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Black Bean Soup

Labor Day Recipe 2023

Sometime during the mid-late 1990s, when I lived in Suburbia, I happened upon a recipe for black bean soup that appeared on a box of saltines. Nabisco Saltines, to be specific.

The National Biscuit Company, headquartered in my home state of New Jersey, had by that time become part of RJR Nabisco (1985-1999). That corporation has undoubtedly subsequently moved on to become absorbed by new conglomerate blobs.

I’m not interested in researching this matter, at the risk of completely losing my appetite. The CEOs make more money fiddling with the corporation-chips than they do manufacturing commodities of worth to the public. The consumer is but a token, or, more frequently, collateral damage!

I don’t eat saltines anymore, and never was much of a saltine muncher. Stoned Wheat Thins were more to my linking, for a long time; then they got pasty, and I moved on to various soda crackers. Earlier this year, I took keenly to what I call my Jane Austen crackers, British Water Crackers made by the Fine Cheese Company in Bath, Somerset, England.

Just for fanciful fun, I took a tour of the other crackers in the “Accompaniments” section. The Miller’s Harvest Set of Three Crackers looked delightful. I plopped them in the cart, along with a box of the All-Butter Spelt Crackers, to round out the amount to an even £,20 or $25.30 as of today’s exchange rate.

Those crackers, all crackers, every piece of merchandise on the Fine Cheese Co. website are CURRENTLY not available for sale outside of the UK. I could opt to pick up the products in Bath, but Shipment to the USA is quite impossible. Not in a week of Sundays. Not even in a month of Sundays. Or ever.

I’d been hoping to pair those water crackers with some cheddar cheese whilst I re-read Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen; but in a weirdly imperfect world, one must grow ever fonder of the Classics. It’s hard cheese for this American and those Bath Crackers!

It’s hard cheese for the Brits too, and for all of us, from what I’ve gleaned from this English website, and countless others. Every time that I try to infiltrate their electronic capitalist cavern, I’m bombarded with supposed sales-tactics that drive me away, far far away.

Just after leaving the Fine Cheese Company online, where I was informed that their products cannot be shipped to me, here in America, I got an email from “them”. They wondered why I’d left their crackers, abandoned, in their chopping block-cart.

This scenario recurs with sleep-inducing monotony in the e-selling-sphere. I can almost smell the desperation of these recessionary merchants.

The Paid Experts have driven a stake through the heart of what was once an art form: The Advertisement.

We the People in America have ingloriously been shoved from savouring the scintillatingly original ad-art of N. C. Wyeth in now-defunct magazines, to the woke-photoshopped and computer-generated, politically correct, tacky and tasteless graphic monstrosities that slavishly serve the globalist pigs and ghouls.

Just signing into My Account requires the patience of Job. A second or two after my doomed effort, the Rectangular Puzzle-Grid emerges. I’m not at all puzzled by those farcical google ghetto images (which have gotten really fuzzy of late).

There’s no sign of riots, stabbings, overall violence, looting of stores, graffiti, criminal pyromania, homeless encampments, dazed druggies in catatonic states on the littered streets. Reality on the internet left a long time ago. I don’t think it ever arrived.

Before I click the first pic of the boxed-in Virtual Urban Landscape — bridge/staircase/motorcycle/traffic lights/car/fire hydrant/crosswalk — the pop-up Cookie Notice blasts into my field of vision. I accept all cookies, which shall be immediately deleted upon my exiting the digital domain. I scrub my computer more than I do my bathtub.

I attempt to return To The Ghetto.

The next pop-up zooms before my eyes, alerting me to How to Unlock 15% Off by signing up for email alerts. SIGN UP FOR FREE. Subscribe to the Newsletter! Join the Family.

They must be kidding. Nothing is free, and my email address is worth more than all that tea in China. When did a capitalist enterprise become a Family?

Sign up for the Web Push Alerts! The use of the verb “push” is a very poor choice because whenever I feel pushed, I start s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n.

My slowing-down finger now gets to select 2 pix on the paranoid-grid. The next pop-up shows up. Sign into Your g-account — so we’re all connected! I take a meat cleaver to that lasso.

The movement of my cursor on the screen triggers the next spiel:

“Do you want to chat?”

No, I just came in for an estimate.

Two more Inner City images get clicked, and my cursor involuntarily moves toward the exit button.

Which signals the panicked digital-demands: “Wait! Before you go! Don’t leave yet!!”

You haven’t let me in; so how can I leave!?

All of this left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing on the ether-sphere retail site (if there is, in fact, a left hand or a right hand with which to coordinate these completely contradictory and absurd deeds) — necessitates that I keep a very strict distance from the laptop before making any meal, but, most of all, soup. As Beethoven sagely said:

“Only the pure in heart can make good soup.”

I want to be pure in heart. Ergo, I cast out of my sight those faux-pure-in-hearts peddling clothes that are ethically sourced and sustainable — from recycled-soda-bottles to Save The Planet.

Like Rita Hayworth who couldn’t take any more of Orson Welles’s genius, I cannot sustain any more of their sustainability. And I refuse to taint my ethics by swallowing whole-cloth their packs of lies pitched to those sucker-demographed customers.

If those clothes are so sustainable, then why do they shrink and fall apart after one washing??? What’s ethical about fraud and deceit as a marketing strategy? And what and where precisely are the locations of your ethically sourced crap?

I’m fleeing the sight of the massively oppressive Labor Day Sales for merchandise that didn’t sell this past year and won’t be bought anytime soon. And I avoid the flat-out fabrications about any items that I know are composed of synthetic sludge produced by slave labor Over There.

Over Here, my labor is completely voluntary as I prepare to create the culinary masterpiece of Black Bean Soup,

This past summer was unusually cool, and breezy, here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, as well as in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley. The Barbie (BBQ) hasn’t been fired up as much as usual. The revised, revised weather forecast (prediction) for the Labor Day weekend calls for a 60% chance of rain, which is almost unprecedented in this locale for this time of year. Labor Day itself, however, is projected to be sunny.

In either meteorological event, the temps will be 20 degrees below “average”, a word that used to mean, in non-arithmetic terms, a point in the middle. Technically speaking, that value is the mean. “Average” in this instance most likely indicates “normal”. But, with the New Normal being announced whenever it suits the Suits . . .

I opt for my own normal.

I’ve decided to go with an oldie but goodie, Black Bean Soup, for the worker’s holiday repast. It’s quick, easy, and has superbly stood the test of time.

This soup, like most recipes using tomato products and spices, tastes better the next day. More often than not, though, the soup gets eaten the day it’s made. The aroma is scrumptious!

I’ve tweaked this recipe over the years, and have found much higher quality ingredients than I’d used during the previous century. The march of progress has moved me to Goya Beans, spices from Spice Jungle, and fresh produce from my local market. I also use Chunky Pace salsa, not the Taco Bell corporate concoction that Nabisco once advocated!

And my secret ingredient (which is now a secret no more) is 1 cup of V-8 incorporated last into the mix.

Black Bean Soup

Serves 4-6 people

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. cumin

dash red pepper

3 16-oz. cans black beans

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

2 cups mild salsa

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 8-oz.can tomato sauce

8 ounces V-8

Olive oil

In a Dutch oven sauté onion, garlic, cumin, red pepper in olive oil till tender. Remove from heat. In blender, lightly purée 2 cans of beans with the chicken broth. Add mixture to the Dutch oven.

Stir in the 3rd can of black beans, salsa, lime juice, tomato sauce, V8. Heat mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired, and French bread.


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