FRIJOLES BLANCOS-White bean soup

As I have mentioned before, my father loved soup more than any other food. To him a meal was not complete if it didn't include soup. So my mother made wonderful soups nearly every day of their life together. This one is a favorite of my son, Aaron, and nephew, Dano, who requested I post it. 

This week I'll tell you a little about my father. He was known by his family and friends as Aldito, charming, cheerful, creative, a great dancer and life of every party (and as a young man he never missed a party!), the man who could figure out how to fix anything, the friend who would help you when ever you needed assistance. As I thought about this, I realized with joy that my sons are like him in many ways! 

Aldito grew up in the small town of Tuinucú, which is located in the belly region of the crocodile shaped island of Cuba.  He was very bright and loved to learn, however, in contrast to Mamina (story here), the young Aldito did not like school. He was a headstrong child, who did not like rules or structure. He told us that because of this, he was often physically punished, mostly by his teachers. He would hide to keep from having to go to school, sometimes in a tree. Being found brought on another beating. "It was just the way things were done in those days",  he explained. I hope humankind has evolved beyond this, I know my father did.

He wanted to protect his daughters from that kind of maltreatment, so he made a rule for himself that he would never spank us, and never did! He would often remind us, "no man should ever lay a hand on you, except in a kind and loving way".  

Almost as amazing is what my sister, Nina, remembers. Our very loud and boisterous father would become unusually calm and soft spoken when he needed to address any serious misbehaving on her part. She knew immediately this meant he was serious about something she should recognize as unacceptable.  

Above all he was my Papillo. A wonderful father who was always there for me and who not only supported me in all my dreams, but was even willing to explore them with me. 

My father is no longer on this Earth, I can't see his "1000 watt smile" (as my friend Rosa Hernandez described it), but I can still feel it! 

Gracias Papillo! 

FRIJOLES BLANCOS-White bean soup

1 lb bag (2 cups) dry white beans (also called Navy beans)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots
A soup bone, or a piece of ham
1 Tablespoon salt

2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper
1 medium onion
4-5 garlic cloves
chorizo (this is a Spanish sausage, not spicy)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce

Rinse beans and then cover with water and soak overnight. Next day pour out soaking water and add fresh water so it is about 2-3 inches above the beans, add potatoes, carrots and meat. If using a pressure cooker, cook 20-25 minutes after pressure is reached. Otherwise use a heavy pan, set it at the back of the stove, covered, and cook on medium heat for about 2 hours.  Add more water as needed. You can also cook them on high in a slow cooker for 7-8 hours. Add the tablespoon of salt after the beans are soft.

Chop up pepper, onion, garlic. Sauté in olive oil. When onions are getting translucent, add chorizo and tomato sauce and cook a few minutes longer, then add sofrito to beans. Stir and cook, covered, on low, for about 15 more minutes. It will thicken a bit and all the flavors will blend. Adjust salt if necessary.

A very hearty and comforting soup! 


A few days ago Mayor Bloomberg of NYC proposed banning the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks. See New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks  
I’ve enjoyed observing the reaction to this. Some people agree that it is a good way to bring awareness and help in the fight against obesity. Others are laughing about the ridiculousness of it.

It reminds me of a story from my childhood in Cuba......

I have always loved to read. I devoured every book in my parents’ bookcase, that they felt was appropriate for children. Among their books was a collection of old Reader’s Digest magazines, from BC (before Castro). I read every one of those delightful magazines many times. I especially liked the jokes, funny stories, and a particularly lovely recurring feature called MI PERSONAJE MAS INOLVIDABLE (My Most Unforgettable Character) that is no longer in the magazine (or perhaps was only in the Spanish version?). I also loved the advertisements; they were so amazing to a little girl growing up in a Communist country with nothing available in stores. There were so many things advertised on those pages that I really had trouble accepting that it was not fiction. I had been brain washed in the Communist schools for several years and even though our parents tried to tell us that there was another world out there, I couldn’t conceive of private individuals or companies selling their products, or even the existence of so many items to fulfill every dream. 

One day, as I perused the ads again I noticed an advertisement for a 32 oz coke. “Aha!”  I said to myself, “I knew this was all fake!” I went to my father and shoved the magazine page with the preposterous advertisement in front of his face. 

“I knew this wasn’t real, why would they ALLOW such a large soda to be sold, nobody can drink that much”, I challenged with all my brainwashed Communist 10 year old superiority. He patiently explained how in the US and the rest of the Free World people could buy anything they wanted to, as long as they had the money for it, even if they couldn’t drink it or it wasn’t good for them. He added that the government of the US did not issue ration cards like we had in Cuba, or tell people what they could buy. 

I had a very difficult time believing him. I just couldn’t imagine being allowed to buy anything I wanted.
I still love Readers Digest, though I rarely look at the advertisements now. These days I choose not to drink soda and I avoid most sugary drinks, because I want to. However I think I will go now and make some lemonade, the way my father made it, and drink as much I want. 
Here are the ingredients

LIMONADA- Lemonade

My parents referred to both limes and lemons as limones (lemons). They distinquished them by the color, limones verdes (green) and limones amarillos (yellow). They preferred limones verdes or what we would call limes. 

For this recipe I used some of each, since I just happened to have both on hand. Also, I use raw sugar like my father did. He grew sugar cane for the refinery in their small town of Tuinucú, and he considered raw sugar the "real" sugar. 

About 8 limes or lemons to yield about 1 cup of juice
3 cups cold water
2 cups of cubed ice
1 cup of raw sugar*

 Wash the limes and lemons, cut them in half and get all the juice out. 

One way to do it
The easier way

Combine with water and sugar and stir until the sugar is disolved. Add lots of ice and enjoy a most refreshing drink. 

* Instead of the raw sugar you can use 1/2 cup of honey. For less calories try a teaspoon of stevia and 2 Tablespoons of honey. You could even use regular sugar, as much as you want or none at all.  It is totally up to you.....for now.