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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Using Your Bean

With this issue Vegetarians in Paradise continues the bean explorations of VOW, a diabetic who has discovered the importance of beans in her diet. In subsequent VIP issues VOW will enlighten our readers with the further Adventures of the Bean.

Adventures of the Bean #28
Grandpa's Beans

by VOW, of course

Daddy liked baked beans, he liked pinto beans, but his favorite of all was good old navy bean soup. After Momma died, I took over the bean portion of Daddy's diet. My sister and I are both excellent home-style cooks, and the two of us could have easily stuffed him like a tick at a hound dog convention. He'd be insistent, though, and make us mete out the food deliveries in modest portions. Every couple of months I'd tell him, "I think it's time for a pot of navy bean soup."

He'd get a big ole grin on his face and say, "Yeahhhhhhh!"

VOW I'd cook up a pot, and then I'd have to divide it into quart size zipper freezer bags, and store them in my freezer. Once a week or so, I'd drop off a "plank" or two of bean soup. In his home, he could then enjoy it however he decided: breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack. It worked for any meal. I would ask him later, "How was your soup?" Daddy would laugh and say, "Every bean worked!" He had enough of a little-boy delight in flatulence, and I think part of his enjoyment of beans was the gas afterwards.

I eventually tweaked and tinkered with the standard navy bean soup recipe to customize it to Daddy's tastes. He enjoyed his spicy foods, and he was passionate about onions. When it came time to fix a pot of Grandpa's beans, I'd collect the supplies, and fire up the trusty crockpot!

Grandpa's Beans

    One-pound bag of navy beans or any small, white pea bean
    3-inch strip of KOMBU
    Water for soaking
    Vegetable broth
    One clove of garlic, minced (more can be added, to taste)
    One large white onion, minced
    3 to 4 stalks celery, minced
    Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash the beans, then place in the crockpot and add enough water to cover the beans by at least one inch.
  2. Add KOMBU (see previous bean articles describing KOMBU and how it works). Soak beans overnight.
  3. The next morning, drain the beans well, retaining the KOMBU. Return beans and KOMBU to crockpot, and add water or vegetable broth to cover beans.
  4. Stir in garlic, onion, and celery, cover pot, and cook on LOW. Stir occasionally throughout the day, and add more liquid if necessary.

Now, that is your standard bean-cooking recipe. No surprises. If you just stay with that, you'd end up with one great-tasting pot of beans. A whole grain muffin on the side, and you could make just about anyone in the world satisfied and nutritionally sustained.

Grandpa's version takes navy bean soup to another level! Navy Bean Soup
An hour or two before serving, add the following:

2 to 3 bunches of Mexican onions, white bulb part only (save the green part for scallions)

3 to 4 fresh jalapeno peppers, washed, destemmed, cut lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on size. You may remove the seeds and membranes if you wish, but do so while wearing gloves and don't rub your eyes or scratch your nose afterwards!

If the onion bulbs are large, cut into halves or even quarters. Add onions and peppers to soup, stir gently, and turn the crockpot up to "high."

When serving, make sure each portion receives onion and pepper pieces!

This will give you six hearty, Grandpa-sized portions, with the following breakdown of nutrition:

    304 calories
    17 g protein
    58 g carbohydrates
    21 g fiber
    (net 37 g carbohydrates)

    Negligible fat--A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the serving of beans will give you a necessary and healthy fat addition to the meal.

NOTE: For those of you who do not have Mexican onions available at your market, you can use the following: peeled "pearl" or "boiling" onions, approximately 2 cups; frozen small white onions, about two cups, or canned pearl onions, 2 cups drained and well-rinsed. Do NOT use "cocktail' onions, for these are usually pickled! Read the ingredients carefully, and be vigilant to control the salt, as the canned and even frozen varieties are often in brine. If you don't have fresh jalapeno peppers, canned are acceptable, but again, read the ingredients and avoid anything pickled.

A Tribute to Daddy

This recipe is a tribute to my father. Last November, Daddy died. He was 84 years old, and he had spent the last ten years alone, after the passing of Momma. We think he was tired, and ready to join her.

Hubster and I have suffered many obstacles, many frustrations, and many delays in our effort to move to our "Promised Land" in Arizona. We could have made ourselves sick and crazy if we had obsessed over the reasons, real or imagined, that kept us here in California. After Daddy died, though, we realized that it was meant to be for us to be here for that special event. We were able to spend time with him in the hospital, to see our children around him and hear them tell their Grandpa how much they loved him and how they valued his contribution to their lives. As much as we want to be moving on with our dreams, we know now that we had unfinished business here. All of the preparations, the planning, the details afterwards truly needed our contribution, our presence HERE, to take care of Daddy.

I give you the gift of Grandpa's Beans in memory of the love and affection of my Daddy.

Progress has since continued on the land. We have water, septic, and solar electricity being installed, as I write this. We hope to make the official move to our new residence in the next few months. And I expect us to be warp-speed BUSY once we get there, evicting the field mice who have moved into our house, organizing and setting up my kitchen, and connecting to the civilized world with TV and Internet service. I will be in touch with Reuben and Zel here at Vegetarians in Paradise, keeping them updated with our progress (and the inevitable setbacks) and hope to be cooking up beans for friends and family again soon!

Oh, by the way: the Circle of Life continues! My daughter and son-in-law will present us with our very first grandchild sometime in September! The sonogram told them it's a GIRL, and they have decided to name her "Rosemary" after my mother.

Daddy would be so pleased!

Click here for more Adventures of the Bean

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