Bags of Beans

Those of you who have been following DonQui’s adventures will know that he has been away from the home paddock quite a bit over the past few months. Home again now, he trots up to the allotment to see how things are doing. One of the problems with going away in the Spring or Summer months is that when he comes back he often finds the allotment overgrown with weeds and that he has missed some of his favourite produce.

beans allot general

Not so this year. He spaced his trips away to leave short weeding and harvesting gaps in between. He got the best of the soft fruits earlier in the summer.

beans soft fruit

Now that the strawberries and raspberries are over but the blackberries and blueberries are just starting to come into their own.

beans allotment

Beans are some of DonQui’s favourite vegetables and they do consistently well on his little plot. Earlier in the year he had some trouble with aphids on the broad beans. A tip from a veteran gardener helped DonQui to deal with them. Snip off the tips of the bean stalks and spray the little blighters with a highly diluted washing up liquid. This sorted them out and they never returned.

beans broad

After a very good harvest the broad beans are now finished and the dwarf French beans are producing a bumper crop. DonQui planted several varieties and he is glad that he did as it spreads out the production. Some of the later ones are not quite ready yet while others are more than ready for harvest.

beans 1

DonQui likes his beans young and thin. So he does not like to delay harvesting them. This means, inevitably he ends up with far more than he can eat in one go. Fortunately beans freeze very well so this is what DonQui does, getting on with the job while the beans are freshly picked.

First he sorts them into two-portion piles of roughly equally thick beans.

Then he blanches them in boiling water. Just 45-60 seconds for the thin ones and around 2 mins for the thicker ones.

beans drain

 

Next, he drains them and plunges them into cold water. Iced water would be even better but DonQui does not have any ice to hand. This stops them from continuing cooking.

beans dry

He lays the drained beans on paper towels to dry, then puts them into freezer bags and into the freezer.

beans bag

They will be good right through the winter and into next Spring. When cooking the frozen beans he simply thaws them out then swishes them around with butter in a pan. This seems to be all they need and they are quite delicious.

beans lastHaving dealt with one huge pile of beans he goes back up to the allotment a few days later and this  is what he comes back with. The runner beans are starting to produce as are the purple French beans. The purple beans turn green when cooked and taste no different from the green ones.

Spicy Beans and Tomatoes

One of the first things DonQui did when he got home was to check on the state of his allotment.

Now one of the problems of going away on holiday when you grow your own vegetables is that when you come back you find everything choked with weeds.

allotment

This time, however, things seemed in pretty good shape. The beans were still going strong, there were tomatoes nicely ripening along with kale, chard, carrots and onions. And the weeds had not taken over entirely. There were even a second crop of strawberries coming on. Perhaps they thought it was spring again!

So DonQui decided to treat himself to a little homecoming meal of spicy beans and tomatoes from his own produce.

beans and tomatoes

Here is the recipe. You will note that DonQui is not great on measurement as he tends to do things by feel and approximation.

Ingredients
Green beans topped, tailed and cut into small segments. Fine french beans are best but as DonQui had lots of runner beans he used them instead in this case.
Cherry tomatoes cut in half
A couple of spring onions finely sliced.
A handful of super fine soup noodles (optional)
Coconut oil (or you can use other cooking oil)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
Approximately 1 cm of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/8-1/2 teaspoon hot chilli powder (depending on your heat tolerance, DonQui likes things fairly hot)
1 teaspoon garam marsala
1 small tin coconut cream (160ml)

Method
Step 1. Boil the beans, 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Step 2. Gently fry the onion in the coconut oil until it begins to colour then add cumin seeds, and stir fry for about a minute until the cumin seeds begin to pop. Add the ginger and remaining spices, stir fry for a a few seconds until the spices begin to release their aroma.
Step 3. Add the drained beans, stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the tomato halves and continue to stir fry for a minute or so until they begin to soften but not so long that they fall apart.

Up to this point you can prepare in advance and leave to finish off later.

Step 4. Add the coconut cream, bring to the boil and stir until well mixed. If you are using the noodles then add them to the pan. Then let simmer gently for a couple of minutes with a lid on the pan so that the liquid does not all evaporate. When everything is warmed up then serve. If you do not use the noodles then serve with rice.