Baked Beans

Every fall since childhood, I've watched my grandmother make these beans. When I was 18, and finally moved out into my own place, one of the first things I purchased for my kitchen was a bean pot. You can't find too many of them in stores anymore, but you can find them online at Amazon and a few other places. You don't need to spend more than about $20-30 to get a good one.  Amazon does have one that isn't too expensive. You want one that looks like this. You can also use a Le Creuset dutch oven with the cover, although you don't need to.

I make a big batch of these babies at least once a month from September to February. The molasses and mustard give it a nice complex flavor, and the apple gives it a bit more sweetness. Try them over a baked potato with just a bit of Gorgonzola or sharp cheddar. Or just as they are.

 

To make it: 

The recipe is pretty simple: soak about a cup and a half of beans overnight. I use a few different varieties, including Money and Calypso beans (available from a small grower here in MA), but I also use Dark Red Kidney beans quite often. 

When you're ready to make the beans, drain them and rinse them with cold water. In the beanpot, combine:
1/2 cup of molasses;
1/2 cup of brown sugar;
a heaping tablespoon of good stoneground mustard;
a pinch of salt and pepper;
one apple, quartered and cored;
one onion, peeled and quartered.

Pour the beans into the pot and give it a good stir, then cover with cold water and stir again. Cover the pot and bake it in a 350°F oven for about 6 hours, stirring about every hour or so, until beans are soft and most of the liquid has thickened into a sauce. You may need to add a bit of water during the cooking process; the beans should always be covered with water. Also, many recipes call for salt pork or some bacon; you can absolutely add that if you want to, but I never have, and the beans come out wonderful.

Cucumber-Tomato salad with dill

This is an incredible dish for summer. It’s cool and refreshing, and has just the right level of spice to it. It’s also very easy to prepare. Makes four servings.

To make it: 
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8″ half-moons
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cut in quarters lengthwise, then in half widthwise
  • one handful (about a dozen) pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (preferably light)
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp Penzey’s Trinidad Lemon-Garlic Marinade seasoning OR:
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of dried ginger
  • freshly-grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Add all ingredients in a large bowl (I tend to layer cucumbers, then tomatoes, then olives, then spices, then vinegars and oil). Toss to coat.

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

There’s something magical that happens when you roast Brussels sprouts—it’s like they all of a sudden turn into these sweet lovely bits of heaven. All right—I might be exaggerating a bit, but my they’re tasty.

To make it: 
  • about a pound of Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of sunflower oil (or olive, or peanut oil)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Clean brussels sprouts and put in a largish glass bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly and layer in a 8″ glass baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, then stir, and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve.

Asian Slaw with Edamame

This is one of those things that I always drag out for parties, especially in the summer (much to the delight of my friends). It’s cheap, it makes a lot of food, and it keeps practically forever. Plus, the lack of mayonnaise makes it the perfect summer slaw - no worries about salmonella! All the ingredients for the dressing are available in the Asian section of most grocery stores.

To make it: 

slaw:

  • 1 small-to-medium green cabbage
  • 1 small red cabbage
  • 1 lb bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 3 large carrots, julienned (or grated very coarsely)

dressing:

  • 1/4 cup organic tamari or shoyu (reduced-sodium, preferably - available in the Asian section of the supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp wasabi powder
  • 1 tsp grated ginger

Peel off outer leaves of both cabbages and shred finely, cutting the leaves from each side of the core and slicing thinly. Toss in large bowl with carrots and edamame.

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over salad. Toss to coat and adjust seasonings as needed (I usually find myself adding a bit more wasabi or sesame oil). Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.

Baked Brown Rice

This is the absolute best and only acceptable way to cook brown rice. This makes a good amount, but you can use it for just about anything. It will store for about a week in the refrigerator.

To make it: 
  • 1-1/2 cup brown rice
    2-2/4 cup boiling water
    1 tsp olive oil or butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out rice and butter or oil in an 8″ square glass baking dish. Add boiling water and stir to make sure all the rice is submerged. Cover with a double-layer (this is important!) of aluminum foil. Bake at 375 for one hour, until all liquid is absorbed. When it’s done, take it out of the oven, remove the foil (carefully, because it will have plenty of steam), and cover the pan with a clean towel for 5 minutes. Remove towel and fluff with a fork.