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Bad mood food

17.August 2009

Sometimes it’s really hard not to let the little shit get to you. Whether it’s a quibble with a spouse or a sibling, creeping dread about much-procrastinated work, or an ongoing battle with various vermin (in my case: mice), it’s just really hard sometimes to keep perspective. What do you do to bring yourself back to earth in these situations?

I turn to food in any kind of extreme mood (doesn’t matter if it’s euphoria, stress, or the depths of depression) – this explains the many, many pounds I gained during college and in the first couple years of grad school. I’ve been trying to think of something to eat that will refocus my excess energy in a positive direction, but all of my comfort foods are really just too warm to eat in this weather. (The ridiculous humidity and high temperatures of this week are contributing to my mood, no doubt.) So, what’s a girl to do?

Looking in my fridge and taking stock of what I have handy, I note: mushrooms, corn, eggs, bacon, and not much else in the way of raw potential. Alas.

Corn chowder sounds delicious, but I don’t have the requisite central air to make soup palatable in this weather. Corn fritters would really hit the spot – the thought of the creamy delicious insides and the crispy fried outside makes me weak in the knees, but the last thing I (or my dreadful summer skin – another thing to stress about given my upcoming bridesmaid duties) need is to stand over a pan of hot oil to make them. Succotash? Would be delicious, but no lima beans are handy. One thing’s for sure – today is a day for waiting until it’s dark to eat and maybe for eating on the roof.

What I discovered a few hours after writing the foregoing is that a few things can go a long way toward fixing that kind of pre-semester, late-Summer malaise: roof lounging (as suggested above) as the sun sets and the air begins to cool, corn on the cob, quiet conversation with my lovely husband, cuddle time with the sweet dog, and good, not-too-heavy/not-too-light black beans. Good hearty food and pretty determined relaxation. Oh, and a fan (recently brought back from Spain as a gift from my parents). I highly recommend all these things next time you find yourself in a snit. I’ll get you started on the black beans. They’re delicious.

Bad mood black beans

  • dried black beans (I used about half a pound that I had left over)2 bay leaves
  • about a liter of chicken broth (can be combined with water to taste OR veggie broth can be substituted)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • spices of your choosing (I used ground cumin and some Ras al-hanout that was a gift from Morocco)
  • bacon to taste (can be omitted)
  • cheddar cheese to taste
  1. Soak the black beans for at least an hour before cooking.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pot. Add the bacon (chopped up) and cook until crispy. Add the (drained) beans and cover with broth.
  3. Throw in whatever seasonings you want to use.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until beans are tender and soup has thickened. You will need to stir often and add more broth/water to keep it from burning and to make sure the beans get sufficiently softened.
  5. Once you’re happy with the consistency (it can be soupier or thicker depending on your taste), turn off the heat and stir in the cheese (shredded works best).
  6. Serve with couscous and with a dollop of sour cream on top.

So, what are your bad mood foods? Oh, and hello, Cape Town!

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