Emergency meal for one

It’s good to have an emergency meal in stock. Like a lot of Austinites, I was slammed by the pollen in the air one weekend.  I had to eat, but there were no leftovers in the fridge.

I operate on a very narrow grocery window.  I try not to buy more groceries than I can eat in the next three days.  That saves me from throwing out a lot of stale food.

I could barely drag myself around the pad, let alone go out for groceries.  I contemplated the gloomy prospect of ordering food for delivery.  Then, I remembered my emergency meal.

I opened the cabinet, and there it was, a can of pinto beans and a can of diced tomatoes! I was saved.  This is a meal that you can cook, eat, and clean up after in less than an hour.

First, start heating the skillet.  A cast-iron skillet with congealed bacon grease from breakfast is perfect.  Put it on a medium burner.

Second, chop garlic, onion, and (red) bell pepper.  Scrape the ingredients into the hot grease one at a time, about a minute apart.

Third, pour in the can of beans.  A word about bean juice:  it’s precious!  Some people will tell you to drain your beans.  That’s crazy.  Pour it all in.

Fourth, heat it through.  Shake on the spices.  Salt frugally, but apply a nice dusting of cumin and chili powder over the entire surface. After a few minutes, stir it.  By now, the juice should be bubbling.

Fifth, now we’re ready for the tomatoes, but ask yourself how much more time you want to take with this.  If you have time, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for a little while.  If you’re in a hurry, go ahead and pour in the diced tomatoes and stir until the bubbling starts again.  Then serve.

This one pan meal is great by itself, but it goes really well with cornbread or rice. Squash or greens also make a nice side dish.

Garnish with a jalapeño.  And when I say a jalapeño, I mean a whole jalapeño, from a can, not nacho slices from a jar.  It is scandalous that there are several reputable grocery stores in Austin that do not sell whole jalapeños.  At least HEB remains true.

Okay, meal’s over.  You probably have enough left over for another day.  It’s a matter of minutes to wash the skillet with hot water and a stiff brush.

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