Because of my various dietary restrictions as well as budgetary reasons I have to prepare almost all of my meals from scratch. Certain components like pasta or pasta sauce can be purchased, but I have to scour the ingredients list thoroughly for anything I’m supposed to avoid.
I’m also a very scattered cook in that I rarely prepare things from a recipe. I acknowledge that baking requires following strict instructions, but there are many other types of dishes that are edible when I use instinct and basic understanding of what temperature to use for cooking the ingredients. I often create random stir fries or veggie mix casserole type dishes because they work well with my haphazard approach. Crock Pot cooking is also a favourite since I can allow things to cook overnight or during the day while I’m at work.
My latest Crock Pot invention ended up a little, well, odd though. It seemed like a good idea: dried pinto beans, chopped onion, chopped potatoes, hot peppers, and some fresh basil all simmered in coconut milk (the kind sold in quarts in the dairy aisle not the cans of the more concentrated variety used in traditional Thai cooking). Sounds pretty tasty, right? It probably would have been if HEB, a Texas supermarket chain, hadn’t started running a special on Silk coconut milk last week. As a result only one type of of coconut milk was available, So Delicious vanilla. I didn’t think about the fact that, in my experience, coconut milk is sweeter than almond milk, and I’ve learned that cooking with the flavoured almond milk is a bad idea for anything other than sweets. I didn’t think that vanilla and spicy peppers are not complimentary tastes even if Hatch chili pepper brownies can be awesome. I simply wanted to use coconut milk to make my bland beans seem more upscale.
The prepping and slow cooking process was fine, and my house smelled good while the mixture simmered. However, even when mixed with plain white rice something about the mixture seemed a little off…
I successfully created something that should never have existed: vanilla jalapeno flavoured pinto beans. It sounds like a rejected Jelly Belly flavour!
In the future I’ll have to remember this lesson and only cook with the unsweetened (I know there’s unsweetened almond milk, so I’m hoping for an unsweetened coconut milk) plain coconut milk. I want a little extra creamy taste not weird dessert flavoured dinners!