Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rainbow Bean Soup

What do you do when your MIL asks you to bring dinner that evening, specifically soup, and you have very few grocery items in the house? Well, I invented Rainbow Bean Soup. That's what I did.

A quick look through my cupboards yielded beans, beans, and some more beans. I had no soup broth ready, very few vegetables, no meat, etc.

Here were my ingredients.

1/2 pound black beans

1/2 pound red beans

1 pound pinto beans

5 tbsp butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 onion-diced small

4 cloves garlic-crushed

Chicken bouillon

large handful of fresh sage leaves




With so little advance warning I resorted to the quick soak method to prepare the beans.

I placed the beans into a stock pot. Then I brought it all to a boil and removed the pot from the heat. A few hours later they had swelled to full size. I drained the water, replaced it with fresh water, added some salt and simmered them for about half an hour until they were soft. Then I drained the water again and set the beans aside.

I had a big bag of fresh sage that the kids and I picked on one of our walks. [Aside: Sage grows wild around here, and rosemary is used in landscaping in many places, also we have wild pepper trees. For fun, and extra value, check foraging sites for the kinds of herbs that grow in your area and then keep your eyes out for opportunities to take advantage of this by harvesting them. It makes your food more interesting, as well as your walks.]

I wanted to keep the other flavors light to maximize the effect of the fresh sage, but we did need other flavors, beans are kind of boring on their own.

In the bottom of the stock pot I melted a bit of butter for flavor, added some olive oil as well, and sauteed a bunch of crushed garlic and the onion. Once the onion had begun to caramelize I added in the beans, enough water to cover, a few spoonfuls of bouillon, and brought it to a boil. I chopped the fresh sage leaves into small pieces and added them to the broth.

I turned the heat off and added, pepper salt and cumin to taste. Let it sit for a while before serving so that flavor of the sage can permeate the soup. If I had left it to boil there would have been too much heat and it would have killed some of the flavor.

That's it. It was a colorful, tasty soup that went really well with the salad and crusty bread that my MIL made.

image by vavau

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My New Favorite Summer Beverage

Have you ever tried sun tea? I hadn't. I didn't understand what difference it would make to brew tea in the hot sun for a few hours versus brewing it in the normal way.

Not coincidentally, I didn't much like iced tea either, unless it was sweetened. Last month on the way to a party my husband picked up a gallon of unsweetened iced tea from Trader Joe's. (Yes, we all know I love that store.) As I drank glass after glass I couldn't help commenting on how good it tasted, and how surprised I was that it didn't need a sweetener to be enjoyable.

This, apparently, is the difference between sun brewed iced tea and regular brewed iced tea, as my husband was quick to point out. Well, it's true. Brewing tea at a lower temperature in the sun releases the flavor of the tea leaves, but doesn't get hot enough to release the bitterness of the tannins as well.

Every few afternoons I put 4 of the large Lipton Iced Tea bags in a gallon glass jar and let it sit in the sun for a few hours on our patio. Once it's chilled it is a truly refreshing drink. And for a lot less than the Trader Joe's version. One $2 box makes approximately 5 gallons of iced tea.

May I also point out that it has no calories and many antioxidants as well?

The perfect everyday summer beverage for me. Aside from water of course.

Image by all things michigan

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Farmer's Garden

Do you garden and grow more food than you can eat? Do you wish you could eat garden fresh produce without needing to garden?

Here's a cool solution for every one.

The Farmers Garden, where you can buy sell and trade locally grown backyard produce. It's free to register and post adds on the site and easy to browse adds to find others in your area with produce to sell. I'm hoping someone with a garden in my area will register soon. Maureen Farmer, the creator of this site, is a master gardener who built this site as practice while learning php. Thanks for the great idea and service Maureen.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Coconut & Lime Rice Pudding

Usually when I think of rice pudding, I think of a comforting, wintertime food. Not so with this scrumptious take on an old favorite! The lime gives it just the right touch for a summertime treat.

Coconut milk is full of the healthy kind of fats, namely lauric acid, which is needed for brain development and strong bones, making this a particularly good recipe for children and pregnant or nursing mothers.

I used coconut milk for the entire milk amount. I love the subtle flavor, but if you want less of a coconut taste, just use regular milk for half. I have found that I prefer the refrigerated coconut milk that comes in a carton over the canned coconut milk, but either will work beautifully. I used the So Delicious brand.

Coconut & Lime Rice Pudding

  • 1/3 cup white rice
  • 3 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest

Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain.
In a saucepan, bring milk, rice, sugar and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes, or till thick and creamy, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in lime zest.

Serve warm or chilled.
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