≡ Menu

Sadly this isn’t one of my better examples of photography! I’ve been waiting all year to post this recipe.  Chili con Kanga is good on its own, but this time of year there is a little window of time when avocados, limes and coriander are all in season together, and the salsa with it makes it sensational.

I always make a great big pot of this when I make it, and we have it for dinners and lunches several times.  It will serve six or eight people for dinner easily, or you can freeze it or keep it in the fridge for several meals.  Or, you can halve the recipe.

Less red meat and more vegetables is a good idea, for health, environment, and hip pocket reasons.  And less factory farmed meat and more wild harvested, free range, organic meat is a good idea for the same reasons.  This combines both.

The Recipe:

Cook 400 grams dry beans till they are soft.  I soak them first and use a pressure cooker so they cook quickly.  The post about Bean Basics has my basic bean cooking method.  I don’t think it matters what kind.  They all add a different character to the dish, but they all seem to be good in their own way.

Brown 1 kg kangaroo mince in a little olive oil in a heavy pan.

In a big pot, saute together:

  • 4 onions (chopped)
  • 6 garlic (chopped)
  • 6 chilis (more or less, depending on how hot the chilis are and how hot you like it)
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons smoky paprika
  • 1 capsicum (chopped)
  • 6 carrots (chopped)

Add the browned kangaroo mince and the beans, along with:

  • 1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or a good teaspoon of dried)
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 kilogram chopped tomatoes  (or a big jar of passata)
  • 2 big tablespoons tomato paste (leave out if you use passata)
  • 1 dessertspoon treacle (or brown sugar)
  • 2 cups of water
  • a good grinding of black pepper, and salt to taste

Simmer for half an hour or so until it reaches the right consistency.

Avocado, Lime and Coriander Salsa

Mash together:

  • An avocado
  • Juice of a lime
  • a big handful of coriander leaves, chopped fine
  • salt to taste

Serve the chili in bowls topped with a good dollop of avocado salsa, and, if you like, some warm tortillas to mop up with.

[relatedPosts]

{ 8 comments }

It’s not as photogenic as it was delicious.  Green beans in a creamy, nut based mild curry sauce. I quite like creamy curries but most are based on coconut cream or real cream.  Both are a bit too high in saturated fats (and kilojoules) for everyday, mid-week eating.  Fresh coconuts are also well out of my “locavore” range, and canned coconut cream is oily and BPA is oil soluble.  All reasons why curries with coconut cream are eating out special occasion foods in my world.

Luckily for me, you can make korma style curries using nuts and yoghurt to make them creamy.  Traditionally it is cashew nuts, but macadamias are just coming into season here and my first pick is dry and ready to use.  Further south, almonds are also now in season. As well as loads of nutrients, nuts have monounsaturated, good fats, and there’s good evidence that macas work as well as the “clinically proven to lower cholesterol” margarines.

The Recipe:

  • In a large pot, dry roast:
  • ½ cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Shake the pot to toast them evenly, and as soon as the seeds start popping, add
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 big teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 1 big teaspoon of crated fresh turmeric (or half a teaspoon turmeric powder)
  • 1 to 3 fresh chilis, (depending on how hot your chilis are and how hot you like your curry) roughly chopped
  • Cook for a couple of minutes, then tip the lot into a blender or food processor.  Wash out the  pot with ½ cup water and add that to the blender.  Blend on high for a few minutes, till it is really smooth and creamy.
  • Meanwhile, add a little olive oil to the pot and saute one diced onion until translucent.
  • Top and tail and chop 300 grams of green beans, (my Blue Lake french beans work really well in this), add to the onions, and pour in the sauce from the blender.  Use another ½ cup of water to rinse out the blender and add it.
  • Simmer gently for around 20 minutes until the beans are tender. Taste and add salt to taste.
  • Take off the heat and stir in ½ cup of low fat Greek yoghurt and ½ cup chopped coriander.
  • Serve over rice with a little coriander to garnish.
Did you do the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links welcome.

[relatedPosts]

{ 8 comments }

We’re picking the very first of the limes, which opens up a whole batch of central American recipes. They’re still a bit green but juicy enough.  And the third round of beans for the season are now bearing, so I also now have so many green beans of various kinds that even my favourites – the snake beans – are being allowed to grow out to mature for shelling. So Mexican it has to be.

Brown seeded snake beans are quite small seeds so they cook fast. They’re a good flavour, a bit like azuki beans, a bit sweeter than the traditional black beans, and they make great bean paste.

Bean paste is one of my late summer fridge staples.  You can make it spicy or not, and I usually make a double batch so I have it for sandwich spreads or for turning into refritos to have alongside an egg for breakfast. It’s low GI, full of protein, soluble fibre, vitamins and minerals, and it has a kind of smoothness that makes it seem decadent when  it’s not at all.

The Recipe:

This looks like a lot of ingredients and stages, but the ingredients are pretty likely to be in the pantry or garden and the stages are just  because multitasking is the way to do it in half an hour. I made it in half an hour from scratch, just to see if I could, and it does come together. If you start with cooked beans it would be easy.

Makes two huge quesadillas – I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Step One: The Cooked Beans

If you start with dried beans, you need to soak them overnight or for the day, both to soften them and, more importantly, because they have a kind of complex, indigestible sugar called  oligosaccharide in their skin. It gives some people wind, but it’s water soluble, so soaking gets rid of it.

I started with a good half cup of brown seeded snake bean seeds, dried but fresh grown this season, soaked in cold water for the day.    Drain off the soaking water, replace with a cup and a half of fresh water and a good pinch of salt, and pressure cook for 5 minutes or boil for 15 till soft.  You should end up with a cup of cooked beans.

Step Two: The Tortillas

While the beans are cooking, mix a soft dough with

  • ½ cup wholemeal plain flour
  • ½ cup wholemeal self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • Dessertspoon olive oil
  • ¹/3 cup water

I just tip the lot into my trusty Braun food processor, and it does it in literally a minute.

Knead the dough briefly. Divide it into two balls and let it rest while you go on to make the salsa and the bean paste.

Step Three: The Tomato Salsa

  • Mix ²/3 cup of finely diced tomato
  •  ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ a red onion, finely diced
  • a good handful of lime basil, finely diced (or you could use coriander)
  • a pinch salt
  • a squeeze lime juice
  • a teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Let it sit while you make the bean paste for the flavours to mingle.

 Step Four: The Bean Paste

  • Gently fry a diced onion in a little olive oil till translucent.
  • Add a little chili (to taste), a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed, and a scant teaspoon each of cumin powder and coriander powder.
  • Add the beans along with their cooking water and simmer gently for around ten minutes till it is reduced to almost dry.
  • Squeeze in the juice of a lime, and tip the lot into a blender or food processor, or pass through a mouli, to make a bean paste.

Step Five: Assembling

Lightly flour your bench top and a rolling pin, and roll the two dough balls out to make very thin tortillas, about 25 cm round.  Cook them in a dry, hot pan (or on a hot barbeque plate) for one to two minutes each side. They should be still soft.

Spread each tortilla thickly with the bean paste, then over half of it, spread

  • a little labneh (strained yoghurt) (or avocado, or sour cream)
  • a little grated cheese
  • the tomato salsa

Fold in half, then fry each quesadilla in a lightly oiled frypan or barbeque plate until the tortilla is toasted and the cheese melted.

Cut in half to serve.

Did you do the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links welcome.

[relatedPosts]

{ 10 comments }

My partner is a chili fiend.  He would eat chili beans for every meal if he could. We compromise. But I do make chili beans quite a lot. He’s a big bloke and he needs a lot of fuel. But, like me, he alternates between being very physically active and spending too much time doing sitting work. So the perfect fuel is very filling but low calorie, low GI, high protein and high nutrient value.  Pretty much the kind of food that is good for all of us.

This time of year he’s in luck. I have chilis and more chilis in the garden, and plenty of mature beans. I dry and store some for winter – they’re a great easy-store crop. But fresh mature beans are one of those foods that only gardeners get to really appreciate. Commercially, you only have a choice between green beans or dried beans.

If you don’t have mature beans in the garden, you can use dried beans for this. You just need to think of it a half day in advance to allow for soaking time. And if you use mild chilis, it’s like a home-made healthy version of baked beans.

The Recipe

Makes 4 decent sized serves. It’s good on its own, or with brown rice or some other grain dish to make a complete protein. Makes great leftovers.

You need 2 cups of cooked beans for this recipe.  Mature beans, shelled, yield about the same cooked as raw, so you need 2 cups of fresh shelled beans. Dried beans swell to about double their size, so one cup of dried beans, soaked overnight or for the day.

All beans, fresh or dried, need soaking or boiling before cooking, and the first batch of water thrown away. They have a kind of complex, indigestible sugar called  oligosaccharide in their skin. It’s not dangerous, just fart producing, and it can give some people uncomfortable wind. Oligosaccharides are only in the skin and they are water soluble, so soaking gets rid of them.  With my fresh beans, I bring them to the boil, drain, replace the water, then pressure cook for 8 to 10 minutes. With dried beans, I just throw out the soaking water and pressure cook for around half an hour or simmer for an hour or so.

In a large pot, in a little olive oil, sauté

  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

Cook till the onion is soft and the seeds are popping, then add

  • 1 diced capsicum
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 chilis (or to taste, depending on how hot your chilis are and how hot you like it, but beans mellow chili more than you would think)
Cook for a few minutes more, then add
  • 2 cups of cooked beans
  • salt
  • 600 grams of diced tomatoes, or a jar of passata
  • 1 teaspoon of treacle
  • 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder

The cocoa powder is the secret ingredient. It adds a bit of richness and balances up the sweet and acid. It’s not so weird – Mexicans use cocoa in savory dishes a lot.

You may need to add a little water, depending on your tomatoes. Simmer for at least 15 minutes and serve in a bowl on its own, or over rice, or in a tortilla.

Did you do the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week? Links welcome.

[relatedPosts]

{ 13 comments }

The bean jars are filling up nicely, but with the wet weather lately, today’s pick was this much for us:

And this much for the chooks:

I love it that they aren’t wasted.  Along with some greens and house scraps, this will feed my chooks for the week. Though they are very spoiled having me shell them for them! Mostly I just pull the whole vines down at the end of their life, and either throw them holus bolus to the chooks, or just move the chooks onto the bed to clean it up ready for the next planting.  They can shell their own.

Beans are so productive. Green beans all summer and dried beans all year, all from just a few dozen seeds planted each month in spring and summer. I have any number of bean recipes – they’re a staple in our household – a good, filling, low GI, high protein, food that can carry a lot of flavours.

And the high protein chook food is a bonus.

[relatedPosts]

{ 9 comments }

This is the second in the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge, and already I’m cheating a little bit. Making this easily within the half hour relies on you having fresh or already cooked beans and bread rolls on hand. I’m starting to harvest beans for shelling now.  By the end of the summer I’ll have a big  jar full of each kind for slow cooking over the winter.

But fresh picked beans cook much much faster than older, drier ones. I used a cup of shelled, dried but fresh, Purple Kings for these – they’re the larger pinker ones in the picture – soaked for the day while I was at work (soaking removes the oligosaccharide in the skin that give beans their reputation for  fart-producing), drained,  then pressure cooked in a cup of fresh water. They took just 15  minutes to cook to very soft, but if you have older, drier beans they could take anything up to 45 minutes. Slow cookers are another good way to cook beans.   Bean Basics gives you the basics of cooking beans. You want them a little bit overcooked for this recipe.

Once you have cooked beans, the rest of the recipe comes together very fast and easy. Beans are fantastically good for you, full of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre (both soluble and insoluble) and a whole range of vitamins and minerals.  A bean burger with no cholesterol and a heap of soluble fibre is double heart tick material.

And burgers are a great meal for hot weather.  A nice way to serve them is to set the table with all the makings – bread rolls, sliced tomato and cucumber, lettuce and rocket, fried onions, sauces and pickles, and let everyone assemble their own.

The Recipe:

Makes 4 huge patties or 6 normal sized ones. Leftovers are great for lunches.

Start with 1 cup of dried beans in the morning, soaked for the day then boiled or pressure cooked in fresh water with a good pinch of salt (beans need salt) until very soft.

Or, start with two cups of cooked beans.

Blend, puree, or mash half the beans and mix with 1 large or 2 small eggs and 2 dessertspoons of Worcestershire sauce. (I do this in my food processor.)

Mix in:

  • the other half of the soft, cooked whole beans
  • 1 mild onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic crushed or diced
  • 1 chili, hot or mild depending on you taste for spicy food, finely diced.
  • 2 dessertspoons of wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

I use my hands to squish it all together, semi breaking up the whole beans but leaving some texture to them.

Wash your hands, and using wet hands shape the bean mix into patties.

Get a pan with some olive oil in it hot, then put the patties in and fry gently till golden.

While the patties are cooking, you can toast your burger buns if you like them toasted, and maybe melt a little cheese onto the top half. Fry some onions.  Slice some tomatoes, cucumber, and salad greens. Some home pickled beetroot goes well. Serve with any combination you like of pickles, sauces, mayonnaise, or chutney.

Do you have a  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge idea or recipe to add?

[relatedPosts]

{ 9 comments }

Out in the garden this  morning in the rain, little grizzle about picking in the cold and wet, until I remembered – no visit to the supermarket after work, no trying to find parking close enough to avoid getting drenched, no queues of tired and grumpy people. Just this lovely quiet of a misty morning with trees all sparkling with raindrops and happy frogs calling.

We have the slow combustion wood stove going at night these days, heating the house and making hot water as well as cooking.  It also keeps the sourdough bread warm enough to prove beautifully. I put a lamb shank in the pressure cooker for stock last night, adding a cupful of the Purple King bean seeds I saved in summer just before bed.  They have slow slow cooked overnight and this morning there is a gorgeous base of soft beans in meaty stock.  This morning I stoked up the fire and added another log, then went for a pick in the garden.

A leek, a parsnip, a carrot, a pumpkin, some celery, some amaranth, some silver beet, a handful of  cherry tomatoes, a handful of green beans, a few leaves of sorrel, a few leaves of chinese cabbage, a couple of late chilis.

Bring the lot up to pressure then take it off the heat, shut down the fire so it keeps going very low all day, and off to work.

When I get home tonight, there will be live coals in the stove and the house will be warm and dry.  There will be a loaf of sourdough on the kitchen counter, ready to just pop into the warm oven and a pot of bean and vegetable soup ready to just warm up, enough for dinner for the two of us tonight and leftovers for lunch tomorrow as well. I’ll stoke up the fire and feel warm and nurtured and very grateful for my garden!

[relatedPosts]

{ 2 comments }

The picture doesn’t really do justice to the hearty, spicy, creamy goodness of this.  It is one of my favourite breakfasts, and so fast and easy I often make it just for me.  So this is a one person recipe, and the kind of  high protein, high fibre, low GI, low fat, low calorie breakfast that people like me with low activity need to find tempting! It’s easily adapted though for more people or more active people, and it also makes a good Sunday night dinner when you are hungry but don’t feel like cooking or eating anything too elaborate.

(The Breakfast Challenge??)

The Recipe:

Serves one – double or treble for more.

This recipe, like just about all bean recipes, starts with “soak your beans”.  Bean Basics tells you why and how.  I use my home-grown Purple King seeds, but you can use kidney, pinto or black turtle beans.  Fresh beans will cook faster than old beans, so if you are buying beans, look for Australian grown ones with the latest “best before” date.

I start with ¹/3 cup of dried bean seeds, soaked overnight in cold water.  In the morning, I put the beans on to cook in the pressure cooker with 1½ cups of water and pressure cook for 10 minutes until they are very soft. (Larger, older beans will take longer).

While the beans are cooking, I sauté together one onion, finely diced, a couple of cloves of garlic, and half a chili in a little olive oil.  If you don’t like it spicy hot, you can substitute some diced capsicum or a good pinch of cumin for the chili, or just leave it out.

As soon as the beans are cooked, tip them, water and all, into the pan with the onions.  There should be just about the right amount of liquid to get all the tastiness out of the pan. Boil to reduce if necessary. You want something that will blend to dip consistency. Add two good dessertspoons of low fat cottage cheese and a pinch of salt.

Blend this mixture, using a blender, food processor, or stick blender, until it is smooth and creamy.  Add salt to taste – beans need a bit of salt – and serve with flatbread and a spoon.

[relatedPosts]

{ 4 comments }

We’re eating green beans just about every day at the moment – in salads and stews and sautés and steamed vegetables – and and I’m still harvesting about this many beans for drying every few days.  Beans are one of my real staples – super easy to grow, prolific, a good source of protein, soluble fiber, folate and a whole range of minerals, and the basis for a big range of recipes.

I grow all climbing varieties these days.  With my fortress fenced gardens, I am so miserly with space that I choose climbers over dwarf varieties of everything possible.  From September through to June, the south-side fence on at least half of my garden beds is growing beans of one variety or another, rotating with cucumbers and tomatoes.  Since, in the southern hemisphere, the sun is always to the north, they can occupy dozens of square metres of vertical space without shading anything else in the bed, taking up just a few centimetres of precious ground space.

I have four current favourite varieties:  Blue Lake for green french beans, and for the white seeds as a cannellini bean substitute, Purple Kings as a gutsy flavoured green bean and for the pink seeds as a kidney bean substitute, Brown Seeded Snake Beans for salads and stir fries and for the little red seeds as an Azuki bean substitute, and Madagascar beans for their large maroon mottled beans that work in Lima Bean recipes. But I am still always tempted to try new varieties every year.

I plant a box of beans of one kind or another every month from September through to February.  With big seeds like peas and beans, I skip the seed germinating stage and plant straight into seedling raising mix – mostly good compost with a bit of creek sand for drainage. For alkaline lovers like peas and beans I add a bit of wood ash to the mix to raise the pH.  The box lives in the shadehouse for a month or so, giving me a month more bearing time out of the cucumbers or tomatoes that are occupying the space.  At planting out time, I can plant the very advanced seedlings out,  paper or leaf or banana bark tube and all.

Beans are symbiotic with a kind of bacteria that forms little nodules on the roots and fixes nitrogen out of the atmosphere. Most of the nitrogen goes into the proteins in the beans, but there is still a bit of benefit to the soil, so leafy green nitrogen lovers often do well around beans. Things in the onion family (especially garlic) tend to be antibiotic, so unfriendly to the bacteria – best to avoid planting beans next to garlic or onions, in time or space.

Picking the green beans before they mature keeps the plants producing, so it is best to keep picking if you want to keep producing green beans.  But once the next round of beans starts bearing, I let the earlier round go to beans for storage.  In fine, dry weather you can let the beans completely mature and dry on the plant.  But if there is prolonged wet, humid weather, they will grow mould, and it is best to pick at the yellow stage.  Don’t pick too early though, or they won’t harden off.

They’re simple to shell and dry. I just leave them in a colander on the verandah for a few days till they feel hard to a fingernail, then store in a glass jar.

To Cook:

Beans have a kind of complex, indigestible sugar called  oligosaccharide in their skin. It’s what gives them their reputation for fart-producing. Oligosaccharides are water soluble, so soaking gets rid of them.  Pretty well any bean recipe starts with “soak your beans”.  You can “fast soak” by bringing the beans to the boil in water, soaking for half an hour or so, then changing the water and cooking.  But it always works better to soak in cold water for the day or overnight.  If you are planning beans for dinner, just put them on to soak before you go to work for the day.

You need about ¹/3 cup of dry beans per person for meals where the beans are the star.  They expand quite a lot – at least double the volume – as they absorb water. Even after soaking, they need to be cooked in at least an equal amount of water (1 cup of water for each cup of soaked beans), and they’ll expand again (so don’t fill the pot too full).

A pressure cooker is a fantastic tool.  My pressure cooker, a gift from my mum, is one of my kitchen treasures.  It is stainless steel and expensive enough to consider as an “investment”. But if nobody is getting your gift hints, look around op shops. Find one with the little weight on top and the seal around the lid in good condition – new seals are available but can be hard to find.

Fresh beans that have been air dried are much faster to cook than bought beans.  I suspect that bought beans, specially imported ones, may have been overheated in drying.  My Blue Lake cannellini beans cook in just 8 minutes in the pressure cooker after pre-soaking.  The slightly larger Purple Kings take just 10 minutes.  This means that the whole convenience aspect of canned beans is irrelevant and it’s easy to avoid the BPAs in can lining, as well as the too much sugar, salt, food miles and dubious agricultural chemicals.

[relatedPosts]

{ 7 comments }