Posts Tagged ‘beans


food for bike camping

adjusting the flame
More pictures through the link.

Favorite new toy: Our Jet Boil camp stove. It looks like an oversized insulated coffee cup; that’s the cooking vessel. Packed inside are fuel, stove with igniter, plastic cup, and French press attachment. Efficient and terribly clever.

Lesson learned: Beans, especially in the form of instant bean soups, really foam. Turn off the heat before you add them to the water, lest you have to reach through a boiling cascade to turn it off after. J-P is very brave.

Comparative instant dinners: Casbah’s lemon & spinach couscous is merely all right. Definitely enhanced by the addition of real lemon juice, salt, and chorizo. The instant black bean soup from the Rainbow bulk bin, on the other hand, is delicious. Salt and chorizo still didn’t hurt.

Unexpected standout: Concentrated Concord grape juice. We spiked two bike bottles with it while preparing post-hike dinner the second night. They were the best possible thing right then.

Lifesaver: Foil packet of peanut butter with honey, consumed somewhere on the Wolf Ridge Trail, when chickpeas just weren’t delivering the goods fast enough anymore. (Wildlife bonus: a hummingbird settled onto a nearby branch while I had my hummingbird moment. Spirit animal much?)

Admission: Especially in the chilly damp, I did miss the eggs, bacon, and potatoes of my family’s car camping days. Just a little. Luckily, we have friends who will go car camping with us. In the short term, we had brunch at Boogaloos when we got back to SF.


we’re going camping

So I am preparing chickpeas and hard-cooked eggs. (It’s less tragic if the eggs crack once they’re cooked.) We’re also taking pre-packaged lemon-spinach couscous (if there ever were a time for flavored convenience foods, this seems to be it), instant black bean soup, Spanish chorizo, saltines, granola, dried fruit, nuts, food bars, chocolate-covered coconut, blueberries, foil packets of nut butters, grape juice concentrate, some apples, a lemon, some salt, and ground coffee. I insisted that corn tortillas and nopales would be great additions to our stash, but saltines won out over the tortillas for some reason, and J-P inexplicably naysaid the nopales. (They’re flat, lightweight…) We’re only out for two nights, and we’ll be near Sausalito, but we’re still being very careful to cater to my tendency toward metabolic collapse.

This will be the first time we’ve camped since Labor Day weekend 2003, when we went to a star party in the Berkshires, where a bunch of astronomers had gathered to view Mars at perigee. It’s Labor Day weekend, we thought. How cold can it get? The answer was 34 degrees Farenheit. We had a tent but no sleeping bags, just blankets. By nightfall we were wearing every scrap of clothing we’d taken with us, and the Boy Scouts made a lot of money selling us hot chocolate and coffee all night long. When we finally decided to try sleeping, we kept each other half awake with our attempts to burrow under the other for warmth. At daylight, we emerged from the tent to run up and down the hill we were on in the sunshine.

We swore never to do that again until we were properly prepared for it, and now is the time. A little over a week ago, we went to REI for sleeping bags, a bigger tent, headlamps, and a camp stove (Jet Boil, a technological marvel with a French press attachment). This weekend, we explored Rainbow Grocery’s selection of dehydrated and instant foods. This afternoon, we bike to Bicentennial Campground in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area.


kitchen myths busted

Thanks to Jeremy for this link. Some of these are pretty subjective (electric and gas stoves may each have benefits, but I still believe the benefits of gas win out), but some others make for interesting reading. Who even knew some people think heating metal seals cracks in it or that cold water boils faster than warm?

Jeremy says he thought at least one of these myths was for real. Me, too: mine was about baking soda’s ability to absorb smells. (None of my family’s cooks ever had any ideologies about cooking beans. They take as long as they take, and not salt nor acid nor anything else really makes a difference.) Anything on this list that you believed?



The best thing the pressure cooker has given us so far: chickpeas. Though I like hummus and falafel, I’ve never been a fan of whole chickpeas. From the can, they’re kind of grey, mushy on the outside, somehow both mealy and hard on the inside, and a little tinny. Dried chickpeas were too intimidating to try; they look like they’ll cook forever and never get soft. But with the pressure cooker, I tried them yesterday.

So good! The taste is a little grassy (in a good way), they’re still a little mealy but not hard, and they’re yellow, not grey. I made way too many, but I don’t mind at all. Last night a cup of them made their way into Mark Bittman’s chicken and chickpea tagine*. I scaled the recipe down for two, omitted the vanilla bean, and pressure cooked it for 10 minutes rather than simmering for 45. At the end, I browned the chicken pieces in butter (they were pale and unappealing straight out of the pot), reduced the sauce (I’d added a cup extra liquid so that it would steam properly), and garnished with parsley. Served over bulgur, with a salad of mixed greens with feta, nectarine, cherry tomatoes, mint, and honey. Delicious.

This morning’s protein was chickpeas with red onion, mint, lemon juice, and salt. Tonight, we’ll be having chickpeas with spinach and chorizo again. If they’re still not gone after all that, I may try to reinvigorate three-bean salad. I mentioned I made a lot, didn’t I?

*Bittman’s tagine is a Moroccan-style dish. A Tunisian tagine is like a fritatta rather than a stew. The word “tagine” refers not to the preparation but to the cooking vessel.

So I suppose I should call mine a “pressure-cooker,” and Bittman should call his a “skillet.” But “tagine” sounds better.



the pressure cooker’s maiden voyage

That’s the pressure cooker, building up pressure to make passable black beans in about 20 minutes. They weren’t as falling-apart tender as I would have liked, but that can be fixed with more time under pressure. Fifteen minutes, instead of 12, next time. Maybe 20 if I didn’t think to soak them, like I did today. This device cut my bean cooking time down to an eighth of what it normally is. I am in love.

The beans went into a chili that involved half a pound of ground turkey, an onion, an anaheim, one chipotle in adobo, two tomatoes, three zucchinis, as well as the usual garlic, red chili powder, cumin, and salt. If I do it again, I’ll cook the beans longer, use more salt and a couple more chilis, and add a little Maseca to thicken it. Minor adjustments. It was very good, and very fast.


taking the pressure cooker plunge

I did it. I bought one. An Indian-made Manttra 8-quart pressure cooker, on Laura’s recommendation.

The catalyst: we’ve been out of day-old bagels (our usual breakfast fare) for a couple of days, and we’ve haven’t been able to get more. This morning, facing the idea of yet more delicious farm-fresh eggs for breakfast, I had a craving for beans, instead. The problem? No beans, and I have to be at work at 11.

I am a creature of impulse, it’s true. Which is one reason I think a pressure cooker will suit me. It will be here Monday, which means I still have to figure out today’s breakfast…


Maker Foode

J-P, Glenn, and I went to Maker Faire in San Mateo yesterday. Highlights included the bike area, with Cyclecide’s pedal-powered carnival rides, Oakland’s own scraper bikes, and a tandem unicycle; the darkened building with singing Tesla coils, a neon land shark, and MonkeyLectric’s programmable Lite Brites for your bicycle wheels; and TechShop’s building, which made us eager for their San Francisco opening this summer.

And then there was the food. Fair food has gotten a lot better since I was a kid.

My Pica Pica “maize’wich,” a fresh-corn pancake filled with black beans, plantains, cheddar, and Tapatío:

Gerard’s Paella:

Featuring a paellera with its own license plate:

And TechShop’s lasers expand the options for cascarones:

There was also a lemonade stand that blew my mind. Besides lemonade and limeade, it offered fresh watermelon juice and hibiscus tea. Taken together, the menu screamed “aguas frescas” to me, but the menu was all in English. Crazy.

More Maker Faire photos and videos here.

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