Beans, Beans. They’re Good…


We all know the rhyme. Even my kids refuse to take them for lunch at school and I don’t blame them. It’s because of the curse that I refused to go near them throughout my entire teenage years.

Quite possibly just a myth, we all got over it with this latest batch. I’ve tried the classic Boston version and never one to be too much into the tomatoey version, I’ve always been partial to the sweet Canadian maple variety.
However, I’m getting BPA picky and costofevenacanofbeans choosy, so I ventured out for another home try.

At literally pennies for a cup of beans, dried are so the way to go for so many reasons. Cheap yes, but they really aren’t as intimidating as one would think. After simply soaking them in water, in the same pot I would later cook them in, they were tender and ready to go into the crockpot in about the same time as it took me to prep and get everything else together!

GREAT WHITE NORTHERN BEANS

3 Cups Great Northern Beans, soaked overnight
1 1/2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Small Onion, finely diced (about 1/2 Cup)
1 Apple, peeled and finely diced (about 1 Cup)
1 Cup Ketchup
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 – 3 Cups Water, reserved from the beans

Once the beans have soaked overnight, make sure they still have about 3 inches of water covering them and bring them to a boil in a large stockpot for about 55 minutes or until just tender.
Meanwhile heat the crockpot to high. Add the oil diced onion and apple. Cover and let it begin to cook and soften.
Measure off the ketchup in a large, pourable measuring cup.
Add the mustard, salt, brown sugar and vinegar, stirring to combine.
Once the beans are soft, drain, reserving the liquid.
Add the beans to the crockpot along with the onion and apple.
Pour over the prepared ingredients and the maple syrup.
Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved bean water and stir to combine well.
Cook on high heat setting for about 5 hours or low for 8 hours until beans are quite soft and very flavourful.
Add more liquid as necessary and adjust salt to taste.

Sheppard’s Pie


Usually I’d be eating something like this in the dead of winter not the first of Spring.
I’ve been doing my best to enjoy a salad every day, plus, just posted about digging up those Sunchokes, for goodness sake!
But it’s snowing!! Not a lot, but too much. It’s cold and dreary and it’s not supposed to be spring again until Thursday.
I’ve had to go back into the storage and dig out the surrendered mittens and while I was there, I couldn’t help but stumble upon the big pot and and idea.
Sweaters = Comfort Food.
If I have to endure this never ending flurry of winter, then I’m getting a few of my favourite things out of it in the process.
…And one of them would certainly be this.

VEGAN SHEPPARD’S PIE

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 340g Package Veggie Ground Round OR 1 1/2 Cups Chopped, Prepared Seitan
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 Cup Button or Crimini Mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
2 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth or Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

About 4 Large (Russet) Potatoes, peeled and diced
Soy milk and vegan butter for mashing

A few big handfuls (1 heaping cup) of Frozen English Green Peas

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and add the chopped onion.
Stir the onion frequently until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ground soy, herbs and mushrooms, if using.
Stir to incorporate, then cover everything with the vegetable stock. Heat to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle over the arrowroot and stir it in well with a fork. Remove from the heat to thicken.
Taste, adding salt and pepper, if desired. (My ground soy came seasoned, so I completely skipped this part.)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. (If you’re eating now… this can be made in advance and frozen, covered, for later.)
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes, drain and mash (and season as you normally would with soy milk or the like etc.) until you get a smooth consistency.
To assemble, use a deep casserole pot, which preferably has a lid. First add the prepared soy mince, then top evenly with the frozen peas. Finally dot the top with the mashed potatoes and smooth with a spatula.
Cover and heat in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes. The gravy sides should start to bubble around the edges.
Uncover for the last 10 minutes in the oven if you’d like a browner, crisper top.