Saturday, March 08, 2014

Milano is finished, knitting-wise. It will need at least one more session for dealing with ends and then I may or may not decide to block it. The picking up of stitches for the neck wasn't very tidy, and the fact that different colours were involved made small flaws more conspicuous: the neck scoop cuts down through several stripes, so whatever colour I chose for the band was going to have to pick up a lot of stitches from other colours.

I added an extra three rounds to the neck band itself, in the hope that the st st curl would conceal the pick-up line, and rather to my surprise, I think this has worked.

You'll have to wait a week or so for a pic, for reasons you will eventually understand.


I have just ordered Elliot's Bean Book – I bought the 1980 edition from Abebooks because several of the reviews on Amazon said it was better than the modern update. I use Abebooks a lot. I order things on-line a lot. When I got to the last click, security code from credit card already entered, I noticed that I was about to buy a book in Spanish (not about beans, as far as I could grasp) costing more than £23,000.

I removed it from my shopping basket and went ahead with the Elliot order, but it was an unnerving experience, and must have something to do with this plague of pop-ups which often means, as I said recently, that I click on one thing and get something else entirely. There's a job for Archie when he's here next weekend. I had better make a list for him.

And my sister says she has ordered the Rancho Gordo book for me from American Amazon – I should have an Abnormal ECG more often. Then Amazon offered her the Kindle edition for a small additional sum and she took it, since the pages of her own copy are stuck together with tamale sauce. hasn't got on to that wheeze yet. It's a good one.

Yesterday I cleaned out the top cupboard shelf where previous essays into healthy and cheap eating were stored – beans of various sorts (more than I expected) for the most part BBE Nov 2011. I threw them all away – they would have served well enough if we were under siege, but I now know that the fresher dried beans are, the better, so I'll start from scratch.

And I discovered that Jamie Oliver has a rather good pulse chapter in his first book, The Naked Chef.

But despite all that, I went to bed forgetting to put any beans on to soak. So, not today.


Alexander and his family are coming over for the rugby, ever hopeful. They'll drop in here around lunchtime if they can get past Rest and Be Thankful. It's been in trouble again.

I am strongly tempted to follow my own lead, and regard the Sundays in Lent as extra-curricular. I've never done that before, but I've never had an Abnormal ECG on Ash Wednesday before, either. One of the two or three things I can remember from a lifetime of sermon-listening is the suggestion that the cheerful acceptance of the penances life imposes on one can be more meritorious than laboriously carrying out the ones one has thought up for oneself. (I got home from church that day and found that the Aga had gone out, which sort of underlined the message.)

So, perhaps a bottle of Weston's Vintage with lunch tomorrow.


  1. An excellent idea. We always had Sundays 'off' during Lent. And I generally do a quick soak for beans like this one it works well and then I don't have to remember the night before.

  2. I was raised in Appalachia and we had very little to eat except for beans. Great Northern, Cranberry and Pintos.
    We always parboiled the beans as Mary Lou's link describes. Also dried beans will keep almost indefinitely in an air tight container in the freezer.

  3. Jean, a few years ago I stopped soaking beans altogether and find as long as they're fresh, the beans come out less mushy, hold their shape better, and are more flavorful. I'm pretty sure I found out about the no-soak method from Russ Parsons, food editor of the LA Times, who's quoted in this Michael Ruhlman piece (as is Steve Sando/Rancho Gordo, who looks to be a no soaker, too!) Link:

    Good luck! I love beans ... my favorite are white beans Tuscan style: tossed in good EVOO with a pinch of rosemary. Mmm.

  4. Deidra3:06 PM

    I'm with the parboiled beans contingent, too. Plus you can parboil beans and divide them up into smaller portions in containers or freezer bags and have them ready to cook later. Black beans for salads are especially good this way. Red and white kidney beans need a long boil though-they may contain a toxin, Phytohaemagglutnin (Kidney Bean Lectin), that can make you very sick and occurs more commonly in the UK than the US. They need to be soaked for at least 5 hours, then the soak water poured off, new water added and boiled briskly for at least 10 minutes, and then completely cooked. They think the odd statistic of the US not having any outbreaks while the UK has may simply be due to your physicians being more on the ball with reporting and recognizing the illness.
    My favorite beans are October beans. Which are available in late August/early September if you want them fresh from the vine. That always puzzled me growing up on the farm. :-)

  5. I vote for the cider. :-)

    Congrats on finishing the Milano. I'm looking forward to seeing a picture. Maybe you can get Archie to take one of you wearing it. It must be nice having him going to school nearby.

    You have got me onto beans. I ordered a book from Amazon yesterday called Bean By Bean. I need to check out the Rancho Gordo book as well.

  6. Enjoy your cider, Jean. Rose Elliott has instructions on a quick soak that takes about an hour and is a life saver when you forget to put the beans on to soak overnight. I do it in the pressure cooker that I will use to cook the beans in anyway.

    Enjoy the bean cooking

  7. Anonymous5:48 PM

    That is one of the best points I've ever heard in a sermon. Thanks for passing it on to us.

    On a mundane note: enjoy the beans, and please tell us which recipes you like most.
    -- stashdragon

  8. Pay attention to how you feel after the cider; it may make you feel worse, and you may be tempted to blame something else you consumed. If it does not make you feel worse, great! In my experience with my husband and his heart, alcohol was a large contributor to his feeling ill.

    On the beans, I always go back to Laurel's Kitchen, the first vegetarian cookbook I read. Loads of information about preparation and types of beans!

  9. such a nich chattty post!
    agree with all about the cider - we were allowed our "given up items" on Sundays when i was growing up.

    Beans - have been on a bean foray lately as well... Deborah Madison has some lovely recipes.

    wasnt impressed with the Rancho Gordo website but will look into the book on amazon for a preview.

    hope your weather is better than ours on the East Coast although we are actually above 50 for the first time in MONTHS! shortlived apparently with a return of snow flurries... sigh. i despair for my garden still under four feet of solid frozen snow.