Mac and cheese. French toast. Pancakes. Grilled cheese. Chicken. Brisket. The trips would not groove on any of it.
It's no surprise, really. September was an unusually disjointed month for the fam. We spent the first half of the month (including 20 hours in the car) visiting my parents in the Midwest. Then my husband and I crossed the pond for a quick jump to England that included a few pints and a PhD (his, pending corrections).
In preparation, I stocked the freezer since I didn't want to fuss with food between travels. I also didn't want the grandparents (read: babysitters) to have to chase toddlers AND cook. So, the kids got multiple helpings of the aforementioned staples.
Though the kiddies couldn't quite tell me they were bored with their meals, they sure showed it. Bitty stopped eating mac and cheese. However a good deal of it ended up in her hair. Similarly, she rejected my pancakes, one of which traveled like a Frisbee to the floor. I gave the Dude a chicken nugget, and it left a grease mark on the window behind him (he has elevated the way he flips food backwards to an art form). Zeke grabbed a handful of brisket and threw it back at me. And the chorus of "no, no, no" was deafening.
Clearly it was time to mix it up.
So it hit me—beans. Over dinner one night in London, I had a side dish with beans. As a mother of triplets, you never stop thinking about your kids. Even when you're drinking dark beer five time zones away.
My husband suspiciously eyed the cans of black beans I'd stocked upon our return. I reminded him that beans are healthy, versatile, and they'd been a hit in the past. He then reminded me of the "biological warfare" the kids might wage on our house if I served beans. I was undeterred. In my intrepid mommy calculus, protein beat out the P.U. factor.
I dug up a black bean burger recipe that could be made tame enough for toddlers, yet tasty enough for their parents.
Bitty took one look and heartily dug in. Zeke was skeptical. He took a piece and smushed it up. He was about to chuck it when it dawned on him. "Ball!" he exclaimed. Balls—football, beach, soccer, blueberries (you can easily understand the confusion)—he loves them all. And the black bean burger, in its new form, proved no different.
But there's a hater in every crowd. In ours, it was the Dude. He never even tasted it. In fact, his royal dudeness wouldn’t even deign to look at my creation.
Disappointing? Perhaps. But there's a silver lining here. The expected air pollution will decrease by one-third.
Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from Culinary in the Country
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 Tbsp canola oil
In a medium bowl, add black beans and mash with a potato masher. Add cilantro, cheese, panko, cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt, and egg. Stir mixture together until completely combined. Evenly divide mixture into six ½-inch-thick patties. Place into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Remove burgers from refrigerator.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium and add bean burgers. Cook until thoroughly heated through and browned, about 5 to 8 minutes per side.
If you like more heat in your black bean burgers, add more chili powder and a serrano chile.
The original recipe called for mango salsa to accompany the burgers. I didn't make it. Instead, for the adults, I added some extra cheese on top, and served them with tomato and avocado slices on whole wheat buns.