Dark days, week 9

Throughout this Dark Days challenge, I never go into each week thinking:  Tonight’s dinner is IT!  Time to post! Nope; it’s more like, what’s photogenic? I have, quite honestly, tried very hard not to show off for this challenge.  No real food pyrotechnics or frankly anything terribly difficult for someone with less-than-average kitchen skillz; what’s the point?  There’s enough to do just growing all this stuff, people!  AND:  that’s what I am trying to get you all to do:  get out and GROW IT!

bread and buttah

Tonight’s fare is, again, very simple.  This morning, I started the bread on a fast no-knead schedule (normally, 12-18 hours, I went with 6: just up the yeast!) so I could take advantage of the sprouting spelt berries I had growing on the counter.  Thinking, “what goes well with bread,” I retrieved a can of “bean starter” from my stash of canned goods and started some soup.

I’m always so happy when I can my dried beans for quick meals:  there are jars of black bean/carrot/onion, black bean/tomatoes/peppers, lentil*/kale/carrot/onion, and white bean/kale/onion, as well as just plain jars of beans downstairs.  I canned them in my pressure canner:  I would make the bases when I was making some other bean-y dish; I would chop a whole bunch of stuff and then, in a couple wine-besotted evenings with a friend, canned them all.  All I need to do now, then, is harvest something to augment one of those jars, or…open more of my own cans to create soup, chili or whatever.

Makes dinner really a no-brainer on those days I have no brain.


  • No-knead loaf: half winter red, half winter white wheat ground up in my brand-new mill (!!) with sprouted spelt berries
  • Stew-y soup:  Black bean/carrot/onion starter, canned from our produce last October; one Mokum Red carrot, one Chantenay carrot, Red Russian kale, Lacinato kale, Par-Cel cutting celery and one Bleu de Solaize leek, all from the greenhouses; garlic from storage; homemade red wine vinegar to finish, with butter.
  • Salad:  Lots of reds in this salad, mostly lettuce.  Vinaigrette made with our vinegar, herbs, shallot; nonlocal olive oil (duh!) and mustard.  Nonlocal but home-sprouted alfalfa.

*Lentils are the only thing not home-grown.  With only 2 beans per pod, good golly who has that kind of time to shell them!

19 responses to “Dark days, week 9

  1. How do you like that mill? Is it worth the investment? Does it seem like it will last? My fear would be that I would burn it out.

  2. It was neat to read this today. I have chick peas in my canner as I type this. There is also bread rising from my whole wheat flour that I just milled in my new Wondermill. I love that thing.

  3. I continue to marvel at you, Girl. And cheer you on, too!

  4. I keep looking at mills. . . just don’t know if I want to make the leap. I’m not baking as much — time keeps getting away.

    Have you tried the no-knead with regular whole wheat? I wonder if it works. Maybe I’ll grow enough dried beans some day to can my own!

  5. My husband made a loaf of no-knead from fresh milled (we milled it at the store as we have no mill – yet) from red wheat, and one from white wheat, and we decided that we definitely like the white wheat much better. The red wheat tasted like it was good for you, i.e., cardboard. So now I know what kind of wheat to plant if I ever figure out where to put it.

  6. Oh My Gosh that stew looks great!

  7. I planted plenty of greens in our greenhouse for winter salads. Sadly, but kind of funny, a rogue hen of mine got locked in and had a very destructive feast. New greens are sprouted under lights but – yikes – may have to buy some for a couple of weeks! Zone 5 Midland

  8. That pan looks like a Le Creuset.Fine cookware makes a diff.

  9. I can really comprehend how a pressure canner would be of service to this family when I see some of the wonderful meals you are able to create with your canned goods. The meal sounds fantastic. We are going to start some some sprouts today.:)

  10. I love the reminder to sprout things. And just today, I saw this: http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/katie_spotz_seven_days_into_atlantic_rowing_crossing/ — I’ve been following this woman’s attempt to solo-row across the Atlantic to raise awareness of clean water issues, and guess what she brought on her trip? A sprouting kit! A reminder that sprouting can produce fresh green food pretty much ANYWHERE, including on a small boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

  11. Hey…do you have a ‘plan’ for the hoop-house? Where did you buy the supplies from? I think I should build one. We have been kicked out from the veggie garden since Nov!!! Thats a long time : (

    I was worried that you needed a heater for it…if there is no heater involved, it will be easier.

  12. That soup looks amazing! How long did you have to boil the beans before you canned them? I would LOVE to do this! I grew my first black bean plants last year and saved some seeds for this next summer.

  13. Angie, I have only used it maybe half a dozen times or so, but I like it. There certainly are a lot of different models out there. This one cleans up really easily, and–terribly important for the space-challenged–stores very neatly. It also can buzz through a lot of grains to make a lot of flour, quickly. As for *you* burning out…well! I will say this: wheat berries store for about forever, and are immensely cheaper than flour, so…that did it for me.

    Glad to hear you’re grinding your own, Mom! Don’t you love making beans, too? Something so wholesome but still incredibly delicious…especially chickpeas which are so versatile.

    Aw shucks Sharon! I’m having fun, AND making the kitchen a mess…nothing new here.

    Stef, if it helps, I would be more prone, philosophically, to get a hand-cranked mill but frankly I intend to do a LOT of baking once the outdoor oven gets finished so I needed something electric. I didn’t even choose this one; it just showed up under the tree this holiday. I do like it! AND: all that corn I grow, all those beans, too, can go in the mill.

    Paula, it’s why I do a bit of a mix for our daily bread; the grains are whole but the white is a tad softer. I like your experiment, though, and how fortunate for you to be able to get something freshly milled. That must be tasty!

    Jules, it was!

    Jen, hi! Now that’s funny but what a stinker. I am forever vigilant against my most destructive of pests: the barnyard hen. A few of the girls are incredibly smart and will do anything to get in. Well, happy growing, though! I will bet you can transplant your new things when they’re still fairly small…like, 4 leaves or so. That’s what I do even though it’s really cold in the greenhouse they still take off, esp. toward the end of Feb.

    John, it can, but my favorites are still the Lodge cast-iron thingys that are, what, less than $10 each! It is nice to have a mix of tools of one’s trade, though.

    Mike, yeah, you really should look into a canner. I mean, NOW is a great time to do the beans, too, as I know you have kales and onions around. This saves time for you when it’s crazy tomato season, etc. And as a working person, these little steps do save time.

    MW, how fascinating! Well, that should encourage anyone who’s reluctant: if a girl rowing across the ocean can do it, well now, what’s up with you? Thanks for sharing that. Clean water is really a much bigger deal than we think: even in this country our water systems are pretty screwed up with runoff and prescription drugs. Sigh.

    WF, remember, I am cheap! so I would never do something that required heating. If you go up to the Greenhouses tab at the top I share the link where I got my greenhouses. I got them as kits: the hoops, tiedowns, and all the plastic came as the package, and you can specify whatever size you want. You have to buy the 2×6 or 2×8 that is on the ground, and you have to build the 2×4 end walls and doors…but the plastic comes with it. You don’t need to build individual beds like I did, but with our clay it was helpful. And yeah: that is a LONG time to be without fresh stuff! The greenhouses can be assembled in a (long) weekend. They’re not too tough to build but you might want to invest in a hammer drill (a heavy-duty cordless drill).

    Hi Lindsay, I cooked them about 3/4 of the way through being “done,” then I pressure canned them, which took care of the rest of the cooking. The pressure canner is key though, and remember it’s much different than pressure cooking. BUT you could easily just cook up some of your beans with some onions and kale and just freeze it! It’s still a time-saver.

  14. Late to the party, but had to ask, when you pressure-can the beans, do you pre-cook them to the full softness desired? I can’t find instructions for beans in the booklet that came with my pressure canner.

    But on another note, I have often used my pressure *cooker* – wait! – NOT for canning, but for quick cooking of beans to eat *that same night*. NOTE: Using a pressure cooker for *Canning* is a BAD idea, I know you know that. Not the plan. I really mean pressure cooking as its own thing for cooking beans faster than on the stove top. I’ve gone from dry beans to a done meal in about 35 minutes with the pressure cooker, no soaking. I love it. Having the pressure *canned* beans would be good as an addition though.

  15. Hi MC. I precook the beans, yes, about halfway. Pressure canning as you know is at a very high temperature…something like 240 or so, and the beans will be in it for about a half hour or more depending if it’s pints or quarts. So yeah, I precook them. Except I don’t precook the lentils very much at all. The brown ones especially turn to mush if I do. But very good point about reminding us of the differences between pressure cookers and pressure canners! And indeed I can see how that would save you a lot of time. Me, I love cooking beans and often just do it when I am doing something else on the stove or in the oven (yep, you can cook beans in the oven, and rice too). But it WOULD be nice to have garbanzos within an hour at least!

    • Thanks El. And yes, lentils go to mush so easily! Of course, your answer makes me wonder – how does one cook beans in the oven??? I’m learning so much here….

      • Well, MC, a good chef once told me “heat is heat.” So, covered in the oven in a nice thick oven-proof pot, a pot of beans will cook up just fine. Share the oven. Same with rice. Both things, I get boiling on the stove then throw ’em into the oven, covered, until they’re done…it can be 325 or 400 degrees, doesn’t matter (except for time of course). Though I have cooked beans in a really low oven (about 250) all day and they were delish.

  16. Pingback: Dark Days 09/10 :: Recap #9 (Midwest, South) « (not so) Urban Hennery

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s