Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bring On the Beans

Tommy and I went to a "Cooking with Beans" class at the Skagit Valley Co-op the other night.

Tommy has been interested in cooking since he was a tiny boy.  One night when we lived in New York -- he was just three or four -- his grandparents returned from a trip and we were having a welcome home party for them. It was nearly bedtime when Tommy said he had a recipe he wanted us to make and we'd better go to the kitchen.  He dictated us this amazing recipe for Tommy's Party Pie which we dutifully cooked up and served to the family.  It was surprisingly good.  When we were done eating, our happy little cook toddled off to bed.

Now he's 20 and still makes concoctions of his own.  So why not take advantage of some inspiration when it comes to using beans?

There were about 30 people in the room for the bean class, a rather animated group with lots of questions and comments.  At times it was a little hard to pay attention because of the adorable baby in front of us.  Our instructor had several tasty recipes, most of which were made during the 90 minute class, and everyone got a chance to try each one -- Red Beans and Rice, Hummus, White Bean Mash, Hlelem (Tunisian Vegetable Bean Soup, pictured below), Black Bean and Rice Salad, and Black Bean Brownies, which are much better than their name suggests.

For one class member, it was the first time to have hummus.  What do you do with it, she asked?  Full of fiber, fat and texture, hummus is good in burritos, as a sandwich spread or a veggie dip, or even a salad dressing.  Here are some other tidbits that we heard:
- Don't eat dried beans raw because they have toxins.
- Beans need to be paired with a grain to make them a complete protein.
- If you soak beans with a piece of Kombu (a type of Japanese seaweed) it will break down the gas factor.
- You can cook your beans or lentils in a pressure cooker.
- To test the doneness of the beans you are cooking, blow on a bean and see if the skin peels off.
- Wait till beans are tender before you add salt, vinegar or tomatoes.

The class inspired us to make chili for dinner last night.  What we're really looking forward to making, though, is the Black Bean Brownies!

(Check tomorrow's blog for recipes.)

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