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Posts Tagged ‘beans’

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With the beginning of the new year I have decided to avoid eating meat whenever possible.  There’s nothing like the challenge of vegetarianism to help you think creatively about food, and to make you more adventurous about food choices, especially when eating out.

For your less daring, stay-at-home nights when you just want something really good and hearty to fill your belly, I present to you my Magical Fruit Soup. This recipe is adapted from one I ripped out of a Martha Stewart magazine, but I like to think that I came up with it all on my own. This is the first soup I ever made that did not come from a can, so I know that any beginner can do it.

Enjoy!

To Make Magical Fruit Soup:

Ingredients:

2 tb olive oil

2 or 3 med carrots, diced

2 celery stalk, diced

1 onion, diced

3 garlic  cloves, minced

1 tb dried thyme

course salt/ground pepper

2 cans (about 4 cups) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

28 oz (2 cans) diced tomatoes, drained

32 oz vegetable broth

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley (optional)

  1. Heat oil in largeish saucepan on medium-high heat. Sautee onion, carrots, and celery about 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, cook about 3 minutes. Enjoy the aroma.
  3. Add beans and tomatoes, vegetable broth, parsley. Bring to boil.
  4. Reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes or until carrots are soft.

As long as you don’t mind chopping veggies, this recipe is an easy way to pack tons of fiber and protein into your chilly winter evening. Since it’s even tastier reheated the next day, you can make a big pot to eat all week long. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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It’s been a little while, so I thought I’d post some photos to mark the progress of our garden. Overall, things are going very well in the new location. The radishes outgrew themselves and have all been roasted or composted by now. (Remind me to post about roasted radishes sometime. They are a delicacy!) The turnips are humongous, and I have to continuously pluck them back so that they don’t crowd out the sunlight from the raspberries and carrots. Considering their size, and after pulling up a baby turnip and tasting it, I don’t think I will ever grow turnips again. It was something like taking a swig of nail polish remover (though I’ve never done that so I can’t quite compare the two). I’m sure a roasted turnip could yield a tastier result, but I will save it for the day when I have extra space to devote to the less desirable edibles. You live and you learn and you taste turnips and you know better for next spring.

The raspberries are still coming along slowly but surely. As long as they don’t die I remain a happy camper/gardener.

The bean bed is my little pride and joy these days. I (reluctantly) thinned them out to about 8 inches between plants, which seems to be a good amount. I’m a believer in packing as much greenery into a growing space as possible, so I like to let my veggies nestle as close together as they can without competing. One of these days I need to get around to reading Mel Bartholomew’s book Square Foot Gardening, to try to pick up a few tips for my method.

Grow, beans, grow! They look as if they might burst into blossom any day now…

The pumpkin is coming along quite happily in his little patch. I keep checking the spent flowers to see if any of them are “pregnant.” So far no baby pumpkin bumps to be seen yet.

The potato cage is filling up fast! With a little help from my next door neighbor I finally tracked down a local bale of straw for sale, and the towering potato plants are now nestled snugly and (I hope) producing lots of tasty little buds. I’m hoping they grow another foot or so before they start flowering. I want to get as much use out of that cage as possible!

Ollie reminds me to include him in the garden update.

I haven’t been able to resist the urge to fill every container I have with soil and find something to plant in it. I now have another dozen potato plants going in 5-gallon buckets, as well as some summer squash and zucchini which are coming along fine. Another EarthBox contains several onions, and several corn plants that survived the onslaught of some furry little digging creature who realized too late that already sprouted corn kernels are not worth the trouble.

Sadly, my heirloom ground cherry that I mail ordered from Seed Savers Exchange never got bigger than about 6 inches tall, but it has been blooming and producing these intriguing papery sheaths with some sort of marble-sized fruit hidden inside. I’m very curious to know what will come of all this. If I like it, I may have to try growing some from seed next season.

And last but not least exciting, my tabletop container herb garden is growing by the day. I’ve been too doting to actually use any of the mature herbs yet, but it is delightful to run my hands over them and take in their amazing scents. This is aromatherapy at it’s finest. And most picturesque.

But all the hard work and busyness has not been relegated merely to the garden lately. My goal for the month of June is to get the majority of the house scraping completed. I’m proud and excited to announce that, just this afternoon, we finished off the South facing side! I’m hoping this will prove to be the hardest side to scrape, because it has been a real pain (quite literally). But it will certainly be worth it in the end, just to get rid of that hideous brown. 🙂

Oh yes, and down there among the paint chips and the barren top soil beside the foundation, is the hope of beauty to come: super-tough nasturtium seedlings are peeking their heads and promising to grace a newly painted house with a little bit of complementary colors.

It’s gonna be good! …eventually.

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I never dreamed that growing beans would be so instantly gratifying. It’s only been one day since my first beanlings broke ground, and I already have rows and rows of sturdy plants!

In an effort to be more progressive, I’ve planted heirloom beans (how ironic is that?) that I ordered from Seed Savers Exchange. Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation, just like our great-grandparents used to do. They are special because they produce plants that will produce actual viable seeds! If that sounds like a no-brainer, I will tell you that it’s not easy these days to find seeds that are so magical. The hybrid varieties I buy at the local hardware store will produce seeds, but they are, sadly, just duds.

I have a little fantasy of some day becoming an heirloom bean farmer. How much greater could life get? These bush beans I grow will need no trellises or staking. They grow fast (as you can see) and are prolific. Their magical fruits are delicious, colorful, fun to harvest, nutritious, and easy to store. Perhaps some day, when my student loan balance reaches zero, you will see me peddling my vast collection of beans at the local farmers’ market.

For now, I chose four varieties for my initial foray into bean farming:

Black Valentine: this is a standard black bean, which grows pods that can be eaten green as green beans (duh), or can be left to dry and harvested as individual black gems.

Ireland Creek Annie: This is actually an English bean with a lovely pale yellow color. I chose it because, according to the package, it “makes it’s own thick sauce when stewed.” Sounds great for bean soup!

Jacob’s Cattle: This is your typical Northeastern baked bean, which was originally cultivated by Native Americans in Maine. I liked the red and white pattern reminiscent of a speckled horse.

Bumble Bee: Need I say more? I’d like to say these are yellow beans with black stripes, but alas they were named instead for their big, bulbous, bumblebee shape. Even so, the name alone is worth the effort to grow it.

There’s just something inexplicably fun about growing beans. If anyone wants to give it a try, I have plenty of seeds left over!

Stay tuned for more about beans. 🙂

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Normally I’m pretty impatient with my garden’s progress, but I can’t argue with these results! The root crops are coming along quite well. Even the radishes are starting to look radishy:

The raspberries are coming along nicely, and the pumpkin patch is simply flourishing.

Every day I come home from work, lug my things out of my car, and head straight to the garden to poke and prod. It’s my meditative way of unwinding after a long or stressful day.

What did I discover today? Dozens of bean seedlings, pushing through the earth just six short days after they were planted! Just yesterday I was digging little holes in the bean bed to see if any of them were germinating. Lo and behold, overnight they decided to make a surprise appearance.

Equally as exciting, the potatoes are beginning their grand climb skyward, making delicious potential potato energy as they go.

Sometimes I fuss too much over my precious plants. I’m currently paranoid that my tomatoes and sweet peppers are suffering from sharing a yard with the black walnuts. Even though they are placed 50 feet from the nearest tree trunk, and are enclosed in their own little self-watering environments, I’m convinced that they are looking “wilty” and malnourished. I am probably anxious about nothing, considering that they actually look pretty good. But a good plant mother has to find something to worry over. Besides, these things cost me $5 apiece!

Only time will tell for my delicate garden residents. After all, the best way to become a good gardener is through trial and error. I hope that in another ten days I can report back with good news about all my green endeavors.

Oh, and Evie says hi.

 

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