Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stuffing For Breakfast?

Daniel's stuffing on my plate on the day after Thanksgiving, 2011.
Yes, I ate leftover Thanksgiving stuffing for breakfast this morning.  I suspect this is somewhat like eating pizza for breakfast.  There are two schools of thought on the subject and each camp is deeply committed to their own way of thinking.

If you're in the "stuffing for breakfast" camp, you either ate some yourself this morning or you're jealous that I had leftover stuffing to eat for breakfast.  If you're in the "NO WAY!" camp, let me say that this wasn't just any stuffing-- it was my friend Daniel's famous cornbread-sausage stuffing. When you break it down into it's two main components--corn bread and sausage-- you really do have the makings of a great breakfast.

This morning I got up early with my two young daughters while my husband slept in.  I fed the girls their favorite breakfast of cinnamon raisin toast with cream cheese, made myself some coffee, and stood in front of an open refrigerator, trying to find something easy to eat for breakfast.  That's when I spotted the tupperware container of stuffing.  By the time I scooped the stuffing into a bowl and pressed "start" on the microwave, I heard my husband get out of bed.  I instantly froze and waited to make sure he was in the shower before I got the bowl out of the microwave.  When I realized I was safe to eat my cornbread sausage stuffing in peace, I also realized that what I was doing was somewhat crazy.  Why did I care if I was discovered eating stuffing for breakfast?  There were only two possible answers.

Answer #1:  I didn't want my husband to make fun of me for eating stuffing for breakfast.  When I thought this one through, it was clear that this wasn't the reason.  My husband eats far grosser concoctions on a regular basis.  Even if he did think it was gross, the worst he'd do was laugh at me for not wanting to get caught.  Whatever.

Answer #2:  I didn't want to share the stuffing.  It's not a pretty answer, but it's true.

I did NOT want to share my stuffing for breakfast.  I'd carefully divided the last of the stuffing into two breakfast-sized portions and if I shared with  my husband today, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the last of the stuffing tomorrow.  After all, this was the last stuffing I was going to get FOR THE WHOLE YEAR TO COME and I didn't want it to go to someone who didn't appreciate it as much as I did.  This isn't as selfish as it sounds.  Ok, maybe it is, but I didn't care.  I'd gotten this stuffing from my friend Daniel when I went to eat at his house on Friday.  I'd brought my tupperware container of turkey and stuffing home and my family and I ate it for dinner that night.  I'd already shared the stuffing.

As I've already mentioned, this is not just any stuffing.  This was stuffing made from homemade cornbread and sweet Italian sausage and it is my absolute favorite stuffing for several reasons.  First and foremost, it is the most amazing stuffing in the world.  But perhaps more importantly, I have eaten this stuffing on the day after Thanksgiving for the past twenty years.  It's not leftover stuffing either.  It's a special Day-After-Thanksgiving Day meal that Daniel prepares for me and a rotating group of our friends each year.  Sometimes we call this meal "Y-Giving" because although we all have friends and families to visit on Thanksgiving Day, we still want to have a second and equally important meal with our friends from our grad school days on the day after Thanksgiving.

I'm not the only person in the world who places equal value on two entirely separate Thanksgiving meals.  In fact, my husband's cousin Sue said the same thing while she was in the midst of preparing the Thanksgiving Day meal for her entire family-- a family that I am very pleased to call my own.  Sue is a great cook and she always makes an amazing meal for at least 13 people, but she told me that she attends a yearly Thanksgiving meal with her law-school friends the week before Thanksgiving.  She spoke of her pre-Thanksgiving meal tradition with all the fondness and commitment that I feel for my meal with Daniel and our revolving circle of friends-- friends who have been a part of our family of friends for twenty years.  It was nice to hear that someone else could feel equal enthusiasm for two very different meals and families.

I feel justified in wanting to hoard my last bit of Daniel's "Y-Giving" stuffing.  This stuffing has been a part of my Thanksgiving tradition for much longer than my husband has been.  I'm rather fond of my husband and our family and I wouldn't trade our big family Thanksgiving for anything.  But the stuffing is all mine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Master Composter- A Guest Post By Tim Evans

Today's blog post is brought to you by my husband Tim, the composting genius of our family.  I'm suppling the photos and a thought that in spite of my family's enthusiasm for collecting our kitchen scraps in a clear plastic container, I myself might have made a less transparent choice.

The Master Composter
by Tim Evans

Kitchen scraps festering on our kitchen windowsill, 2011.
Susan has written here about a fascinating program for becoming a Master Food Preserver -- a newly-revived certification process that not only teaches the arts of canning, dehydrating and preserving, but also spreads the word.

But I may have found a Master program that's even cooler.

Master... of Compost!

Yes, you can be declared not only an expert but an official "Master" of rotting food!

Our family only recently discovered the joys and excitement of composting and while a Master Certificate may not be in my future, I'm enjoying the process of Apprenticeship and look forward to becoming at least a Journeyman in the craft.

It began with the offer of an inexpensive compost device from the County of L.A.  In early summer we learned that we could get a really cheap piece of cool-looking gardening equipment, and all we had to do was show up at Griffith Park.

We drove to the location behind the L.A. Zoo and got an interesting lecture and discussion on Composting for Beginners. There were about 30 people in the crowd, with questions ranging from whether wild animals could get into the compost to whether you could add full baby diapers to your pile ("yes" to the first, "absolutely not" to the second).  We learned the basic concept of "50% Green, 50% Brown" - which is the ratio of vegetable matter to non-vegetable matter - and got tips on aerating.  Then we got in line to purchase the $20 Compost Machine, which looks like a large modified plastic trash can turned upside down.
Our composter ready and waiting for kitchen scraps in our backyard, 2011.

This entire program is run by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation/Dept of Public Works, and is designed to promote composting and recycling.  In some counties, a similar lecture and the cheap compost machine are all part of the Master Composter program -- and lecturers fulfill their requirements for Mastery by spreading the good word.

Composting has now become a favorite family activity.  We fill up a small, clear plastic bucket with rejected vegetable matter every night.  Our girls originally had covered the clear plastic bucket with crayon artwork, but we eventually decided that the rotting material looked more interesting if we could see it.  Every couple of days the girls and I march the bucket to the corner of the backyard, where our Compost Machine sits.  One girl gets to carry the bucket, the other gets to pour it in.  Once the food is tossed in, the girls gather dry leaves from the yard ( the "50% brown" material) and toss them in.  Then Dad turns the whole thing over with a rake to aerate it.

And it's truly amazing to see the alchemical process that is compost.  We start out seeing the banana peels, the cantaloupe rinds, the salad greens and the sometimes-chewed-then-rejected broccoli in the plastic bucket.  We can see it looking all gross and the girls can give a delighted "Ewwww!" when we dump it in.  But then, over time, as we dump in more and rake it up, that rotting material has somehow mysteriously turned into something rich and dark.  At the bottom of the Compost Machine, a thick, crumbly material begins to grow, and the transformation of trash into earthly treasure takes place.  It will be spring before our compost is truly ready to be spread around, but our 5-year-old daughter has already declared it "the best compost in the neighborhood!"

And I've become increasingly impressed with the idea of a Master Composting Program, and L.A City's compost program.  Simply by offering a cheap and cool piece of equipment, the program has created a bunch of new urban composters.  I knew nothing about compost before getting the Compost Machine... but this city-funded, volunteer-supported program taught me some basics and made me an Apprentice.  My trash is no longer going into a landfill, it's going back into our garden.  Our girls are seeing dinner-table refuse turn into soil... that will create more dinner once we use it in our garden.

If you're interested in a low-cost Compost Machine and instructions in Los Angeles, check out the L.A. City site.

And if you're interested in earning that certificate that declares you to be Master of Composting, regulations and classes will vary from county to county, but one good place to begin is

Friday, November 18, 2011

Heirloom Foods: Making Grape Jelly

Concord grape vines in Virginia, Fall 2011.  All photos courtesy Linda Lutz.
Concord grapes on the stem, 2011.
Each Fall my mother makes amazing homemade grape jelly from grapes she picks from her friend Wendy's grape vines.  This year I convinced my mom to send me her recipe and photographs of the entire process.  She made jelly about a month ago, but I haven't posted her recipe because I got exhausted just looking at the instructions and thirty-one photographs she sent to describe what she does.

Today I decided to buckle down and sort it all out.  I was killing time by organizing photographs while eating toast with grape jelly that my mother brought me the last time she came to visit.  As jelly dripped down my chin, I realized that I had no clue how to make this lovely stuff and if I ever wanted to figure it out I'd better get to work.  Luckily, grapes are gone for this year so I don't actually have to make the stuff-- at least not until the next grape harvest.
Grapes off the vine in my mother's kitchen, 2011.

My mother based this recipe on the amount of grapes she had this year.  When my mom weighed the grapes she had collected, it turned out to be 3 1/2 pounds of grapes taken off the stem equaled 2 quarts of grapes, which yielded about 5 cups of grape juice.


  • My mom says it's ok to use some partially ripe grapes to make the juice.  Just make sure that at least three-fourths of your grapes are really ripe.  (Up to one-fourth of the total amount can be slightly green.)
  • Do not double the recipe.  
  • Although my mother does not always use a hot water bath after filling the jars, USDA recommendations suggest that any canned product should always be processed in a hot water bath.  
Finished Grape Jelly, 2011.
Grape Jelly
by Linda Lutz

Yields 8 cups of jelly.


  • 3 1/2 pounds grapes off the stem (2 quarts), which equals 5 cups of juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1.75  ounce pectin (I use Sure-Jell.  If you use another brand of pectin, you should consult package directions.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 7 cups sugar

Specialized Tools/Equipment:

  • 8- 8 ounce jelly jars with lids and rings
  • 1 large cooking pot (at least 16 quarts)
  • Jelly strainer or a colander covered with several layers of cheese cloth
  • Jar funnel
  • 1 canner (for canning the jelly)
  • 1 or 2 food-safe gloves

  • Remove grapes from stem and place in a large pan of water.
  • Quickly rinse grapes and place in colander to dry.
  • Put 2 cups of grapes in a large stock pot and crush the berries with glove-covered hand.  Keep adding 2 cups at a time until all the berries are crushed.  As my mother says, "there's nothing like good old hands for crushing grapes."
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the stock pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Straining crushed grapes, 2011.
  • Pour grapes into dampened jelly strainer (or several layers of dampened cheese cloth).  Be sure to put the jelly strainer over a bowl to collect juice.  Obviously, the bowl needs to be large enough to collect 5 cups of juice.
  • Let sit for several hours or up to half a day.  The longer you let it set, the more juice you'll get out of it, but do not smash grapes or squeeze the bottom of the jelly bag.  
  • Run jelly jars through dishwasher so that they are hot when juice is ready to be used.  If jars cool, place them in a 9x13 inch pan and warm them in a 175 degree oven.  
  • Measure 5 cups of juice in a large sauce pan (at least 6 quarts).
  • Gradually stir in Sure-Jell.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming.
  • Bring mixture to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  (A "full rolling boil" is a boil that doesn't stop when you stir it.)
  • Add 7 cups of sugar quickly, stirring to dissolve.  Be sure to measure it first as it is easy to lose count of the number of cups you're measuring.
  • Return mixture to a full rolling-boil and boil hard for exactly one minute, stirring constantly.
  • Remove pan from heat and let sit for several minutes.
  • Skim off foam with a metal spoon.  (The metal spoon will almost act like a magnet.)  Scrape foam all to one side and scoop it out of the stock pot.
Skimming off foam from heated grape juice.
  • To prepare the lids, pour boiling water over lids in a small sauce pan, as recommended by the directions on the box that the lids come in.  (My mother's friend Betty Sheetz always put her lids in the oven with the jars.  My mother always uses the hot water bath instead.)
  • Take the jars out of the oven and prepare to fill jars.
  • Using the funnel and a one-cup measuring cup or ladle, pour jelly into jars, filling to within an 1/8 of an inch of the top.
  • Wipe the jar rim clean with a clean dish cloth or wet paper towel.
  • Take a lid out of the water and place it on top of the jar.  (It's ok if the lid is still wet.)
  • Screw on the metal ring tightly.
Jars of grape jelly in the hot water bath.
  • Process in a hot water bath according to USDA recommendations.  My mother's version is to put water in a canner and put the jars in the boiling water, covered with at least one inch of boiling water.
  • Keep the water boiling and boil for 5 minutes.  Lift jars out with tongs and let cool without touching or bumping them until they're really cool-- at least overnight.
  • After the jars have cooled, be sure that you get a tight seal.  The center of the lid should be slightly indented.  You can check this by pressing the center with your finger.  If the lid pops back up, it isn't sealed.  If jar does not seal properly, keep it in the refrigerator and use within several weeks.
  • Grape jelly is best eaten within a year to keep texture from changing.  Note from Susan:  In our house, it never lasts that long.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rocket City Redneck's Cat-head Biscuits

Cat-heads Biscuits straight out of the oven, 2011.
The Rocket City Rednecks are going to be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this evening and in their honor I'm publishing a biscuit recipe from the matriarch of the "Redneck" family-- Mary Ann Taylor.

I met Mary Ann when she came to LA to do press for the show and we had a great conversation about Southern food.  Turns out, Mary Ann cooks the way I like to eat.  Her food is simple, satisfying, and straight from the South... with a few twists of her own invention.  Mary Ann, like many Southern women, has a mind of her own and her biscuit recipe is a testament to her strength of character.  (I was going to write "stubbornness", but feared the word would not be read with the complimentary tone I intended.)  As strong-minded Southern woman myself, I love Mary Ann's story of how she came up with her recipe for Cat-head Biscuits.
Shortly after Charles and I married, I cooked a pan of biscuits that crumbled when one was picked up. Charles said it wasn’t fit to drag across a plate of Yellow Label Syrup. The next biscuits that I baked were hard, but stayed together when dragged in the syrup.

We got up from the table and Charles said, “come on.”

We went to his Aunt Peggy’s house. The minute we got in the door, Charles said, “Aunt Peggy, teach Mary Ann how to make biscuits.”

Needless to say, I was furious. But I taught myself how to make biscuits. Now everyone loves my biscuits.
When Mary Ann sent me her first batch of recipes, they included this biscuit recipe and one for banana bread.  I started with the banana bread because I had a hard time finding the White Lily Flour that Mary Ann suggested using in her biscuit recipe.  When Mary Ann found out about my problem, she generously offered to ship me a bag of the famous Southern self-rising pastry flour.  I told her it was too much trouble and said I'd keep looking here in Los Angeles.  The next time my husband went to Alabama on a shoot with the Rocket City Rednecks, he returned home with a bag of White Lily Flour in his suitcase, courtesy of Mary Ann.

Cat-head Biscuits
by Mary Ann Taylor

Recipe makes 6 – 8 biscuits

Cutting out Cat-head Biscuits, Los Angeles, 2011.
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wax paper [counter-top or butcher block may be used] to roll out the dough
  • Fork for mixing
  • Bowl [I like to use a quart glass measuring cup]
  • Biscuit cutter [Any size can be used, but I use a large donut size cutter for cat-head biscuits
  • 11inch x 7 ½ inch baking tin
  • 4 cups self-rising flour [I use only White Lily flour]
  • 1 tablespoon oil [I use Canola Cooking Oil]
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 stick of BUTTER, melted
  • Non-stick Spray Oil
  • Preheat oven to 500º lightly spray baking tin, set aside.
  • Spread wax paper on the counter. Wax paper makes clean up a breeze. Sprinkle 1 cup of flour on paper, saving 1 cup for kneading dough.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon oil into bottom of bowl, add 2 cups flour, and add buttermilk a little at a time-stirring mixture with a fork. It may or may not take all the buttermilk. The thickness of buttermilk differs with brands. The mixture should be moist and a little lumpy.
  • Dump flour dough onto floured wax paper, sprinkle a little flour over top of dough and knead; adding flour as needed. When mixture is soft but manageable, pat with hands or roll out the dough to desired thickness.
  • Cut out biscuits; knead, roll, and cut biscuits from leftover dough. Place biscuits into pan; spoon drizzle melted butter over top of biscuits.
  • Bake at 500º for 12-15minutes [biscuits cook really fast; check often while baking]
Note from Mary Ann: It has been so long since I measured ingredients for making biscuits…but this will get you started. My mother put a lot of flour in a very large bowl and made a hole in the middle of the dry flour with her hand. She added milk and grease and kneaded until she had a ball of dough; then she pinched off the biscuits with her hands.

Note from Susan:  I'm a little afraid of biscuit-making because I've eaten so many wonderful biscuits in my day.  My own biscuits are usually a little bit disappointing, but Mary Ann's biscuit recipe really delivers.  I baked mine in my grandmother's 12 inch cast iron skillet and it worked great.  My family devoured the biscuits before they even had time to cool.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brethren Blueberry Muffins

A few weeks ago I was confronted by a large container of blueberries in my refrigerator that seemed to say to me, "Hey- I know you're sick of eating me, but you CAN'T let me go to waste!"  My youngest daughter and I are the only real blueberry fans in the house and that 2 lb container of deliciously sweet blueberries was just more than we could handle.  I needed an idea to use up a lot of blueberries-- fast.

I don't have a good recipe for blueberry muffins so I decided to reinvigorate My Year of Brethren Food Project and started thumbing through my grandmother's Inglenook Cookbook.  I didn't find a recipe for blueberry muffins, but I came across a recipe for "Breakfast Muffins" and decided to use it as a starting point.  After all, I had lots of blueberries in the fridge and if I messed this up, I had plenty more to try again.

It took two attempts to come up with a blueberry muffin that everyone liked.  In the end, I came up with something that was a cross between what we know as a muffin and a scone.  My Brethern Blueberry Muffins have the texture of a biscuit, but they're much sweeter.  Sounds like a scone, right?  But they're also a little lighter than a traditional scone and less crusty because I bake them in muffin tins.  And I top them with cinnamon sugar so I don't have the heart to call them "scones".  I don't want to get hate mail from Brits who say that my recipe is nothing like a scone.  They are at best somewhat scone-like, but we think they're pretty good.
Brethren Blueberry Muffins cooling on my kitchen counter, 2011.

Brethren Blueberry Muffins
by Susan Lutz

Recipe makes 12 muffins


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (or more to suit your taste up to 3/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar for topping
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon for topping


  • Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
  • Lightly beat one egg and add milk and sugar to combine.
  • Sift together salt, baking powder, and flour and place in a medium sized bowl.  Slowly add egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and stir.
  • Gently add melted butter and blueberries and stir gently until just combined.
  • Add paper muffin liners, also called baking cups, to muffin tins.  (The muffins tend to stick to the muffin tins without them.)
  • Fill paper lined muffin tins three-quarters full of batter.
  • In a small bowl, mix turbinado (raw) sugar and cinnamon until combined.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mix on top of each muffin.
  • Bake muffins in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Goats and Gifts at the Institute of Domestic Technology

Pear jam awaiting packaging, Nov. 2011.
I would like to say that I spent my Saturday at the Institute for Domestic Technology crafting food-related presents for the holiday gift-giving season.  The truth is that I spent my Saturday learning to make candied orange peel, pear preserves, limoncella, and host of other treats that I have every intention of keeping for myself.  I may end up using the recipes and techniques I learned to craft food gifts for the holidays, but the dainty little morsels I actually produced on Saturday are all mine.

I originally signed up for the workshop because I wanted to see the Zane Grey Mansion in Altadena and because I was intrigued by the idea of The Institute for Domestic Technology.  The Institute is staffed by a team of instructors who possess a  blend of serious cooking skills and an ironic sense of the Institute as a serious enterprise.  The Zane Grey Mansion was a great reflection of the Institute's general tone-- it provided a historical backdrop (it's on the National Registry of Historic Places) mixed with an urban farm aesthetic.  (Watch out for the goat droppings in the back yard.)

Shuldiner regales students at The Institute.
The head of the Institute is Joseph Shuldiner, a talented graphic designer and author of the upcoming book Pure Vegan from Chronicle Books, Spring 2011. Shuldiner himself is not actually a Vegan, which I found charming, but he seems to embrace many eating styles-- a quality I share and enjoy discovering in others.  During the workshop we prepared his (Vegan) recipe for Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Chai Tea and enjoyed cups of the spice mixture combined with warm goat's milk that came from goats raised on the property.  I'd never had decent goat's milk before, much less goat's milk chai tea, and it was one of many treats of the day.

Shuldiner began our day at the Institute by serving us coffee and scones and giving the group of assembled students a brief pitch for the class.  He told us that the Institute is based on the idea that we can all express ourselves through the things we make and that the holidays are a great time to put this idea into action.  I was hooked.

When Kevin West stepped forward and told us about his background as a Master Food Preserver, I was ready to sign up for the program myself.  (Hopefully, there will be more on this subject in future posts.)  I'd never heard of the Master Food Preserver Program and in spite of it's somewhat odd sounding name, it turns out to be an incredibly exciting program run by the University of California Cooperative Extension program.  According to West, students take a 13 week course, which is rooted in the notion of creating food independence.  It originally started during World War II as part of our country's national Victory Garden campaign and ran continuously in LA County from WWII up until 15 years ago when it closed because of a lack of interest.  Last year, the program was reinstated and is incredibly competitive to get into.  Graduates must complete 30 hours of community service and 15 hours of continued education each year.  This program isn't for the casual canner, but for folks committed to sharing information about food preservation with others.
West stirs pear jam at "Stage Three", Nov. 2011.

West himself clearly falls into this category.  He is the author of the upcoming book Saving the Season: A Handbook to Home Canning, Pickling and Preserving and a blog of the same name.  His enthusiasm for preserving is infectious and his recipe for Pear Jam was proof of his skill.  Several students, myself included, loved it so much that we secretly licked the sides of the almost empty copper pots we'd used to boil the jam.  (We'd already ladled out most of the jam into jars to begin the canning process by this point so it's not as unsanitary as it sounds.)

As delicious as the pear jam was, the most exciting part of the day for me was making candied orange peel.  Regular readers of this blog know that I've been working on a recipe for Chocolate-Covered Candied Orange Peel for some time now and that I haven't been satisfied with the results so far.  After this workshop, I can safely say that my recipe is still a work in progress, but thanks to West, I now have a clear sense of where I went wrong last time and what I need to do differently in future.

Perhaps the best testimonial I can give to the Institute for Domestic Technology is to say that I not only learned a few new recipes and techniques, I was also inspired to continue on my quest to increase my cooking and preserving skills and to share those newfound skills with others.  I also had a very fun day.
The backyard of the Zane Grey Mansion, current host to the Institute of Domestic Technology, Nov. 2011.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last Roman Beans of the Season

Two different sizes of Roman beans in my colander, November 3, 2011.
My friends Lisa and Louis turned me on to Roman beans accidentally.  I say accidentally because what they really did was serve me homegrown Calabrian beans, which have been grown by Louis' family for generations.  Louis and his family grow these beans each year and save the seeds at the end of the season, but Louis never gives anyone "take-home" beans.  You have to eat as many as you can when you're lucky enough to be invited to his house.  I love the "Bean and Potato" dish that Louis makes so much that I decided I needed to come up with a suitable replacement.  That's when I discovered Roman beans at my farmer's market.

I'll admit that Roman beans aren't nearly as wonderful as Louis' heirloom beans from Calabria, but they are pretty good in their own right.  I try to get them for as long as the supply holds out in the late summer growing season.  Life being what it is sometimes, I missed most of the Roman bean harvest this year and caught only the last few weeks of it at my farmer's market.  Only one vendor sells Roman beans at my market and I always buy several bags each week.  Unfortunately, I was so excited to find them two weeks ago that I cooked them up using my version of Louis' recipe and wolfed them down before I had a chance to take a photograph of them.  

I felt a little embarrassed about my gluttony after the fact and I vowed to remember to take a picture this week after buying another batch of beans at the farmer's market.  Little did I know that this would be my last opportunity of the season.  When I went to the farmer's stall, I was sad to discover only two small bags of Roman beans.  I was even sadder to see that the beans ranged in size from small to smaller.  When I asked why the beans were of such varying degrees of "small", he told me that these were the last Roman beans of the season and that they'd picked the vines clean to get these few bags.  I paid for my treasured beans quickly and shoved them into my orange mesh shopping bag before anyone else could see that I had the last two bags of beans in the entire farmer's market.

When I got home I realized that I would have to sort my beans into two groups-- small and smaller.  I also realized that I'd have to cook some of them longer than others.  It was well worth the effort.  My final batch of Beans and Potatoes was better than any I'd eaten all summer.  Perhaps it was because I knew I wouldn't see my beloved Roman beans for another year, but I suspect it was because I paid extra attention to the cooking process and managed to produce a bowl of Beans and Potatoes that were indeed superior to my previous attempts.  Either way, they were delicious.
My version of Louis Marchesano's recipe for "Beans and Potatoes", Nov. 3, 2011.

Beans and Potatoes
Based on a recipe by Louis Marchesano

  • 3 medium sized white rose or other waxy potato
  • 4 cups Roman or Calabrian beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or sent through a garlic press
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chop potatoes in half and then into 1/2 inch thick slices (they should look like half moons).
  • Steam potatoes for approximately 7 minutes or until tender to the touch.
  • Add beans and steam for approximately 5 to 6 minutes, depending on size of beans.  When finished steaming, beans should be tender and potatoes should be falling apart.
  • Gently place beans and potatoes into a large bowl and add garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Beans and potatoes may be served warm or cold.  Louis has been known to eat them for breakfast.