Friday, September 30, 2011
So a big shout-out to her over there in court . . . if she can even use her cellphone.
Pork and Apples
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The kids liked the yogurt better.
And see if you can spot the Moon Rabbit, because, while Westerners see the "man in the moon," Asians often see a hare. . . . (if it's not raining where you are tonight!)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Bud and Sis had fun making "salad people" a la Mollie Katzen, or, in their case, "fruit people." Better yet, they ate 2-3 of them each!
Mama was explaining how Chinese characters are the same across the dialects but the pronunciations differ. "Yes, I know," Bud professed, "there's Mandarin. And . . Tangerine."
Apparently, they're studying famous artists in the kids' art class. And this week it was Kandinsky. Bless my Bud, he apparently told the art teacher (whom, as you might recall, I'm not impressed with at all) that Kandinsky was his favorite because of the stripping and veiling. Yay!!
I'm sure there have been many other cute tidbits, but I've been forgetful with recording them. More soon, I promise.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Anyway, I go for another injection, this time a transforaminal epidural, next Thursday. It might be a long shot (hee hee), but I don't have too much to lose (especially with two Atavan to get me to the appointment!). And it sounds like the way to go (instead of nerve meds like Lyrica) . . . my naturopath/acupuncturist even seems to think so.
By the way, I postponed tomorrow's ultrasound. I'm benching myself. There'll be another game . . . .
To change sports, I keep thinking of Diana Nyad swimming for 40+ hours through sharks and jellyfish. If she can do that, I can do this . . . .
Earlier, she gave her strategy for attempting her dream: "The mental approach has to be to parcel it out. No one could swim the whole thing while thinking about the whole thing. Till I get a glimpse of the final shore I can’t start obsessing on it—it’s too far away, too nebulous—I don’t know where it is. So I’m going to take it night by day: first get through the nighttime and then get through the daytime, and then the nighttime again, and so on. . . . And I’ll just do that till I get news that the shore is near."
Her shore just wasn't at the Florida coastline . . . but she made attempting dreams, even with the possibility that you don't reach them, seem like the best kind of life.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
We're rooting for her and have the t-shirts to prove it.
Make it or not, she's a hero to us.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I'll keep working on it so expect some changes over the next few days.
Until then, my welcome, archive, blogroll, etc, are down there at the very bottom.
And I have realized something: I miss conversation, specifically, an exchange of ideas or a discussion of current events.
That's not to say I don't like my social, interpersonal conversations where friends and I exchanged anecdotes and compassion. Those are central. And often more important to me than waxing intellectual.
But sometimes I like to talk about things beyond me, say the death penalty or the debate about single-sex schools. Because, of course, nothing is really beyond us, as we are all part of this world. And so I think I use my blog to consider these things, to exercise my mental faculties, test my views, and see if anyone wants to discuss. Thankfully, I do get some responses, usually privately, via email or telephone call.
And so I keep posting.
Because I keep thinking.
(Though, you'll notice I have been completely silent on the current Republican presidential field. THAT just doesn't bear thinking about.)
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I've seen two doctors today and have three more appointments in the same number of days.
Today, my ENT doctor said my reflux is not better, no worse, and that I'll probably be on Prilosec a long time, even with changes in diet. Personally, I'm convinced once I'm vertical after meals more, it will recede.
My acupuncturist/naturopath offered me some turmeric for inflammation, some licorice (conveniently chocolate-flavored!) for the reflux, and, after about an hour's conversation and examination, believes that my inability to sit is due to my sacrum and not just my L5 SI 1. She's suggested osteopath/PT/cranial-sacral therapy. At least she listened to how the pain is not the same as herniated disc pain (which is burning and intense, while this is achy and throbbing) and is specifically located on my tailbone (and disappears when I rise), not my disc spot. It's a start, anyway.
Tomorrow is the dermatologist for a second opinion on my still inflamed, itchy, and hive-y skin.
Monday is another spine specialist for a fourth opinion (fifth? I forget these days). Maybe he'll have some more insight on the sacrum.
Tuesday is an ultrasound to check for any other inflammation.
Football would have been more fun.
And while they sought the execution, my heart is also with the family of murdered Officer McPhail, who didn't really receive justice last night.
There is no justice in killing.
I'm with Crunchy Corner (Sew and Sow's daughter) in feeling shame as an American today.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Let's call it an act of desperation. And while losing 8 lbs is great, it didn't enable me suddenly to sit, which really was my ulterior motive.
Still, I realized I learned a few things during this momentary lapse: mercy, appropriate portion sizes are just so much smaller than what you see everywhere. And there was almost no gluten. But fruits and vegetables all the time. So, I'll take that awareness and apply it to my preferred, homemade, whole food yada yada yada foods.
And I'm not the only one committing to a whole foods life at this bountiful time of harvest. My folks are investigating it too--in fact, Pop is veering vegan! And Mom is mostly along for the ride with him. Mama Hungry and I are revamping the way we shop and cook, to better feed ourselves and the kids. And Aunt Banana is even making all of her own baby food.
And that's all something I can be thankful for a few months early.
I am so grateful for Driver, who also helped me purchase a basket of flowers for my neighbor whose mother died (Neighbor Boy's grandmother) and went with me for coffee (mmmm, it's pumpkin spice latte season!). Having her help really brightens my day. She's taking me to a doctor's appointment on Friday and on Tuesday (just follow-ups to all those appointments with my ENT and dermatologist from the summer).
Just like today, this school year is already looking much better (for me) than last.
And I didn't like it. The first episode, that is.
From the 20 minutes it took to get to the first song to the myriad character adjustments (Quinn is a "skank?"), I just didn't think it was strong (I did like the Rachel-Kurt scenes). And don't get me started on the pitiful Asperger's bit, "self-diagnosed" or not, which was insensitive and heartless. And stupid and incorrect. (yeah, yeah, I know this is biting comedy, but "Glee" is usually sensitive to GLBT, people with Downs, a person in a wheelchair, even when there are jokes--why such a misunderstood portrayal of Asperger's? I know six kids on the spectrum and don't think this is funny. Or in any way meaningful.)
I hope it gets better.
But until then, I'm thankful for my seasons 1 and 2 dvds.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Of course, what kind of success? Material? Academic? Professional? Given that this is the NYTimes, the entire magazine issue is geared towards a particular kind of parent--in fact, the kind of competitive, achieving, highly-involved, middle class parent that the first article thinks is messing up kids (the kind of parent I am trying not to be but inherently am). The aforementioned article, which focuses on two selective private schools, talks a lot about achievement in the future--Ivy League admission, high grades, well-paying stable careers--but never addresses that perhaps our cultural definitions of success are skewed. And completely unavailable to most people, even those with the 24 character traits. Is the "character report card" one school issues just another way for kids to compete and parents to stress on the road to yet more high achievement? Is now character something they will study for, just another tool in their sophisticated tool kits? Or is it, as one teacher states, a way to even the playing field: "learning these strengths is partly about trying to demystify what makes other people successful — kind of like, ‘We’re letting you in on the secret of what successful people are like.’" Not that I don't want Bud and Sis to have all those kinds of successes, but I also want to value the other character traits and experiences that don't necessarily lead to monetary achievement. And I'm not sure quantifying and commodifying character is the way to get anywhere.
It reminded me of a conversation with Sis yesterday who, while finishing dinner, wanted to play one of my question games. The question was, "What five things do you most like about yourself?"
Her answer: pride, caring, considerate, helpful, and loving.
It's a wonderful list and I'm so proud of her. But would she fail on her "character report card?" And isn't that awful?
Another article in the paper, "Autistic and Seeking a Place in the Adult World," recently was about the efforts one family in NJ is going through to secure a future for their son with Autism after he leaves school, with the help of an amazing transitioning program headed by an impressive and hardworking administrator. After reading about school-community relations, on the job mentoring, individual aides, transportation, etc etc etc, I was actually sad for a variety of reasons: sad that most children on the spectrum and indeed most children with any kind of special needs will not get the kind of amazing preparation and care that this young man is receiving in this affluent suburb; sad that even with all this assistance, it is likely that there just aren't enough societal structures in place to support this young man in his search for independence, most noticeably envisioned as "the apartment;" even sad that the approximately $1 million spent on his education alone (not including any monies his parents spent on outside therapies, etc) will not have achieved anyone's goals for him.
A final article, "My Family's Experiment in Extreme Schooling"--the third that really only addresses the experiences of an elite group of students and their families (where are the regular public schools in this magazine??)--discusses one family's move to Russia and the children's immersion in an unusual private school, all in Russian, which they did not speak. I marveled at the parents' risking of their children's happiness, academic success, and the like but knew, despite initial difficulties, it would turn out well or the parents would pick up the pieces (as the first article assures us that upper middle class parents do). And of course, the children are soon fluent and exemplars of character and successful in their studies. And I envied the parents' chutzpah and their family's opportunity.
Which brings me to a conversation at church on Sunday. A friend of mine who homeschooled her boys asked what kind of schooling my kiddos were doing this year. Public, I said, but never saying no to homeschooling if we aren't all satisfied. She mentioned that a friend of hers sent her kids to public elementary school and then homeschooled for middle school before sending them to private or magnet high schools. And I loved the idea. What if we homeschooled or unschooled for three or four years in the middle, those awful middle years in junior high? We could travel locally, nationally, and internationally. We could focus on subjects and projects and skills that interested the kids. We could take a break from academic competition and standardized tests and grades and all the ridiculousness that attends modern American education. And with five years until they'd be in middle school, we have time to plan and save. The possibilities are endless.
And just think of how character-building it would be!
(and of course, how typical, again, of upper middle class parents.)
This just in.
I was taken aback. Not by the raccoons but by his need to warn me about them. Sure, raccoons can startle you, hiss and get aggressive, and, sure, it was daylight, and most raccoons shouldn't be out and about, but I don't know if they attack people. Is suburbia so tame that we need a warning about raccoons?
Still, I was glad for the information, and curious, and so I walked the yard. Alas, no sign of them.
Until about an hour later when I walked around the block a few times. There in front of me in a neighbor's yard were indeed two raccoons: a big giant mama raccoon and a much smaller child raccoon. Cute. I had the sensation that they were looking for a place to go, ambling along. And then I remembered, for two days now, a neighbor has been clearing the back of his property of trees and undergrowth, felling about seven huge trees and all the stuff in between. Was this raccoon family homeless because of the clearing? Were they looking for a new place to live?
They left before I got a picture of them for the kids. I hope they find a place to live. And in the end, I'm more scared of my neighbor's maniacal felling of nature than of two raccoons.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sometimes, the stories come from movies, as when the kids play Jedis with their lightsabers or Ewoks outside in their large stick hut (complete with fire circle and swings-as-gliders).
Sometimes, the stories come from books, such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and playing wizards or building with Legos; Secrets of Droon and battling the evil Lord Spar; even the Disney fairy stories and imagining which talent they would have as they flit in and out of the Faerie Hut (previously the Ewok hut).
Sometimes, they just make up their own stories using elements from all of the above or none.
And there are so many other worlds they'll visit in books--Middle Earth, Redwall, Narnia, Oz, Wonderland, to name a few--plus any number of their own imaginings.
It's, well, fantastic!
Because today we all watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
(After our friends from Philly visited, no mean feat for two very eager kids. But they enjoyed talking about HP and Legos in the meantime.)
Covering the bed with a tablecloth, we camped out with all manner of sugary and crunchy snacks, from popcorn and animal cookies to fruit jellies and chocolate bars. We saved the jelly beans for the Hogwarts Express scene when Harry and Ron ate Bertie Bott's beans. They'd even brought their Gryffindor cloaks to wear but decided to eat instead (and there is a no-eating-in-costumes rule).
And we loved every minute of it. Bud gleefully called out everything he recognized, from Prof. McGonagall as a cat to the acceptance letter, from the Leaky Cauldron to Ollivander's, from the Sorting Hat to the Mirror of Erised, and everything in between. Sis sat much more quietly, taking it all in.
They marveled at the glimmering enchanted Great Hall, at the fast-paced Quidditch Game, at the magic of the Cloak of Invisibility. Even the scary bits--the screaming book, the bloodied unicorn, and of course He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named--didn't phase them too much. Though, Bud later admitted he was surprised by all the explosions in the giant wizards' chess game.
So thrilled were they with the film that they raced straight downstairs to build all the sets in Legos, happily planning the cupboard under the stairs of the Dursleys' house and then helping Mama with the Diagon Alley set.
It was indeed a magical movie experience.
And now I'm adding a few others to my daily list:
- Alternet, an aggregate of alternative presses and online news--read an interesting article there just yesterday about growing up in the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull Movement
- Yes Magazine, which tagline reads "Powerful ideas, Practical Actions"--it's supposed to counteract all the above (and below) negative news with more positive stories and suggestions
- and, occasionally, Mother Jones
Friday, September 16, 2011
- because she stood up and said racism isn't funny;
- because she is practical and efficient;
- because she never really blinked about having a lesbian for a daughter and has always been my (and our) biggest supporter (not easy considering the conservative, homophobic, did I say racist? tendencies of many of her fellow Texans);
- because she has a curious and questioning mind and is a lifelong learner;
- because she loves to read (and there was no limit on books when I was growing up!);
- because she loves to travel;
- because she cares about making a difference, for example with volunteer work with abused women and the education of girls;
- because she is a feminist and raised us to do or be anything;
- because she's not obsessed with shopping or fashion or style or decorating;
- because she's a great cook;
- because she took me to Broadway musicals and historic houses a lot when I was little;
- because she took me out of school on the opening day of Return of the Jedi;
- because she never once said she was disappointed in me;
- because all my friends like her (especially my lesbian friend in high school, who needed a caring adult);
- because she protected and promoted the fun and innocence of childhood (and still does);
- because she's trying to keep track of Star Wars and Harry Potter for her grandkids;
- because she'll try almost anything once;
- because grades were never a big deal to her, even if she was proud;
- because she's a great listener;
- because she "fights fair" and uses "I-messages" and "active listening";
- because she dropped everything, more than once, to take care of us;
- because she can drive a boat and fix a toilet and mow a lawn, which none of the other moms did;
- because she's not embarrassed to cry;
- because she's open-minded and accepting;
- because when I was a new mom (and even still) she followed our rules, even when she thought they were silly (though she never said so!);
- because her sex talk to me was fantastic (who else's mom told them that masturbation was okay??);
- because she really does forgive and forget;
- because she's (usually) pretty relaxed;
- because she can appreciate "the nicest time of the day";
- because she has "creative" hearing;
- because her jokes are most funny when she gets them mixed up;
- because she can laugh at herself;
- because she's a great person and I'm lucky she's my mom!
Paula Deen's Zucchini Bread
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.
Ina Garten's Banana Crunch Muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts
1 cup granola
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Dried banana chips, granola, or shredded coconut, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.
Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.
Of course, I do and will always be grateful for the others who have ferried me around, particularly Mrs. S. Thanks for taking me to the tag sale today; it was good to get out. We'll save our future outings for fun things like coffee!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
First, breakfast for breakfast. Scrambled eggs, this time.
Secondly, breakfast for lunch. They get to choose two times a month to eat the school's hot lunch and yesterday they both chose to eat the pancakes. Which apparently were good, just not as good as Mama's. But maple syrup makes everything better.
Thirdly, breakfast for dinner. We made Dutch Baby Pancakes in our new convection microwave, my first solo baking (i.e. without another adult) in a year or so. Sis and I had a fabulous time cooking together. We both missed it.
We might repeat it later this month . . . because they want to try school's French toast sticks too.
Yep, Harry Potter is in the house.
So with reminders not to take the costumes outside or eat in them, the kids ran around the house on their broomsticks and cast spells at each other and us.
Yep, they're riding the Hogwarts Express to Halloween.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Now we just have to choose what's first!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The temperatures are getting cooler later this week, with the first day of fall ten days away. So I'm practicing....that, and the kids asked for corn chowder, surprisingly. I've never made it ...and so I faked it (without a recipe I knew they'd eat or any fresh corn at the store). Kinda sweet but a good start. Spying the potatoes yet hoping they were apples (??), Bud grew wary. He picked around them and Sis was delighted; they each had a bowl and a half.
Mommy Hungry's Quick Corn Chowder
3 small red potatoes, diced
Boil in salted water.
Drain and reserve.
Add 2 cans cream corn, 1 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1 1/2 water, 1 cup half and half, salt and pepper. Heat through.
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- My kitchen, or "food studio," is more organized and peaceful. We have purged and rearranged and adapted to my inability to bend. I can do so much more in the kitchen than I've been able to do in almost a year. This new aesthetic of useful and beautiful (I would add meaningful) is expanding beyond the kitchen to the whole house.
- My day is more planned. As I focused on the personal care aspect of the workshop, I realized that a little advanced planning (and here)--meal charts for lunch and dinner (like this), to-do list, a home management notebook, even chore charts--would make things smoother, not just for me but for everyone. So, using resources referenced by the workshop leader, Heather Bruggeman, and the other participants, I am adapting materials to fit us. And I can already see the benefits. (Though, I'm not a printed-grocery list girl but a Grocery IQ devotee.)
- I know more about food, health, and nutrition. I learned about pressure cookers. I read about phytic acid in foods. I read about the dangers of too much soy. I learned how to make my own almond milk and natural soda. I learned about other sweeteners like brown rice syrup and succanat. I know more about vitamins, especially B12. I have dozens of new recipes to try when I'm cooking more. I've experienced "crowding out" of less healthy foods.
- I found inspiration and community. In my so-called "real life," I know only one other vegetarian (and now, one vegan! You go! Interestingly, I know several ex-vegetarians.). Some friends are interested in local and organic and unprocessed. But for the most part, it's SAD (Standard American Diet.) Online and in links, I communicated with others who valued whole foods, who were learning and experimenting with me. To paraphrase Julia Child (and Julie Powell), it was just us meatless home cooks here. And it was good.
- Mama and I have reconfigured how we think of meals at home. We realized we'd pretty much been running Mothers' Restaurant. Not so much because we'd act as short order cooks, but because we'd let the kids vote in advance from a few options; healthy options, often, with vegetables, but still, not a sustainable approach, especially with fickle kids who change their minds or want their favorites everyday. Not feasible. And so we're becoming more traditional (not this traditional, but inspired nonetheless) in our approach: one meal, no substitutes, have a "no thank you" bite. Mind you, I don't go out of my way to make beans! There has been resistance but we're making progress. And I'm working on lunches too, as I've mentioned here and here.
- Books, links, and more. From the movie Forks Over Knives to the book Simplicity Parenting, from Pinterest to Simple Mom, from Feeding the Whole Family to Simply Natural Cooking, I am finding more resources for me to do my day job. Really, there were too many to list here.
(And I'll be back for the spring workshop!)
Outside my window...it's hazy and humid.
I am thinking...about grandparents, having just read this on the grandparents of September 11. My kids have the best grandparents in the world! (Except of course, your kids' grandparents.)
I am thankful...for the grandparents, my parents! The kiddos who made them grandparents. The Mama who mothers them with me.
From the learning rooms... isn't everywhere a learning room?
In the kitchen...a new convection-microwave oven arrives today so that I can bake again!!! (since I can't currently bend to reach my current oven, much less pull things in and out. When does an injury become a disability? I haven't used my oven myself in more than a year.)
I am wearing...my denim-skirt with super-handy pockets and my Chicago cat rescue t-shirt.
I am creating...an invitation to our upcoming apple festival!
I am going...on my treadmill walk when I'm done posting.
I am wondering...what the kids are doing in school right now.
I am reading...nothing seriously, though I'm dabbling in Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and Dianna Hales's La Bella Lingua. I had started Nancy Cott's Bonds of Womanhood, a history of women in the early 19th-century, but it wasn't quite what I wanted right now.
I am hoping...that there are no surprises in the next 48 hours plus.
I am looking forward to...the weekend, when our "family" friends from Philly whom we haven't seen in years are dropping by for a visit.
I am hearing...the window fan working hard to make the room comfortable in this humidity.
Around the house...the rainbows from my various prisms are dancing.
I am pondering...how my exploration of Buddhism has helped me to weather recent ups and downs in a more even keel way than I might have before.
One of my favorite things...is this laptop, my main company from 8-3:45.
A few plans for the rest of the week: friends are coming for morning coffee on Thursday; I'm going to the church moving sale on Friday; and then our Philly friends on Saturday.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...of the star jasmine that has just appeared in our yard this year, an unexpected gift . . .
(Thanks to the simple woman's daybook!)
Monday, September 12, 2011
Love is the spirit of this church
And service its law.
This is our great covenant:
To dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love,
and to help one another.
--James Vila Blake
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
- a child's letter to her dad lost on September 11
- a widow writes about lessons learned
- poetry of September 11 and also why there has been no September 11 novel
- Dan Rather on history lessons
- Marlo Thomas on listening to America's daughters of September 11
- Muslim-American writers reflect on the anniversary
- relics of that day
- "Why Schools Need to Teach 9/11"
- Teaching September 11 in Connecticut
- "Witnesses to Apocalypse"
- NYTimes special section
- Life's most memorable photos of September 11
- While you can buy your beans from great heirloom or organic seed purveyors like Rancho Gordo or Seed Savers (I'm like a kid in a candy bean store!), if you're just starting, I recommend picking up a bag of Goya beans at the supermarket (NOT the store brand, as the quality of these aren't usually as good and old beans don't cook up as well). Black or red beans are the easiest place to start. Lentils are a totally different area (more on them later).
- Rinse and sort half the bag of beans (approximately 1 1/2 cups dried), saving the other half for another day (or make them all, just double the water . . .but that's a lot of beans!). Throw away any funny or misshapen ones. Look for rocks, especially in bags of smaller beans.
- Dump the beans into a pot or bowl and cover with approximately 5-8 cups (preferably filtered) water (depending on if you're just making basic beans or bean soup).
- Salt the beans! Yes, salt the beans. Sprinkle some table or kosher salt in the pot to help beans absorb water. Trust me. I know it's against popular belief, but Christopher Kimball of Cook's Illustrated says so. And it works.
- Leave overnight, or about 8-12 hours. Some people say you have to refrigerate or keep them cool so they don't ferment. I've never had a problem with that.
- In the morning, before you cook, look at the beans and toss the floaters. They aren't good.
- Cook. (I even cook them in the soaking water, but you can get fresh. Some say changing the water reduces gas; I say eating more beans reduces gas). Okay, there are a few ways to do this, mainly stovetop or slow cooker (I'm not a pressure-cooker girl so can't help you there). For stovetop, bring to gentle boil and then simmer until beans are cooked. In the crockpot, cook beans for 8-10 hours on Low or 6-8 on high.
- That's the basic beans. You can then drain and then use them in other recipes. Or, if you like bean soup, which is my favorite, I start adding ingredients midway through cooking, once beans are almost tender. If you add acids, like tomatoes, too early, the beans will toughen. When I'm first trying a new bean, I simply saute carrots, onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil and then add it to the pot halfway through cooking so the flavor of the bean really comes out. Once you know the beans, you can add lots of things. Sometimes to thicken a bean soup, I'll puree up to half with my immersion blender, great for vegan "cream" soups.
- Oops, I forgot to soak! No worries, just put the rinsed and sorted beans in a big pot of water, boil and simmer until done; it'll just take longer. And don't bother with the "boil for 5 minutes, turn off for an hour, and then simmer." It's just not necessary to turn them off.
- Storage of Cooked Beans: some people drain beans to store; since I usually make soup, I leave them in the liquid. Beans stay good in the fridge for a few days--just reboil and serve. They freeze well, too (though sometimes they are a bit mealy, depending on the type).
- Storage of Dried Beans: so you have 1 1/2 cups of beans left in that bag? Remove them from the bag and store in a labeled jar; keep in cabinet or another shaded place. Sometimes I combine all of my bean remnants into one soup, called beanbag soup.
- A note about canned beans: they'll do in a pinch, of course, just be sure to rinse really well. But once you become accustomed to your own cooked beans, you won't go back (especially for chickpeas/garbanzos!)
- The rules for lentils are different because they never need to be soaked.
- There are lots of different kinds of lentils, from the standard brown to the French green and black beluga (which are firmer) to the yellow and orange ones (which are much softer). I'm talking here about brown.
- Rinse and sort 3/4 cup to 1 cup of lentils. And definitely watch for those little rocks.
- Boil then simmer in approximately 5 cups of water, either to al dente (about 12-15 minutes, for salads) or until tender (20 minutes plus).
- Make soup, make salads, make pasta, use as meat substitute. There are as many options as there are lentils in that pot.
- "Beans, Glorious Beans", about a bean-cooking class I took at Bloodroot
- "Pot O' Gold", about my olla clay bean-cooking pot
J D's Black Bean Soup
Or, an alternate "fabulous faux fassolia": I sauteed onions in olive oil, added some garlic when the onions were translucent, then poured in half a can (or less) of tomato sauce, and added the other half of my cooked limas. This was incredible. Both hot and then later in the weekend cold, just like it had been in DC. Mmmmmmm
Red, White, and Greens with Beans Soup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 t. Dijon mustard (I used spicy brown)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Cook dried beans (I soaked them overnight in salt water) by bringing to a boil for five minutes and then simmering for about 1 1/2 hours. Prepare vinaigrette. Add dressing ingredients while beans are still warm. Chill for several hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Mommy Hungry's Rice-Cooker Mujdara
2 cups white rice
2 cups cooked lentils (brown or whatever)
1/4 teaspoons cumin
1 cinnamon stick
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1-2 tablespoon oil (grapeseed, olive, whatever)
Place rice, lentils, cumin, cinnamon stick, garlic, pepper, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt in rice cooker. Add water according to machine temperament (my takes about 2 cups for this; Ar-Ma Hungry's hint is to add enough water to cover the rice plus the thickness of one finger horizontal on top of the rice--it works!). Set to cook white rice.
Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet. Add onions, sprinkling 1 teaspoon of salt on top, and cook on medium-low to medium heat. Watch onions and only stir occasionally in order to let them brown. If they get to dry, add water. Cook til brown and sweet, about 45-60 minutes.
When lentil-rice and onions are done, stir together and season to taste.