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CSA pick up number one and a quick dinner

I was so excited as I opened my bucket of goodies from Lonesome Whistle Farm; the kind of anticipation my kids are feeling about the impending holidays. Flour! Barley! Beans! Oats!

Thursday after delivery was an unusually busy Thursday, with us rolling in late from errands due to a birthday party. I knew we would be snacking and enjoying cake and coconut ice cream, so something simple for dinner was key.

Bread.
Beans.
Greens.

Brother-Bug chose the Vermont Cranberry beans and I set them in some warm water for a quick soak. Because the beans were so fresh they started to plump up right away.

Personal Disclaimer: I never remember to overnight soak my beans. I have, therefore, become adept at cooking dry beans fairly quickly without a pressure cooker. More about that in a future post.

A fuzzy picture of soaking beans.

After a couple of hours soaking, I rinsed the beans, added fresh water, and set them to boil, then simmer. They smelled divine and wonderfully bean-y while they cooked. I turned them off after about a half hour and left them. We ran errands and went to the birthday party. When we got home, while the bread was baking, I turned the stove back on and reheated the beans. Strained, mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme, they were ready to eat.

Onto the bread.

I like yeast breads better than quick breads, but I didn’t have time for a long rise, punch down, and rise again. I was on a major time line. I adapted the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day as follows:

Measure 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1/4 cup honey, and about a tablespoon of yeast into a bowl and let sit till the yeast is going. If you’ve made bread before you will know what I mean.

In a large mixing bowl combine:
3 cups flour (I did one of the Rye flour, one and a half of the Whole Wheat, and a half cup of organic white flour to lighten the texture a bit)
1/2 tbl. salt

Add the water/yeast/honey, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very sticky. Don’t knead it. Don’t add more flour. I swear. Cover the bowl with a towel.

Let it sit until you are ready to preheat the over (to 400 degrees). At least an hour, longer is okay too. Once you set the oven to heat, flour your hands and form a quick round loaf. Don’t try for anything super artistic, just make a basic loaf shape. Cut a couple of slashes in the top with a sharp knife. Let it rest while the oven finishes heating.

I bake my bread on a pizza stone, but a cookie sheet will work too. Make sure you set your resting loaf on coarse corn meal so you can move it around easily.

When the oven is hot, put the bread in and bake for… I forgot to look at the time. Darn it. I baked it till the crust was turning a little golden and the bread made a hollow thump when I tapped the bottom.

Cool and slice. Eat!

That was the bread.

As I stated, I re-warmed the beans and baked the bread when we got home. I sauteed some kale. That was it. And it was good. It was eaten up by all family members, even those who had recently gorged on cake.

The Vermont Cranberry beans are almost aromatic in flavor – the same way the nuttiness of an almond is aromatic and still nutty. They don’t taste like almonds…it just struck me as the same kind of rich and subtle flavor, if not the actual same flavor. Their texture is smooth and starchy-creamy. Satisfying. Filling. And they are so rich in both flavor and texture that they didn’t need more than the oil, thyme, salt, and pepper I tossed them in. Even that could have been too much. I am excited to try them in a recipe and see how they stand up to other flavors.

Papa-Bug expressed it best:

“If beans were like this people would eat them.”

Such a pretty, simple, satisfying meal…

And he’s right. These beans are much more than just a burrito filler, to be covered over with other flavors. If I could always eat beans like these I would eat beans far more often. Thank goodness for the CSA!

The bread, the flavors of the flour… Wow. I wanted to keep eating it even after I was full. It was a dense bread due partly to the whole-ness of the flour and the short rise time, which was what I wanted for our dinner. It was a little sour and a little savory and rich of that nutty flavor that is an essential part of fresh wheat. Warm with butter… YUM!

===

A couple of nights later I threw together this recipe which was a hit with the whole family. I made this up out of a moment of indecision – wanting to cook with all the lovely things from Kasey and not knowing what to choose!

1 cup Arikara beans
1 cup Vt. Cranberry beans
1 cup purple barley
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (I used chantrelles – and if you soak them separately you can use the soaking water in your broth)

1 tbl. olive oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
3-4 cups broth (I used a mixture of water and chantrelle broth)
1- tsp. dried thyme or marjoram
1-2 cups frozen corn
Salt & Pepper

Soak the beans, barley and mushrooms for about an hour. In a soup pot, Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Strain the beans and barley, add to the pot with the mushrooms, broth, bay, & thyme/marjoram. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer till the beans and barley are done. Add the frozen corn and continue to cook till the corn is warm through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

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