Winter Night Beans

 

JpegThe winter wind blows as the flurries of icy snow cover walkways and rooftops.  There is nothing quite like walking in the front door, clicking on the Christmas lights, and being met with the smell of dinner already cooked for you.  A crockpot and beans do just that.  Creating an enticing aroma and healthy, nourishing delight.  So simple too.

In a crockpot pour in 2 cups of pinto beans.

Add (or be imaginative and adjust flavors) 2 teaspoons of ground New Mexican chili and 1 teaspoon of ground green chili.  1 Tablespoon of dried, minced onion, a teaspoon of minced garlic.  1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  1 teaspoon of paprika.  A few shakes of liquid smoke.  Don’t add salt until the last ten minutes or so.

Cut up 3 strips of bacon and add.  Pour in 5 cups of broth.  Set to low and go out shopping (or working).  8 hours later…

When you arrive home add 1-2 teaspoons of smoked salt (or sea salt) and a couple of handfuls of greens.  Let cook for 5-10 more minutes.  Serve with bread or cornbread and honey butter.  (Melt a stick of butter with a good amount of honey.  Pour into container and set in fridge.  Let sit on counter for a little bit before spreading.)

Homestead food at its most delightful.  Happy Winter!

Weed Farmer (and Eater)

dandelion field

Beneath the mounds of snow lay sweet foods of nature, that didn’t even need to be planted by human hands.  The once glistening cool snow in all its glittery wonder, bringing us comfort and thoughts of outdoor play is now muddy, mussed snow, with patches of melting ice.  Not as pretty of a sight, but sign that Spring will be upon us any day now.

In the summer we dine on fresh vegetables, directly off the stalk, or chosen carefully off of a farmer’s table at market.  A dash of salt is all that is needed, a leaf of fresh basil finishes sliced, juicy tomatoes.  It does not take much to elevate summer fare.  Brushed with sweet butter and lime on a grill accompanied by a cold beer and surrounded by friends, corn is at its very best.  We eat fresh, we play hard, summer is great for food.

Autumn brings us the harvest.  Warming dishes of soups and heartier fare sneaks onto the table once again as we reenter the kitchen, less sweat and happy to be home.  Winter brings heavier fare as nature would intend.  Even if it is not terribly cold outdoors, our bodies instinctively know to eat up and get through the winter.  Pastas, canned foods, frozen foods, cheese, cream laden soups…..bloat.

lamb's quarters (Lamb’s Quarters)

And then Spring beckons, bringing her own fare.  Dandelions bob their cheery heads, dancing in the still cool breeze.  Lamb’s quarters make a break and attempt their control of the garden.  Their sweet leaves begging for dressing.  Very small sunflower leaves, furry and nutty.  Wild onions, wild garlic, mallow leaves….Spring brings her own picnic basket.

Often folks are so busy clearing all these out to make room for plants that barely survive the climate.  Grass is not as tasty, I assure you.  It is easier, you know, to just go pick the weeds and bring them into the kitchen!

mallow (Mallow)

The greens are tonic, meaning they help the body detoxify and clear out all the heavy foods we put into the body and the excess weight to keep warm.  Greens cleanse the blood stream, help fight free radicals, balance the thyroid, improve digestion, heal up ulcers, and give bursts of energy.  And that is just home grown greens!  Wild greens, like dandelions, have ten times more nutrition than garden greens.  Calcium, magnesium, iron….and great, refreshing taste.

I grow baby greens in pots in the house, so I simply take a handful of lettuce, baby chard, baby kale, and small dandelion leaves, lamb’s quarter leaves, mallow leaves, etc and throw them in a big cereal bowl with pumpkin seeds, and drizzles of sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.  Or perhaps I will go with a really great infused olive oil and fresh sea salt.  Just a touch of sugar.  Just a few pine nuts.  The combinations are endless.

dandelion leaf (Dandelion Leaf)

Soon, I will look out the window and shades of sweet green will be crossing the yard, sneaking a stretch to grab some sunlight, and then jumping into my salad bowl.