Pinquito Bean and Quinoa Taco Filling

In the past, beans were considered a humble food, a source of protein for the common folk before it became affordable to eat meat daily. Today, beans are generally seen as a side dish (barbecued beans)–or the province of vegetarians. People tend to think of them as bland and boring, and cooks often add meat or, at the very least, herbs and spices to give them flavor. Because of beans’ unpretentious reputation, you may be a little surprised to learn that there are gourmet beans, beans grown in small crops from heirloom seed with price tags befitting luxury legumes. The biggest name in this small crop endeavor is Rancho Gordo, a California company that currently offers over 35 different types of naturally GMO-free beans. (The specific varieties change often due to availability.)

I first tried Rancho Gordo beans about a year ago, when I found Yellow Eye beans in one of the “fancy food” chain grocery stores. I didn’t have high expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that there really was a difference in flavor from “regular” dried beans. Just as noticeable as their delicate flavor was their texture, which was creamy yet firm. I hoped to experiment more with Rancho Gordo beans, but the local store stopped carrying them. After looking for them around town, I finally gave up last month and ordered 10 pounds of beans from the company’s website:

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Perfect Baked Sweet Potatoes

Happy New Year! Yes, I know I’m ridiculously late in saying that. People have been writing to ask if I’m all right because it’s been so long since I posted, so before I write one word about cooking, I want to assure you that I am fine. Actually, I’m more than fine. By any means of measurement, objective (blood tests, CT scans, etc.) and subjective (I feel great), I am 100% back to normal. I’m finding that once people hear that you have had cancer, every little absence from a meeting or a party or a blog makes them fear for your health. The truth is I feel so good that I’ve been busy with lots of mundane projects, such as transferring all my files from Windows to my new iMac, staining and sealing my new front entry doors, and planning some trips with my daughter later this spring (final college visits, yay).

But another reason I haven’t posted is that I’ve been in a cooking slump.

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Chickpea Omelet Mix

December 12, 2014
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I’m always looking for time savers, particularly when it comes to breakfast. Though I love chickpea omelets, especially as a break from the oatmeal I eat most days, I’m not often in the mood to measure all the seasonings I need to make them taste the way I like. So a few weeks ago, I […]

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Mushroom Seitan Roast

November 24, 2014
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Thanksgiving is this Thursday for most of us in the U.S., but believe it or not, I’ve already made Thanksgiving dinner twice. I’ve been determined to come up with a new main dish, a simple adaptation of my Seitan Stuffed with Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, and Mushrooms. It took me a couple of tries, but I […]

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Pasta Fagioli with Cranberry Beans and Kale

November 10, 2014
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Since the weather got cooler, I’ve been making a lot more soups and stews. And since I’ve been test-driving a new Instant Pot (more about that in an upcoming post), I’ve been pressure cooking a lot of dried beans. So it was only natural to use my new gadget to make a soup/stew starting with […]

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Killer Jalapeño Hummus

October 30, 2014
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Before I get to the recipe, I want to thank you for the huge outpouring of support after my last post. I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers and was honored to hear the stories that you shared. Though it strengthens me to know that I’m not alone, it also saddens me that so […]

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My Unexpected Diagnosis

October 9, 2014
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It was February 5th, my mother’s birthday and a month before the 20th anniversary of my becoming vegan. I was sitting in a breast surgeon’s office in a paper gown, cradling my biopsied breast and waiting. After about an hour and a half, my surgeon finally appeared, apologizing for keeping me waiting because the results […]

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MiracleNaise: Soy-free Mayo plus Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

September 28, 2014
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I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of soy I use–not that there’s anything wrong with it–and completely get rid of soy isolates, which I do think are unhealthy. Unfortunately, the silken tofu I always use, Mori-Nu Organic, contains “organic soy protein,” which is just another way of saying “isolated soy protein.” I […]

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Homestyle Lentil Soup

September 12, 2014
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Every time my parents come to visit, I tend to make the same dishes. My mother usually requests a stir-fry, and my daughter, seeing this special occasion as a opportunity to have her favorite dish, asks for lasagna. Sometimes I cook up a Southern meal of lima beans and greens or a vegetable soup, but […]

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Vidalia Onion Stir-fry Sauce

August 28, 2014
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While I was on vacation, I discovered a delicious stir-fry sauce that blends the sweetness of Vidalia onions from Georgia with Asian ginger. It’s a tantalizing fusion of Southern and Asian flavors, and my version doesn’t contain any sugar or thickeners.

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