Food Stamp Food: Rice & Beans and The Farm Bill and what it means to food stamps

On Monday, I cooked a bag of black beans. That night, I threw some (maybe ½ cup? I don’t measure ) into a pasta salad and called it dinner.  One of the teenagers used some to make a few black bean burgers. The remainder of the cooked beans filled a quart-sized mason jar to be stored in the fridge. Throughout the week,I dipped into the bean jar. I threw some on top of eggs with some salsa the next day and called them Southwestern Eggs. Tossed some into tortillas with cheese and spinach one day for lunch.

By Thursday, I still had all these beans left.

Thursday night, I made beans and rice for dinner. I still have beans left.

Let’s talk about beans and rice for a minute or 10 here.

This week I happened across a free book for Kindle called The  Broke Ass Cookbook. First of all, a free book about cooking when you’re poor…for Kindle. How funny is that? I love irony. Unlike many broke-ass people, I actually do have a Kindle  so I felt compelled to get it on behalf of all the broke-ass people out there who can’t afford a Kindle but still need to figure out how to feed themselves.

The Broke-Ass Cookbook recommends a diet of processed food purchased at Walmart. Trying to figure out what to feed the kids? Boxed mac and cheese with ground beef thrown in,of course!  The ground beef you’re buying is the tubed meat, which is disgusting.  It’s better to just go meat free and throw some tuna fish or black beans into the mac and cheese if you need a protein. If it feels very important to you to have ground beef as your protein source, go to any food pantry and you will be given this same exact ground beef in a tube for free.

The “cookbook” is more of the same. just pre-packaged,processed canned foods with a little something extra thrown in sometimes to make you feel like you don’t suck that bad.

I couldn’t even agree on the subject of rice and beans in this cookbook. First of all, the recipe is for Red Beans & Rice yet the ingredients call for pinto beans. Red beans are kidney beans. Nit-picky of me,I know but it’s true.

The instructions say:

The trick to red beans is soaking overnight.Don’t want to soak? Don’t cook the beans. It’s just not going to come out the same if you don’t soak them.I’ve tried, believe me, but it always comes out wrong. You want a creamy texture to the beans.

If you’re making beans and rice,you DO have to cook the beans. You can’t not cook the beans! That’s ridiculous.

Recipe also says to add chicken soup base to the water when soaking. Absolutely not necessary.

How You Actually Cook Beans

1. Soak the beans overnight OR you can do a quick soak method, which works just as well. The longer you soak the beans, the less gassy they will be ,though. Quick soak method may require some Beano. To quick soak, place beans in a pot with enough water to cover. Boil for about 5 minutes. Turn off the burner and let soak for at least 1 hr before cooking. You may want to add a little bit more water to the pot while soaking .

2. Rinse beans.

3. Put beans in a pot with enough water to cover and turn heat on. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. As beans begin to soak up water, add enough water to cover beans periodically during cooking time. Different beans require different cooking times but usually it’ll take an hour to 2 for cooking time. If you’ve ever eat beans before, you’ll be able to figure out when they’re done. They’ll be soft,obviously!

4. Drain and use however you want .

Crockpot Method: Place beans in crockpot.Cover with water. Cook on low 8 hours .

On the subject of rice…

I make this a bit healthier with brown rice instead of white, but I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s just as good. White rice and red beans tastes much better but I don’t mind the rice difference if the beans are well done.

A couple of years ago, the woman who was director of the food program in our school district told me the story of how she fought to get brown rice in our schools. The number one argument from administrators : The kids won’t eat the brown rice because it doesn’t taste as  good.  Armed with data on the benefits of brown rice over white rice, she finally won. It took FIVE YEARS but finally, she phased white rice out of the cafeteria and replaced it with brown. Very few kids noticed. The ones who did notice, didn’t care.  Personally, if you’re properly cooking it, I don’t even notice a difference, especially in a dish with other ingredients.

Additionally, the recipe calls for:

1 bay leaf (cute the gas from the beans)

1 ham hock (optional, sort of)

1 tbsp liquid smoke

No need for the bay leaf if you’re soaking overnight.A ham hock? By “optional”, the author explains that she finds it “gross” but without it,it doesn’t have the same flavor. I can’t say that I’ve ever had rice & beans made with a ham hock so I’ll trust her on that. Liquid smoke? No.It’s not necessary and just an additional expense.

So, here’s how I make beans and rice.

Chop an onion. I happened to also have  half a green pepper that needed to be used so I chopped it up as well. Peppers can be expensive so it isn’t necessary at all to use them. I just happened to have one.

Cook the onion (and pepper, if you have it)  in a skillet with a little oil. Add some garlic and whatever other seasonings you’d like. I added dried chipotle pepper and cilantro (fresh from my container garden!)

Cook your rice.Don’t know how to cook rice? Here : How to cook white rice  and brown rice. Sidenote: The recipe in the Broke-Ass Cookbook says you should use that chicken soup base to cook brown rice. Again…no. Water is fine.

Mix your beans with your onions and seasonings, coating the beans thoroughly. Add to rice. Stir. Done.

I would like to mention that I am not a food blogger. No plating or presentation here. When I’m cooking dinner, I usually have people clamoring for it and don’t have time for fab photos. Sorry!

So, there you have Beans & Rice.Simple.

Sean Hannity said recently that beans and rice are the answer to solving this country’s “hunger” problem. The bit he said about beans and rice is essentially correct (although now after reading that cookbook, I wonder if people even know how to make beans and rice).Both rice and beans are cheap and can stretch quite far. Take my one bag of dried black beans,for example. It’s Friday and I still have enough left to do something with. There was also leftovers from our Rice & Beans dinner, enough for a few people in the family to have lunch.

He said:

…Beans – protein – rice. Inexpensive. You can make a big pot of this for a week for relatively negligible amounts of money for your whole family and feed your family.

Look, you should have vegetables and fruit in there as well, but, you know, if you need to survive, you can survive off it. It’s not ideal –  you know, you can get some cheap meat and throw in there as well for protein. There are ways to live really, really cheaply.

He’s correct. It’s a good , cheap meal. I dislike that he seems to consider the veggies & fruit optional , ignoring most nutrition recommendations of a balanced diet but sure…you’ll survive on a rice & bean diet. Per usual Republican sentiment, you don’t really deserve to have more than that if you’re poor. Take this couple’s Rice & Bean Challenge for instance. Their church hosted a challenge: eat nothing but rice and beans for a week and experience what it’s like to live in a third world country.  Sean Hannity wants citizens of a first-world nation to eat like they live in the third-world.

There is no reason for anyone in the US to have food scarcity.  50% of the food harvested in America never gets eaten. 43 MILLION TONS of food waste was generated last year just in the US. Address these problems and we’re on the right track.

But first, we have to convince people that we actually have a hunger problem in the United States. Sean Hannity for example doesn’t believe that Americans ever go to bed hungry, despite the fact that last year 17.2 million households in America had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources. During the Bush administration, the government legally changed the word hunger  to be “low food security”. If there’s no language being used to describe hunger by the USDA, then it doesn’t exist. Since it doesn’t exist, everything will be fine when the government cuts funding to the SNAP (food stamp program) via the Farm Bill. 


Go here and ask Congress to spare SNAP and pass the Farm Bill without severe cuts. 1 in 5 kids don’t get enough to eat right now. We really want that to be more?

For more about the problem of food waste in the US, Urban Gleaners has made this excellent short film.

Fight Back Friday


11 thoughts on “Food Stamp Food: Rice & Beans and The Farm Bill and what it means to food stamps

  1. I don’t understand why this book would be available via Kindle. You’re right, most broke-ass people don’t have e-readers or maybe even consistent access to the internet, so how would they even find this book?

    Red beans and rice with ham hocks = GOOD! I’m going to try your recipe (with the ham hocks though). Why don’t you just write a cookbook? ;-)

    • I should ! Someday.
      The funniest thing about the ham hocks was how the author said she thought it was gross. great motivation to use it,eh! LOL. She also said she thought it was wasteful but I don’t understand that….it’s recycling! Whenever I have a ham hock, I make split pea soup or other things like that.

  2. I think what the cookbook recipe is saying, if you don’t want to soak the beans, you shouldn’t choose that recipe – don’t make the beans. Not skip the step of cooking the beans, but rather that the step of soaking is so vital that if you skip it you should just skip that recipe all together.

  3. Man do I love you. I make some form of this rice and beans every damn week. It’s pretty perfect. But fruit and veggies too. Duh. As always I’m in awe of you. And that cookbook sounds so stupid. No processed foods! For anyone! That’s my wish.

  4. Thanks for all the great information! Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friend’s Friday! Please come back next week and share another recipe!

  5. We eat rice and beans all the time… It is an African staple so my hubby likes, although I use black-eyed peas when I make mine… I don’t soak them at all, rinse and cook and they come out just fine and no gas ~~ at least that I know of. Thanks for posting this on foodie friend’s friday and hope you come again.. Loved this post. Marlys – This and That

  6. Thanks for being you. You are my favorite blogger and the most helpful. I did read that book and there was a teeny bit of useful information, but most of the recipes like hot dogs in spaghetti and the chuck wagon I am sorry were just plain eww. You can get Kindle books downloaded to your computer without having a Kindle (in case anyone was interested that did not have one). But I suppose you would need a computer. I will make this rice and beans recipe. I especially like it because I am not eating sugar and I miss out on hearty meals because so many cheap foods have sugar or corn syrup. Thanks again for being my favorite super hero.

  7. Pingback: Additional points to growing food when you’re poor & this week’s link round-up | crazy dumbsaint of the mind

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