Monday, December 8, 2008

It's cold. Gimme some beans.

black beans and riceI'm someone who strongly believes you need to listen to your cravings. And this weekend my tummy was loud and clear. It wanted beans.

It may have been the result of an 'intuitive' cooking session I led for a new client, Tamlin, last Tuesday. We met at her home in Park Slope and cooked only with what she had on hand. We did an inventory and brainstormed some possibilities, eventually deciding on a three bean chili, using the canned beans and canned tomatoes in her pantry as well as some fresh vegetables (celery, carrots, green pepper, onions, green beans) she had available. It came out so delicious that I was craving it all week.

But I think a lot of this craving also has to deal with the weather. And with the temperature in the twenties, my body starts to demand earthy, protein-rich foods like beans. And not just any kind of bean - the slow cooked kind, over a hot stove.

So on Saturday morning I decided to start cooking a fresh pot of beans, which I had soaked the previous night. I added plenty of water to the beans, brought them to a boil, and then cooked them slowly throughout the day. I'd check on them every 40 minutes or so. Maybe adding some aromatics (like onion, garlic, thyme, cumin). A bit of olive oil and Bragg's Liquid Aminos. I really had no plan.

Usually I'd cook beans for no more than an hour or two. This time I had my beans cook for almost five hours, only stopping because all the water had evaporated! It was truly amazing to taste these beans. They had become softer, richer, and more complex in taste. For the first time they tasted like beans I'd find in tacquerias and less like those from a can.

They were so good that by mid-afternoon I found myself having an early dinner of beans and rice. I couldn't wait! And on Sunday, influenced by the leftover beans I had cooked up, I made a black bean mushroom chili.

What a weekend!


Adrienne said...

Hi Ameet, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I was in your class at IIN and met you at Angelina's class in Park Slope a few years back. I am also craving beans in this cold weather, I think I'll have some tonight. You inspired me. Thank you!

Ameet said...

Hi Adrienne, thanks for leaving such kind words. It is great to hear from you again. Let me know how your dinner goes. Be well.

Bryan said...

What is your opinion on substituting canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes during the winter?

If canned tomatoes are not preferred, what are other available options for flavorful tomatoes?

Any tricks to improve tomato flavor in dishes if only mediocre fresh tomatoes are available in the supermarket?

Ameet said...

Hey Bryan, I only use fresh tomatoes when they are in season (roughly June-Oct). Otherwise I used canned tomatoes the rest of the year. Hope that helps.

Kevin said...

That looks like a nice simple and healthy meal.

Tangled Noodle said...

I make bean dishes regularly! My faves are black, red (light & dark) kidney, cannellini, and black-eyed peas. I realize these just skim the surface of the bean world but it's a start. However, I haven't made the from dried beans yet - too impatient, and I'm still scared to use a pressure cooker!

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