The wind is shimmying through the trees outside, green waving against grey. Danny insists we turn on the heater in the mornings, then Lu takes off her socks to put her feet near the fire. When she moves to her kitchen to play, our daughter is making soups, stews, and pies.
Time for the weekly pot of beans.
In the spring and summer, we don’t eat nearly as many beans as we do in the darker months. Drop the temperature below 60 and I want a pot of plump black beans in the refrigerator, waiting to be eaten.
It doesn’t take much to make a great pot of beans.
Start with great beans. We adore Rancho Gordo beans. Adore. Steve Sando has saved heirloom beans from extinction and made many meals happy in this house. Once you taste great beans and there are plenty of other people growing great beans, especially at your farmers’ market you might have a hard time going back to grocery store beans.
But even grocery store beans work fine.
Do you soak your beans? There’s an old myth that you MUST soak your beans if you want to avoid flatulence. Well, that’s not true. You can cook beans without soaking them. We do all the time, when we’re in a rush. But if you have the time and especially if you are planning ahead to make a big pot of beans for the week cover the beans with some water and let them sit overnight. They will cook more quickly if you have soaked them. They will plump up more, break less, and have a more consistent texture. But you can still cook them without soaking them.
This morning, after we warmed our feet by the fire, we three moved to the kitchen. Danny made more coffee for us. Lu climbed up onto the counter and began making something with the squashes lined up along the window. (“I making lunch for my boy!” she said. There are so many imaginary siblings and friends right now that I can’t keep the names straight. Thankfully, I can remember My Boy.) I pulled out the masa harina.
We went a few days without masa in the house and I felt the loss. It’s so easy to make corn tortillas mix masa and water in the right proportions; knead it with your hands gently until it comes together soft; press it; cook on a hot skillet that I often make up a batch on the spot. This morning, with a hungry three-year-old, I couldn’t dally and figure out a fabulous recipe for breakfast. Time to eat, now.
Thank goodness for the pot of beans.
In this case, we had some leftovers of the split yellow peas I had cooked up on Tuesday. We bought these at the farm store for Nash’s Organic in Sequim last week. (There was also a visit to a game farm, where we were surrounded by a herd of buffalo who seemed determined to hump our car, but that’s another story.) On a whim, I cooked them up.
Sauté an onion, a shallot, some garlic. Throw in some smoked paprika. A handful of Italian parsley. Add the beans. Enough water to cover them, plus one inch more. Bring to a boil and let it roil away for 5 minutes. Then, turn down the burner, walk away to play with the kid or read a book on the couch, and simmer the beans for an hour and a half. Or less. Or more. Just check once in awhile. When the beans are almost done, add some salt and pepper. Taste them in a few moments. Decide if you need more. When the beans are entirely tender, you’re done.
And then you have beans ready for breakfast.
Homemade corn tortillas, those smoked paprika peas, sauteed spinach, and some cheese.
We three had a lovely breakfast together while the wind nudged the trees into letting go of their leaves.