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October Beans in December

December 20, 2013
Uncle John beans

Uncle John beans

All my good intentions of eating shelly beans in October fall away to having a pot of beans on the cookstove come December.  Maybe someday I’ll get it together enough to process my beans when they’re soft, and maybe even freeze some.  But I have to admit I am quite attracted to the dry bean aspect of, well, dry beans.  No electricity required or too much effort either.  No canning, no freezing, just cooking when needed.  I also grow these because they are a local heirloom and were handed down to me from a family friend.  Pioneers everywhere grew these dwarf horticulture type beans and brought them across the prairies and spread the wealth.  You can always find a similar type in the seed catalogs and usually they are affectionately named after a beloved aunt or uncle, or more commonly, Dwarf Horticultural.

Some years I agonize over the drying down of these beans, but this past summer was a great one for many of our crops that need warmer summer weather to mature.  My beans all dried on the bush, and were a snap to harvest.  I’m just now working through them and shelling them for winter storage.  A great pastime for long winter nights.


Dry beans

Dry beans

In the meantime though, I can wistfully think of warmer days and plan next year’s bean plot.

On the cookstove today, a pot of beans seasoned with salsa and cilantro pesto put up during the warm days of summer, some acid cheese for the hens, and some English muffin dough on it’s second rise.  What’s simmering in your winter kitchen today?

23 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2013 12:17 pm

    Well today – I’m at work, so nothing 🙂 yesterday – bread. I’m envious – my growing season here is too short to do drying beans (zone 3). But plan to try growing some in the greenhouse next season.

    • December 20, 2013 12:22 pm

      Val, I hear you on that – these are listed as 68 day beans and here with our cool nights and no very good heat units it takes about 100 days. Lots of times I have pulled them and dried them down in the greenhouse or barn. Bread sounds yummy!

  2. December 20, 2013 12:34 pm

    Our beans had to be dried and I didn’t get them all. Still enough for over the winter I think and maybe some for the chickens. Drying is something we are going to look at for next year. Our end of season is just a tad too short and wet. On my stove today, or rather the microwave was the remains of last nights meal, grated carrots, parsnips and squash with pasta, to which I added cheese and white sauce and a small spaghetti squash and reheated beef and mushroom pie. Easy anyway

    • December 20, 2013 1:08 pm

      J., I find that the easy meals tend to become my favorites…anything to cut down on the dish washing 😦

  3. December 20, 2013 12:42 pm

    We love our scarlet runner beans.

    What’s acid cheese?

    • December 20, 2013 1:17 pm

      Thirteenv, I never have eaten them dry, but the color is to die for – reminds me of the sunrises we have been having of late.

      Acid cheese is a quick cheese like ricotta, paneer, cottage cheese, farmer cheese, mascarpone etc. Basically milk or cream heated and then acid, vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid added until the curd forms, and the whey separates. If I have extra skim milk, it’s easier to make a quick cheese for the hens than it is to try to feed them milk. Great winter food for them especially when it is cold. The whey then goes on the garden or fruit trees – nothing wasted and it turns extra milk into eggs and fruit.

  4. Chris permalink
    December 20, 2013 1:47 pm

    That is an amazing photograph of the Elder Moon of December! Showing all four points of your weathervane in silhouette of the moon…Beautiful!

  5. snuck permalink
    December 20, 2013 2:03 pm

    We’ve just been in the first of our summer heat waves – everything has baked itself dry in the four or five days of 44 degree (Celsius! 111F!) heat. Eating out of our garden over the next few months will consist of a few shrivelled mulberries, the apricots came and went in mere days (and were picked before the birds got them), from here out it’s seasoning (oh Rosemary and Thyme you lovely herbs that love heat and dry weather) and scavenging.

    In our kitchen these past few days has been salads (sugar and sweet peas, fresh tomato, fresh baby beans in pods, corn (mmmm corn) and sun brutalised leaves that I refuse to eat but husband requests) next to a nice big piece of local fresh fish (local being Shark Bay Mullet or similar) or a smaller piece of steak. Hubby does like his meat and veg.

    • December 20, 2013 2:21 pm

      snuck, I don’t wish a heat wave on anyone, but I sure thank you for writing about it here, I miss summer terribly!

      Your kitchen fare sounds yummy!

  6. Victoria permalink
    December 20, 2013 2:31 pm

    Chicken souse (soup with chicken, potatoes, carrots & onions) is on the stove, and there will be cornbread going into the oven soon for dinner. Tomorrow is potato leek soup with leftover cornbread, and Sunday I might be able to dig out parsnips from the garden for roasting; we’ve just started a warm spell and with luck, the remaining 6 inches of snow will have melted by then, and the ground won’t be frozen.

  7. December 20, 2013 4:41 pm

    I think dried beans are just about the most perfect winter food. I’d rather leave the shells in the compost!

  8. Joe permalink
    December 20, 2013 5:45 pm

    Wait a minute. Did you just say that harvesting beans was a snap?

  9. December 20, 2013 6:27 pm

    my goal this summer is to raise my own chili garden. tomatoes, peppers, beans!

  10. December 20, 2013 6:54 pm

    Today was a cleaning day, mostly had leftovers! Tomorrow I have a pasta chicken alfredo planned. The guest of honor is a surly rooster who is chilling in a brine in the fridge as I type. I liked the old boy and could have really used him for our breeding program but he was ill tempered. A beautiful barred rock but he ran the hens off the food, and showed no protective tendencies. He will live on even after the meal… I put a few of his tail feathers in the pine/cedar Christmas wreath I made to hang on the barn. Beth in Ky.

  11. Carole permalink
    December 20, 2013 8:50 pm

    Hot and dry here too, Snuck. Today I’ve made bread, butter (not great in this weather), two cheddars and set up a couple of blue cheeses. The clay soil around us is starting to crack with the heat and lack of rain, and some of the soil in the raised veg beds is shrinking away from the edge boards, despite enough water to keep everything growing so far. It’s cold meat loaf and salad and pickles for us tonight, late after the sun has gone down.

  12. December 21, 2013 12:49 pm

    Been working overtime, and the kitchen looks like it was abandoned during a hurricane, but I hope to get back to it soon. There’s leftovers from a delicious vegetable pot pie in the fridge that we’ll enjoy for supper, unless husband eats them for lunch.

  13. December 22, 2013 6:10 pm

    Steak & eggs cooked in lots of butter, dilly beans and fresh milk. All from the homestead of course. My only complaint is that the last few jars of dillies I’ve opened have been kind of limp- not crisp like I prefer.

  14. December 29, 2013 4:00 am

    I thought I knew beans, but recently I started experimenting with heirlooms and wow, have I seen the light. I would go so far as to say I had never eaten beans before. Store bought just are not the same.

    Last summer I did a kind of half hearted bean attempt – I really didn’t have the time to spare and it showed. But this summer, I have to have beans. Have to!

    We just don’t learn how amazing these items are in our standard American magazine-ad informed cooking.

    Beautiful photos, I stop and stare at the moon and winter stars all the time, but can never get a photo to do them justice.

    • December 29, 2013 6:30 am

      I agree, I don’t have room to go overboard with bean varieties, but boy is there a choice in flavors out there. The SAD is sad indeed. There is a recipe flyer that comes out in the Sunday paper frequently, and the recipes are a sad commentary on the cooking these, first you need a box of this, a can of that and package of this kind of seasoning mix, mix together and bake. Yuck, I fear next the boxes will become “edible” too so you can just throw the whole works in and you’re done!

  15. December 30, 2013 8:34 am

    My grandparents have grown a variety of shelling bean for years and years (presumably long before I came along!) that they call “October beans.” For years, I had no idea that there was actually a more common name for them–Cranberry Beans. Apparently, this past year was a good one for growing beans due to record summer rainfall (they’ve been going through a decade-long drought), so they have more than enough to get them through the year. They sent me home with some on my last trip to NC–I’ll bet the TSA folks were scratching their heads over that one.
    I love beans more than almost any other food. My grandmother cooks her October beans very low and slow with a ham hock until the beans form their own “gravy.” They’re thick and soupy and delicious. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.

    • December 30, 2013 10:15 am

      meg, they sound the same, kind of…some of these are red and some are mottled. I’m with you on the ham hock, and the slow cooked beans, so good each day as they progress 🙂

      I’m hoping you will plant some of your cache 🙂

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