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Sunset Runner Beans

August 17th, 2016

I’m always balancing production and beauty when it comes to vegetables. Trying new varieties is something I love to do. When I saw the ‘Sunset’ runner beans in the Baker Creek Catalog I knew I had to try them.
sunset runner beans
They’ve proven to be beautiful when they bloom! They’re just starting to produce beans, so I haven’t tasted them yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been last week and this week, I had a friend visiting from out of town. I managed to get a few posts written, but catching up was higher on my priority list.

What new varieties of vegetables did you try this week?

Hello Broad Beans

July 11th, 2013

This is the first year I have ever grown broad beans (aka fava beans). Back in Ohio, our summers got too warm too fast to grow these beauties, or so I’ve been told. I never even tried to grow them because I simply didn’t have enough space.
broad beans 1
This spring I planted two varieties of favas and I just harvested the ‘Windsor’ beans earlier this week.
broad beans 2
Favas are a lot of work, you have to shell them out of the this furry pods and then you have to blanch them and pop them out of yet another thick skin that covers the bean.
broad beans 3
Will I be growing favas again next year? I think so, a small row produces enough for a few meals and that’s good for me. One of the reasons I garden is to be able to make my plate as varied as possible. Broad beans can be hard to come by at the grocery store and the farmers market.

Have you ever grown or eaten fava or broad beans?

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit…

January 21st, 2010

Many of you requested recipes for ways to cook beans after I posted about scoring some local dried heirloom beans the day before yesterday. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

I really like to eat beans as a sauce over rice more than any other way, but a hearty bean soup is also wonderful. I grew up in South America, where beans are a staple, eaten almost every meal. Probably my favorite beans are Frijoles Antioqueños – traditional food eaten throughout the country of Colombia. Generally you use bola roja beans, but those are difficult to come by here in the U.S., so you can substitute small red beans or kidney if you’d like (small red beans are more similar in texture to the Colombian beans). Colombian food is not like Mexican food, the spices are not as pronounced. They use a tiny bit just to add a little flavor, so these beans are very mild.

Frijoles Antioqueños (Antioquian Beans)

2 pounds bola roja beans (or small red or kidney beans)
4 slices chopped bacon or 1/2 lb piece of salt pork
2 green plantains, finely chopped
1 T. salt
2 T. olive oil oil
4 small tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 chopped onions
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 t. of cumin if desired
Pepper to taste

Wash beans and soak overnight. Place beans and bacon or salt pork in pot and cover with water. Cook for a couple hours or until tender (depends of what kind of beans you use). Add plantains and cook until soft. Add salt and mix well. In a separate pan sauté tomatoes, onions and garlic until soft and add to beans. Cook for another half an hour until all flavors have blended. These beans taste even better on the following day! Enjoy served with white rice.

They’re traditionally served as part of a Bandeja Paisa which includes: spiced ground beef, white rice, chicharrón (fried pork rinds), a fried egg, arepas (cornmeal cakes), avocado slices, chorizo (sausage) and fried green plantains.

I was going to make a bean soup with the “Jade” beans, but I decided instead to make braised beans as a side for some roasted chicken. They were fantastic, so I decided to share the recipe with you. These beans ended up being a lot like cannellini beans, so those would be a good substitute, or perhaps a smaller white bean like navy beans.

Braised White Beans

1 lb dried large white beans
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 strips of thick cut bacon – diced
1 large white onion – diced
3 cloves garlic – diced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup white wine
1 quart chicken stock
3 strips lemon peel (without pith)
2 bay leaves
fresh rosemary sprig
fresh thyme sprigs
1 cup grated hard cheese (like Parmesan or Romano)
salt & pepper to taste

Add beans to a large stock pot and cover with a few quart of water, add vinegar and allow to sit overnight or for 24 hours. Drain. Return beans to pot, add a few more quarts of water and simmer for a few hours or until soft.

Dice bacon and add to large pot. Cook for a few minutes and add diced onion, cook for a few minutes and add garlic. When onions and garlic are soft, add sage and some freshly ground pepper along with a teaspoon of salt. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add white wine to deglaze pan, stir to pick up all bits stuck to bottom of pan. Add chicken stock and boil for a few minutes. Drain beans and add to stock along with lemon peel, thyme, rosemary and a Tablespoon or two of lemon juice if desired. Simmer for an hour or until liquid reduces to a thick sauce and beans are soft and starting to fall apart. Remove stems from thyme and rosemary and bay leaves. If desired remove lemon peels and dice, add back to sauce. If you don’t want a ‘lemony’ flavor remove completely.

Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed, stir in cheese and serve warm. Delicious served alone as a side to chicken or serve with rice and a meal.

Lentils are perhaps one of my most favorite kind of bean. They’re quick and easy to cook, they don’t really require overnight soaking like most other beans. I love all different kinds of lentils from big brown ones, to tiny black ones and all the colors in between. These French green lentils are simply stunning!

Sausage Lentil Soup

1 pound of Italian sausage (I like hot Italian, chicken sausage works well also)
2 medium onions (cut to desired size)
5 carrots (cut to desired size)
1-2 cups chopped celery (cut to desired size)
(I usually use equal parts onions/carrots/celery)
5 cloves of garlic
2 T Olive oil
a mix of Italian spices to taste (whatever you prefer): (oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, sage, black pepper, fennel)
2 cups lentils (regular brown or french green)
1 cup small black lentils (if you can’t find these add more brown or omit if you like a brothier soup)
2 quart jars of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
water if needed
1 quart of diced tomatoes
a few handfuls of fresh spinach or other greens if desired

Add sausage and olive oil to pan and slightly cook, then add chopped onions, carrots & celery cook until softened (You can cover pot if you want). Add garlic and spices (I usually add a teaspoon or two of oregano and some fennel, lots of red pepper, a good amount of black pepper and some sage). Cook for a minute or two and add brown and green lentils and chicken stock. Simmer for several hours until lentils are almost done (will be less if using French green lentils), then add small black lentils, tomatoes, greens and water if needed, cook until black lentils are finished. Then salt to taste and adjust spices if needed. Serve with freshly grated Romano cheese and a drizzle of fresh olive. Tastes best accompanied by crusty bread!

This red lentil soup is amended from a dal recipe. It’s got a wonderful middle-eastern flavor that’s really exotic. I love the color, it sure brightens up the table. The flavor of the toasted cumin seeds is not as harsh as ground cumin, so don’t be afraid of using them (I usually double the amount in the recipe). You can spice it up more if you like hot food by adding some red curry paste or some more cayenne (ground or in flakes).

Curried Red Lentil Soup

1 C. red lentils, picked over, rinsed, and drained
3 C. water
1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges (or 8 oz. diced canned tomato)
1/4 C. olive oil or ghee
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1 medium onion (yellow or red), finely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground turmeric
1/2 t. cayenne (or less if you like it milder)
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 T. butter
3/4 t. salt (or to taste)
1 can of coconut milk
1 pint of chicken stock


Place lentils, tomato (if using fresh tomato, if using canned add later) and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered until lentils are tender and have lost their shape, about 40 minutes (begin checking that there is still water in the pot at 30 minutes and add small batches of water as needed). Pick out any tomato skins and whisk to break up the lentils. Keep warm over low heat.

Make the tadka (Indian spice prep) as follows:
Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat when oil is hot, add cumin seeds. After seeds have stopped sputtering, add the garlic and onion and saute over medium heat until most of the onion has turned brown, 5-10 minutes. Add the coriander, turmeric, and cayenne, stir, and pour the onion/spice mixture over the dal. Add the butter tomato (if using canned), (cilantro/parsley), and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes.

If eating as a soup add coconut milk and enough chicken broth to reach desired consistency. If eating over rice you can still add coconut milk or omit, whatever you like. Serve hot. I like to serve with naan (Indian flatbread).

If you have a great bean recipe post it on you blog and link to it below. Or add your recipe in the comment section. I’d love to try some of your favorites!

More Bean Recipes to Try:
White Bean Rosemary Soup by Ina Garten. If you like rosemary you’ll love this soup, it’s simple and delicious.
Parker’s Split Pea Soup from Barefoot Contessa. This soup is really great if you like split peas. It’s such a great color as well.
White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made this several times to take to parties. It’s always a hit. I’m not a huge fan of roasted red peppers and I love this!
101 Cookbooks – has tons of great bean recipes. She specializes in healthy vegetarian foods.
Refrigerator Soup Bean Recipes
Williams Sonoma Bean Recipes

Dried Heirloom Beans

January 19th, 2010

I really like dried beans of all shapes and sizes. They make hearty warming soups in the winter and wonderful salads in the summer. I usually buy my beans in bulk at the local health food store, but when I can find them locally I buy them up. Last year I bought a few pints of dried mixed beans at my local farmers market, they were wonderful. Sadly, I was only able to buy a few pounds, not nearly enough for all year.

A few weeks ago, I was able to find some dried beans at the Local Roots Market. They’re beautiful beans. I got a pound each of “Jade”, “Maxibelle”, and “Dragon Tongue”. I may save a few of each to plant in the garden this summer.

I decided to make a simple bean soup from the “Jade” beans. I have some bacon in the fridge, a few onions in the pantry and some dried sage that will pair wonderfully for a simple bean soup.

I usually soak beans for about 24 hours before cooking them (I add a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar to the soaking water). These beans will be on the stove all day today, simmering away into a warming winter soup. Not only is this a delicious winter meal, but it’s healthy and inexpensive!

Are beans eaten in your household? What’s you’re favorite way to eat them?

September 2009 Harvest Totals

October 8th, 2009

September is the month when things start slowing down here in Ohio. We had scattered frost the last week of September, which is a few weeks earlier than usual. The weather has been very cold and very cloudy and dark, which significantly slowed down the harvests from the garden.
I harvested my onions, which was very disappointing. For some reason onions do not do well in my soil, I don’t know if it’s the acidity or the lack of sunlight in my fairly shady gardens. I’ll be growing the majority of my onions at my mom’s house next year and I’ll experiment with a few new locations here with more sun.
I didn’t get around to planting any lettuce in late Aug/early Sept as I wanted, so I don’t have any lettuce from the garden at the moment. I also got my fall cabbage & broccoli started a little too late, that coupled with the early cold weather will mean I will not be harvesting much from my fall garden. I do have spinach, chard and mache in one bed that will be ready for early spring harvests next year.
The longer I garden the better I’ll be at planting things at the right times to ensure better fall harvests. I should have a decent October harvest with all the squash and popcorn and hopefully I’ll be harvesting lettuce and other green towards the end of the month. I was also able to can/freeze/dry a lot of food for this winter not just from my garden but local food from the farmer’s market as well.
In September I was able to harvest:
44 lbs of tomatoes that were canned in chunks for winter sauces & soups
40 lbs of pears from my mom’s tree
43 lbs of pumpkins & squash that will be made into pies and other goodies
5 lbs of small onions that will be used up this winter in all kinds of dishes
4 lbs of green beans that were steamed, drizzled with olive oil and enjoyed
3 lbs of melons
2 lbs of crabapples that were used to thicken my elderberry syrup
2 lbs of peppers, mostly cayenne that were dried to spice up soups & sauces
2 lbs of celery that was used in chicken soup when I was sick and other dishes
.5 lbs of garlic that I found in the garage that was actually harvested in July but somehow got misplaced
Lots and lots of herbs that have been dried and stored for sipping in teas or spicing up dishes
Despite all the setbacks, it was still a satisfying September. I’d rather be harvesting a little from the garden than nothing at all, and I guess I keep track so that I realize at the end of the month that harvesting 142 lbs of food from my garden means that it wasn’t such a bad month after all. Besides, there are still tomatoes that are ripening on the vines and that makes me happy.

What were your September harvests like? Any standout producers?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.