Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Garden Tuesday, the one where someone else did the work.....

This hedge was beginning to separate at the top, as will happen after about 40 years! In our part of the world, winter rains are often accompanied by wind gusts. So it was time to tame the trees.

Much like beating a rug in the olden days, we need to swat the sides of the Junipers to remove more of the dead part that was hidden by the over growth.

After trimmed this hedge is still about 20 feet tall.

Tied, topped and trimmed. 

And ready for winter winds.

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello. We appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!

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garden tuesday @ sidewalk shoes

Monday, October 20, 2014

Smokey Savory side dish of beans

We enjoy beans. We usually have several kinds of cooked beans and bean dishes in the freezer, making it so easy to round out a meal. And since this is a second bean dish in less than a week, you can tell, our stocks had run low in the freezer!

As I have mentioned from time to time, it took me a long time to successfully cook beans. And I believe that it can be traced back to a dear Mother who only cooked them out of a sense of duty and the ease and availability of canned beans in every market. Canned beans are worth of pantry space and we use a lot of canned beans on top of the ones we cook. There are several recipes we make over and over, calling for canned beans.

I have been making beans in this style since this original post August 6, 2008. Before a camera, before readers, before I had the skills I have today. I have changed things up a bit because I no longer see cooking beans as a recipe, but more of a process, adapting to what you have on hand and getting a delicious kettle of beans in the process. You really cannot go wrong with cooking beans. Some folks prefer beans with little broth, if so cut back by a cup or so on the water. However I love broths, so my beans usually have some broth to spoon up and enjoy.

Sometimes beans are easier to digest with a bit of acid, for that you will find a suggest to add a touch of red wine vinegar at the end of cooking time or at the table when serving.

Actually the less you do to beans, really the better they are.

Smokey Savory side dish of beans
adapted from: good cooks everywhere
makes: a lot!
requires:  a 5 qt slow cooker

2 pounds small white beans, soaked overnight and drained
ham scraps, ham hock or smoked hock bones
1 large onion minced
3-4 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 large tomatoes OR the equivalent smaller ones
2 large potatoes OR the equivalent smaller ones
1/4 green pepper minced, if desired
1-2 stalks celery minced, if desired
1 T thyme leaves, crumbled
2 large bay leaves
2-3 t salt
2 qt water, brought to a boil but not mandatory
red wine vinegar, if desired

Dice and brown ham scraps, drain excess fat if needed.

Place smoked ham hocks in bottom of slow cooker. Add all carrot, onion, pepper and celery (if using) thyme leaves and bay leaves. Add the drained beans.

Note:  this much food will fill the slow cooker to the top. But it does fit, and since the beans have been soaked, they are almost as large as they will be when completely cooked.

This is the last of the potatoes and tomatoes from volunteer plants we found growing in the garden.

Place the tomatoes and potatoes on top. Add the browned ham bits if using. Add salt starting with 2 teaspoons. Just barely cover with beans with boiling water, you need not worry about the tomatoes and potatoes. Bringing water to a boil is a new step, but will insure that you have tender beans in 8 hours on low.

When cooked, remove the potatoes and tomatoes and allow to cool. Fish out the hocks from the bottom of the cooker, let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from the ham hocks, dice and return to the beans. Remove skin from the vegetables, mash with a fork and stir back into the beans. Taste for seasonings and correct if needed. If desired add 2-4 T red wine vinegar or offer the vinegar along with a bottle of hot sauce when serving, for those that like food a bit more spicy!

And with that you have a delicious pot of beans.

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello. We appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!

recipe rating:  Oh yes, will make again!