Friday, January 23, 2015

warm white beans

adapted from "Cassoulet" in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

serves 4-6
time: 40 minutes

1/2 onion (or one small onion), finely minced
2 Tbsp butter
2 carrots, finely diced or shredded
2 cans white beans, cannelloni or navy
1.5 qt. (approximately) chicken stock
6-8 oz.  cooked white meat, shredded or minced (chicken breast, chicken sausage, or pork)
salt and pepper to taste
garlic 3 cloves if fresh, 1 Tbsp if minced and pickled, 2 tsp if powdered
1 bay leaf (optional)

For chili flavor:
3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
cayenne or other hot pepper to taste

For cassoulet flavor:
3 Tbsp herbes de Provence (the important flavors here are rosemary and lavender if you don't have the mix, use rosemary and thyme)
2-3 sage leaves, snipped to shreds (optional)

Do all the cooking in the same vessel. I use a cast iron pot, but a stock pot will do.

Melt the butter over a low flame and sauté the onions until soft but not brown, adding carrots when the onions are nearly soft. If you're using freshly pressed garlic, add it just after the carrots.  On the low flame, this step should take about 10 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock (some water or dry white wine can be used as well), and turn up the flame to achieve a simmer.

Add the canned/cooked beans, the meat, and the herbs and spices.

Simmer until everything is warmed through and the beans have started to lose their structural integrity. Taste and add more spices, if desired.

Serve with crusty bread or crackers. Sour cream and green onion make a nice garnish for the chili flavor. Tastes great the second day.

Note: If you're starting with dried beans, the rest of these ingredients will stand up to cooking along with the beans. I've done it that way in the masonry oven. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

a glimpse of freedom

Rambling Farmhouse has new owners.

One down, one to go.

Monday, January 12, 2015

on moving

I'm writing this morning from Rustic Lakehouse, where my table-desk and my rollie chair have been placed in their new location by the south window that looks out over the lake. It feels like we have arrived.

This move has brought so many complex emotions.

I feel relieved at having the burden of responsibility for Rambling Farmhouse and its acres taken off my shoulders. The buyers have great plans for the house and the land, and I'm excited to see their beginning.

Yet, although I had already taken leave of the dreams Adam and I had dreamt at Rambling Farmhouse, there is further sadness in this physical parting, and I'm sad to leave the place where so much of my life happened.

At the same time, I'm frustrated at my younger self, who chose not to fight with her husband about the importance of keeping stuff organized and who allowed herself to buy into the "we have enough space, so it's not a problem" line of thinking.

I was very conscious yesterday of having asked the people I love to loan me their arms and backs, their vehicles, and, most critically, their time to finish clearing out Rambling Farmhouse. As we were working it became clear that there was more still there than I had thought, and I am embarrassed by the quantity and content of the stuff I asked them to schlepp for me.

I am so very grateful for their help. Seven carloads of stuff went to Goodwill, three carloads of shelves and  camping gear went to the storage unit, and ten carloads (three of them books) came to Rustic Lakehouse.

I'm grappling with my image of myself as an un-materialistic and non-acqisitive person.

I'm resolved to continue pruning the things that share my space so that the next time I move I can be proud of what I take.