Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On beans

Friends, how do you feel about beans?  They're ok, right?  They fill you up, they're cheap & generally pretty accessible, and burritos are the most perfect food in the world, sure.  Beans in & of themselves, though?  Eh.  Kind of boring, kind of chalky, kind of bland.  You buy them in a can because dry beans aren't really worth the time it takes to prepare them.  WELL.  LET ME TELL YOU.

(Here I am telling you below the jump.)

The beans we get at the grocery store and the wide world of beans available are as a pale and spongey January tomato-object unto a gorgeous, summer-fattened heirloom variety streaked with gold and green!  Beans can be eaten for the joy of beans themselves!   You can actually feel excitement over a bowl of lightly seasoned beans and rice!   DANG!

Pinto, turtle, kidney, canellini - these are only the very mass-produced tip of the bean diversity ice berg.  There is so much more than this, and this discovery has transformed how I eat and cook.  There are so many varieties to be incorporated into so many dishes!   Currently, I'm looking forward to this dish here - borlotti bean mole with roast winter squash.  

Here's a plug for the place from which I order my beans:  Fresh, beautiful beans which cook up reliably and plumply every time.  Old beans will crumble or - even worse - remain  stone-hard, no matter how long you keep your pot simmering.  Better still, these are all open-pollinated heirloom varieties, which mean you can plant them in your yard, if you have one.  (Which I do not.) (But maybe someday I will.)

The cons of the heirloom bean:

Let me be frank: these cost much more than purchasing grocery store dry beans.  However, I don't eat meat and infrequently purchase (expensive, nutritionally lacking) processed foods, and as a source of protein and deliciousness, I consider the $4.00/lb I spend on these is well worth sacrificing in other ways.

There is also the daunting and substantial time investment in cooking with dry beans. If you've got a pressure cooker, then great!  If you don't, you're going to have to either pre-soak them or have at least 2-3 hours set aside for cooking.  If I have a day available to me where I'll be home for a good chunk of hours, I'll start up a pot or two and let them simmer away while I do other things, and then divide up the beans with their own broth into separate, smaller containers and freeze them for later use.  That way, during the week, I've usually got a choice of two or three different pre-cooked bean types from which to choose.

So, my friends.  Here is my first bean blog.  There will probably be more.

No comments:

Post a Comment


About Me

My photo
I'm working on some stuff! For now, it is just about vegetables.