Monday, October 12, 2009

2 people, 2 pounds of beans, 1 week.

Sometimes I get flashes of complete and utter brilliance. At least I think so. And sometimes these flashes of brilliance turn into something great! At least I think so. The man in my house may not really agree.

Last week, I got one of my flashes. I was rummaging around the pantry, searching for orzo, when I spied a 2-pound bag of dried Great Northern Beans. I have no idea how they got there; I buy beans in cans. Canned beans are just too convenient for me to pass up. I know, I know, the markup on those things is criminal, but I'm lazy. Cooking dried beans requires soaking and rinsing and cooking. You know--effort.

But I saw that lowly bag of beans and--ZAPPO! Flash of brilliance! I decided that I was going to cook that whole 2-pound bag of beans and use it to feed hubs and I for an entire week with it. Because, you know, eating beans is good for you. And the economy. And the planet!

Jen at Use Real Butter and Tami at Running With Tweezers are attempting this week to feed themselves for $30. I think this is an awesome idea. Alas, I am too lazy to calculate how much every spice and vegetable costs, so I'm not joining them. I'm following their escapades with interest, though, and so should you. Because I don't know about you, but I'm imagining that it's a complete pain in the ass to feed yourself for 30 bucks a week.

But it's an ass-pain that is a reality for many people on this planet. Sadly.

So, I declared the week of October 9th-16th Bean Week at Chez T. 2 pounds of dried beans, 2 people, a week to eat them all. GENIUS!

At least I thought so. My husband was not so enthusiastic. "Am I sleeping in a separate room this week?" he said.

Well, there was that little issue. But we've been married long enough now that we know: farts happen. I considered buying Beano, but in the end I was too lazy to pick it up.

I rinsed and sorted the beans, which was a little alarming, because I found quite a few rocks cavorting around in the bag with the beans. Rocks? WTF? No wonder they always tell you to sort the beans--bummer to be tucking into a bowl of beans and crunch on a freaking rock. My bag contained 4 rocks. I have no idea if this is average or not.

Anyways, I set my HUGE dutch oven full of beans and water on the counter over night to soak. In the morning, I rinsed the beans again, put them in new (salted) water and simmered them, covered, until they were tender. I like my beans pretty tender (hence why I like canned beans) and so it took quite a while before I deemed them ready. As in, an hour and a half. And that's WITH soaking them overnight--who knew it took so long? Not me, obviously.

Then I transferred my beans to a HUGE Tupperware container and stored them in the refrigerator. One of the goals of Bean Week was to consume less meat. I decided to use small amounts of very flavorful meat to enhance the flavor of several of the dishes on the week's roster. It's good for us, right? Good for the planet, too. Good on the Wallet, yeah?

It was wicked cold this weekend; we woke up to 18 degree temperatures Saturday and Sunday morning, with flurries on and off both days. Perfect soup weather! I had clipped a recipe from O Magazine (October 2007) for White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Croutons. The recipe looked great, but I'd never gotten around to making it. Of course, when I did make it, I had to tinker with the recipe because I can't leave well enough alone.

I jettisoned the crouton idea, mainly because I don't like croutons. Is that weird? Everyone else I know loves them, but I think they're just sort of not necessary. They just sort of muck things up, I think.

I also cooked a few slices of smoked bacon and sprinkled them on top of the soup with a dusting of chopped parsley. I think a little bacon makes everything better. I also added a dash of cayenne and some thyme along with the rosemary--it made for a fuller-flavored dish.

White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Bacon
based on White Bean and Rosemary Soup with Roasted Garlic Croutons (Oct. '07, O magazine)

serves 4-5

1 whole head garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, slliced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups white beans, cooked
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Cooked crumbled bacon and chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the top off the garlic head so cloves are just exposed. Rub the head with a teaspoon of olive oil and wrap loosely in foil. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes; cool until comfortable to the touch. Squeeze cloves from the heads into a small bowl and mash with a fork.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and oil. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the broth and mashed garlic and bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook 20 minutes or until carrots are very tender. Add beans, rosemary, thyme and cayenne and cook 10-15 more minutes.

With an immersion blender or a food processor, puree 2/3 of the soup. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If desired, garnish with crumbled bacon and fresh parsley.

We thought this soup was delicious and tasted quite rich--even though it was healthy! It made for a warming meal with salad and bread.

And we did end up sleeping in separate places last night; however, it was a snoring issue, not a gas problem.

And guess what's for lunch today? Leftover soup!

Stay tuned for more episodes of Bean Week!!


  1. LOL separate rooms, Love it. And when I got to the end I was reading so fast I thought it said "explosions of Bean week."
    I love bean soup!
    PS...Darn HUbs forgot to log out again....

  2. HAHAHA your post made me laugh out loud. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one being too lazy for many things... including something as silly as soaking beans. Or counting how much money I spend on each meal, for that matter. But this recipe looks so yummy I might soak some beans myself (I do have them, I just never use them).

  3. We would most definitely have to have separate rooms!!

  4. Hubby loves beans but I'm not sure I'd still love Hubby if he eats them for a week!

  5. Good idea!! But we would need gas masks, not just separate rooms...we both love beans, but they do not luv the hubs. I don't think croutons are necessary, either...but I do like good ones. Your soup sounds delish...yes on bacon for me :D

  6. "farts happen."

    And oh, do they ever. Over here we don't even need the beans to clear out a room, dog included.

    Soup sounds delicious, though! I can't wait to see what happens by Friday...

  7. A whole head of garlic?! This sounds like my kind of soup. I found out the hard way last week that if you don't cook dried beans enough- hoo boy can they ever do a number on your insides. Even beano didn't help!

  8. Yeah...even Harryboy won't stay around me too long today :(

  9. Wait, I'm sorry, I'm still stuck on 18 degrees. WHAT? And here I was bummed because it was in the 40's this morning. Rocks in the beans be damned...18 degrees?

  10. A whole head of garlic! Yeah!

    My son eats croutons by the box!

    This is a nice recipe. I forget about Great Northern Beans for some reason. I'll have to try this one!

  11. hey, funny you should mention it, I was going to write a post about all things I want banned from the planet, and croutons are in the top ten.
    Secret to cooking you beans, btw? Boil them in the soaking water and don't sat until they're soft enough. Salt makes them stop cooking as effectively. So it should take less time to get 'em mushy for you if you hold off on salting until later.
    Also, after soaking for four hours in the a.m., I cook 'em for at least two hours and then simmer until dinner because I'm that transfer to containers or chilling then reheating.
    Yay for this recipe. I'll do it without the garlic until Hazelnut is out...pregnant I hate garlic. Sad.

  12. What a great idea! I, too, rely on canned beans because I'm too impatient to use the dried stuff. I would have said lazy but after reading here I've realized it just takes time, not too much effort. And for that, I thank you because hard can it be to soak and boil? Thanks for the great recipe with your own special tweaks. Looking forward to trying it out!

  13. I made beans this week too only I made anasazi beans instead of Great Northern. They both work well in soup or alone as a side dish.By the By You don't have to soak overnight if you don't want to. Instead you can soak them in the morning for about 6 or 7 hours and then cook for 1 1/2 hours until tender and have them ready by dinner time. that's what I do anyway.

  14. As always, I am cracking up reading this blog. This time I realized that I am not the only one who comes up with crazy a** ideas and then requests that my husband and family members play along with me. I do it all the time! This past week, I could not say No to 16 dozen farm fresh eggs! A few months ago, was let's be vegans for a week (Laugh).

    Looking forward to a few bean stories and recipes.

  15. Love it! What bean surprise lies ahead of us now?! :) weird about the rocks though...not good for poor innocent teeth! xxx

  16. No crouton fan here too, just don't care for them. The soup sounds great.

  17. I wrote about you a little today. You kknow, because I love you!

  18. I swear, I laughed just reading these comments! I love my readers; you guys have my same quirky sense of humor.

    Nap, thanks for the bean tips. Also, did you notice that the whole head of garlic was roasted? Have you ever had roasted garlic? I ask just because it gets WAY more mellow after being roasted and actually isn't that "garlicky" anymore...

    Velva: Let's be Vegans for a week...LMAO.

  19. And passions: I have never had anasazi beans...what are they like?

  20. Wow! we've got a lot of bean tips here, who'd of thunk it! I love great Great Northern beans and use them in soup or in a bean dip. You sound just like me with not leaving the recipe alone. The roasted garlic sounds wonderful.

    It is still in the 90's here, but suppose to be 80 degrees this weekend, more like soup weather. haha

  21. chuck the beano, just let the toots rip. I doubt the kids will want anything this week from mommy the beanblaster, especially if it requires coming within 2 feet of the airhole. Keep em so they can't breathe, much less whine, and hey, more alone time for you! Safety tip: Get the kids caught up on Stop Drop and Roll in case 1) they need to hit the hard deck for oxygen and 2) spontaneous combustion of those methane gases happens. You might need floor lighting if the air gets too thick, and arrows pointing to the escape hatches. go beanblaster go....

  22. I tried the whole dried bean thing once. I wanted to make hummus from scratch. My impatience would not allow me to believe that softening would take so long. I swore at every piece of kitchen equipment I own that day.

  23. Slow. Cooker. Toss beans in water the night before, in the cooker pot. Dump water in a.m., add fresh cold water, then slow cooker it until it smells done... salt to tast, and add another half hour. I'm all about the Lazy Mama strategy.
    Also: your guts should get used to beans, your "flora" just have to adjust. By the end of the week, toots should smell like roses.
    Made potato/leek/gouda soup last night (whatever was in the farm box went in; the kale was pretty respectable...) and totally in a soup mood, so bean soup this weekend! I'm sure I've got a bag of dried beans in that pantry somewhere!
    Good luck in your Bean-dom, you Leguminous Queen!

  24. Thanks for all the bean tips, guys! You are awesome!

    Potato/Leek/Gouda soup sounds awesome, Goonie Momma! Care to share the recipe?

  25. Anasazi beans are a white and red speckled bean. They were supposedly first discovered by the Anasazi Indians. You can get them in a Whole Foods or Whole Wheatery store. They have a similar taste to red beans but they have a little bit of added spice to them. You can substitute them in any recipie that calls for red or pinto beans.You don't have to soak them overnight and they cook in 45 min. to 1 hour.

  26. My recipe: bear with me...
    Chop half the white part of a huge farm box leek into 1/2" dice (forget to rinse them; this is key), throw into foaming 2T of butter (foaming cuz the kid went berzerker while chopping and it sat too long). Throw about 1-2 lbs of farm box little taters into a bowl, generously sprinkled with knive slits (knive the potatoes, not the dog or the kid) and nuke for 5 mins. Meanwhile, grab about 4 leaves of kale, only remember to de-rib 2 of them, and tear up with one hand (tot on hip with other arm) and shoot into sizzling leek pan, quickly stirring and praying the leek isn't burnt. Interest tot in the dog's water bowl (save for dire emergencies) and using an immersion blender, go at the potatoes like nobody's business (I did it straight in the nuker bowl, as I didn't want a green soup, had I blended w/ leeks and kale). I also like mine a bit chunky, so I didn't liquidate it. Add to slightly overcooked leek/undercooked kale.

    Grab a Capitol Brewery Blond Dopplebock for yourself as Big Daddy gets home, asks what's in the pot, honestly respond, "I really have no clue yet! Mashed potatoes or potato soup?" and beg him to stay in the living room with Lil Daddy. Stir soup.

    Realize that those potatoes are already too dry for mashed potatoes. Add 1 cup of skim milk, then (when you get around to it) 1 cup of water and, felling more than a healthy dose of bad-mama guilt, 1.5 teaspoons of no-salt chicken stock granules (if I had a well-stocked pantry, it would've been straight-up stock).

    Go into fridge to see what the Boys can munch on till dinner's ready. Pull out some smoked gouda randomly in fridge. Dice half a cup for the boys to munch, and a generous handful to throw into the pot. Reiterate that it would be OH so helpful if Daddies stayed in the other room. Stir pot. Curse that the cheese will never melt fast enough. Cut up more gouda cuz it's REALLY good with the Dopplebock.
    When cheese is melted, Big Daddy has dealt with at least 3 readings of "10 little ladybugs", the soup is done! OH, WAIT! 10 grinds of pepper, a teaspoon of sea salt, whip up, and serve.

    "We" served with some roast beef on buns with smoked gouda (I did NOT eat it all!), warmed under the broiler (the length of letting the dog out, and begging him to come back in... there are sandwiches under the broiler!) and added some thinly chopped white onion.

    Of course, all times and amounts are approximate. :-)

  27. Goonie Momma,

    That recipe rocks, but not as much as your hilarious commentary throughout. You are obviously a writer. Awesome.

  28. Another bean tip: Our family cooks frijoles and other beans quite often. Simply add 1/4 tsp baking soda to the cooking water. It reduces the gas therefore preventing the musical toots! Also, it's not unusual to find rocks in your dry beans, we give the picking over job to our 13yo to do. He is very meticulous about it!

    I loved your post!