Oh, Winter, Where art Thou? (A Lament and a Tasty Black Bean Tostada)

On February 7  my yard ought to be an expanse of glimmering white and shadows inside paw prints, my dog Cleo having flattened down accustomed paths running and leaping for the frisbee in the soft snow. There should be a wall of snow creeping up to the writing room windows, piles which slid off the metal roof. Beyond that, a squared white hallway-like path, Wayne has cut through feet of snow with the snowblower so Cleo can make it to the woods to relieve herself.

Instead, patches of white are interspersed with brown leafy ground. What was yesterday a glaze of rutted ice has turned to slush and puddles.  It’s gray, gloomy, and precipitation is falling but it’s not snow, or not completely snow, anyway.

I moved to the Adirondacks for snow. Snow beginning in November and lasting until April. Snow for cross country, backcountry, and telemark skiing. Snow for snowshoeing. Snow to quiet the landscape and glitter in the sunlight. Snow to entice us out of doors when it’s well, well below freezing. Days of frolicking in the snow and cold to make us feel like polar explorers and wonder if, under the right circumstances, we too might want to gnaw on some pemmican (dried meat and rendered fat), even those of us who don’t eat meat.

Alas, Winter, why have you forsaken us?

Well, in this mild and snowless winter I haven’t been too tempted by high calorie trail foods, anyway. This recipe is easy, tasty, healthy and very flexible. I made mine spicy enough to forget the lack of skiing, but you can adjust to your own tastes.

Black Bean Tostadas

  • 1 TBS olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans (including liquid)
  • 2-3 TBS fresh salsa
  • 1/3 of one canned chipotle pepper, minced–that is, less than one half of an individual pepper–they are hot and the longer they cook or sit in your beans the hotter they get! (or 1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • juice from about 1/4 lime
  • salt to taste
  • whole wheat wraps
  • Optional garnishes:
    •  good quality guacamole (or chopped avocado)
    • fresh salsa
    • fresh cilantro
    • sour cream
    • shredded lettuce
  1. Preheat oven to about 400.
  2. Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent
  3. Scrape in the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant
  4. Dump in the beans with their liquid, salsa, chipotle, cumin and stir. Allow to bubble together until the liquid begins to disappear. Taste.
  5. Add lime and taste before adding the salt (and tasting again.)
  6. While the beans are simmering for a few additional minutes, put a wrap on a baking sheet (I used a pizza pan) and toast it up. (Traditionally they are fried, but this is a tasty, healthy alternative). Watch the wrap–when it just begins to puff up and/or turn golden brown, turn it over and cook for a brief time longer. You want it to have a tiny bit of flex left so that in the finished product you can cut it up without it splintering.
  7. Assemble: spread beans atop your toasted wrap. Arrange any of the optional garnishes. Cut into wedges (I used a pizza cutter) and enjoy!

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