Staying with the bean theme, we made ham and bean soup for dinner. Ham and bean soup has always been one of my favorite comfort meals.
My original intention was to make black-eyed pea soup for an pre-New Year’s Day good luck meal, but I couldn’t find any locally grown black-eyed peas, and opted for the Yankee version instead. We used our recently purchased Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye beans, but you can use any white bean. If you are trying to use local beans, Azure Standard carries several regionally grown white beans including their organic navy beans. (Incidentally, they also carry black eyed peas that are grown in Moses Lake, WA)
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When we decided that we would eat as much locally grown food as possible, we started using mostly dried beans. There are sources for some dried beans (mostly black beans) in the Willamette Valley, but that will hopefully be increasing with the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project that is focused on converting grass seed farmland into bean and grain production. A larger variety of dried beans can be purchased from Azure Standard, which sources most of their beans from the Northwest.
Imagine my delight when I ran across Rancho Gordo at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco a few years ago. Rancho Gordo sells dozens of varieties of heirloom dried beans. Since they aren’t local for us, I only pick them up on trips to San Francisco. (They do have a mail order option.) On our unexpected stop in San Francisco this past weekend, we picked up 5 lbs. of beans, including 1 lb of Red Nightfall, which we used in this recipe. Although pretty expensive at $5/lb, they are very high quality making the extra cost worth it. They have an almost cult-like following in the Bay Area. On the airplane, our rowmate noticed our stash of beans which prompted a discussion about our favorite bean recipes. Who would have thought people could be so passionate about beans?
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