Black Beans and the No CSA Blues

About the third night of black beans in a row (black beans with squash galette, black beans and rice, black beans in tacos), I realized I had the No CSA Blues – inertia, listlessness in the grocery store, a failure of imagination. It’s not that the Co-op doesn’t have food, but I’m missing the guidance – and the box of prompts.

I loved our CSA in Alaska – no matter the short season and the preponderance of greens and beets – it was a thrill to have freshly harvested vegetables on the Last Frontier. But the dependence I’ve formed on the Red Dog’s produce is more extreme. I rarely write a proper list from a recipe and take it to the store. I like best to make do with what’s in the fridge. So without the CSA I come up short. In Red Dog’s CSA season (all but a couple of months of the year), there’s always something good.

With the young couple who joined us in Hawaii we talked about black beans (in addition to cats), and they asked about cooking them. So – a little black bean cooking encouragement for dried bean beginners (like I was before the blog). Martha Stewart’s recipe has become second nature (supplied a year ago by the mother of my young friend). While simple, beans need time on the stove, so they’re good to cook on a Saturday – or an evening while watching a movie.

In spite of Bittman’s advice, I do soak two cups of beans overnight. They serve as sign of intention when I wake up to plumper beans pushing through the water over top of them. I add more water to cover till I’m ready to cook.

Rinse the beans and put in a big pot. The recipe calls for eight cups of water – but seven cups with well-soaked beans is adequate. You want enough so the beans stay covered during cooking, but not so much that you end up with more bean broth than you want.

Throw in two onions, just peeled and quartered, five garlic cloves peeled and smashed with the handle of a knife. Add two tablespoons of red vinegar. I take Bittman seriously about salt during cooking. I add a teaspoon to begin with, and try to remember the other mid-way in the cooking.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and set the timer for 90 minutes or so. (This is where gas stove cooks have advantage. It took a while to figure out the right knob position on my fluctuating electric stove.) Batches of dried beans vary also – older beans take longer to cook.) Sometimes I cook longer than the 90 minutes – being sure water continues to cover.

A year’s worth of bean pots and bean posts have taught and rewarded me. They freeze beautifully and make easy weekday meals.

When the CSA comes back next week (hooray!) whatever is in it will go splendidly with black beans.

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