Saturday, April 21, 2018

Oops, I Did It Again! - Rancho Gordo Bean Club

I must confess - all this simple eating we've been doing lately that includes beans, like Mary's Bean Stew and refried beans over sweet potatoes, even the munching of plain garbanzo beans as a snack during Jeopardy sometimes, made me think about all the dried beans in my pantry. When I make the stew again tomorrow, I plan on using my Crockpot right at the start, and I'll be using one the bags of Ranch Gordo's Yellow Eye beans I have leftover from the last time I belonged to their Bean Club.

Since the stew, I also made up a batch of garbanzo beans, and another batch of Good Mother Stallard but plain, not as a stew or anything.

And I kept thinking of rejoining that bean club, but every time I checked for the past few months it would be "sold out" and not taking new members.

And then the other day I got a link to this article about Steve Sando, the founder and owner of Rancho Gordo:

The Hunt for Mexico’s Heirloom Beans
Rare varieties discovered by Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando have turned the humble legume into a gourmet food.

OK, I took it as a sign from above, and went right to the Rancho Gordo web site store, where - Lo and Behold! - the Bean Club was, indeed, reopened to new customers! My husband said to go for it (One of his favorite phrases lately), and I signed up again. This is the third or 4th time I signed on to the Club. I LOVE the beans I usually get, except I really dislike lima beans of all varieties, and it seems they would always have a bag of some type of lima bean in the quarterly boxes. Eventually I would have something like 6 bags of lima beans in my bean box in the pantry and I would get so frustrated I would just cancel the whole club. I wish there was a way to tell them NOT to send lima beans.

Sorry about that rant, but I really do dislike lima beans. But just so you know, notice that each mention of them is a link to one of the many varieties of lima /runner beans they sell. I can be a little silly like that.

Anyway, while there I also put an order in for one bag each of 6 different varieties of beans that they sell, beans that were never included in the old Bean Club orders I had received. One of the things about this club, both good and bad, is that the bean offerings changes as beans become available and go out of stock. My all time favorites, that Good Mother Stallard I use in many bean recipes, frequently goes out of stock, so I'm perpetually on the waiting list for it, and when available, hang the price, I order at least 10 more bags of them. It's been a while now since my last order of those beans, and I have only 3 bags left in the closet. The Yellow Eye I'll be using tomorrow is no longer offered, so even if I fall in love with it, unless Steve can find a new grower, it's gone. A hazard of heirlooms, I guess.

So, any day now I expect an email with the tracking number of those beans, and if lucky, another email telling me the first box from my club subscription is on the way. 

And I'm glad I jumped in and ordered the Club when I did - it's now listed as "out of stock" again.

It's also a good thing the weather is approaching temps high enough to open windows again (We had frost warnings the other night! In mid-April! AFTER the last-frost date!), because once those beans get here . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Derek's Simple Recipes

Derek, from the YouTube channel Well Your World, recently did a video entitled What I Eat In A Day. Being a successful McDougaller, you know whatever he makes is within the good doctor's guidelines.

In it he does 3 different starch-based meals that are quick and easy to make.

The Breakfast Potatoes used russets that he cooked overnight in the Instant Pot (but you can use them straight from the refrigerator, too), a bell pepper, and a diced onion. That's it!

Lunch was something he called Starch Blaster, made with 2 different types of lentils and a slew of other starches, like rice, even pasta. He also used those dehydrated mixed veggies. I usually keep those on hand during the winter to make soups and stews (Jeff Novick does, too, year round) and I'm always looking for more uses for them, they're so cheap and convenient. This stew concoction looks like it'll fill the bill nicely.

The last recipe is still starch based but is a bit heavier on veggies. He did this purposely because he was so starch heavy for the other 2 meals. He sautes up a bunch of various non-starchy veggies (onion, cauliflower, zucchini, celery, zucchini, and what looks like enoki mushrooms and tiny eggplants he got at the Asian grocery store). Make a batch of rice, a big batch of a nutritional yeast cheese sauce, mixes them all together and tosses them in a casserole dish and bakes it.

Looks like I have a few new simple recipes to try in the near future!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mary McDougall's Bean Stew

In Mary McDougall's video entitled "Planning Meals", she talks about all the super simple meals she makes for herself and Dr. McDougall. Throughout this past winter, I took her advice and made many of these really simple meals. Two or 3 days a week I make potatoes and vegetables, either with the Fat Free Golden Gravy, some leftover chili, or one of the Dr. McDougall Right Foods cups or boxes of soup or chili on top. Two days a week I make rice with veggies, and one day we use the Engine 2 Sweet Fire Dressing and the other our respective favorite sauces (the kid and I like teriyaki, hubby uses the Esselstyn 3-2-1 dressing). One day I make pasta (Jeff's Basic Marinara Sauce or Mary's Puttanesca Sauce are our favorites, although sometimes I switch it up and make mac and cheese using Mary's Oaty Mac and Cheese sauce). The other days I either make a Jeff Novick SNAP recipe, a Chef AJ chili, or one of Mary's many soup recipes (Festive Dal, Mexi, Black Bean, Your Kids Will Love This are our usual choices). Once in a while I would try something from an Engine 2 cookbook, or one of the older McDougall recipes from their books or newsletters, but not that often.

One thing I hadn't tried until now is Mary's Bean Stew recipe that she did in that video.

I have so many bags of beans on my pantry shelf, some leftover from when I belonged to the Rancho Gordo Bean Club, others I just picked up along the way for a recipe and never used. I figured before they get too old, let me try this. Here's what I copied down as the video ran:

Bean Stew
Cook a bag or 2 of unsoaked beans in a slow cooker
2 (or 3) x as much water as beans  (See my note way down below)
Turn power on High and cook 4-5 hours
Add 1 tablespoon or more of no-salt seasoning (Kirkland)
Toss in a handful of dried tomatoes
Re-cover and let cook a few more hours
Add at least 2 cups baby spinach, kale, chard or other greens
Serve over potatoes, rice, or other starch. 

Mary said she uses her older simple Crockpot and never used the slow cooker feature on her Instant Pot. Well, I did use my IPot. More on that later.

In the video, Mary said she usually uses 2 pounds of beans, and the night before used cannelini beans. I used a one pound bag of Good Mother Stallard from Rancho Gordo because that's what I have the most of at the moment. That and the water went into the I-pot, I put my largest Revereware skillet lid over the top, turned it to High slow cook, and walked away. About an hour and a half later I was walking through the kitchen talking to my son and noticed that for the first time ever, the little water catcher on the back of the Instant Pot had something in it besides crumbs of food. My son looked even closer and said not only is there water in it, it's over flowing and leaving puddles on the counter and it's flowing towards the floor! ACK! 

Now came a mad dash to staunch the flow, clean up the water that was already there, find my tried and true 40 year old brown round Crockpot. Well, it wasn't where I last saw it, and between mopping up water and going through storage spaces in this cramped apartment, my son found it buried behind the bread machine that hasn't been used in about 5 years. I take the lid off of it and YUCK! There was something growing in it. Apparently it either wasn't washed all that well or still damp when it was put away that last time and there was mold in the bottom of the crock. OK, keep calm - I still had a larger oval Crockpot that was purchased about 10 years ago for only $10 on sale at Target when they first opened the next city over. It was unused because I never needed the volume, then I bought the Instant Pots. Luckily I knew exactly where that was and it was easily dug out, crock part washed out, and the  search for a space in the kitchen - ANYWHERE in this apartment - big enough to fit it began. Eventually we were able to set up a tv tray in the hallway and find a heavy-duty extension cord (the cord on the new Crockpot is only about 15 inches long) and got it set up. I poured the beans and water from the Instant Pot into the Crockpot, turned it to High, added a bit more water to make up for what leaked all over, popped the lid on, and gave a sigh of relief. My son helped me put all the stuff that was pulled out of the cabinets during the searches back, poured soap and hot water in the old crock and left it to soak in the sink, found a new home for the newer Crockpot so I can easily get to it in the future, and tried to find a new home for the old Crockpot after I get it scrubbed out again.

Next time I just might make my beans in the Instant Pot under pressure, and for the next steps just put it on keep warm in the I-Pot. Unless these come out fantastic, that is. This kind of bean tastes pretty great made in the I-Pot, and since a lot of people say their beans taste better when slow cooked, if these taste any better than they already do you can be sure this will be added to our weekly menu.

The first 5 hours have now passed. The house smells fantastic. Some people can't stand the smell of beans cooking but my husband and I both love it, especially when the beans are from Rancho Gordo. 

Now it's time for the flavoring. Mary sings the praises of the Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning, a Costco product she now purchases through Amazon. I've tried a number of no-salt seasoning mixes over the decades, and I think I'm the only person alive who hates Benson's Table Tasty and Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute blends. I don't taste the other spices, only the citrus. It's just overwhelming. Instead, when a recipe calls for a no-salt seasoning, I go with Mrs. Dash's Table Blend. It, too, has orange peel and the other citrus flavorings that the other 2 have, but the taste is so muted I don't even notice them. So into the pot goes a tablespoon of it.

As for the tomatoes, Mary uses dried dehydrated tomatoes made from tomatoes picked from their own garden. I use this bag of smoked sun-dried tomatoes.

Stir everything up, make sure there's still enough water in there (or so I thought), lid goes back on. Now to wait until about a half hour before dinner so I can drop a ton of the baby kale/baby spinach greens mix into the pot. While that wilts up I'll make the same baby multi-color potatoes that Mary made. I usually microwave my tiny taters but to keep true to Mary's vision I'll cut and boil them for the 15 minutes she suggests.

Here it is in the Crockpot just after I added the greens. It was in a dark hallway and the only light came from a flashlight.

And here's the potatoes in the pot getting ready to boil:

Sorry for the lousy photo

Voila! He's the bean stew that Mary envisioned as a super simple meal, but in reality gave me a bit of grief, all served up in a bowl.

Notice it's very dry and not at all like stew as it is in Mary's photo. I can think of 2 reasons for this: 1) I lost more water than I thought when it dripped everywhere when in the Instant Pot, and 2) Mary used an older Crockpot whose temperatures were way lower than more recent Crockpots. I know my 40 year old pot has temps much lower than pots made even 25 years ago, about the time when they raised them because of botulism and other food borne bacteria scares. When that happened, so many writers of older recipes posted that the timing on all their recipes will now be off and if adjustments aren't made, food will burn. Well, this proves it. Even though I kept adding water, these beans still came out fairly dry. Mary said to use twice as much water when cooking the beans, I'll either use three times the amount (I adjusted the recipe to reflect this), or just make the beans in the older Crockpot or, if done in the Instant Pot, then continue cooking them on the Keep Warm setting for the rest of the cooking time.

Now for the taste test. Did the beans really taste better 1) slow cooked instead of pressure cooked, and 2) made without all the other flavorings I usually add to beans when I cook them, like onions, garlic, and Liquid Smoke? Aside from the dryness I already addressed, the beans tasted - - just okay. The addition of sun-dried tomatoes did add a different flavor than the usual onions and garlic that I usually add to my pots of beans. Not better or worse, just different. I do believe this dish would have been better served over rice instead of potatoes. I had mine as-is, but my husband doused his in sriracha sauce and was very happy with them.

I will make these again, probably as soon as next week, but will use a white bean, like cannelini, next time. And now that the older pot is scrubbed out and sparkling clean again, I may be using that one instead of this newer, hotter pot. I expect it to come out a little different once it has the right amount of water in it.

Thanks again, Mary McDougall, for another simple and tasty recipe. Well, it will be simple for me, eventually! LOL

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Another Oldie - Stovetop Zucchini Casserole

There are so many tiny McDougall cookbooks out there that were released in the days before the internet and bookstores like Back then, you had to know a book existed, and if you wanted to pre-order it or even buy it after its release, in some cases, you had to know the exact title, author, and ISBN number. Or be lucky enough to have a bookseller who knew of Dr. McDougall and ordered his books to have on his shelves.

I knew about Dr. McDougall back in the mid- to late 1980's, when our local health food store had 2 battered copies of The McDougall Health-Supporting Cookbook Volume 1 and Volume 2 in their little library nook. Each time I went to that store I brought my notebook and copied a few more recipes from it. The back of the books mentioned the author (Mary McDougall) was co-author of another book called The McDougall Plan, but it wasn't in our library's card catalog (This was also the years before inter-library loans, too), and the only bookstore in town looked in his catalogs and said it wasn't in any of them so if it did exist, he couldn't order it anyway.

Flash forward to 1992 and our first computer and a subscription to the Prodigy Bulletin Board network. It was there I found all I needed to know about John and Mary McDougall, especially their next book, The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health. Since it was a fairly new book it appeared in the catalog the local bookstore ordered from, and from that day on I would purchase every McDougall book released, usually as a pre-order, and thanks to Amazon now, have it in my hands the day of release. In the meantime, I would find out about all the other McDougall books I had missed over the years, and would pick them up when and where I could. Those original Health Supporting Cookbooks I got when the health food store decided to close the book nook and I got them for a total of $5. The New McDougall Cookbook I got at a mall bookstore's close-out department. Books like The McDougall Plan and the Doctor McDougall Health Enhancing Recipe Book would be purchased from vendors on And if you're just looking for something to make for dinner, no book is even needed - there's a great recipe section right on the McDougall website.

Anyway, this recipe has appeared only once, in that very first McDougall book I saw, The McDougall Health-Supporting Cookbook Volume 1. It's never been in any other McDougall book or cookbook, nor has it made an appearance in a newsletter or the web site, as far as I know. I recently acquired a half dozen zucchini, and not being too fond of the fruit (Yes, botanically that's what they are), I went looking through my McDougall recipe cardfile to find one that used a lot of this stuff and found this one:

Stove-Top Zucchini Casserole
6 medium zucchini, thickly sliced
3 potatoes, chopped
4 celery stalks, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. low sodium tamari
1 cup tomato sauce
In a large saucepan, saute the onions and celery in 1/4 cup water about 5
minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir gently to mix. Cover and cook
over medium-low heat until tender, about 35 minutes.
McDougall Health Promoting Cookbook
page 77
I used a bit more scallions, because I like them, but otherwise made it exactly as written when I tossed it all into the skillet:

As you can (barely) see, the tomato sauce has already been added. I really didn't have high hopes for the meal at this point. But I turned on the gas, popped the lid on the pan, set my timer, and walked away. 

After 35 minutes, I was greeted with about a quarter to third volume of veggies and a very watery, nearly tasteless, pink sauce.

How do I salvage this mess? First, I took out my handy tube of tomato paste from the refrigerator and squirted about half of it into the pan and mixed. In hindsight, I should have just gone to the pantry for a 6 ounce can and put that in. It still needed a little something more and grabbed my jar of Mrs. Dash® Tomato Basil Garlic Seasoning Blend and started shaking and mixing and tasting.


I forgot to take a photo at that point because by now my husband was already sitting there, fork in hand, waiting to eat. Here's a picture of my bowl after a few bites were taken out of it:

Ok, maybe I already ate half of my serving. Unfortunately, that was almost half the entire recipe! I gave my husband the larger half, and after he finished his bowl he took his loaf of Dave's Killer Bread and used 2 slices to sop up any sauce left in his bowl, another slice to finish off mine, and another 2 slices to sop up the skillet. So, a bit more than half the recipe's volume plus 5 slices of bread to satisfy one 6' tall, 160 pound man. About an hour later, I opened up a can of garbanzo beans, rinsed, and ate them. Finally I was no longer hungry!

Now I know why when others posted this recipe on-line they marked it as a side dish. This would be great if served with the Esseslstyn's Grandpa's Eat Loaf or Jeff Novick's burgers, but not by itself like I did it.

Would I make this again? Well, I'll think about it during the late summer, when all the stores are selling zucchini at cut rate prices. I'll either make twice as much or serve it with something else. After I doctored it up a little it really was quite tasty.