Hello. My name is Kim and I am a cookbook-aholic. I’ve flagged more cookbook recipes than would be humanly possible to make in a single lifetime. Yet my obsession with acquiring new and old cookbooks persists unabated. This month I share my compulsive tendencies via the “21 Days” series, featuring some of my favorite cookbooks from local authors and publishers. Please feel free to join me in finding new cookbooks to feed our passion at any of my favorite Triangle indie book sellers: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh or McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.
I had a slow cooker once that I used primarily in the cooler months to make a mulled wine for holiday parties. When I down sized my kitchen I had to part with rarely used small appliances, including that slow cooker. Then in 2013 I happened upon The Great Vegan Bean Book from local author Kathy Hester and I was inspired to replace that appliance ASAP! This cookbook exposed me to an entire world of beans with exotic names like Anasazi, Rio Zape, Vaquero and Borlotti, as well as dozens of ways to incorporate beans in each meal, from breakfast through dessert courses.
Beans are a very budget-friendly way to diversify your meals. While canned beans are a convenient time saver, dried beans are less expensive and with a little advance planning you can (slow) cook a batch seasoned to your taste. Hester’s book covers the basics of how to cook dried beans, including steps like inspecting and rinsing, soaking (or not) and various cooking methods beyond the slow cooker, in the “Beautiful Beans” opening chapter. My two favorite recipes from that section include a DIY “Savory Golden Bouillon” that becomes a base seasoning to many soups and sauces, and the “Bean Chorizo Crumbles”, a soy-free alternative to store-bought vegan chorizo. Each recipe can be frozen in small quantities for use at a later date.
Further chapters in the cookbook explore uses for beans in traditional breakfast dishes, such as pancakes, muffins, donuts and even waffles. Beans are a natural fit in appetizer, spread and dip recipes, as well as soups and stews. When it’s too hot to cook (like it feels today) a cool side of “Indian Chickpea Yogurt Salad” satisfies. Speaking of satisfaction, the “Casseroles, Pastas, and More” chapter is chock-full of one dish meals, like the Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce pictured above. I love the texture of this sauce, reminiscent of the traditional meat-based sauce and packed with protein. Finally, if you like a sweet finish to your meal (as I do) you’ll find some intriguing sweet treats in this cookbook. Ginger Red Bean Popsicles anyone?
If you’re “bean curious”, I’d recommend picking up a copy of The Great Vegan Bean Book and a slow cooker (if you don’t already have one stowed away in the back of a kitchen cabinet). Then let your taste buds take you on a tour of beans of many flavors.