Mark Bittman’s Bean Patties


A little over a week ago, I found out my cockatiel, Riley, is going to need surgery.  About two months ago, Riley developed an abscess on her wing.  I took her to the vet and got it cleaned out but Dr. Dill said he thought there was damage to the feather follicle.  If there was damage to the feather follicle every feather that grew out of it would cause another abscess. The only way to prevent this from happening would be to remove the follicle. We couldn’t really be sure until it happened again.  Sure enough, it happened again so we scheduled surgery for October 15.  In 20 years of having birds, I have never had to experience surgery for one of my birds.  I have had handicapped birds, birds with behavioral problems, birds who plucked themselves,  a bird with gout, a bird who poked a hole in her beak, a bird who scalped herself and two birds with a disease the vet didn’t even have a name for but never a bird that needed surgery.  I am a total mess worrying about Riley.

To make matters worse, there was a problem with my paycheck this week.  Yeah, so it was really short and I won’t get the money until my next paycheck.  So after paying my bills and setting money aside to pay for Riley’s surgery, I don’t have much money left in the budget for anything else.  So this week all my recipes are going to be made from stuff I already have in my pantry.  One of the great things about being able to cook and having a moderately well stocked pantry is I am always able to cobble something together for a meal.  It may not be the most amazing meal I have ever made but it will keep me from going hungry.  I can usually make it taste pretty good too.

One of the things I always keep in my pantry are a couple of bags of different kinds of beans.  Beans are cheap and nutritious.  They can be made in tons of different ways.  My favorite way to make beans is into a patty to serve as a sandwich.  I like Mark Bittman’s recipe for beans patties because of all the recipes I have tried for bean patties, and I have tried dozens, his stay together best if you follow his directions.  Feel free to use any seasoning blend you like instead of the chili powder.  I have used taco seasoning and Shawarma spice blend with good results.


Bean Patties

From How To Cook Everything The Basics

2 cups beans, cooked, or from a can, drained, any type of beans can be used I like chickpeas

1 medium onion, cut into chunks

1/2 cup rolled oats, more as needed

1 TBS chili powder, or spice blend of your choice

salt and pepper, to taste

Bean liquid or water, as needed

In your food processor, add the beans, onion, oats and chili powder; sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Let the machine run, occasionally stopping to scrape down the sides.  until the mixture is throughly  combined.   If you don’t have a food processor, chop your onions finely and add everything to a large bowl.  Use a potato masher to mash everything together.    Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.  You want a moist consistency that will easily form into patties.  If the mixture is too wet, add more oats 1 tablespoon at a time.  If the mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of bean liquid or water at a time.  Shape the mixture into 4 patties.  Let the patties sit another 5  minutes.  Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the patties.  Cook, undisturbed, until brown and crisp on one side, 3-8 minutes.  Add more oil to the pan, if necessary.  Carefully, flip the patties and cook on the other side until the is browned and the patties feel firm, another 3-5 minutes. 

Chana Masala and A Review


Every so often I get totally consumed, kind of obsessed, with a cookbook.  There is something about the food that just speaks to me and I want to totally cook everything in the book.  This summer that cookbook was Raghavan Iyer’s, 660 Curries.  I have loved everything I have tried from this book and that doesn’t happen very often. Usually, I try one or two, maybe three recipes from a cookbook then I get bored and moved on to the next one. There is enough variety in 660 Curries to keep me interested for a very long time.

The curries represent all regions of India.  I really like that the first chapter of the book gives you all the spice blends that are used in the book.  Many of the Indian cookbooks I looked through relied on store bought spice blends that I don’t have access to.  I was lucky to be able to find almost all the spices I needed at my favorite natural food store and a local Asian market.  A few things like fresh curry leaves, fresh fenugreek leaves and Nigella seeds weren’t available but there are more than enough recipes that don’t use these things to make the book worthwhile.

My biggest complaint is there is no Index of what spice blends go with what recipes.  So you can have several spice blends made but no idea what recipe to try them in next. I have just been making  a list of spice blends and what recipes use them as I find them when I am looking for a new recipe to try.  On the whole I would recommend this cookbook if you are looking to learn how to make Indian food.

I am a huge fan of chickpeas so I absolutely loved this recipe for Chana Masala.  I cooked my chickpeas in the pressure cooker but if you don’t have one feel free to use your favorite brand of canned chickpea.

Chana Masala

1 TBS canola oil

1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds

1 TBS ginger paste

1 1/2 tsp garlic paste

1 TBS tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

2 cups cooked chickpeas

2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 1/2 cups water, divided

Heat the canola oil in a large sauce pan over medium – high heat.  Sprinkle in the whole cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, turn reddish brown, and smell nutty, 5 to 10 seconds.  Immediately lower the heat to medium and carefully stir in the ginger and garlic pastes and stir -fry them until they turn light brown, about 2 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup water and the tomato paste, coriander, lime juice, cayenne pepper, tumeric, and ground cumin.  Simmer, partially covered, until the water evaporates from the reddish brown sauce, 5 to 10 minutes.  Pour in  1 more cup water, the chickpeas, 1 TBS cilantro, and the salt.  Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, 15 to 18 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining cilantro and onion over the curry, and serve. 


Tempeh Fajitas

I promised to post my fajita recipe today so here it is. If you aren’t familiar with it, tempeh is a soy product that is often used as a meat substitute in vegetarian recipes. I prefer tempeh over tofu as a protein source when I go meatless. Tempeh doesn’t trip my texture issues. If you prefer not to go meatless, you can substitute chicken or beef strips for the tempeh.

Tempeh Fajitas

1 TBS canola oil, divided
8 oz block tempeh, cubed
1 recipe fajita seasoning, divided
½ cup water
2 large onion, slivered
3 bell peppers, slivered
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 fajita size tortillas

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium – heat until hot. Add tempeh and cook, stirring a couple of times, until almosminutes.t cooked through, 5 – 6 minutes. Add half the fajita seasoning and water; mix well. Let the tempeh finish cooking. Transfer tempeh to a bowl, cover to keep. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet until hot. Add onions and peppers; cook, without stirring, until tender and bits start to get caramelized, 3 – 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining fajita seasoning and the garlic, cook about 2 more minute. Stir the vegetables into the seasoned tempeh, Serve mixture on tortillas.

Adapted from I Don’t Remember Where

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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Last week I was battling an infection in my lungs so I didn’t feel much like eating or cooking. In fact, I really didn’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping. On one of my better days I did make these lovely stuffed bell peppers. I the original recipe called for a bit of jalapeno pepper for kick but I didn’t have any so I substituted some chili powder.

Quinoa Stuffed Pepper

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 1/2 – 3 TBS olive oil
1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup plus 2 TBS broth
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 – 2 bell peppers, your choice of color

In a small saucepan saute the onions and garlic in oil until they start to soften. Add the quinoa, cook for one minute then add the tomato sauce, broth, cumin and chili powder. Cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bell peppers in half, remove the membranes and seeds. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake 10 – 12 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and stuff with the quinoa mixture. Return to the oven and bake 10 – 12 more minutes. Sprinkle with cheese during the last two minutes of cook time.

Adapted From A Beautiful Mess