Participant Profile – Brownell Family
The Brownell family is participating in Rice & Beans Month for the first time in 2015, with a theme of “Rice & Beans Around the World.” Their unique take on Rice & Beans Month is inspired by a lifestyle of international travel and meaningful advocacy on behalf of vulnerable people in various parts of the world.
Amy and Eugene have been married since 1999, and between the two of them, the list of countries lived or traveled in includes Mexico, Guatemala, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany, Denmark, Holland, and two years in Valencia, Spain as a family. They have both made many trips of varying lengths to Haiti, which is where all six of their children were born and spent parts of their lives.
The Brownells maintain many strong relationships in Haiti, and have been involved with several organizations that support vulnerable families and orphans there. They are also deeply connected to a strong network of adoptive families, and a local Portland church. They often find themselves advocating in various ways for the needs of children who have experienced trauma, loss, and discrimination.
Somehow, all of this fits into the context of a very busy family life. The children range in age from elementary, junior high, and high school, to a newly independent young adult. There are lots of schedules, activities, and needs to balance. With everything they have going on, it’s reasonable to wonder, “Why Rice & Beans Month?” In response, Amy (the one in charge of the cooking) says, “The idea always intimidated me on a practical level, but inspired me on a spiritual level. It just took a while to marry the two. So once I got a handle on how I would introduce our family to this, I just made an executive decision.”
She decided, for their first year, to make it flow with the family’s regular eating habits in a few ways. As a self-described “easily-bored cook,” the family is already used to a variety of experimental recipes, most of which are found online. Finding recipes based on rice and beans (or other grains and legumes) with international flair was quite easy. They also left breakfasts and lunches essentially the same, making dinner the daily meal planned around rice and beans.
With the family’s healthy sense of adventure on their side, Rice & Beans Month has gone rather well. A few complaints here and there, but overall, it has been a successful journey. As they eat in solidarity with family and friends in Haiti and many other parts of the world, they are finding yet another way to live out their values of compassion and meaningful action on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children.
If you’re looking for a bit of new inspiration for your meal plans as Rice & Beans Month winds to a close, you can find links to many of Amy’s recipes here.