Monday, February 25, 2013

Simplicity in Snow Soup: Crockpot Beans with Pumpkin

It's sopping outside and icicles are beginning to push through, stinging like an emerging child. Snow will follow to quickly drop on us. And for a short time all things will be hushed in newness covered in a clean slate. Covered will be the molding leaves, crisped branches, and dormant seed heads from last year. Covered also are the new growth and the daffodils will still poke out their heads to see this new world. The birds will be shielded in their nests and maybe the moisture will bring us a little closer to normal water levels.  All these hidden seeds will be on an equal playing field before some emerge greedy pushing their way over the others, taking a large share of the water and nutrients.

Yesterdays Quince blooms that may be covered by tomorrow's snow
For those of you who celebrate Lent, it's a good time to simplify your meals a bit and reflect on the ecological impacts of your food chain. During a season of lent or reflection and to address that question of why some of these disciplines may prove fruitful I love Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline. For me, I try to focus a little more on whether my food abundance, and yes, excesses, are overtly or covertly impoverishing others or their land. If you are interested in seeking some communal resources that have many external sources to explore some of these issues I would recommend the curricula Just Eating? Finding Faith at the Table. Sometimes we try to eat more simply, in hopes that others may simply eat. I know this is idealistic, but still collectively could be very powerful.  I often think about those one billion around the world living on less than a dollar a day. Once I heard a challenge: To think about solidarity with the poor, have your family have one meal or one day a week when you try to eat just rice and beans and then to donate what you would have spent on a meal towards a hunger charity.

I love this concept. So I think that throughout lent I will try and bring in some meatless recipes that feature legumes with or without a grain. A great source of inspiration for this kind of bare cooking is Francis Moore Lapel's Diet for a Small Planet which has grown into this book and also Mennonite cookbooks.

So it's snowing, and everyone I know seems to be cooking up a pot of beans. So here is my contribution to that trend. Tasty, simple, and savory.

  • 3 cups of 10 bean mix $2.28
  • 12 cups of homemade vegetable broth (for this one I think it tastes best with minimum onions (sweet onions are okay) and tomatoes). Carrots tops and mild greens and celery tops. ~$2 of leftover vegetables
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree $1
Total: $5.28
Cost per person $0.88

Set your beans out to soak for a solid eight hours.

We still had a medium pie pumpkin left over from Halloween so I cut and scraped it. Then I cut it into large chunks. Put in the microwave covered with water for about 12 minutes on high. This makes the skins just peel away and it can be mashed with a fork to used for any pumpkin recipe. Put it in the crock pot on lowest setting along with the beans and broth. I cooked mine for 10 hours and then just left it warming all day, barely cooking till dinner.

Now make a cozy drink and go watch the snow!

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