Tag Archives: cooking

Slow cooker black beans

When last we left, I had set a few goals, including coming up with new recipes and posting them.

I’m counting this one, because I did not search out recipes in advance to see if it would work. The beans had been sitting around in my cupboard for far too long and I thought it would be nice to prep a batch and have them on hand. Freezing them for future use means I can make a small meal with beans and not have to worry about trying to eat a huge amount before they go bad.

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Frugal, nourishing, and delicious!

Making beans in the way takes some advanced planning and just a little active worth and has a big payout. The store where I get beans sells these in bulk for $1.95 a pound, so even if my plan did not work out it would not be a bit waste of money.

Why soak the beans?

I mentioned a similar process before when I posted my tutorial on sprouting lentils. Soaking beans is a traditional method of preparation which makes the beans more digestible and the body can more easily absorb the “enhanced by impressive stores of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and molybdenum, as well as B vitamins such as folate and thiamine. All legumes contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with kidney and pinto beans particularly high in omega-3. (from the linked article)

If you want to boost the nutritional content further you can cook the beans in homemade bone broth as well.

While the soaking does take time, putting everything together to soak takes minutes and can be left to its own devices. Using a slow cooker also means not having to tend to a pot and worry about scorching. A win-win arrangement if you ask me.

I was inspired to use apple cider vinegar to soak based on my friend Lindsay’s recipe for black beans. A fruit-based acid will impart extra flavor on to the beans and add character to any dish.

What I did with this batch was freeze portions in quart bags and cover with enough liquid to keep the beans themselves from getting freezer burns. Now they are ready to be defrosted at any time! And the best part, they taste great!

You can use these beans as is for a side dish, or you can try one of the following recipes:

Black bean soup from Thankful Expressions

Another black bean soup from The Homesteading Hippy

Black bean cake from Blue Viola Farm

Tortilla soup from Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Pizza black beans from The Granola Mommy

Or you can take the soaked, uncooked beans to make a variation of traditional natto.

Slow Cooker Black Beans

Ingredients:
(to soak)
2 cups black turtle beans, dried.
Water to cover.
2 tablespoons of acid, like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice

(to cook)
One onion
5-6 garlic cloves
8-10 cups water, broth, or a mix of both liquids

Supplies:
1 bowl
1 colander
1 slow cooker
Sharp knife
Cutting board

Total preparation time: 24-36 hours
Active preparation time: 10 minutes

1. 12-24 hours before you plan to cook, place beans in a bowl with room temperature water to cover and acid for soak.

2. After beans finish soaking, drain and rinse.

3. Place rinsed beans in slow cooker with water/broth, one whole onion cut in half, and crushed garlic cloves.

4. Set slow cooker on low for 12 hours and leave to cook.

5. To store, freeze in bags with enough cooking liquid to cover from freezer burn. Remove onion and garlic before freezing.

Happy eating!

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Eat your greens and love them!

Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, bok choi, all members of the cruciferous family of vegetables. I confess, while we might be in the height of summer and watching more and more produce become available, I still regularly eat them even though I can find them at the farmer’s market year-round.


source used under Creative Commons.

These greens are incredibly nutritious. High in vitamins like K and D as well as calcium, they are certainly a beneficial addition to any diet. In the correct preparation, that is.

Green smoothies are currently popular, where the various greens are blended together raw. While these vegetables do have a lot of good properties, in their raw state they are packed with oxalates and goitrogenic. Oxalates can cause kidney stones and goitrogens inhibit the thyroid. Not exactly something you want to consume to improve your health. These are foods which should be cooked in order to gain the most benefit from them.

“But Soli,” I hear some of you say, “they don’t taste very good. They’re bitter!”

Yes, I know. It took me some time to learn how to properly prepare and season greens to make them more palatable. But once you learn how to cook them up well, you’ll be eating them on a regular basis. I promise you.

There are two big keys to making tasty greens.

1. Cook them in a good fat.

Foods which are high in fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin D, need to be served with healthy fats in order for the body to properly utilize them. Healthy and tasty fats, in fact. Use butter, olive oil, (non-hydrogenated) lard, tallow, duck fat, or other fats our bodies can digest properly. The southern tradition of collard greens and ham hock is a perfect example of people in the past knowing how best to make up their food.

2. The big taste secret: acid.

It’s not easy to counteract the taste of anything bitter. It sticks with you, it lingers. This makes it very difficult for people to willingly eat bitter but nutritious foods. You need a contrast to that bitter flavor. And it’s very likely you have that very ingredient in your kitchen already.


A fairly popular bottle in my house.

Vinegar. Beautiful, delicious vinegar. A good balsamic or apple cider vinegar provides the perfect contrast to the greens and brings out a flavor you may not have been aware they were capable of having.
I promise you, follow the following directions and you’re going to have very little in the way of leftovers the next time you serve greens!

Basic sauteed greens

Ingredients:
Greens, however many you need to serve at the meal.
Healthy fat. I prefer butter or duck fat for cooking greens.
Salt
Pepper
Quality vinegar

Equipment:
Sharp knife
Saute pan
Spatula or metal spoon

Directions:

1. Rinse greens. Remove stem and chop leaves into small pieces

2. Heat fat/oil on medium-high heat in pan.

3. When fat is melted, put large portion of greens (as much as will fit without overflowing) into pan.

4. Stir regularly as they cook down. When they reduce in size, add any additional raw greens to pan.

5. Cook down greens, stirring regularly.

6. Either portion on to plates or place in serving dish. Garnish with salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste. Don’t worry about skimping. Definitely sample before you serve, if you’re not used to preparing them in this way.

7. Serve and Happy Eating!!

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Jerusalem Artichokes – a new vegetable for your p(a)late

I regularly hunt for new vegetables to give some variety to my plate. It can get very dull to eat the same things over and over again, and it’s also fun for me to expand my palate. A few weeks ago I purchased some Jerusalem artichokes at the natural food market in order to give them a try. They’re delicious! For me, the taste is reminiscent of artichoke leaves and also kohlrabi. This would make sense, as the vegetable is a tuber.

The flower of the Jerusalem artichoke

Source

Jerusalem artichokes have been eating in the US for a very long time. First Nations people cultivated and ate the roots, and when Europeans came over to this country, they too began eating the plant. Its season runs the cooler time of the year: late fall through the middle of spring. So we are coming to the end of its time. If you want to try some, seek them out now or wait until September.
Unless you’re foraging for your own, don’t expect them to fill your plate. They run over $6 a pound at the store where I purchased them and they’re sold in half-pound portion.

The artichokes can be eaten a variety of ways, raw or lightly cooked/roasted. Don’t cook it for too long, or else it will fall apart quickly.

Jerusalem artichokes are legal on the Body Ecology Diet, and fall under the starchy vegetable category. If you’re on BED, they only combine with non-starchy vegetables. My meal below was not BED legal, but it was good. They are not a GAPS legal food.

I prepared the ‘chokes using the directions in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morrel.

1. Scrub and peel the artichokes

2. Set in boiling water and boil for 10-15 minutes. Add lemon juice for the last five. I recommend only boiling for 10 minutes if you have a small amount like I did.

3. Slice the boiled roots. Handle gently: cooling them in cold water will make them mushy. (Yes, I tried it.)

4. Saute the sliced artichokes in butter. You can also mix the butter with olive oil or potentially use just olive oil or ghee.

5. Here I garnished them with some fresh greens (I think they were garlic scapes but I am not sure) but they are delicious on their own too. Enjoy!

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I believe in sharing what I learn

As much as I love food and cooking, I don’t seem to get nearly enough time in the kitchen. So I still have something of a learning curve with everything. Plus, I’m a perfectionist. That’s tough when you’re cooking, because it’s so easy for things to go wrong or get screwed up. The more I cook, the less I become a perfectionist and learn how to go with the flow of life, and not try so hard to be in control of everything happening around me. It counts if I can do in the kitchen, right?

This week I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few months of spending more time in the kitchen.

How to Hold a Knife

I got this one from a comment at Cheeseslave last fall. Someone commented on how the knife was held in a photo, and that it’s better to keep your index finger on top of the blade to act as a guide. The next time I had to chop stuff in the kitchen, I tried this. What do you know? It’s a lot easier to chop up vegetables when you hold the knife this way! Having your finger on top stabilizes the blade and I feel more confident about making slices when holding this way.

I don’t remember exactly when I took these photos, but I suspect I was making zucchini with tomatoes that day.

Clean up as you go along

This might seem like a no-brainer to some of you. I learned this from a friend of mine who used to live with a chef. I used to make a huge production out of cooking, and often wouldn’t read the recipe enough in advance to know what was coming next, so the whole act of cooking became very frantic. Complete with a big mess on the counter when all was said and done. Now that I cook more, I do read ahead, and plan for keeping things clean. Sometimes this means keeping a bowl on the counter for food refuse, or having bowls and bags on standby for scraps I can freeze for future cooking. Either way, doing a little at a time, while already engaged in the process of cooking, takes a lot less energy than waiting until the end and doing it all at once!

Be wiling to experiment

I wish I had more documentation for this. I tried my hand at making a few different soups this past fall, along with a crustless quiche. Since I’ve been making different foods and seeking out recipes, I’m getting a better sense of how to mix together flavors. Most notably, I made a chicken liver soup last fall that wasn’t too bad! It still needs some more work, which is why I haven’t posted a recipe yet.

Don’t be afraid to fail

That crustless quiche? I didn’t let it sit long enough when it came out of the oven, and wound up with a liquid mess on the plate for dinner.
One of the soups I made last fall was a total failure. Apparently 24 hours wasn’t long enough for the cannelini beans to soak. My stomach was not happy when I was eating it.
Did this drive me from the kitchen in shame? Thankfully not. (Had it been anything outside of the kitchen though…)
I tried, and to me, that is what matters.

What are some of your favorite kitchen lessons and tips?

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I believe in awesome and useful gifts

I didn’t say anything about it here, but at the end of July I turned a year older. One of the signs that I am definitely getting older is that I don’t really want gifts anymore. I can afford most of the stuff I want now, and the stuff I can’t afford, well, there’s no one in my life right now I would expect to get them for me. So when my mother asked me what I might want as a gift, I was stumped. Until one thing popped to mind which I have been considering for a while…

Birthday toaster
Inaugural use, reheating some delicious sausage.

A toaster oven.
No just any toaster oven either. A combination toaster/convection oven. I’ve heard that convection ovens are much better for baking. Thus far I have not had a chance to try this out but I am looking forward to the chance.

The big reasons for wanting a toaster oven are two. First, I wanted a better way to heat/cook food in the summer without needing to use the oven. A toaster uses much less energy when it’s running, and when not in use, I unplug the toaster. This means that the appliance is not draining electricity when not in use, which saves the electric bill.
Second, I have mostly kicked the microwave habit and this toaster now means I never “have” to use one to reheat food. In the traditional food movement, microwaves are considered anathema. I admit I have not done a lot of research into the disadvantages of using a microwave, but I know some of it is due to health issues.
My biggest reason for not liking microwaves anymore is a matter of taste. I simply don’t think food TASTES as good when “cooked” in the microwave. The heating is very uneven and it can also be too easy to scorch the food. I’ll trade the small time saving for food which is more pleasing in my mouth.

Yes, I am very happy with this gift. I hope it lasts a long time, and I promise to give updates as I use it more.

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You mean you seriously eat that?

As I mentioned in the How I Got Here post, one of my decisions on whether to keep eating meat was being able to consume organ meats. I also mentioned my failure in youth to be able to eat liver. Truthfully, dear readers, I tried then. I could not make myself swallow the liver. I would chew and chew and chew, and no amount of mastication would get that down my throat. The only time there was a dinner table battle in my youth was over liver.
Now, I know the benefits of eating liver, and have done a lot to get more of it in my diet. For the last few months, my work lunches have been the same thing: sandwiches with raw braunschweiger. All the benefits of liver mentioned above PLUS the enzymes that are often killed in cooking. It actually tastes better to me than cooked liver, because it doesn’t have the bitterness.
This recipe is from a Swedish magazine and was published quite some time ago. The onions and tomatoes provide the vitamin C necessary for your body to properly use all the iron found in liver. Plus, the bacon makes it all the better.
For those of you who do not follow the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, I will share a tip: soak the liver in lemon juice for a few hours before cooking to draw out impurities. It apparently also helps with the taste issue. I have not done this myself yet, but the next time this gets cooked, it will be happening.

Liver in red wine with bacon and onions

1 lb calves liver
3 tbs flour
salt
pepper
3 – 4 yellow onions
about 10 slices bacon
oil for frying (and nothing unhealthy, no frying in vegetable oil or shortening)
2 – 3 tbs tomato sauce
1 cup red wine

Mix flour, salt and pepper and turn the thin slices of liver in the flour mixture. Slice the onions and sautee them in cooking oil (olive or coconut) until transparent and slightly browned. Remove the onions to a plate and try to keep them warm. Fry the bacon in remaining oil until just crisp and remove them from the pan and try to keep them warm. Fry the liver slices in remaining bacon fat and oil for a few minutes on each side. Pour the red wine over the liver slices, when the wine starts to bubble, remove liver slices to a serving platter and spread onions and bacon slices over. Add the tomato sauce to the frying pan and stir together. Place the sauce in a serving dish.

Serves 5