Beach, Garden, and Redemption Soup

Our vacation on the beach came to an end this Memorial Day weekend.  Gentle waves, tepid azure seawater, an unfailingly cheery sun and balmy temperatures bestowed us with long, lovely days outdoors.  Best of all, we all managed to escape being stung by the schools of stingrays that floated lazily up and down coastline letting the waves buffet them up and down the tips of their wings flashing like tiny shark fins.  Brave and/or foolhardy souls actually stood in the surf while the mass gently undulated, kissing like butterfly wings as they meandered on their way.  The tiny creatures that live in the shallow waves breaking onto sandy beaches belie the teeming mass of animals that make the seas their home.  Whenever I am in the ocean I rarely raise my eyes from searching the depths of the water around me in hopes of glimpsing some errant sea creature come just a little too close to shore.  The stingrays were not an unwelcome surprise.  We also captured a sand crab holding him temporarily hostage to entertain the boys with his Houdini-like escape skills.   And to top off our cavorting with nature’s creatures, we visited Winter who is the acclaimed dolphin with the prosthetic tail.  Harry Connick Jr. & Morgan Freeman star in a movie about her life.  Nature in all its glory (I mean Winter, not Harry).

Stingrays in the surf

Garden Dilemmas

I’ve been trying to germinate green peppers for two months now.  Finally I stuck a few seeds in a tiny plastic pot and put it on my kitchen windowsill.  The tiny sprouts were just struggling to push aside the soil and I couldn’t bear to leave it alone for a week while we were on vacation.  So I took it on vacation with us.  It resided very happily on the patio and I talked to it daily.  I was rewarded with two sturdy, leafy sprouts.  I brought it home and put it on the back porch to re-acquainted with the family and I went to check on it this morning I discovered two sad, spindly, leafless stalks.  Some damn critter must have eaten the leaves.  I hope it gets a bellyache.  Fortunately, two more sprouts are emerging so I brought the pot back inside to the windowsill with another tiny pot where I’m trying to germinate oregano.  Do you know if you very gently stroke seedling leaves the plants will grow stockier and sturdier?  Give it a try – just do it when no one is watching.

Aside from a daily watering, my garden was left unattended for the seven days we were away.  When I am home, I visit the backyard several times daily to see if anything exciting has happened in my absence.  For that reason, the garden has seemed to grow at a snail’s pace.  Imagine my excitement to come home to find the tomato plants doubled in size,  one spectacular chartreuse cucumber, basil  begging to be made into pesto with extra to freeze,  newly opened periwinkle borage blossoms…these are the joys of gardening.

Mini Cucumber

Alas, the powdery mildew has not disappeared completely from the zucchini and the tomatoes now host a family of newly hatched caterpillars.  I really despise caterpillars.  I gave them a good bath with bacillus thuringienesis.  I hope they are drinking it up and it is corroding their little bellies into a fatal mass of rotten goo.  How violent.  Have you ever considered gardening as a violent activity?  With all the talk about organics, companion planting, crop rotation, composting, treading lightly on our earth, etc.  I still have my very own Quentin Tarentino bloodbath happening in my backyard.   Barbara Kingsolver touched on this subject in her completely engrossing, enlightening, erudite book Animal Vegetable Miracle.

Borage Flowers

Even the most humane gardening practices will unavoidably cause harm to earth’s creatures.  But just because we feel comfortable destroying living beings on a small-scale for our own improvement does not give us license to destroy on the factory farming scale.  Now for a glimpse of my dark side:  my conscience is completely comfortable with the wholesale massacre of innocent caterpillars.  I may still have some bug guts under my nails from this morning’s raid.

Since this December 2010, I have eaten a mostly vegetarian diet.  Well, while on vacation last week I slipped off the vegetarian wagon and boy am I suffering the effects.  I ate lots of fish and seafood and I feel AWFUL!  My stomach is all queasy, I feel lethargic, I haven’t slept well, let’s not mention my bathroom habits but suffice it to say the machinery is malfunctioning.  And the cravings!  Last night I CRAVED Chinese food – the bad stuff – breaded and fried animal.  And I gorged on this stuff until I felt I could eat no more and then I ate some more.  About 30 minutes after my gluttonous rampage I felt like I hit a brick wall.  I could barely keep my eyes open and my body felt like it was trying to run a marathon while I was lying down.  So I get the message.  Too much animal protein stresses my body and I have enough external stress without bringing it inside.  What is it about the crazy cravings unwholesome food brings on?  I need to return to sanity.  Bring on the fruits and veggies!!

So I made what I call Redemption Soup on Sunday.  The recipe is adapted from The New Mediterranean Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins and she calls it by its traditional name, Gazpacho.  Full of raw, nutrient packed veggies it is just what an overindulged tummy needs.  The soup will be creamy, cold, tart, refreshing and your body will thank you with glowing skin, a clear, focused mind and the energy of a two-year old (I wish).

Redemption Soup

6 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes *easy peeling instructions below

1 cucumber peeled and chopped

1 green pepper chopped

1/2 red onion chopped and then soaked in cold water for 15 minutes (this step takes away some of the onion’s pungency)

1 thick slice day old French bread soaked in cold water and then squeezed dry (I didn’t have day old bread so I put the slice in the microwave and zapped it until dry – less than a minute)

1 tsp toasted and ground whole cumin  **instructions below

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp sherry

1/2 cup very good quality extra virgin olive oil (yes, this is an extravagant amount, but trust me, its worth it)

salt & pepper to taste

Garnish:

1 chopped boiled egg

1 tbsp. capers

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 finely diced jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed)

Place the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, and drained red onion in a blender and process until pureed.   (I have a small blender so I whirled half the veggies, poured them in a bowl and then processed the remainder in a second batch) Tear the bread into pieces and add it to the vegetable puree in the blender.  Add in the cumin, vinegar and sherry and process until everything is very smooth.  With the motor running slowly pour in the oil and then add salt and pepper to taste.  If you have split the vegetable puree in two batches, pour the seasoned half into the first batch and stir together to combine.  In a separate bowl, stir together the capers, parsley and jalapeno.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped egg and caper mixture.

*Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Carefully drop in the whole tomatoes 2 or 3 at a time.   Leave the tomatoes in for 2-3 minutes or until the skin starts to crack open.  Immediately remove the tomatoes and drop them in a bowl of ice water until they are cold enough to handle.  The peels will slide right off without taking a lot of the flesh with them.

** Heat the cumin seeds in a skillet on medium heat just until they become fragrant.  Grind in a coffee grinder – if you don’t have a coffee grinder be creative and use something heavy (rolling pin, cast iron skillet, bricks, etc.) to crush them.

The sugars in the vegetables provide active energy, the protein in the egg helps ground the potent energy burst and the miraculous product of the jewel of the Mediterranean, olive oil, just keeps all systems running smoothly.

I would be remiss to neglect mentioning one of my favorite movies of all time Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown directed by Pedro Almodovar.  Pepa, the heroine, in a fit of despair over her breakup with her lover, empties a bottle of sleeping pills in the blender with her gazpacho.  Various supporting characters stop by her apartment and sip the gazpacho resulting in hilarious complications.   Great movie! Great gazpacho!  Give both of them a try – together would be ideal – minus the sleeping pills, of course.

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In the Nursery

Now that I have a better camera I can post some updates to show how the garden is progressing.  Look at these adorable babies!

Calypso Beans

I’m letting the beans dry on the vine.  It won’t be long now before I need to replant this space.

Sweet Pea Tomatoes

Caprese salad, margherita pizza, bruschetta, salsa de pomodoro fresco, dreams of tomatoes dance in my head!

Miniature White Cucumber

Crisp, cold, crunchy cucumbers!  Don’t worry, this variety is no relation to Larry Boy.

Pucker up!

What’s salty and sour and yellow all over?  No, this is not a dirty joke, I’m talking about preserved lemons.  This product of Moroccan ingenuity can’t be found in regular grocery stores.  But preserved lemons are ridiculously easy to make and exotically delicious in recipes.  I have two sources from which I have adapted this recipe:  Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and The New Mediterranean Diet by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

Preserved Lemons

Start with a dozen or so lemons (organic if you can find them –  worth the cost because the rind is the star) and a box of coarse sea salt.  Next, look in the refrigerator and take out the half-used glass jar of spaghetti sauce that you can’t remember opening but you are too cheap/lazy to throw away.  I don’t eat mayonnaise (eeeewwww) but I bet that kind of jar would work, too.  Give the jar a good scrub (do not transfer that old contents to another container – throw it away!) and then get a big pot of water boiling on the stove. Carefully slip the glass jar with its lid into the boiling water and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the jar and lid from the water and let cool on a dishcloth.  While the jar is cooling, scrub the lemons under water, dry them and then slice into quarters vertically from end to end but do not slice all the way through.  You want the lemon to hold together.  Pack lots of salt inside the cut, massage some salt onto the outside and then slip the entire lemon into the sterilized jar.  Now, if you have thought ahead, you chose a jar with an opening large enough for a whole lemon.  However, if you just now realize the opening is too small, do not despair.  It will be okay if you have to slice apart the lemons to get them in the jar.  Yes, I speak from experience.  They just won’t be as pretty.  When you have packed the jar full, submerge the lemons with juice from the leftover lemons.  Screw on the lid and then leave the jar in a cool, dark place for three weeks.  I put my jar in the bottom drawer in the fridge and that worked just fine.   During this time, if you remember, you can occasionally give the jar a shake.  Otherwise, the salty, sour briny liquid will work its magic all by itself.

Preserved Lemons

Now that you are intrigued and inspired to try the lemons, what do you ask, do I use them in?  Although an essential ingredient in many Moroccan tagines, the lemons can be used in place of fresh lemon peel in dishes where the understated lemon flavor is a welcome addition.  To get you started, blogging has already brought me a new, dear, inspiring and brilliant friend in Christine Pittman, whose recipe for Preserved Lemon and Cantaloupe Salad would be a perfect way to introduce this flavor to your repertoire.  Her recipe will be featured on the BlogHer Food Page as an Editor’s Pick.  In case you haven’t heard of it, www.blogher.com is a super cool place featuring the best blogs on a huge variety of topics.  Way to go Christine!  I’m so happy for you that your blog is receiving much deserved attention.   Go to Christine’s blog,  www.cookthestory.com, for this and more of her inspiring and delicious recipes.

Christine sent me the link to her post: http://www.blogher.com/gift-salad-preserved-lemon-and-cantaloupe-salad?wrap=blogher-topics/food/recipes&crumb=106889

Also, my previous post titled “Detours” mentioned Summer Vegetable Stew with Herb Butter.   I used the preserved lemon peel, diced very finely, in the herb butter with very pleasing results.  I will very soon remake the recipe so I can share it with photos.  I would hate for you to not have an opportunity to try it!

Good news!  Note the photos of the lemons on my post! Yes, I bought a new camera, not exactly what I want but one that will get me through the next few weeks.  And one that I won’t be frightened to take to the beach or leave unattended on the kitchen counter.  I tell you, when I held the Canon Rebel at Colonial Photo and Hobby, my hands shook.   Think I’m just not ready for adult photography toys.  However, if Karla has any say in the matter, I’ll have my brand spanking new Canon Rebel in no time (and she will have her very own Macbook).

Cheers!

Detours

I hope all my mommy friends had a wonderful, well-deserved day of fun and relaxation!  Today is Tuesday and Mother’s Day already feels a million years ago.  Sigh.  At least the lovely tulips and irises my dear hubby gave me maintain their cheeky pinks and purples.

Oh, an ode to motherhood and all its intrinsic embarrassments.  I’m teaching my four-year old to identify rhyming words and on Mother’s Day he came to me and said, “Mommy nine and wine are rhyming words”.  Um, yes dear they are, that’s wonderful! I replied.   Today he is at pre-school and I will certainly cringe if the school’s comes up on my phone’s caller-ID.

Berried Treasure

Our culinary adventures this past weekend revolved around berries!  Strawberry and blueberry season is upon us so I took the boys to Pappy’s U-Pick.  I really wanted to make the trip worthwhile and pick enough blueberries so I would have some to freeze. Obsession overcomes ambitious people when faced with a challenge.  I had six quart-sized baskets to fill with tiny berries and berry bushes as far as the eye could see.  I knew that the bushes closest to the parking lot would be the most picked over so we headed for the far corners.  The refrains “I’m thirsty”, “no shoes”, “I’m thirsty”, “no shoes” did nothing to hold back my goal.

My Little Big Boy

While I focused on selecting the plumpest, bluest berries, I kept the boys close to me by warning about the snakes lurking under the bushes.  I hope they don’t have a snake phobia now.  Just as my hand detached a berry and dropped it in the basket my eye would land on MORE berries just an arm’s reach away.  The berries were poetically plump vibrant ruby and sapphire orbs.   And they were perfectly sweet!  We filled six baskets and even improvised a container from the hat one of the boys wore.  I will definitely make another trip out there soon.

My Little Boy

On the way home, we stopped at a fairly decent farmer’s market located in the parking lot of an open-air, big box shopping mall.  I scored two red peppers and a yellow pepper, four young zucchini, and three plump tomatoes for $5.   Then I went home and pulled out the cookbooks.  Little did I anticipate a derailment….

Learning new things reportedly keeps the mind young.  Being a mom requires juggling multiple tasks while changing direction at a moment’s notice in response the dilemmas life throws to you.  Long story short, my camera croaked this weekend.  Buoyed by my successful produce shopping, on Mother’s Day I prepared a lovely meal of Summer Vegetable Stew with Herb Butter and Yeasted Sugar Cake with Blueberry Compote.  I artfully arranged dinner and dessert plates for photos and snapped away until I noticed that the photos looked like I had smeared the lens with Crisco.  Great for Garbo’s close-ups, not so much for plates of food.  I fooled around with the camera settings but had no luck.  So while I am dying to share the recipes, the absence of photos just won’t do.  Just a minor hitch in the plans.  I must admit my photography skills have a lot of room for improvement so, on the bright side of things, today I will shop for a new camera.  SLR digital cameras, a stretch for my budget and my skills, seem to be the food photographer’s camera of choice.  And you dear reader can eagerly anticipate my post with the mouth-watering recipes and accompanying photos.

I did at least manage snap a few adorable pix of my cuties at the berry patch.  And I still put together a post for today taking just a slight detour from my original plans.

p.s. The photo of the boxes of berries was my camera’s grande finale.  RIP Casio Exilim.

All About My Garden

The fall before my oldest son turned one I set up two raised garden beds in my backyard.  I planted a bunch of vegetables that were loved to death by caterpillars – the big, juicy Chartreuse ones that make you feel like you are murdering a small animal when you stomp them and their guts ooze and leave a greasy residue you have to wash away with the hose. YUCK.  Weeds then came along and choked what the caterpillars rejected.  At least my procreation plans moved right along and I got pregnant again.  Fast-forward two years and now that I no longer have a baby attached to my breast (well not for nourishment anyway) the second incarnation of my garden is underway.  Three cedar log raised beds replace the two plywood 4×4 beds I began with three years ago.   I’ve also repurposed one corner flowerbed for edible plants.  Hold your breath, here’s what growing in my suburban backyard:

  • Ronde de Nice zucchini
  • Flageolet beans
  • Calypso beans
  • Christmas lima beans
  • Miniature white cucumber
  • Forellenschluss lettuce
  • Aunt Molly’s ground cherry
  • Sweet Pea currant tomatoes
  • Rainbow tomatoes
  • Heirloom Greek tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Nasturtiums
  • Calendula
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Greek Oregano
  • Savory
  • Lovage
  • Borage
  • Bee balm
  • Red Velvet Sunflowers
  • Mint from summers past that refuses to die

Okay, I have only three raised garden beds, (well, a total of four beds with the ground level plot where I’ve sown the ground cherries and one of the beds is 4×7) how, you might ponder, do I have room for all these plants?

Newly sprouted bee balm

Well…. seeds are miniscule capsules of future promises and you can toss A LOT of them onto the soil and their green heads so teeny tiny when they pop above the soil.

When I planned the “major” plants, I really had no idea how big the beans would grow (see previous post about “Cooking Beans”) and now I wish I had planted more of them.  And due to my congenital lack of patience, I want all the bare dirt covered NOW with a carpet of verdant, fecund green.

The growing rate of the different plants took me by surprise.  I planted all the seeds on February 26 in peat pots.  Some seeds lulled around like divas in a mud bath and some set their sights on the checkered flag.  Now in early May the Christmas limas have outgrown their 6’ bamboo supports, my currant tomatoes have teeny yellow blossoms on foot tall plants, and the squash pumps out blossoms like Lucy & Ethel’s chocolate factory.  Sadly, troopers that they are, my little ground cherries could be mistaken for an amuse bouche garnish.  However, I do realize that if all goes as planned, come July, my backyard will make the Little Shop of Horrors look like a petunia patch.

Ronde de Nice Squash Blossoms

No seriously, at this point in time, most of the plants are in their adolescence, just now showing the curves, muscles and hairy patches that indicate looming adulthood but not yet crying out for elbow room.   I have really had to contain myself when I make “quick” trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot.  The stores now stock a much better variety of seed than they have in the past and I find irresistible those little packets with their pretty pictures and the magical music the seeds sing to me when I shake the packet!  Just yesterday I caved in and bought rosemary and lavender plants because their plump sappy sticky bottle green leaves wafted their hypnotizing fragrance into the air and I fell in their thrall.  Those now abide in clay pots.

Next year I will be better able to anticipate my needs and so I will (promise!) purchase all my seeds through seed savers exchanges to do my part in promoting plant diversity by using heirloom, non-GMO, organic seeds.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even sketch a garden plan.

Garden May 2011

My First Dragonfruit

I am completely in awe of the amazing blogs being created.  The brilliant photography!  The witty, genius writing!   One such blog chronicles a Swedish couple, their daughter, and their six-month culinary and cultural voyage around the world.  A guest writer from Asia posted pictures on their blog of this improbably bizarre fruit called dragonfruit.  I had never heard of such a thing!  Shaped like an alien flower bud, its exterior is a vivid gaudy fuchsia and its interior is polka-dotted white and black.  Visions of an 80’s outfit I wore in high school scarily come to mind.  My husband said he had tried the fruit before but I have never in my life seen it.  Duly inspired, I took off laptop in tow to a coffee shop to get my thoughts together and plan my own brilliant blog.  While there, I searched the CSA database to find a Friday farmer’s market.  I found a Friday farmer’s market in Flagler Beach.  Coincidentally, my husband surprised me last October with a romantic birthday weekend at Flagler Beach.  We stayed in a magical bed and breakfast owned by a most genial couple.  Suddenly I had unfolding before me a day at a lovely beach AND a new farmer’s market!  I burned my tongue slurping down my coffee, packed up my things and raced back home to pick up the family and get on the road.   Flagler Beach is an hour and a half drive from Orlando but the boys napped blissfully and we got to listen to Brian Ferry in peace the entire way there.  The bridge over the intercoastal dropped us on a quaint beachside town square unfolding toward the blue Atlantic and occupied by perhaps a dozen white tents covering a plethora of colorful wares.

Flagler Beach Farmer's Market

We hurried the boys out of the car promising them a festival and then the beach (Little white lies are a mere survival tool at this point in our lives.  One does not reason with toddlers).  After a quick survey (again, casual meandering does not figure in with toddlers in tow), we entered the largest of the fruit and vegetable stands.  One of the first things my eyes landed on was a plastic bag only partially obscuring the oblong, fuchsia object about the size of an orange inside.  I could hardly believe the day’s serendipity!  Dragonfruit!  One lonely specimen but mine nonetheless.   A $3.50 treasure!

I asked the stand’s proprietor where it came from and with a shrug of her shoulders she said Miami.   Tropical Miami may or may not be an appropriate climate for the fruit of a cactus.  A topic for future exploration.  So we wrapped up our shopping, schlepped everything to the beach.  After settling under our umbrella I got out a paper plate and plastic knife and whacked unceremoniously into my prized fruit to taste it.

Yes, future posts will explore my congenital lack of patience.  What did it taste like?  Drum roll please…not much of anything.  The flesh was mildly sweet, a drier version of the confounding soft and crunchy texture of kiwi but no explosion of violently complex perfumed tropical nectar promised by the gaudy exterior.  Oh well.  For all I know it had spent the last four weeks in a cargo hold being gassed to keep from rotting.  Sigh.  But what an incredibly lovely fruit!  I refuse to lose my enthusiasm over one example.  I know when fresh and chilled (and eaten under a palm tree on a Balinese island) it must taste better so I’m not going to write it off just yet.  I just need to find a more local source.  Or better yet, go to the source.  And anyway, how can I deny the joy in this completely serendipitous day?

This website for a company based in California has a really interesting description of the fruit:  http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/dragon_fruit.htm

Closer to home, here’s a place in Miami that offers an enormous variety of exotic fruit:  http://www.tropicalfruitnursery.com/index.htm.  This culinary adventuress may have a field trip to Miami coming up soon!

The impetus for day of the dragonfruit: Green Kitchen Stories  http://www.greenkitchenstories.com

Wow! That’s a lot of beans.

Calypso, Flageolet and Christmas Lima Beans

My gardening adventure of 2011 began in a harried haze of confused urgency.  You will note below that a photo of cooked Christmas Lima Beans graces my first post while in reality my seedlings are just now happily winding themselves up their willow reed support.  In my crazed excitement perusing the Seed Savers Exchange online seed catalog www.seedsavers.org, I clicked the category “Cooking Beans” thinking, well duh, of course I’m going to cook them….Mind you, I attempt all of my online shopping with a background chorus of screams in various pitch …. Variations indicate not just emotional but actual physical injury, which necessitate quickly shutting down the laptop, jumping up from the table, and running mommy to the rescue. By the time I’ve returned to my shopping, I’ve forgotten exactly where I was in the online catalog and resume as best I can. So I frantically complete my order for three different kinds of “cooking beans”, balking somewhat at the price and quantity (500 seeds?) but needing to wrap up the order before the next screaming session began. After a few days, the lovely beans arrive in the mail and I examine the package and search everywhere for planting instructions. I call the company to ask if they are bush or climbing type etc. and I exclaim my surprise that no instructions were included with the package. The patient and kind young woman explains that I purchased “cooking beans’ (well, duh) and the beans in these packages are not proofed for germination. Well, lucky for me they hadn’t been sitting in the Seed Savers’ basement for the last three or so years and the seeds I planted in peat pots had already germinated so I was good on that front but feeling rather obtuse that I hadn’t noticed the LARGE DISCLAIMER at the top of the “Cooking Beans” page that said “THESE SEEDS ARE NOT MEANT FOR PLANTING”. Cooking beans, duh.  Okay, got it.

On the bright side, I have bonus beans! I get to cook them before I even grow them. Since I’m growing three types I think I will cook one each month for the next three months. That way, while I am battling caterpillars, aphids, heat and humidity, the beans culinary potential will encourage me  through the long, hot days of summer.

Sorrel, green onion, celery

I adapted my first recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This cookbook contains magic.  Every time I open it I find just the perfect recipe and seemingly one I’ve never seen before. Case in point – she has a recipe called Giant Lima Beans with Parsley and Sorrel. I have always wanted to try sorrel and fortuitously, a local hydroponic grower supplies it.  It tastes like sour spinach – very refreshing but tart. And as mentioned above, I have a quantity of giant Christmas Lima Beans and no reason not to cook them up. I imagined that my beans really would benefit from the crisp green crunch of celery so I added that to the sauce ingredients. I slipped off the vegan wagon and cooked the green onion and celery in butter – the smell is divine. I thought the sorrel would “melt” and become saucy, but maybe I didn’t tear the leaves into small enough pieces because they wilted but didn’t become liquid.  The beans tasted earthy like kidney beans but milder with a more tender skin and firmer interior.  Due to their size they did great in a dish where their substance provided the ‘meaty’ base for a vegetarian meal.  They were terrific finger food for my two-year old, who kept snatching them from my plate (I had prudently fed them their own dinner, just in case).   And the leftover beans added substance as a topping for salad the next day.

Christmas Lima Beans with Sorrel Sauce

2 cups Christmas Lima Beans – boiled for one minute in four quarts water and soaked for one hour
Herbes de Provence
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup diagonally sliced celery
1 cup sliced leek or green onion
1 cups torn sorrel leaves
1/2 chopped fresh parsley
Cooked Brown Rice

After the beans have soaked, drain and rinse, return to pot and cover with water and add a generous tablespoon of Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil and cook until tender 45 to 60 minutes adding boiling water as necessary to keep the beans submerged 2-3 inches. Add a generous tablespoon of salt at about the halfway cooking point. When tender, drain and return to the pot to keep warm. (reserve a cup or so of the cooking liquid for the sauce).

Melt the butter in a sauté pan and when hot add the leek or green onion and the celery. Saute until just tender and then add the sorrel leaves. Mush up the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon. Toss in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste. A 1/2 cup or so of the bean cooking liquid will moisten and thin the sauce. Cook until the sorrel is wilted , 3-4 minutes.

To serve: spoon the brown rice onto a plate. Layer with a portion of the hot, cooked beans and then top with the sorrel sauce. Serves 4.

Christmas Lima Beans with Sorrel Sauce