Saturday, October 29, 2016

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Still Learning

Image: Flicker
My continuing education in cooking from the pantry will prove beneficial in the very long run.  Especially as I'm trying different bean meals.  My latest attempt at pinto bean soup was absolutely delicious and it could have been this way years ago.

I don't know why it takes so long for us me to try different ways of cooking.  As so often recently, it was a suggestion from An Everlasting Meal that sparked the latest success.  Tamar Adler shared why most of us have bland bean soup and why the soup she made for Chez Panisse was delicious.  It is because we I have believed an old wive's tale about not salting beans that are cooking from the very beginning. 

Yes, the test kitchen at Cook's Illustrated published the same opinion a few years ago but I thought that could not possibly be correct.  After all, it has been in every instruction I have ever read about cooking beans from the time I started cooking.  But I had to admit that everything else I had learned from Adler's book had been correct.

So... with nothing really to lose, I followed her instructions for bean soup and provided plenty of water from the get go (for the beans create their own broth), added an onion and a carrot, pepper, and... kosher sea salt.  I think my hand was shaking at that time but I was determined to follow her instructions.

After about an hour on a low simmer, I tasted the beans and indeed they were almost soft and the stock it had created was absolutely amazing.  I mean $15.00 a bowl in a nice restaurant amazing.  At that time, I decided to add a few ham chunks left over from a previous meal as well as cubed potatoes to make it more of a stew than a soup.  I simmered it until the potatoes were soft and by then the beans were also quite soft.

I'm going to make the soup again this week just like the last time but adding a Parmesan rind that I have in the freezer.  She suggested it in the instructions but at the time I forgot I had one.  I first heard of saving the rind from our Parmesan wedges from Lydia on PBS, another person who uses everything but the oink when she cooks.  The Italians have done it for generations and used the rind in soups and sauces.

On that subject, Jacques Pepin also never throws anything away and on his PBS shows, quite often explains why he saves discarded parts of veggies, etc. when he cooks at home.  Both Lydia and Jacques lived through WWII Europe when food could be hard to obtain.  Which is why I also like to read cookbooks and articles about cooking during war years.

If you have not read An Everlasting Meal* and you do want to live a pantry lifestyle, I highly recommend it.  I learn something every time I peruse the book so I've tended to leave it out where I can pick it up and read through part of a chapter.  Sometimes just one page is read over and over for there is so much wisdom there.

An Everlasting Meal can be found... here.*

*Most links to Amazon are Associate Links.  I thank you.


Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I really love that book and was especially intrigued by her ideas on cooking greens.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Something else that comes to mind - for I also love reading cookbooks about depression era or WWII cooking - is that someone (could it have been Louise Dickinson Rich?) called food one cooks when the pantry is low "desperation dishes". My wonderful grandmother called them "conglomeration" which was especially her name for a stew based on a little bit of ground beef and lots of veggies. It was always delicious. For a long time I thought of this word as the real name of a real recipe! But I think good cooks who have been at it for a long time have a fine instinct for such conglomeration, and that skill helps a lot in keeping a useful pantry.

Judy said...

Hello Brenda,

Just a quick note to thank you for introducing "An Everlasting Meal" to me a year to so back. It had two positive impacts; the obvious one being the ideas that I got from it. Also, surprisingly, it provided the gift of greater confidence in my cooking. Having grown up as the daughter of missionary parents, hers is very much the way in which I cook. Meals are typically tasty and nutritious, but I had become accustomed to believing they were intrinsically inferior to those which follow 'a recipe'- so discovering a real cook who does things this way was a lovely encouragement.

Enjoy your cosy weather soup.

Anonymous said...

Even as a "senior citzens" I love finding out a new way to do something which I have done for years. I love to try a new recipe that becomes a favorite--all of them don't but some do. Enjoyed this post and love the concept of using "all but the oink". Blessings, Sharon D.

mdoe37 said...

Huh...salting the beans early, you say. I'll give it a go. My new budget is calling for a big pot of soup enjoyed for three or four meals. (Last week was a copycat of Panera's chicken/wild rice. I've never had it at the restaurant....but this recipe was very good)

Amazon tells me that I have that book.....given the state of the upstairs right now....I'll find it before Christmas, I'm sure. lol

Vee said...

Oddly enough, I was just looking at this book since it is on my wishlist having been placed there before when you spoke glowingly of it. I know nothing about the science of cooking so don't usually pay a whole lot of attention. All I know is that I refuse to wash a chicken or a turkey and I think that the science supports that now. Fifteen dollars for a bowl of soup good sounds very yummy indeed. And, thank goodness, you are still learning because that means you are still teaching.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I must get that book back from my daughter! Either that or just buy myself another copy!

I've never been a big bean eater, but I hate wasting food! I'd like to get a bit more creative with my cooking! said...

Quick question. Do you receive the points when I order the book through your link but choose Kindle?

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Jeanie, yes! I do receive credit even for Kindle purchases.

Kay said...

Thank you Brenda for recommending this book a while ago. I finally purchased it last Fall and read it quickly in one go, but knew it would always have a place on my Kitchen Bookshelf where all the other Keepers are. I will be re-reading often. Now to buy some beans and make that soup!