sprouts, etc.), canned (tomatoes, tomato juice, carrots, pickles, etc.) and fresh (carrots and onions), I can’t wait to get some dirt under my fingernails.

I’ve been an organic gardener for quite a few years, using only substances that don’t contain chemicals to control bugs and animals.

Others may get better yields and have nicer-looking plants, but knowing the food I’m eating is chemical-free gives me a certain peace of mind.

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to attending an event at 3 p.m. March 29 at the UND Student Union in Grand Forks called Feeding the Village First. I found out about the event via e-mail from Betsy Perkins at the Grand Forks Food Co-op.

Feeding the Village First i’s a discussion that will led by Terry Jacobson, founding father and Poet Laureate of Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture, group committed to the promotion of ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable food systems.

Feeding the Village First suggests “local community economies are healthiest when they are as self-reliant as possible, especially where food and agriculture are concerned.”

According to Betsy, this is an opportunity for thought-provoking dialogue. For copy of Feeding the Village First”, click on Funding has been provided by the Bush

For some tasty recipes, go the Herald food page.