Archive | January, 2013

Dry Beans 101

16 Jan
by Deanne

Would you go out of your way to attend a cooking class on beans?

Photo of Dry Beans ClassThat is what Steve and I did last night. We went to the Davis Food Co-op to attend a cooking class called Intro to Beans.  What an interesting way to spend a free night during our time in California.

During the class, Julie the instructor, discussed the great debate about the best time to salt beans.  Should we: Brine the beans in a salt solution prior to cooking, add salt before cooking or add salt after cooking? She let us taste three samples. I thought that the beans that had the brine during the soak, prior to cooking, were the best. It turns out that is what Cooks Illustrated recommends.  It goes against what most of us have been taught.  However, if you need your beans to be firmer (such as adding them to a salad) just salt them at the end of cooking.

We tasted two recipes: the first included rainbow chard and navy beans and the second recipe included lentils with sweet potatoes and curry powder. Both were excellent but very different in their flavor profiles.

Why should a person learn to cook with  dry beans?  They are:

1. Cheap.

2.  Easy to make tasty by adding onions or peppers, garlic and a variety of spices or herbs.

3.  A great source of protein and fiber.

4.  A whole food where you add your own seasonings in your own kitchen.

5.  Easy:  Make one batch to apply to different dishes all week.

Snow Ice Cream

2 Jan
by Deanne

During a holiday visit to my brother and sister-in-law’s warm and cozy home near Truckee, California we watched the snow fall outside and decided to make snow ice cream.

picture of snowMy sister-in-law Trudy, grew up in Alaska where she learned to make this winter time treat.

First we “harvested” some fresh and fluffy snow.  She reminded me to avoid snow under a tree because pine needles tend to make the ice cream crunchy. 

A bowlful of snowNext we brought the beautiful bowl of snow in the house and added cream, sugar, and vanilla. 

Mix with a spoonShe added the ingredients and mixed with a spoon.  Then she tested it to determine if it was the right taste and consistency.  If it is too sweet a person can always gather more snow.

It was simply delish!  Thanks Trudy!

A bowlful of snow ice creamHave you ever made ice cream out of snow?   Hmm… for those that are on a dairy-free diet,  I wonder if it would work to make sorbet?

Deanne’s Favorites of 2012

1 Jan
by Deanne

This Real Local Cooking journey has been a fun way to record the things I learned in 2012 and having a blog to chronicle all this learning allows for many moments of reflection.bagel

2012 was a year of change in terms of my awareness about food (something I’d previously never thought much about).  It was also a year in which I (and my husband) put our values into action and  decided to close our drive-in restaurant in August. 

Cooking is where it all began .  I took an interest in cooking again after many years of seeing it as a chore.  I cracked open my Joy of Cooking book and made Chicken Cacciatore and learned how bagels are made by making a batch in our kitchen.

In March I reached out to meet people who care about local food.  I discovered that Kathleen and her family live nearby and they grow and produce Omega Maiden Camelina Oil onA photo of the oil used in the dressing their farm. We’ve enjoyed creating recipes, like scones and dressings, with camelina oil.  We’ve also enjoyed the friendship of Kathleen, her husband Justin, and their sweet daughter, Amana and we got to know the rest of her family when we held our first Veg-In in September.

Saying good bye to Francine in April was a difficult but an important step in my growth as a mother of adult children. 

When Francine moved to England, I had a chance to learn about another culture in many of her posts…this snapshot post stands out as an early memory for me or her first month in her new home.  I also learning about cobnuts in her A What Nut post.

A photo of the granola

In August, the Minnesota Cooks event at the Minnesota State Fair turned out to be educational when I unexpectedly learned more the importance of adding Omega 3 to our diets.  Go Omega Maiden!  (It is a great source of Omega 3.)Photo of 2012-13 Mn Cooks Calandar

As Steve and I dream about the future of our business and clarify our vision for opening a new restaurant this summer, we remember the visits we made at various UK Farm Shops in November.  It was wonderful to  discover that the English have found a nice marriage between restaurants and locally grown products.  

Photo of Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop

Now, as the new year begins, Steve and I visiting family in California.  We peeled our first pomegranate and made a toast to our dreams for 2013.   

Cheers everyone and here’s to a wonderful 2013!A photo of a pomegranate

Pomegranate Cocktail

(from the book we purchased yesterday, The Art of Real Food)
  • 1 bottle sparkling wine
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds