Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't Know Beans? Now You DO!

I was able to coax the pictures out of my digital camera, even though its batteries are protesting. Here is my bean photo-essay.

Do I always use dried beans for recipes? Heck no! But if I'm cooking on the weekend, I try to use dried beans. They taste better and you can feel the love. Does it matter where you buy your beans? Yes and no. I'm super in to Rancho Gordo beans right now, which I can buy at the farmer's market down the street from my office. (You can also order them online at their website, which I will link to in just a moment.)

Rancho Gordo heirloom beans are more expensive than grocery store beans. And still less expensive than meat. And they are freshly dried beans. They have not been sitting around on the shelf for a year at the store, after having been warehoused for several years already. And Rancho Gordo does some good things in this world of ours. And I have now used several packages of their beans, and I never find stones or bad beans. But I still check. You can still use grocery store beans with good results, especially if you buy them out of the bulk bin of a busy store. And yes, you can still open a can!

I used the White Tepary Beans, and made White Bean Soup with Rosemary from Dreena Burton's "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan" cookbook.

Thanks to the good people at Rancho Gordo, I now have a great bean-cooking method. I used to just boil them in a pot of water, which technically works. They cook, but they have no sass. Check out their method here. Buy something while you're there, why don't you? Their pictures are much better than mine, but here are some pictures anyway.

Here is one pound of White Tepary Beans, still in their lovely package. Note how small they are. They will double in size, at least.

This is my version of mirepoix. I don't like onions, so I use leeks instead. Here my veggies are, with garlic, being sauteed in a very small amount of olive oil.

Here is the pot of veggies, with the water added. The beans are now in the bottom of the pot. Watch the magic. (Did you know that you should never add salt until your beans are done cooking? Otherwise, they will not get done!)

The water is not yet at a full boil, but the beautiful beans are swollen with excitement and have rushed to the surface of the water. They are already a lot bigger, and they are not weird and wrinkly like some beans. I think that this is because they are not old.

This is not a great photo, because it was so steamy. Now the beans are done and delightful. The yield from one pound was exactly six cups of beans. Now just drain them and get on with whatever your recipe is!

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