Posted by: Rachel | January 9, 2013

the gift that keeps on giving

OK, I know, I’ve been lazy. It has been nice, though, starting off the new year quietly and today (woohoo!!) it is raining! Oh how we need it – my yard is sighing with joy.

You remember my new friend Ken and the Austin Boston food swap? He sent me a batch of sourdough starter in my swapbox! I made bread with it this week – taking full advantage of “winter” weather to have the oven on. Mmmmmm…

dough proofing

the proof is in the… dough?

What a great gift! If I take care of it I’ll have it for years. The starter Ken sent me is very different from the one I have been using. Mine is almost sweet by comparison! His is tangy… good but sort of like young wine as opposed to well-rounded and mellow if you get my drift. Interesting.

I like it fine, though, and I’ll be curious to see how it ages. I forgot (I really must get better about this!) to take pictures of the finished loaves so you’ll have to trust me it was very good.

But what I really wanted to talk about was beans. Mmmmmm…. again, taking advantage of our “wintery” weather I made a fine pot of white beans.

Nothing fancy, but comfort food to the Nth degree. I did nothing more than this:

Quick! Before It Gets Hot Outside Again! Beans

1.5 lbs dried cannellini beans, soaked in cool water for 6 hours and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta or slab bacon, chopped
as much fresh sage as you like, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

finished beans in pot

a nice mess of beans

Heat several tablespoons of good olive oil in a deep heave Dutch oven. Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and stir to mix, saute another minute or two.

Add the pancetta (or bacon) and cook until safely done but not overly browned. Add the beans and about half of the chopped sage and stir to mix well. Add just enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and barely simmer for about two hours, covered, checking the water level every once in a while and stirring the beans.

At the end the water level should be just below the beans – this is beans not bean soup (although that’s fine too! Mmmmm…)

Check for “doneness” – beans should be soft but not mushy. Add the rest of the sage, the lemon juice, and salt and pepper as needed. Stir to incorporate. Mmmm…

You can absolutely leave the meat out. Add some ground dried porcini mushrooms and a bit of smoked paprika and make a killer vegetarian/vegan version. Mmmmm…

You can also make this in a crock pot/slow cooker if you have one.

This makes a good batch and I will be enjoying it for a few days! It goes fine with sourdough bread, a glass of good red wine, or just as is. Mmmmmm…!

Happy, healthy and safe New Year to all of y’all (as they say around here). Oh and lots of Mmmmm…



  1. Mmmm…beans and bread, two of my favorite things. You have just made me soooo hungry!

    • I can fix that… come for lunch! 🙂

  2. I love cooking a pot of beans…my mother cooked a large pot for a Sunday lunch many times.

    • Hearty, happy, and healthy… mmmmm!

  3. Your accompanying sourdough bread and red wine are just what this delicious simple dish needs. Bon appétit!

    • Merci de meme et bonne annee!

  4. Yum does this look and sound good! Thank you for the recipe and the idea.

  5. I’m glad to hear it tasted different. I’ve heard that sourdough character is largely dependent on what’s in the local air. Our starter does have that tangy flavor. It will be interesting to hear if it changes as you feed it in Austin.

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