Sunday, March 13, 2011

Black bean soup with secret ingredient

It's been a long, wet, and rather cold winter in Seattle - we have not seen much sun and lots of people have all kind of respiratory problems, even more so in Nickelsville, where many residents are coughing and sneezing,  probably because of limited access to healthcare and relying on over the counter, mostly donated and always in shortage  nyquil and aspirin for cure.

Last Tuesday, when my friend Lynnda and I visited to cook the soup with Tracy, the kitchen manager, I asked about Tracy's husband Mike - he loves to cook and usually can be found around the stove at all times, merrily creating meals for the whole community, but absent that day.  Turned out that Mike went to VA hospital to check on his persistent cough and was admitted for bronchitis, and possibly pneumonia.  Mike spent around 20 years serving in US army;  what do you think about the level of civilization of a country that allows its longtime veterans become homeless?  Well, frankly, I think it  barbaric, and not civilized at all.  It's great that he still has some medical coverage through VA system (which I believe does not cover his wife, and WHY not?), but we really should do better as a society towards people whom we ask to put their life on line.  And this comes from someone who is against wars of any kind.  Hope you fell better soon, Mike! Best wishes!

Lynnda wanted to share one of her favorite soups with people of Nickelsville: she soaked the a big batch of black beans a night ahead, and we set them cooking in a pot as soon as we got to Nickelsville on Tuesday afternoon.  While the beans were simmering Tracy, Lynnda and I chopped onions, celery, carrots and green peppers, which we later sauteed, before throwing them into the bean pot to let it cook together for a while.  Lynnda adjusted seasoning:  salt and coriander, while Richard worked on finely chopping a head of garlic and Tracy gave her attention to finishing touches: chopping cilantro and squeezing the lemon juice.

When the soup was almost done (and smelling heavenly) Lynnda produced the secret ingredient: SALSA. She said it's still a secret what's in salsa, so it's Ok to blast it on the internet: figure out your own salsa to spice your black bean soup with :).

Later we shared the soup at the big table in the heated garage, with sour cream and cheddar cheese as garnishes.  Nice conversation at the table.

Richard, Nickelsville's historian
This is a picture of Richard that Lynnda snapped last Tuesday, with his permission.  Richard is one of the few original  residents of Nickelsville, with the camp since its inception on U-district parking lot in winter of 2008.  He is kind of historian of Nickelsville, always keeping track of its comings and goings, and a  source of information for many of my previous posts - if you read this blog backward, you will see his name popping up all the way to the day I started this blog.

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