Red bean, sweet potato & hominy stew and Olive oil rosemary biscuits

Red bean & hominy stew

Red bean & hominy stew

Well, it’s been a day of catching up after working all weekend. A day of laundry and grocery shopping and trying to get the boys to clean their room. It’s been a day of thinking about Martin Luther King Jr, of driving on the grey wintery streets, listening to fragments of Barack Obama’s inauguration speech on the radio, moved to tears. Obama’s first election was fueled by hope, it was buoyant with hope. And despite snide comments about hopey changey stuff, despite the sort of fatigue and discouragement that four hard years of dealing with Bush’s financial crisis have brought upon us, at this moment I feel more hopeful than ever. It’s not a hope as bright and far-reaching as that of the first election – but it’s a stronger, fiercer hope, based in reality and hard work. I don’t agree with all of Obama’s decisions, I don’t love every action that he’s taken, but I feel so grateful to him for starting conversations about health care, gay rights, women’s rights, gun control, climate change. Of course we should talk about these things! It’s remarkable to me that in 2013 these are issues we still need to address, let alone issues that take extraordinary courage to address. I think it’s difficult to understand just how brave Obama is for speaking publicly and openly about gun control and gay marriage. Despite petty political squabbling, despite ignorance, hatred and fear, we are taking small steps in a good direction, towards a world that must be inevitable if people are as kind and thoughtful as they have the potential to be. Martin Luther King spoke of non-violence with these words, “In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.” I hope that this is true, with the deepest weightiest and yet most buoyant hope imaginable. Obama ended his speech with these words, “Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.” And that birthright is not a possession or privilege unique to Americans, but a natural or moral right possessed by everyone, the world over – to work for freedom from the darkness of fear, ignorance, and cruelty.

I felt a little silly posting a recipe today, (and doing laundry, and cleaning, and all other trivial chores). But, maybe that’s part of what it’s all about – about the freedom to get on with these things. These chores are trivial to me, but are luxuries for some people. To buy healthy, nourishing food for your family, to cook it up in a way that you feel good about. To have a safe, warm home to serve it in. Everybody deserves these things! In that spirit I present to you a recipe for a warm, comforting stew full of flavor. I bought pomegranate molasses for the first time, and I’m having fun playing with the sweet/tart continuum. I decided to pair it with a tiny bit of mustard, balsamic, sage, red pepper flakes and smoked paprika, to make a spicy, sweet, tart, smoky sauce. And the biscuits are incredibly easy to make, and very tasty, too. They’re butter-free, and the taste of olive oil in a baked good is always surprising and pleasant.

Well, there are quite a few songs I could choose for today’s post, but I’m going to give you Mos Def’s Fear Not of Men. It’s based, of course, on Fela’s Fear Not For Man, the lyrics of which go thus…

    Brothers and sisters
    The father of Pan-Africanism
    Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
    Says to all black people
    All over the world:
    “The secret of life is to have no fear”
    We all have to understand that

Mos Def’s song isn’t explicitly about Martin Luther King’s Day, but the lyrics have always resonated on this day of all days. He says, “A lot of things have changed, and a lot of things have not.” And there’s no doubt that this is true, for better or for worse. But the song is about courage in the face of danger, courage to work towards something that’s bigger than all of us. And it’s about a universal rhythm that beats through all of us, surely leading us inevitably in the same direction.

    All over the world hearts pound with the rhythm
    Fear not of men because men must die
    Mind over matter and soul before flesh
    Angels for the pain keep a record in time
    which is passin and runnin like a caravan freighter
    The world is overrun with the wealthy and the wicked
    But God is sufficient in disposin of affairs
    Gunmen and stockholders try to merit your fear
    But God is sufficient over plans they prepared.


2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t sage (dried)
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 large potato, washed and cut into 1/3 inch dice
1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into 1/3 inch dice
2 T tomato paste
1 t dijon mustard
1 T brown sugar
1 t. pomegranate molasses
1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
1 can hominy, rinsed and drained
1 t smoked paprika
1 t balsamic
2 t tamari
1 T butter
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, and cook for about a minute, till it starts to brown. Add the garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes. Cook for just under a minute, till the garlic starts to brown. Add the potato and sweet potato. Stir to coat, and cook until they start to brown and soften, stirring frequently. Maybe five minutes.

Add the tomato paste, pomegranate molasses and dijon mustard, and stir to coat everything. Then stir in the beans and hominy. Add the smoked paprika. Stir to cook for a minute or two, and then add just enough water to come almost to the tops of the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes and sweet potatoes are as soft as you like them, maybe 20 – 25 minutes. If it gets too thick, add a bit more water. If it’s too thin for you, raise the heat a bit.

Add balsamic, tamari, butter, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with…


1 1/2 cup flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 t rosemary chopped finely
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly butter a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, rosemary and black pepper. Make a well in the center and break in the egg, pour in the milk and olive oil. Stir till everything is combined.

Drop the batter by large spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. (I made six biscuits with this amount)

Bake until golden on top, about fifteen minutes. I let these get quite brown, because I thought they tasted good, nice and crispy.


1 thought on “Red bean, sweet potato & hominy stew and Olive oil rosemary biscuits

  1. I was just about to post a comment ankisg you to investigate hominy! I saw that it’s a key ingredient in a new dish Chipotle is rolling out around here called a Chicken Pozole Bowl.Speaking of foods for you to investigate, any chance you could tackle the different types of honey? What sets them apart, how the flavors differ? I often stare at different types at the grocery store and have no clue what flowers affect honey and the different tastes or shades, darker or lighter.Love the show, never miss it. Watch it on my Apple TV every night! It’s a lovely bookend to any day.

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