March 24, 2013

Oh friends, I am sorry.  It’s been over three weeks since my last post.

red beans & rice | Blue Jean Gourmet

Life is full and busy and fast-moving for all of us, to be sure.  We find ourselves at the end of another month, wondering “How can it be almost April already?” or “When did this baby get so BIG?”

Still, when I scan back over the days since I last wrote, there are points of distinct aliveness that stand out from the blur, occasions when time seemed to slow down a little and I let myself slip into it.  For me, these moments often involve food—both preparing it and eating it—and there is a magic to this, I think, a kind of blessing.

We are trying to teach our son about daily pleasures, trying to teach him that enjoyment in the every day is a key component to a happy life.  In turn, he is teaching us, showing us how to see things through his new eyes—tonight, as he relished a crunchy piece of bok choy, grown by friends and charred on the grill, I thought about how often I take it for granted when food tastes good, feels good, is good.  It’s no small thing, really, as Shiv reminds me when he joyfully chirps, chews, raises an eyebrow, urgently grunts, leans forward, and opens his mouth for more.

I have heard from a lot of you who found meaning and resonance in my last post.  Thank you, as always, for reading, and for generously allowing me the room to share what’s really true and present for me.  I am humbled to know that what I said made a difference for some of you.

Last thing: my essay, “Sonata,” was published this month in Trop Magazine.  This is one of the pieces included in my forthcoming collection, and it was also previously published on this site.  For those of you who may have missed it or would like to read it again, here’s the link.

adapted from Gloria Glenney

I know we’ve all got our eye on spring, but should you be experiencing a little last-gasp-of-winter cold snap around your parts, I highly recommend these here red beans and rice.

red beans & rice | Blue Jean Gourmet


1 lb. kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 ham bone OR 2 smoked ham hocks OR ¼ lb smoked ham, diced
2-3 slices bacon, sliced
½ lb. sausage of your choice, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ – ½ tsp. cayenne (depending on your taste)
few dashes Tabasco
2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade (I used the last of my post-Thanksgiving turkey stock, because I needed to do something with it, and it worked just fine)

In the bottom of a heavy pot, cook the bacon first to render out the fat.   If using diced ham, add it to the bacon and allow it to brown a bit.  Add the onions and garlic and cook for just a minute or two before tossing in the sliced sausage, celery, and bell pepper.  (If using ham bone or ham hocks, brown them in the pot briefly before the next step).

Once the vegetables have softened, pour in the stock, beans, and all seasonings.  (At this point, if you’d like to transfer everything to a slow cooker, you can.)  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until beans are soft and creamy.  On the stovetop, budget around 2-2 ½ hours.  In the slow cooker, my beans were perfect after 4 hours on “high.”  Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve with white rice and garnish with green onion.



  1. Congratulations on the publication – a truly worthy piece. Love the image of Shiv and bok choy.

    Comment by carolyn truedell — March 25, 2013 @ 9:28 am

  2. Please don’t think you have to apologize for how often you post here. I, and I think a lot of other people out here in “Internetsville”, are keenly aware of how hectic life is for you right now. Jill, Shiv, all your cherished students fill your days. That’s as it should be. When I think, “I haven’t heard from Nishta in a while” I smile because I know that your loving family is keeping you busy.
    Your essay was lovely.

    Comment by Shannon from Roswell — March 25, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

  3. I have Louisana roots and my recipe comes from “Talk about Good.” I’m going to try this one. Looks yummy.

    Comment by Deborah Melanson — March 27, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  4. carolyn–thank you! as you have witnessed, that little boy loves to eat 🙂

    Shannon–I can’t tell you how much this comment made my day. you are so generous, and what a lovely thing to say. thank you! it is so special to know you feel this way.

    Deborah–let me know if you try it and how it turns out! Louisiana roots can come in handy.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — April 6, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

Leave a comment