Flash in the Pan: Serendipitous Black Bean Spread (or Dip)

[Sometimes, you just want a dish that’s quick and easy–no fuss.  I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.” (For other FitP recipes, see “Categories” at right).]

Black Bean Spread on Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Some people love surprises. Me, I’m not a big fan of the unexpected. Well, let me rephrase that: I’m not a big fan of the unexpected when I’m the one being surprised.  If someone else, on the other hand, is treated to an unforeseen birthday party, or engagement ring, or earwig, well, then, I just lurve surprises!

Case in point: some of you will recall my snowbound trail-walk with the Girls a couple of weeks ago, which I reported on Facebook.  It was the afternoon following (yet another) snowstorm**, and I’d spent the requisite 27 minutes bundling myself in layers as protection from the cold: two pairs of socks; long underwear topped with thick corduroy pants; cotton undershirt under cotton turtleneck, under fleece-lined sweater.  On top of that, I added a pair of thick rubber galoshes, a padded ski jacket, a pair of thin gloves underneath a pair of thick gloves, a fleece hat topped with earmuffs for good measure, and my hood.  Oh, and let’s not forget my sunglasses, huge contraptions that I wear over my regular glasses (really).

Looking like some bizarre Alaskan zombie, I somehow managed to ease myself out of the car and waddle my way along the trail, which was still blanketed in pristine snow that had clearly not been trod by anyone else that day.

Black Bean Spread on Diet, Dessert and Dogs

The Girls always love these walks, so I’m happy to provide them.  Besides, it’s kind of fun to watch Chaser scampering and leaping, bunny-like, through the snow whenever she’s off-leash. On that day, however, she was doing something different: not just leaping and prancing, but diving face-first into the snow, burying her entire head in it, over and over, at 2-foot (3/4-meter) intervals. Then she’d surface, nose covered in powder, sniffing the air as if a steak were sizzling nearby. What was up with that?  I couldn’t help but laugh as I recalled a documentary the HH had been watching a few nights earlier about foxes, who thrust their snouts into the snow in order to seize their prey.  How funny, I thought. Tee hee hee. . .

And then, it happened.  Chaser dove head-first into the snow and came up with. . . a mouse! A LIVE MOUSE.


What followed could have come straight out of a National Lampoon vacation movie. I started shrieking like a banshee: “Drop it! Drop it! DROP ITTTTTT!!!!” as I sprinted (well, more like shuffled, zombie-like) through the snow toward her, arms flailing like a flag in a hurricane.  And, to her credit, she did drop it.

The mouse stumbled across the path (by this time a bit wobbly), aiming to scoot back into its burrow.  By now Elsie had figured out something was afoot, and came charging; she too, grabbed the tiny rodent in her muzzle and held it aloft for me to admire, the mouse’s feet and tail flapping uncontrollably. And again, my horrified shrieking, “DROP IT!!!” as I leapt to grab The Girls’ collars and prevent any further nose-poking of the mouse across the snow. By now my voice was pretty hoarse and my face was pretty darned red.

But as I threw myself forward, I lost my footing and crashed down–thwack!–rather ungracefully onto the snow (luckily, the depth of the snow, combined with my natural padding “back there,” saved me from injury). Before I could regain my composure, the mouse went berserk, zig-zagging across my legs. All I can say is that I’m glad there was no one else around to see what ensued as I struggled to get up, legs jerking like loose wires in an electrical storm, still shrieking (shrieking even more!), still clinging for dear life to the Girls’ collars so they couldn’t dive in for Round Two.

Finally, with all three of us panting and our hearts racing, I steadied myself, once again upright and watched as the mouse ambled back to safety under the blanket of snow.  Frankly, I am still not sure which one of us was more traumatized by the experience.

So as you can see, I don’t react too well to unexpected, er, “visitors.” Needless to say, we won’t be back to that particular trail as long as the snow remains on the ground.

Black Bean Spread on Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Now, when I receive an unexpected surprise from food, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. This spread (or dip) came about, for instance, as a serendiptious discovery because we had run out of fresh produce. What with all the book edits, I’ve had not time for grocery shopping. (I know, boo hoo for me. Okay, cue violins). The only green ingredients left in the fridge were a few limp stems of fresh cilantro, half a cucumber from our CSA, half a lime and that neglected chunk of the HH’s brie cheese, cowering way at the back. I decided I’d create something based on all the nonperishable ingredients in the cupboard that I’ve been hoarding saving for a day just such as that one. I rooted around to find a can of black beans and some almond butter. I could work with that!

A quick whir in the food processor and my slightly unconventional black bean dip was made. We ate it with leftover corn chips from our previous nacho night along with the remnants of the cucumber. The following day (after a trip to the grocery store), I smeared it on a raw collard leaf, added grated carrot and sprouts, and had a fabulous raw collard wrap.  If you’re looking for a high-protein snack or light meal, this is a great recipe.

And–don’t let it surprise you–you may just discover that you love it.

** I’ve officially dubbed this  season “The Winter that Refused To Leave.” I mean, really, Mother Nature? This isn’t funny any more.

Black Bean Spread on Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Last Year at this Time: Cauliflower Parsnip and Bean Mash (gluten free; ACD  All Stages Stage 2 3 and beyond Maintenance)

Two Years Ago: Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (gluten free; ACD Stage 3 and beyond)

Three Years Ago: Ten Things That Make Me Happy

Four Years Ago: Marvelous Maple-Flax cookies (gluten free; ACD  Maintenance)

Five Years Ago: Katie’s Creamy Aspara-Dip (gluten free; ACD  Stage 3 and beyond)

© Ricki Heller

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  1. This looks so good! Thanks for the “serendipitous” recipe. It is on the docket, we would make it tonight but we are enjoying your lemon almond pancakes….yum!

  2. LOL! I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be laughing at your story, but you did make it sound pretty funny. Aren’t cats supposed to bring us back mice? Not dogs? LOL!! Too funny. Poor you! Not sure what part of the story is freakier for me, though… the snow, or the mouse. 😉

    I love all varieties of bean dips, and sometimes it doesn’t require having “everything” on hand to make something delicious! The recipe looks terrific, perfect for us beany-lovers! 😀

    • Oh, I don’t blame you for laughing–I sure did when I retold the story to the HH later that day! (By then I had caught my breath). It was horrifying, on so many levels! As I said on FB, good thing it wasn’t summer with me wearing a dress, or people could have had quite a show (not that what actually happened wasn’t bad enough!). And believe me, I hate the snow, too. Glad it appeals to bean lovers, too!

  3. sounds delicious – and innovative use of what was at hand! the dip I mean!

    the mouse incident might have been funny to watch on funniest home videos (not that I really like that sort of stuff) but you have my empathy – the few times Zinc has had anything to do with mice I think I have cowered out of sight – and the ingratitude of the mouse to run over you after you rescued it – though he was probably befuddled after the snow and dogs. Glad you weren’t hurt when you fell.

    and I am unsure what to think about google reader closing – mine is so crazy full that it is half relief but not quite sure about keeping up with favourite blogs but your suggestion of a subscription is useful. I am planning to write more about it on my blog so wont go on and on here.

    • I think you’re right, it would have been a funny video. And that ingrate mouse–yes! 😉 I feel your pain about Reader. I have over 300 subscriptions on it. But I guess this will be my chance to finally clear them out and only keep the ones I really read regularly.

  4. Well, I love you for this post. I have to say, black bean dip is perhaps my favorite dip and I’ve never made it (crazy, right). In fact, just this Monday I saw some at my Natural Foods Coop and it was calling my name. I threw it in my basket and gobbled the entire thing up in just a few hours. And then I thought: I really need to get it together and MAKE my own (as I rarely buy prepared dips)…and here is this fabulous recipe! Thank you Ricki. I am going to make this ASAP 🙂

    AND, you had me laughing pretty hard there with that story. I love it! You’re so funny. Sorry about that surprise, but you tell it with such good humor.

    Have a great rest of your Wednesday. 🙂


  5. This sounds very familiar to me (deja vu-ish??), having two dogs. We have a goldendoodle and a labradoodle. We live out in the country and I love taking them off the leash, back in the fields. One day, my husband was with me (thank you very much), the dogs got a weasle! And then tried to get a raccoon. How do you break that instinct in them? I keep repeating to myself that they don’t know any better. But it is so upsetting. Back to leashes we go, mostly. We snowshoed today, with lots of digging going on…but no meat. Spring kind of scares me.ha.
    Love your recipes and postings.

    • Thanks so much, Jan, and thanks for commenting! I think it’s impossible to break the instinct. . . they are dogs, after all! When we know other small animals will be about, we keep them on leash, or else I make A LOT of noise as we move along (I just keep talking, VERY loudly, or I clang the two flexi-lead cases together, which makes noise) so we warn the critters to get out of the way. Despite all that, Elsie did encounter a groundhog one time and even tried to fight it (she ended up with a bloodied mouth), but she did stop when the HH called her. Chaser is even more responsive to commands (she’s part German Shepherd, after all!) so she did drop that mouse immediately, and I can honestly say I think I was more knocked about than the mouse was by the end of that adventure! 😉

  6. I loved you recounting this story, Ricki. As you know, I cracked up when I first read it on FB. It seems like things like this only happen to me, so your tale is validating and I’m still laughing with you, not at you. 😉

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, almond butter is a magical ingredient. I can see it working perfectly with these ingredients. 🙂 You know that I love such spur-of-the-moment pantry creations from my own crazy inventions. Nice job!


    • Thanks, Shirley. I remember our little gab about it on FB! Too funny. 😉 And I agree, those last-minute creations that work are so gratifying!

  7. what a funny rendition of your outing – how strange following on from the documentary!

    I love dips made with any beans – they are such a verstaile ingredient, aren’t they? I’ve not added a nut butter in before, though, so I’ll have to try some made that way. thanks:)

    • Christine, I agree! It was kind of creepy watching her do that same foxy thing! Those canine genes, I guess. . . I bet she had done it before (not finding the mouse), but I just didn’t take note because I hadn’t seen the documentary yet. Sort of like when you learn a new word, and then suddenly you see it in everything you read! 😉 And glad that the recipe provided something new for you to try! 🙂

  8. Ahhhhh! Your story made my skin crawl…clearly I am not a fan of mice, lol. Eeek! Like you, though, I am only a fan of surprises for other people. For me? I like having a plan and following it closely 🙂 I am not big on surprises for myself!


    • Courtney, it made MY skin crawl, too!! Totally freaked out by a teeny tiny mouse. And also kinda freaked out by Chaser’s incredible nose and tracking ability! I swear, she should be a drug dog at the airport. 😉 Luckily, all four of us emerged from the experience unharmed. 🙂

  9. Well, Ricki, I was laughing out loud at your mouse story. Your description was quite vivid, but still, it’s really too bad the HH was following along with a video camera. Maybe I laughed so hard because I was remembering certain personal mouse incidents, one of which was in a very public place, and my reactions to them.

    The dip sounds so fast and delicious — a perfect thing to whip up when unexpected company arrives, or whenever you need something quick, delicious and based on a very few ingredients that are probably in the cupboard.

    • Something tells me a lot of us would react to a mouse that way! Funny considering how small it was and how massive I am in comparison. . . but ewwww, ON MY LEGS!! 😉 And you have my sympathy, whatever your own mouse story was. I agree about the dip–so quick, and it was sooooo good (though we didn’t share with anyone else!). 🙂

  10. Ricki. A berserk chewed mouse is SO MUCH WORSE than the imaginary spiders you won’t even see in Australia. SERIOUSLY.

  11. haha. while i work with mice, i still don’t like seeing them outside of the lab 😉 having my dog bring one home… would make me squeemish! this dip sounds lovely, especially with the almond butter!

    • Ooh, I can’t even imagine working with them in a “safe” setting! And I don’t even want to ask what happens in that lab. 😉 Glad you like the dip, though! The almond butter does add a lovely richness without extra oil. 🙂

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