Friday, January 22, 2010

I've got a double batch of Pot-o-Gold Peanut Soup starting on the stove for a dinner party tonight, and I can't deny that I'm looking forward to it more than a person normally looks forward to a soup...but for more than just the soup! :)

I made a friend once in a land far away who was able to put words to what I intuitively already knew, but had never sat down to process:  eating together with groups of friends nearly always is a meaningful time.  The opportunity to sit around and do such a biological thing together (eat) creates a unique spiritual space which allows for deeper conversation.  So many of the festivities in the Bible are surrounded by feasting, and Jesus concludes his time with his community of disciples by...hiking? umm...Eating together.  Sure, moments of peace and love can happen when we eat alone or with one other person -- I'm not denying that.  But I find that I am often carried through a couple days on the good, meaty conversation and fine culinary delights that I share with friends and family.

[[A recipe review from my very own mother!  Hey, thanks, Mom! :)]]
48.  Fruit Crumble, pg. 272

This was a quick and easy recipe to make.  I used frozen sour cherries as the fruit and followed the recipe as written except for drizzling some honey over the cherries.  It is more of a cobbler than I was expecting from the title.  The dish could have used more sugar on the fruit but think if peaches would be used instead, nothing additional would be needed.  Definitely will make this again.  And the recipe could easily be doubled and put in a 9 x 13 pan.

49.  Black Bean Soup, pg. 209

I've never been good at judging when beans are done cooking (any hints?).  When I think they're soft, I stop them, but then when I add them to recipes, they almost always are still hard...I can't figure this out.

And it happened with this recipe.  I swear I cooked the beans for at least 2 hours (after doing the quick method) if not more, but the minute we sat down to eat, they weren't soft anymore.  We ate them anyways, and tried to enjoy the flavors anyway.  I used probably double both the onion and green pepper, and if making this again, I would sauté the onions and garlic (and peppers, if using fresh) before adding the beans and liquid.  Without doing this, there is no added fat, and I definitely found myself wanting just a hint.  I did not use a smoked ham bone (wouldn't even know what that is), and instead added a couple bouillon cubes to make up for some of the flavor.

A definite must is the vinegar at the end of the recipe.  I forgot to add it at first, and after a few bites of thinking "ehh....", remembered I hadn't put any in.  It gave the soup a much needed kick.  We didn't use any of the toppings, and ate it with bread instead of over rice.  A fairly basic way to cook beans, I'm sure with correctly cooked beans, this should be a foolproof recipe.

Overall: 3.6 out of 5  I would make it again, probably.


  1. Try the beans in a crock pot. Smitten Kitchen just posted a black bean soup recipe that employed that method with great success... (The soup was good, too.)

  2. I like a pressure cooker for beans. After soaking, put them in pressure cooker with salt, cook on high for about 5 minutes (small beans like black ones) to 7 or 8 (chick peas, kidney beans). Then turn the heat off and let the beans cool down for a couple of hours before removing the lid. Adding the salt during cooking makes the beans tastier, and it also keeps the skins intact even when the beans are nice and soft inside. I find that if I cook in a normal pot instead of a pressure cooker, adding salt during cooking makes the beans stay tough. Letting the beans cool slowly in the pressure cooker makes them nice and creamy inside.

    As for your question, beans are done when you can mash one by pressing it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Let it cool down first!

  3. I read in Cook's Illustrated that beans stay hard in the presence of salt and acid (like tomatoes or vinegar). I first cook my beans with only water. Also, bring them to a very slow simmer, not an obvious boil. This softens them too. Good luck!
    When I see smoked ham bone in a recipe, I use a ham hock. Sooooo good.