Great Cookbooks for Families: Bean by Bean

[ 0 ] March 12, 2012 |

Fart avoidance tips are offered in most bean recipes. It seems this is an earnest concern among bean consumers. Crescent Dragonwagon addresses the topic (i.e. the fermentation of oligosaccharides by intestinal bacteria and controlling the volume/fragrance of any resulting gas) in the preliminary chapter of her new cookbook, Bean by Bean; after we’re reassured that nothing too unladylike will result from the cooking and eating of her bean recipes, we’re treated to more than 175 of them–starring fresh beans, canned beans, dried beans, tofu, and miso in soups, spreads, salads, stews, and desserts.

Bean by Bean arrived just as I hit the bean wall. My family eats beans for dinner at least twice a week, and usually three. Four if you count tofu and tempeh. One night: black beans and rice. Another night: channa masala. Another night: leftover black beans as tacos or burritos. And then: some sort of thing with fried tofu and ginger and soy sauce. And hummus, of course, is always on stand-by for lunch and cocktail hour.

This book made me ready to explore some new bean territory. An African soup with peanuts, navy beans, habanero, and greens (kale chopped to “polite mouth size”) and a miso-based bread spread were at the top of my must-eat list, as was this Dragonwagon-approved purchase: No-Bacon Bacon Salt from baconsalt.com. You can trust Crescent Dragonwagon–she obviously loves sharing good food and will not give you a bum steer. She even includes an entire section of hummuses, dips, and spreads. They’re perfect for doubling and eating all week on sandwiches or cucumber slices or crackers, and make me feel so smart and thrifty for planning ahead.

No one explores a culinary nook like Crescent Dragonwagon. Her book of a million recipes for cornbread is, counterintuitively, not a waste of space (how many cornbread recipes does one home really need?) but instead is more often splayed open on the counter–actively in use!–than tucked in on a shelf. (The answer to that question is 200+.) Likewise, 175 bean recipes sounds overwhelming but is not. Until you approach the chapter on dessert. But the peanut is a legume (a bean! Hallelujah!) so we begin with Peanut Butter Cup Brownies, and then are gentled into cookies with garbanzo flour, and only after that do we arrive at an uncharacteristically complicated recipe for Red Bean Ice Cream.

Almost all of the Bean by Bean recipes are easy to make. Cooking with dried beans takes time, but not the cook’s time–they work it out pretty much on their own. To peruse some recipes from the book, visit this link to Tom Ashbrook’s interview with the author. And then you can listen to the show while you make beans.

The details:
Bean by Bean

by Crescent Dragonwagon
2011 by Workman $16

Category: food + recipes, grocery news


Katy Killilea

about the author ()

Katy Killilea lives in Barrington with her husband, their sons (2001 + 2003), and a dog named Grover. Katy loves reading, cooking, loud pants, the Beehive in Bristol, and learning everything she can about Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. She says more about that at Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes.

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