Gallo Pinto: How to Make Rice and Beans, Central American Style

 

So I rave about Gallo Pinto, a central American style of making rice and beans. I learned how to make it while I studied abroad in Costa Rica as I paid for some cooking lessons during my last month. I didn’t go into study abroad even liking beans, but now I am tolerant enough that I make Gallo Pinto for myself several times a year. After the last time I made it for an event, an end of the year work party for a job at my school, I had several requests for the recipe and how to make it. So here it is, kids.

Let’s Cook.

Ingredients:

⇒Vegteables: Onion, Bell Pepper, Corn
⇒Rice (Must be cooked the day/night before and allowed to ‘dry out’ in the fridge)
⇒Ketchup
⇒Worchester Sauce or Soy Sauce (Salsa Lizano is the actual ingredient you want, but these are adequate substitutes as Salsa Lizano is a bit hard to find)
⇒Half a Can of Red or Black Beans (About a Cup if you want to make them fresh)
⇒Chicken Flavor Bullion Cubes/Seasoning Packet (To Make your Gallo Pinto Vegan and Dairy Free, use Vegetable Bullion Cubes/Packets)
⇒Fresh Cilantro

Screenshot (219)

The ideal finished product should look something like this.

How To Make It:

  1. Turn a Skillet/Saucepan (Cast Iron if possible) onto medium heat.
  2. Place Oil in the Skillet and place the Chopped Vegetables in the Pan. Sautee until the vegetables are tender and start to Brown.
  3. Next, Add the Beans and either some of the salt/water from the can, or add some water if you are using fresh beans.
  4. Add a squirt of Ketchup, a Squirt of Your Worchester/Soy Sauce (Like a Tablespoon of each if you need more exact measurements), and either two cubes or two packets of flavoring. Mix in the seasoning.
  5. Let the beans cook occasionally stirring until they are soft (you can easily cut them in two with a fork) and the bean water juice has begun to thicken.
  6. Mix in your rice. I don’t have an exact number here for you, but put in enough that there is a good bean to vegetable to rice ratio, but not so much that the rice is overflowing out of your pan. It might take you a while to figure how much this is, but that’s okay.
  7. Continue mixing/stirring in the rice with the bean/veggie mixture until it has seemingly absorbed the bean juice.
  8. At this time stir in your finely chopped cilantro (preferably with as little stem as possible) if you want until well blended. If not, skip to next step.
  9. Turn off the burner and remove from heat.
  10. Eat as much as you can. Save the rest for tomorrow.
  11. To reheat, place in a microwave after sprinkling water on the Gallo Pinto. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then an additional 30 seconds.
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GALLO PINTO MAKES ME HAPPY. AND IT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY TOO.

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Looking Backward, Stepping Forward

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

It has been 3 weeks  now since I have been home from college. I managed to get through my third year of college, and my first year at Ithaca. And I am very, very tired.

Going into Ithaca I struggled. I felt incompetent. My brain felt rusted-over from a perturbing semester abroad, and a distressing summer spent working jobs that well, I sure as hell didn’t love. I was hoping, dreaming that Ithaca would be my place, that I would find my people. The strain of the cost of college and being unable to find employment gnawed at me constantly, and I faced an immense fear that I would not do well in my classes and that I would not succeed. But in the end, I pulled through and managed to make Dean’s List. Twice.

While I  had at least come to accept that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was still living in denial. At midterms in October, I pushed too hard, stressed too much and had a painful flare that left me incapacitated. I couldn’t type, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t finish my midterm essay. At the moment, I was frustrated, but there is still an immense wave of frustration and shame. I can’t work the way that I used to anymore. I felt like an alien trapped in my own body.

But I made it and whipped my mind back into shape. I approached the next semester eager and ready for my second round with 18 credits. But within a month, I realized that it was way too much. The cold of CNY winter chilled me to the core. My body, already exhausted from engaging in RA’s driving my immune system into a warp speed frenzy of ‘cannibalistic’ practices tired so easily with the cold. I could sleep for 12 hours a day, and still be sleepy. My class load was more intense, wading deeper into upper-level classes that require more time, thought, and homework I found I had next to no time to socialize. Sleep and School. On top of this, I forgot how cloudy and dreary CNY is, and I felt the lack of sun in my productivity and my overall mood.

There comes a point in all of this that I suddenly realized that part of me regretted my decision to come to Ithaca. That perhaps, I made the wrong choice. As the semester progressed, I realized that while I was making friends, I was making more acquaintances than friends. I felt so incredibly lonely. As an old soul, non-drug/non-alcohol user, who is always incredibly emotionally invested in everything, and a painfully shy introvert posing as an extrovert, I felt like I hadn’t found my people. And I need my people for support. As I thought about reaching out to other friends in other places, I found myself hesitating and stressing over whom to turn to.

I felt super shaken still about grades and academics, and for a few brief weeks seriously considered dropping my second major in history down to a minor. Will I even be capable of grad school, or would my RA reduce me to a dependent, pathetic mess? Which rattled me enough that I became unsure of what it is that  I want to do.

On the brink of despair, I finally admitted that it was time to sit down and see a therapist. So I did. And I will continue to do so in the fall. I still have a lot of mourning and emotional processing to do with my RA. And the first step has been realizing no more  18 credits a semester. The second step had been accepting that I need to exercise and yoga consistently to keep my body strong but to also manage stress and keep it low. Thirdly I need to choose wisely where and into whom I put my time and energy.

I still feel lost, I still feel uncertain, I still feel alone. But I know that I must, that I can, and that I will endure. I know that I will make the most of my remaining classes, and next year will continue to cultivate the good friendships and things in my life. I’ve bought some books on RA to help educate me moving forward. So far this summer I’m already feeling recharged. I’ve been running with my mom and I have been significantly less stressed. I have spent some beautiful moments with some friends that have made me feel loved and supported and capable of taking on the world.

It is difficult some days but I have to keep thinking forward, to not let my pain and new limitations get me down. I can, and I will succeed if I put my mind to it.

One Month Home

So I have been home about a month now, actually a month to the date. I am happy to be home in my own bed, with my dogs, and with my family. But sometimes I miss Costa Rica. It is definitely a place that I will be going back to one day, without a doubt.

Even though my adventures abroad have ended I have decided to continue to blog and update occasionally. How often is occasionally? I have no idea. So try to bear with me.

It was kind of a surprise to actually understand everyone around me, and also the amount of green. Having lived mostly in the city seeing our backyard surprised me, in a good way. And much to my surprise I kinda do miss having Gallo Pinto, especially with cilantro. Not to mention Juice everyday all day. But needless to say, I haven’t really gone through the reverse culture shock as badly as I went through my initial culture shock. Part of me still can’t believe that I just studied abroad for four months.

After who knows how many job applications I managed to secure two jobs. One, didn’t work out but with a job offer that I received yesterday I am able to leave it and move onto one that is a better match for me. I think it is always important to consider the environment and people you are going to be working with. If you cannot laugh and jive, than you’ll be miserable. And life is to short to be miserable. Of course, sometimes we have to take those unhappy circumstances for reasons. Unfortunately our world is still driven by money which means bills to pay and buying necessities. For me? College. I hope that future generations have the opportunity for affordable higher education without the burden of financial stress and crippling debt.

I am getting super excited about college. I have done almost everything I need to do, and orientation is coming up. I am however stressing about classes because for whatever reason, as a transfer student, I am incapable of picking my own classes and figuring out what I should take. But I guess it shows they care, which is more than I can say about where I am coming from. I will be taking a full load, or as close to it as I can get. My desire to double major and specialize while good and ambitious means a tight and full schedule. But to be honest, I kinda like it that way. Hopefully I will be able to make it into the life guarding class with any luck. Which means a lot of swimming this summer but it will be good for me.

I will be working hard this summer, but I do intend to make time for myself and self development. And of course preparing for a new start at a new college, and everything fun that goes with that. Hopefully I will have time for some adventures with friends and family, and I will somehow acclimate to air conditioning.