Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Garden-fresh tomatoes add missing ingredient to these very "elementary" beans

My hubby couldn't have been more insulted. The recipe card that I, with a hopeful look on my face, plunked in front of him was labeled "Beans 101."

Hubby fancies himself as the Grand Pooh-Bah of Bean-Cooking. My recipe card with its unusual title apparently hinted to him that he might have something yet to learn on the subject.

Why “101”? his expression seemed to say. I'm already on the doctoral level where beans are concerned.

Nevertheless, he undertook the recipe and helped me out with what would be the next night's dinner. After all, he'd already been commenting that we'd need to have some homemade beans again sometime soon. And besides, the recipe card hailed from his beloved Chickasaw Nutrition Services office. As a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, to him these freebie recipe cards (mentioned in yesterday's blog) are—like everything else Chickasaw—sacrosanct.

Some 10 hours later, after the concoction bubbled on low overnight (and greeted us in the morning with an awesome aroma), hubby had a frown on his face when he sampled the mixture. "Needs something," he murmured with furrowed brow.

He grabbed the salt substitute and poured some into the crockpot. Not sufficient, he determined on taste. Next he browned some ground turkey (our substitute for ground beef) and dumped it in. Improving, he assessed. Then he thought of tomatoes--fresh tomatoes from the garden, or the canned-and-drained variety as a substitute. Now that's getting tasty, his pleased look communicated.

For our purposes we changed the name of the recipe to Tomato Chili Beans. Fresh tomatoes had saved the day, added lycopene and vitamins C and A, and given the chili beans an improved color, with red chunks bobbing in the liquid. (Cooked tomatoes are said to have even more health benefits than raw ones do.) We heaped our soup bowls high and then dabbed on sour cream with a dusting of shredded cheese and slices of avocado.

Beans 101 turned out to be a fine refresher course in perseverance and ingenuity. And as Grand Pooh-Bah of Bean-Cooking, my husband can add one more success story--this time with Tomato Chili Beans (see below)--to his repertoire.

Tomato Chili Beans

3 cups dried pinto beans
1/2 small onion, diced
10 sliced jalapenos (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
12 cups water
salt to taste
about 6 tomatoes, peeled and seeded (or 1 14-ounce can salt-free diced tomatoes, drained)
1 pound ground turkey, browned and drained (optional)
sour cream
grated cheddar cheese
sliced avacado

Wash and sort 3 cups of pinto beans. Discard any small stones. Place beans in a slow-cooker and fill with 12 cups of water. place small diced onion and jalapenos (if desired) in slow cooker. Add chili powder and black pepper. Add tomato. Add browned ground turkey, if desired. Cook on high for 1 hour; then turn down to low to cook overnight (10 hours). Check water level in the morning. May add more water if needed. Cook on low all day and served in the evening. Spoon into bowls. Add sour cream, cheddar cheese, and avocado.

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