Spent yesterday afternoon at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois and spent far more money than I should have adding to my already-considerable stack of Civil War reference materials (I feel a strong sense of kinship with the cat in yesterday’s post. I do need them all. Really).
I can remember listening to the griping of of Marines about our food, admittedly the worst in the Armed Forces and something of which the Corps is perversely proud, and when I was a platoon commander on Okinawa I used to routinely field complaints that my Marines were sneaking into the chow hall at the Air Force base at Kadena, just down the road (they also used to sneak into the Kadena officer's club for the Friday night dances, but that's another story).
But military food has come a long way from the salt horse and hard tack of the 1860’s or even the field rations of both World Wars. The depressing fact of chow up until the second half of the century was the inevitability of the bean.
Nominally the bean is a food powerhouse, packed with all kinds of good things that, were I a dietician, I could rattle off by heart. Militarily speaking they are highly portable, particularly in their dried state, not prone to spoilage, and easily prepared as long as the cook sergeant has plenty of water on hand. Gustatorially (is that a word?) speaking, they are pretty dull unless you have something to spice them up like a chutney or a salsa.
This is something I make a lot for my lunches at work. I recommend some kind of relish to go with them, though. Pico de gallo is great with this but Major Grey’s works, too.
Rice Cooker Beans and Rice
¼ cup cooking oil
1 cup raw rice
1 cup jarred salsa, such as Pace
1 ½ cup water
1 can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Pour it all into the rice cooker, stir to mix the ingredients up, and turn on the rice cooker. You can’t get much simpler than that, and another advantage is that the rice cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen in August.