Tag Archives: Polenta


While in the supermarket I found myself in front of a display of dried corn husks. I stood there, lost in memories of all the tamales I had eaten: the sweet, cinnamon-flavored ones from a little place on lower State Street in Santa Barbara before the freeway went through, the one’s that my friend Lodi’s mother made every year for Christmas. But I quailed at the thought of the time and energy required to make tamales. Then I thought of the tamale pie our neighbor, Aileen, used to make in the 60’s.

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink informs us that tamale pie showed up in the early 1900’s and became enshrined in the 1905 Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2. According to the Oxford the high point of tamale pie was in 1956 when the Loyalty Cook Book: Native Daughters of the Golden West by Willow Borba was published with nineteen recipes for tamale pie.


When I started exploring plant-based diets a couple of years ago I relied on canned beans. It was hard enough trying to figure out what we were going to eat that day and preparing all of our meals and the thought of preparing my own beans seemed to be too much. So I was happy to use canned beans in my recipes. I have since seen the light and when someone tells you that beans cooked at home are light years away from canned beans, believe them. It is true. And the fresher the beans, the less time they take to cook.

A while back I asked my sister, who lives in Santa Barbara, to send me some specialty beans that are available there. She said she would and then asked me if I knew about Rancho Gordo, the bean place. I didn’t so I immediately Googled them and then my life changed.

WWW.RANCHOGORDO.COM has many different beans and their story is  interesting. Feeling like a kid in a candy store, I ordered several beans including Bayo Chocolate. Who could resist the name? These small beans are indigenous to Mexico and while they look like chocolate, they don’t taste like chocolate. Which is a good thing.