Tropical Beans

Considering that I am in Togo right now, this is a pretty good time for me to finally publish my Tropical Beans recipe. It was inspired by the Cuban tradition of putting a sweet orange rind into the bean pot prior to boiling. This recipe employs a bean cooking strategy that I have been working on for quite a while. I add ingredients in three pulses, first to the pot before cooking, then after the beans are finished cooking, and finally I garnish each individual bowl that I serve.

Tropical Beans

Ingredients:

4 cups of Calypso beans (also called Black Orca beans or Yin Yang beans)

1 sweet orange (I usually use a Valencia orange)

3 dehydrated bananas (not banana chips, dehydrated bananas are entire, gooey, and malleable)

3 dehydrated pineapple rings

5 dehydrated mango cheeks

Salt

Garnishes: Sriracha, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, coconut oil, sliced fresh banana, and lime

First slice your bananas, pineapple, and mango into small quarter to half inch chunks, and peel the orange (reserve the pulp). Add your Calypso beans, orange peel, banana, pineapple, and mango to a large pot and boil. I generally fill the pot so that the water line is an inch above the beans. I also like to have a kettle nice and hot, so if the water falls below the top of the beans I can add enough to cover them again. Once the pot is boiling bring it down to a simmer, and cook until the beans are done.

Once cooked, fish out the orange rind. Then extract the orange juice from the pulp into the pot and salt to taste. Beans can either be served at this point, or you can allow them to cool and then store in your refrigerator.

To serve: I usually ladle the beans out over a pile of brown rice, and then garnish each plate with Sriracha, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, coconut oil, sliced fresh banana, and a squeeze of lime. However, feel free to get creative.

 

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Beans

Where we cook a pot of beans, that becomes our home. My cauldron is bubbling now, full of pinto beans, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and oil in a rich pot liquor. I am cooking my first pot of beans at a new house, the same pot of beans that was my last pot of beans at my old house.

Let this be the end of an era, which we will call the harmony.

As many of you know, I am on a journey to create the perfect pot of beans. For many years I have practiced under the belief that I could achieve this ability by uniting the five flavors into one freshly simmered pot. Through many careful tastings of salt, spice, acidity, fat, and umami, I would cycle around until I had developed a satisfactory pot of beans. Yet many times the pots I enjoyed the most were the simplest ones.

Let this be a new era, which we will call the melody.

For rather than accompanying nature’s vast spectrum of flavors, beans will play the melody. We will bask in lentil’s earthy tones, enjoy garbanzo bean’s nuttiness, and do our best to embrace fava bean’s funky edge. We will no longer rinse our beans, but we will consider their terroir. We will look to tradition to show us the perfect companions for each bean. We will consider the cooking fuel that is needed to prepare our beans. Finally, when the pot is complete, we will adorn each bowl in acidity and vegetables and cheese and grain, and this will be our meal in a single whole.

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Legumecon, 2016

Dear Beanscouts,

Legumecon has come and gone, but the memories and lessons remain. Originally I conceived the conference as being longer, with more content, but I am satisfied in how it turned out. Here is a list of some of the many highlights.

Beanscouts Jessie and Tommy beaming in via Skype from Chicago, IL to give a presentation on Bean Breakfasts.

A collection of scouts coming in from far away cities like Portland, Newberg, Monmouth, and Medford.

Beanscout Roo challenging the senses with his secret hummus ingredient. (He blends a whole avocado [just the pulp of course] into his hummus)

Fascinating dishes, like garbanzo bean cookie dough, garbanzo bean cutlets, and bean chips.

Staple dishes, like burritos, bean salad, hummus, and tempeh roast.

Beanscout Forrest made meringues using the liquid in a can of garbanzo beans. This has been exploding all over cooking blogs and magazines, and I am so glad I got to try them. Just as good as french meringues.

I gave a talk on the World of Beans, adapted from my first blog post.

Beanscout Paoa read some wonderful bean poetry. I hope to get his poems on the blog soon!

Tamarind cocktails.

I was so proud of how the talks came together, we all managed to interact as one big group for almost two hours! And the audience was so attentive and receptive. The time just flew by.

I hope everyone is as excited for Legumecon, 2017 as I am!

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IYOP

Happy New Year! I just got back from a week long trip to SE Texas, and while I was there I ate black-eyed peas and cabbage to celebrate the first day of the new year. A southern tradition, people who eat these foods on new year’s day are promised wealth and luck in the coming year.

2016 is particularly special because it is the International Year of the Pulse. Long time readers will know that pulses are edible dry legumes, like beans, chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas, and fava beans. The United Nations has designated this year to promote pulses as a means of global food security and for their role in reviving exhausted soils with nitrogen. For more information, check out their website: http://iyp2016.org/

So, to celebrate, my new year’s resolution is to eat beans every single day this year. I am already off to a good start!

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Legumecon 2016

Bean Scouts,

Today, while I was reading a book on the bean cuisine of Italy, I stumbled on an interesting tidbit. The author revealed to me that the word legume is derived from the latin legere, which means to gather. I started toying with ways that I could incorporate this into the name Legumecon. Maybe I would replace -con with legere? Further investigation though revealed that it meant to gather cremated bones!

So in the spirit of gathering, you are invited to the second ever Legumecon! The bean festivities will begin on the 22nd of January at my house in Eugene, Oregon!

Legumecon is a gathering of bean enthusiasts from all around the world, but probably mostly from Eugene. We will celebrate and venerate the bean, and participate in new bean rituals like passwords, bean pits, and bean cocktail parties. This year is also particularly auspicious because 2016 is the International Year of Pulses (or edible legumes)! So the theme of this Legumecon is “Bean Renaissance”. (Funny aside, in Latin culture beans represented regeneration).

Here is a tentative schedule of events:

1/22/2016 @ 4:00 pm : Opening ceremony, preparation of the bean pits.

1/23/2016 @ 9:00 am : Ful medames, and other beany breakfasts

@10:00 am : Start of bean talks

@1:00 pm : Legume Taste Test / Lunch

@2:00 pm : Break

@6:00 pm : Potluck Dinner / More Talks

@9:00 pm : Bean inspired cocktail party!

If you come to Legumecon it is important that you participate. Help with organizing, bring a dish to the potluck, give a bean talk, bring a bean cocktail, help with the tasting experiment, or find your own way to contribute.

The password is “Open cicerchie”

RSVP with an email to matthewcdavis1@gmail.com. Please let me know how you plan to contribute!

 

Matt

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Beet Hummus (Paoa)

I think that my favorite article of the year is also my first ever guest post. Here is the story of beet hummus, and its wonderful recipe. I have tried the hummus, and I think that it is great! Take it away Bean Scout Paoa.

It is well known, of course, that the key to an exquisitely prepared meal is dedication. This dedication can take form in a number of ways: focus, effort, time, self sacrifice…regardless of how you cut it, for cuisine to be truly blessed, there must first be an element of fixation. There is no better way to peel back the layers and find this fire in a cook than to have them work with an ingredient they connect with. As an unapologetic bean scout, I find beans are an obvious choice. But what occurs when a cook has the pleasure to work with two such ingredients? What grandeur, what magic could occur when two ingredients of deep-seeded personal importance are combined in a single dish? This is what I sought to find out when I decided to try my hand at a dish whose name still rings like sweet music in my ears: Beet Hummus.

Sure, beets are delicious, and obviously I don’t need to remind you all how majestic the great bean can be. But together? I had to try: It was my duty as a bean scout to find out. Follows are the directions, as guided by my personal experience, to make beet hummus. But first I shall provide a few details about our primary worship: The chickpea.

A quick Wikipedia search tells us that garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas, among other things) are one of the oldest cultivated legumes we know of, with remains as old as 7,500 years found in the Middle East. The chickpea is most commonly known in the U.S. for its use in hummus (which was already been featured in this blog in the form of a more standard recipe), but it is widely consumed across the globe. People in the Middle East, the Iberian Peninsula, the United States, the Philippines and even Mexico have incorporated garbanzo beans into recipes. Hummus is actually the Arabic word for chickpea, and hummus has quickly found its way into households around the world. An interesting fact that our humble blog host and ever-vigilant bean guide Matt shared with me: there has been some controversy in the last few years regarding the origin of hummus, resulting in some Lebanese interests seeking to classify hummus a uniquely Lebanese dish by the European Commission.

Of course, began my foray into homemade hummus with something lacking in the tradition that causes such contention. The first tasks at hand were also the longest: I was to cook the beans and the beets.

I prepared the beans in the enlightened manner of Matt’s teachings: soaked, boiled, five-bean check. For more information on this, I would refer to Matt’s previous posts as they are more steeped in the word and knowledge of a true bean guru. The beets, however, were done thusly:

Roasted Beets

4 medium-sized sugar beets

6 cloves garlic (more if garlic is one of your plant allies)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

Set your oven to preheat at 425. Peel your beets. Be delicate and don’t fret: remind yourself that their redness is not blood. Once their skins are in your compost, ready to return to mother earth, quarter your beets (if they’re particularly large, go a little smaller). Place them in a roasting pan with the garlic or casserole dish and toss them with your oil, lemon, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Cover the beet receptacle in foil and place it in the oven with your timer at around 45 minutes. Check at 45 minutes, roast until fork tender. When they’re close, remove their thin foil shelter and let the beets feel the full force of the oven’s heat. They must be tempered in the true heat of roasting before they are fit to be mixed with beans.

When your prongs of a fork pierce your beets with no effort it is time that they are pureed. Add beets into a food processor with 1 TBSP of Olive oil and reduce them to mush. Next: the beans. The rest is easy.

Beet Hummus
6 cups cooked chick peas

1 cup Olive Oil

1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

1 lemon

3 tbsp tahini
Slowly and quite ceremoniously add your 6 CUPS of cooked chickpeas and 1 more cup of Olive oil to the food processer that already contains the beet mash, along with 1 TSP of Apple Cider Vinegar, the juice of 1 lemon, the zest from ½ of that lemon, 3 TBSP of Tahini, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree. Watch as the regal purple-redness of the beets mingles with the earthy browns of the chickpeas. What soon arises is a playful pink that contains the hearty, substantive creaminess of hummus and the earthy sweetness of beets.

Enjoy, fellow bean scouts. I’m glad to have taken this journey with you. I encourage you to regularly take your bean cuisine to new levels by incorporating more ingredients you love. Just beware false idols: remember that none can be so great as our beloved Fabaceae.

Regards,
Bean Scout Paoa

 

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The National Lentil Festival, The Bean Harvest, World of Beans

“The secret is lime juice. Lime juice is the best.” – Bean Scout Tomcat

My second bean pilgrimage saw me racing up the Columbia River Gorge, across the Scablands, past silos and sagebrush, to get to Pullman, Washington. This was not a leisurely drive. I had a very small window of time before they stop serving lentil chili, but this wasn’t just any pot of chili. At 350 gallons, it claimed to be the worlds largest, and I would be damned before I would miss an opportunity to be a part of lentil history. The lentil chili is just one of the many spectacles put on at the National Lentil Festival. For several years I have wanted to attend this gathering on the Palouse, a former short grass prairie that is now a productive agricultural region, where 90% of the US’s lentils are grown. And I had a naive hope of what the festival would be. In a world with events like the San Diego Comic-Con International, where 130,000 rabid comic fans descend on the city from all over the world, I hoped that the NLF would be a similar event. I hoped there would be a smattering of legume enthusiasts from all over the world who had come, at great expense, to show their reverence for the lentil. However, the festival fell flat of my high expectations. It is more like a county fair, where the people of the Palouse come to connect over their shared identity, with a veneer of lentils.

However, it wasn’t all disappointing. I did meet a couple of legume enthusiasts, Liz Carlisle and David Oien. Liz Carlisle is an author and a fellow at the Center for Diversified Farming Systems at the University of California, Berkeley. Her book, which I bought and will cover more once I have finished it, is The Lentil Underground. In it she profiles David Oien, who helped bring organic agriculture to conservative Montana. Now he is a part of Timeless Seeds, an organization that he and three other farmers co-created to market their farm products, including organic lentils and chickpeas.

This month is also seeing the start of my bean harvest. In June I planted 3 different varieties of common bean, Poletschka, Navajo, and Rosso di Lucca, a pole bean, half-pole bean, and bush bean, respectively. Pole beans grow high, and require a trellis. Half-pole beans grow about half as tall as the pole beans. Bush beans stay near the soil. All three are in the same species, Phaseolus vulgaris, but are all so different. The Navajo beans, which are very adapted to Oregon, have been the most prolific so far, and have already given me many dried beans. The other two have not had any pods dry out yet. This project has been both fun and difficult, and I believe that I have found some direction through it. First, a niche. If I was to start a bean farm, I would like to focus on dried pole beans. Most beans harvested in the US are bush beans, because they are less labor intensive. I would like to see if pole beans could be farmed at any sort of scale. Secondly a problem. These beans, collectively known as common beans, are native to Mexico and the American Southwest. They evolved a reliance on summer monsoons, and so in the north they require irrigation. Would relying on irrigation be a sustainable model, especially in the face of these recent droughts? Should I focus my farming interests on less water intensive legumes, like chickpeas, lentils, and fava beans?

I have also been considering the possibility of starting some sort of bean related business. Farming, marketing, and cooking have all been attracting my attention. My dream job would be to travel the world, studying the ethnobotany of beans. Preserving rare heirloom varietals, recipes, and stories about this most important protein would be an amazing life. However, I am currently thinking that opening a bean food cart in Eugene, Oregon may be the next step down this legume path. I have hardly any restaurant experience or business experience, so any advice or support I can get from the bean scout community would be greatly appreciated. Please reach out to me with any ideas you may have.

Finally, the recipe of the worlds largest bowl of chili: http://www.lentilfest.com/food-and-shopping/worlds-largest-bowl-of-lentil-chili/

P.s. Happy Anniversary.

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