Monday, October 30, 2006

Intentional cooking

Carolyn started a topic of "cooking on purpose", having gotten in a rut with family meals. My rut is a trifle less narrow than hers by description, but according to my family, not much less. I have certain easy favorites* that can be fixed quickly for those hectic evenings when 4 people are going in 5 different directions and as things get more hectic during the school year, we wind up eating these favorites more and more frequently. As complaints occur (as complaints will) that we have had something too often, I eliminate it from rotation for a while, but without replacing it with something else. This narrows the rut even more, to yet further complaints. Last year I instituted a rule that he who complained about a meal would cook the next one. This not only slowed the complaints down but improved the variation, so it wasn't all bad.

Last week I went to the farmer's market and bought a variety of things. One was a bunch of cranberry beans. I shelled them and then looked for something to do with them. Enduring Harvest had a recipe calling for cranberry beans specifically, but also 33 other ingredients which I didn't have on hand. Pffft. Maybe next time.

When K was toying with being a vegetarian this past summer, my mother sent her Vegetable Heaven. There's a recipe in there for Roasted Beans with Garlic and Olives. It calls for lima beans (which J won't eat), but says fresh fava beans can be substituted with good effect. I decided to try cranberry beans.

Roasted Beans with Garlic and Olives
3 cups cranberry beans, shelled, fresh (perhaps parboiled?)
3 T olive oil
1 heaping cup sliced green olives (I used italian giant unstuffed olives)
6 cloves garlic, slivered
2 tsp dried thyme

Put 2 T olive oil in the bottom of a 9 inch pan. Add beans, olives, garlic, thyme and remaining oil to pan; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 50 minutes. Serve hot (or cold).

I wasn't entirely happy with the way the beans turned out which is why I may try parboiling them next time. The flavors were wonderful, but some of the beans were hard and crunchy. This may be because I shelled the beans a day before using them and they dried out a bit. Looking over some of the other bean recipes available, cooking briefly in water before adding to some other recipe seems to be a recommended procedure.

The total meal was:
Grilled chicken in Lemon Garlicious marinade (a marinade seemingly local to NY, think lemon and garlic in an oil base)
Roasted beans with garlic and olives
George Lang's Potato Bread with Caroway seeds from Beard on Bread, made with Yukon Gold potatoes, baked in a cast iron skillet.

I like to add just one new dish to a meal, so the chicken and potato bread are old favorites but ones we haven't had in quite a while.

* Favorites is defined by "my family will eat them and I can cook them without thinking about it, in 40 minutes or less"

1 comment:

wendy said...

Mmmm - I haven't seen Lemon Garlicious, is that Wegmans? One of the girls at work today was raving about their Balsamic Glaze drizzled over tomatoes & mozzerella.