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Pass the beans please… the fabulous green beans…

Beans are another fabulous garden treat.  And they are very kind while existing in the garden.  Did you know that when you plant green beans, the plant takes the nitrogen floating around in the air, converts it into something usable and then leaves the nitrogen in the soil?  Its called nitrogen fixation  This also means that if you have a nitrogen loving plant like corn, you could plant them together (think pole beans growing up corn stalks!)  or just rotate them.  This means beans one year, corn the next in the same space.Right now the beans are ripening hard and fast.  We love green beans but then the zucchini is also doing the same thing as is the basil… well you know what I mean,  sometimes we can’t get everything eaten and so then I put it up for the winter… or the fall… or for next week when I can get to it.  I was feeling rather energetic this week so when I got a bucket of beans from the garden, I decided to make Green Bean Soup.

When Don and I moved here, I introduced everyone to Green Bean Soup.  I grew up on the stuff,  Don’s family had never heard of it.  The Mennonites, my heritage, had a way to make something from everything they had too much of.  I guess they didn’t just plant a few beans, they planted lots of beans.  Then when the beans came, they had to come up with something. Seeing as Ham is a Mennonite favourite, it only makes sense they took a ham bone and made a soup out of it. The trusty book I received from my Mom when we got married,  the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes, has the first section as Mennonite Dishes.

Thank you Mrs D. Warkentin from Steinbach… I wonder if you know how often your recipe has been used since this book was published?   The key ingredient in the recipe is the summer savoury.  Its unique taste is integral.  When I make the recipe, I make the ham stock and let it cook quite a long time, then I let it cool to skim the fat off.  I am happier with the end result if the fat is skimmed first… as is my waistline!

One can only make so much soup in the heat of summer,  as lovely as it is, we still had more beans than I had ham hocks… so the next endeavour was the freezing of some french cut beans.  I am the only one that really loves green beans this way, so I make little frozen packages for myself to have when Don is away in winter.

The key here is the firmness of the beans,  if you try to french cut beans when they are limp, it becomes a bit difficult.  I had a bucket of beans and don’t believe in making a HUGE production out of the processing. When you save up so much product to put up, you tend to get a bit overwhelmed.   One bucket of beans is easy to do and very quick.

For Christmas I asked for a countertop ice machine (yes I ignored the “why do we need that” questions).  I love the thing.  For the bean project, I plugged it in when I started and by the time I am done, I had replaced the ice cubes I used for the ice water needed for the rapid cooling of the blanched beans.  It makes 3 sizes of cubes, great for parties as there is already a lot of noise going on, so no one really notices the compressor sound.  I just unplug it in between uses.  AND its fits very conveniently on top of my mini wine fridge!

So I put my large 8 quart all clad stock pot on the stove, got it to boiling, Set the ice water in the sink, took the beans through the french cut gadget thing, blanched for 90 seconds, dumped them in the ice water, dried on a large bath towel, stuffed in ziplocs and in no time I had some bright packages of beans!

And there you have it. My grandma would be proud.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Zucchini… not quinoa super food….but more prolific… absolutely!

After a few REALLY warm days here…which is REALLY sad… because here on the wet-coast… we have had a crap summer so any warm day, we are jumping around rejoicing….. anyways back to the result of the WARM day.  Everything in the garden grew…(how does your garden grow you ask?)  Yesterday afternoon I went and picked the zucchini and contemplated whether they were the ‘perfect’ size…. were they too small?  hmmm…. so I picked 3 of them and added them to the 1 1/2 that I already had in the kitchen… well today, there were 6 more.  Yes 6!  Yesterday they were teeny, today they are regular sized…   so that means that today they grew 4 inches.  Nature never ceases to amaze me.  So I took up the challenge to post out some non-bread zucchini recipes. 

Did I mention that along with the zukes, there were beans, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and peppers.  OK, so right now we need to turn into vegetarians so that we can get through all this bounty.  This is what I did:

Onions, garlic and biased carrots in the fry pan with some olive oil and salt.

Next was the zucchini and then the green beans….

Meanwhile I put two chicken legs into the pressure cooker… YES… the pressure cooker.. which is another post altogether.  It’s an electric pressure cooker and was highly recommended from the Chef at the Culinary Institute of America.  Like a good little student, I went and got myself one… I will post about it later cause I LOVE IT.

Anyways… I also cooked up some potatoes cause the shovel had gone thru a few of them and they needed to be cooked. Usually I would have just made the big pan of veg to go with the chicken, but to add just a smidge of mashed potatoes into the mix….. well lets just say … yum.  And fresh parsley too mixed in too!

So the end result is a stir fry of veg.  The zucchini breaks down a fair bit if you leave it and coats the rest of the veg.  I know, a healthier choice….would be firmer, brighter zucchini, but using it as the ‘sauce’ on the rest of the veg works great and is way less calories than a real sauce.

I hope you try it and enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Food, Recipes

 

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Spiced Mung Bean Stew – from the recipe files

1/2 cup (125 ml) dried mung beans
2 cups (500 ml) boiling water
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) cold water
1 medium yam, cubed
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 oz (90 ml) tomato paste
1 tbsp (15 ml) miso paste
2 tbsp (30 ml ) blackstrap molasses
1 tsp (5 ml) palm sugar  or other natural sweetener
juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp (15 ml) each oregano and cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp (2 ml) each dried cumin, coriander, turmeric and ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) pumpkin seeds for garnish
 
Rinse dried mung beans and add to boiling water.  Decrease heat to a light boil and simmer lightly for 1 hour.
Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion carrot and red pepper for about 10 minutes.  Add water, yam and cooked mung beans.  Simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
Meanwhile whisk together remaining ingredients.  Stir mixture into pot; simmer, covered, for an additional 10 minutes or until liquid slightly reduces.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve over brown rice.  Serves 6.
 
 
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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Recipes

 

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