I’m sorry but this post is pretty dark. I’m about to go on a cranky ramble and I just can’t help myself. I’m even going to give you beans, beans as black as my outlook on life today. Luckily for you, they taste great.

So what’s my puss all about, you ask. Well, I got a steriod injection in my SI joint yesterday. Two weeks after my doctor put in for the shot’s approval by my insurance company. Those two weeks were so crucial because, during the time, I was actually starting to feel significantly better. Not that I could work out, or go for a run, or stand or sit for too long, or really do much of anything other than go to work, cook dinner, lie around and sleep—but at least during work, dinner, laying, and sleeping I wasn’t in pain. This gave me serious happiness after over two months of consistent pain, no matter what I was doing. However, the no-working out or doing anything that could potentially burn a calorie or two was starting to bother me (and my waistline). I still couldn’t move my leg in any way other than a straight-forward-stepping movement without it hurting, and if I made the thoughtless mistake of doing something outrageous—like walking my dog—I could be laid out for a day or more. So my doctor suggested I have an injection, to bring the swelling down, alleviate some pain, and put me on the path to total healing. I agreed to it, jumping for joy (not literally, of course.)

And then the bane of my existence, Traveler’s Auto Insurance Company of New Jersey, told me they needed to “confer” with “their doctors” before approving the shot. These “doctors”, who have never examined me and who I seriously doubt even exist, are allowed, by law, 72 hours before they approve anything. Traveler’s, by sluggishly bad work ethics, make sure to use every minute of this 72 hour period—or, as I was soon to find out, they disregard all sense of the law and humanity and won’t do anything in the way of approving medical treatment for two weeks. And then, two weeks later, when you finally get the haughty woman of an insurance agent on the phone and she puts you on hold to go ask “the doctors” if they’ve approved anything and then comes back and cheerily says “looks like we’re going to let you get that shot” and you, through gritted teeth, ask her why Traveler’s feels that they need not adhere to the rights of people to get the health care they need within the legal limit of 72 hours and she replies, still goddamn cheerily, that “she doesn’t know,” your outlook on life becomes rather bleak.

But I did a little meditation after I hung up the phone, repeating to myself over and over that I am on the path to total healing. I went to the doctor’s and he tells me if I’m feeling better I could decide to hold off on the shot for another week to see if I improve even more on my own but by that time I feel like I had to wage war for the damn thing and I tell him, in a crazed, crackling voice, that it’s mine and he better give it to me. He forgets to mention that it will hurt like all hell. And he also forgets to mention, until after the shot when I’m lying bare-assed on his table crying and woozy from pain, that the initial pain of my accident may come back in full force for a day or two, adding (cheerily, of course) that the pain is a good thing because it shows us that we put the shot in the right place (your SI joint is too small for any significant injury to show up on an MRI). I look at him with all the contempt I can muster against a man who had been tirelessly trying to help me for the past few months but who nevertheless just stuck a huge needle into my bones. I go home, hoping for the best.

And of course, by today, the best is out to lunch, and the worst has certainly set in. I’m aching from above my hips to my ankles. I can’t move. I’m stoned on painkillers that make me feel nauseuous. I’m cranky, depressed, and, oddly, very hungry. Thankfully, instead of running for the hills to get away from me, Jim made me some black beans. He did the brunt of the work on these hardy, savory beans, and even helped me limp to the stove when I insisted on putting in the flavoring—balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, chinese chili paste—by myself.

These beans are perfect in their simplicity. They’re neither spicy nor mild, not sweet or salty. The best way to describe them is “beany”—pure black bean flavor that’s not mucked up by anything and only enhanced by the drops and pinches added in towards the end of cooking. While they are perfectly delectable alone as a side, a green garnish—I used pea leaves for their snappy bite and photogenicness—and a big dollop of sour cream make them a meal. Though they may look (and I may feel) abysmal, they taste bright, sharp, and delicious!

Simple Black Beans

adapted from:

  • 1 lb dried black beans (about 2 1/3 cups), picked over and rinsed (but not soaked)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry Sherry (or more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot Chinese chili paste (or more to taste)

Bring black beans, onion, garlic, oil, water (8 cups), and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on age of beans). Thin to desired consistency with additional water or thicken by simmering uncovered. Stir in Sherry and remaining teaspoon salt, then soy sauce, vinegar, and chili paste to taste. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

17 thoughts on “Blackness.”

  1. I love black beans, one of my favorite ingredients of all time in fact. I love going to a Cuban restaurant and getting a side order of black beans, they’re always delicious, but I never had a good recipe for them. This looks great!

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  2. Black beans are so cool that I just had to put them in my impromptu Rabbit Chili last week. And Black Bean Soup is one of my all-time faves … That hearty flavor is just amazing in so many wonderful things that I’d never thought to have them on their own!

    Robin, I feel so bad for you! Fortunately it sounds as though you have a couple great guys in Jim and your doctor. It’s good that you don’t have to go through this alone, and that you’re well taken care of. From Jim, that’s what love really is all about, isn’t it?

    From me, I wish you could feel comfortable not blogging when you’re feeling black … but I know from experience how the guilt starts creeping in and you just have to blog. Still, make sure to take as much time as necessary for you. It’s important, that.

  3. I hope that shot has taken full pain-killing effect by now and that you are feeling much better. be careful not to over exercise once the pain is gone!

    Your black beans are beautiful.

  4. The beans look great! Nice and simple. I am making your green bean salad today!

    Doesn’t pain just suck…you don’t ever realize how grateful you should be for not having it until you have it!!!

  5. Oh man Robin, how are you not going insane? I’d be crying, whining, screaming about the bane of my existence (insurance companies)… As you can tell, I am quite the queen of dramatics. Hopefully, you are feeling more sane and not writhing in pain.

  6. I know you said you’ve improved now but oh robin. my heart was aching for you reading this. I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I just feel so sad for you for having been in pain like that. 😦

    also? I can’t tell you how heavily I relate to the asshole insurance company thing. both at work and at home, I deal with all that “stuff.” all the paperwork, all the phone calls, all the runarounds. and it makes me want to cry sometimes.

    and yes, absolutely, the beans look very good. and somehow appropriate with this post. keep feelin better!

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever had black beans! I might buy some, and deliberately eat this recipe when I’m feeling bad… just because I’m childish and the idea of food to match my mood appeals to me (also: rhyming. I like rhyming).

    I’m glad you’re feeling better anyway, that sounds so horrible. Happy sunshine coloured food next time, with any luck?

  8. You are holding up like a real trooper and so blessed to have such good people by your side. Do hang in there, as I’m sure better days are ahead.

    The black beans look wonderful, by the way!

  9. Hey Sis!! Im going to have to try this one!! I love and miss black beans.. I eat alot of white beans here!..

    Hope your feeling ALOT better!! long-over due.. I try and ask mom how your feeling and she says ehh the same.. which i guess is true but not detialed enough for me!!

    As you mayy know, I am at Elaines house!! and if black beans didn’t cheer you up.. I have some authenic italian recipes to bring home that sure will!!! It was soo great seeing our cousins I wish you could be here!!!

    12 days…. Boy, Am I going to miss the food!!!

  10. Man, what a bummer…..the only good thing about dealing with something like that is to have a great guy taking care of you while you deal with being stoned on painkillers. I’ve done that (had the guy, well…..and the stoned part too) and it sure helps get through those miserable moments.

    This recipe looks SO good. I am stealing…..d’ya mind?

  11. Oh, Robin. I’m so sorry to hear how bad things have been for you lately. My heart goes out to you. May spring bring you health, happiness, and yes, total healing. Hang in there. And hold on to that black bean-cookin’ man of yours! He sounds like a real keeper.

  12. Bless your heart! I went down in my SI last year and I can relate to how horrible it is! Comfort food was most definately the answer!

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