Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the musical fruit

I'm involved in a whirlwind romance. With beans. Dried beans, to be exact.

I always have jars of them in my kitchen. They look so pretty, all colour and texture, shape and size! But the other day, after a visit with a friend during which she gifted me with these charmingly (and aptly) named Orca beans,

I got those jars out and took a new look at them. I think what always put me off about dried beans is the planning and time involved in preparing them. It always just seemed easier to open a can.




But now all I can think about is beans. Growing them. Soaking them. Simmering them. Sprouting them. Making them into delicious things: dips, soups, or baked beans! In addition to being nutritious, delicious, and versatile, they're cheap AND easy to grow! I got my Terra Edibles catalogue in the mail yesterday and will definitely be checking out their bean selection for this summer's garden.

Beans take care of themselves in the garden. If you just leave them on their stalks, they'll dry right up; for good measure, you can uproot the whole plant once they've dried, and hang them in your barn or basement to finish drying. Then your kids can help unveil the little treasures inside the pods! Store them for eating, and save a few for next year...what could be easier (besides, ahem, opening a can)?

In the past week I've made Black Bean Cilantro Dip (from Jae Steele's Get It Ripe), Yellow Split Pea Soup (from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan), mung bean sprouts, and split pea and ham soup. Oh, and baked navy beans, too!

I find that soaking the beans overnight, then boiling for one to two hours softens them sufficiently for most recipes. In Feeding the Whole Family, Cynthia Lair recommends cooking your beans with a piece of the sea vegetable kombu. Sea vegetables aren't easy to come by in these parts, but apparently they soften the beans and reduce their flatulent effects!
That little handful of Orca beans made me feel like Jack must have when he bought the magic beans (before his mother berated him for his poor bargaining skills, of course).

Now I'm hooked on beans as I journey towards a healthier, more whole way of eating.

6 comments:

  1. I love beans, too. I really love those little orca beans...they are beautiful! Full of fibre and protein.....beans rock.

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  2. hm, this post made my mouth water. i'm quite hooked on beans too... at the moment i buy organic beans, as we don't have a garden... but one day...

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  3. Stephanie,
    Many blogs post about softening/soaking your beans in a slow cooker overnight, that way they are ready for you when you are ready to cook. Also lifting the lid a few times can humidify your house :) Love homemade hummus, and black bean soup!

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  4. We love beans, they are a daily part of our diet. I, too have jars of them in the kitchen, they are beautiful to look at. I actually soak my beans during the day and then just before bed rinse them, add them to the slow cooker crock pot with a piece of kombu, set it on medium and in the morning they are ready to go. So easy! I usually make a full pot and freeze what we don't use.

    Enjoy your beans!

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  5. Nice, tidy pantry! I've never seen orca beans, but I want to find them! What a fun beany-y journey you are on!

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  6. Beans fascinate me! I love to eat them ( recent black bean patties are the greatest yet) but also grow them. I sold out all my black turtle and red kidney before I had them podded last fall.Still have a good supply of romano beans from a stellar year three years back.
    I used to think lentils were a crop grown in some semi-arid exotic location like Persia or Istanbul. Did you know that Saskatchewan is the largest exporter of lentils IN THE WORLD? When I read that I decided to plunk some in the ground last year. I had no inkling whatsoever as to the appearance of the plant or when to harvest them. They grew remarkable well and I have enough for us for the year and plan to grow more next year to sell at the market.
    Love the orca beans! ( could you send me a few?)

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