Dried Pole Beans

It has been a long time since I finished my harvest of dried beans.   They have all been shelled, sorted, and weighed.

All the pole beans are planted under tripods and trained to climb on twine.  Each planting consisted of 9 beans, planted 3 on a side.

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In addition to the pole beans I have planted other years, this year I added 6 new varieties.   They where selected based on their bean size.  (It is easier to shell large beans.) 

Here is their yield and some basic characteristics.

  • True Red Cranberry = 1 lb, 10 oz
    Similar to kidney bean flavor
    from the Abnaki Indians of Maine



  • Good Morning Stallard = 2 lbs.
    Sweeter meaty flavor, great for soups



  • Speckled Cranberry = 10 oz.
    From England, a triple purpose bean,
    (snap bean, green shell, dried bean).



  • Hidatsa Shield Figure = 2 lbs. 3 oz.
    From the Hidatsa tribe of North Dakota.



  • Brockton Horticulture = 1 lb., 14 oz.
    Took longer to cook,
    nutty flavor, from Brockton, Massachusetts.



  • Sunset Runner Beans = 2 lb., 5 oz.
    Smooth inner meat, chewy skin.



All total I harvested over 13 pounds of dried beans to be used in soups and other recipes.    For storage they where sealed in vacuum bags.

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While separating some of the beans to be used next year for planting I discovered that the beans I harvested are not the same shade as the beans I planted. 

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In this picture of 2 varieties, the beans on the left of each group are the beans that I planted.  The beans on the right of each group are the beans I harvested.    For some reason they have lost their dark tan coloring.  Next year I will plant some of the original beans and some of my harvested beans.  It will be interesting to see what I get.   Is the change because of my growing conditions or have my beans cross pollinated and changed.


The seeds I planted came from http://www.seedsavers.org/ .

Mexican Lasagna-so easy the kids can make it.

easy-mexican-lasagna (2)

easy Mexican lasagna photo by vsimon

My oldest daughter requested I post easy entrees. Actually, most people want easy entrees. So here you go. Mexican Lasagna is  family friendly, budget friendly, and time friendly.

This has been a favorite of our personal chef clients for years. I usually make it in 3 or 4 small Pyrex rectangles. These containers measure approximately 5×7 inches.

We layer the ingredients in each container and the client does the final warming. If you assemble it in 1 or 2 portions per container, it can be quickly warmed in the microwave.

Mexican lasagna freezes well too. So make some for now, and save some for later.

Home alone?

Mexican lasagna is easy for older kids to assemble, and easy to warm themselves if they are eating on their own.

The ingredient amounts are not critical here. You can even make this meatless and the carnivores aren’t likely to notice. Simply mix the chili powder in with the beans if you delete the meat.

I think the refried beans are required though. They add a creamy consistency and help hold this all together. And do try the green chilies, they are not hot.

Is this gluten free? What do I need to watch our for?

Chili powder is usually gluten free. Taco seasoning may not be, and it costs more.

Do not substitute wheat flour tortilla for corn, even if you don’t need gluten free. The corn tortillas are really better here. We use corn tortillas in this recipe for all our clients, glutinous and gluten free.

There are many gluten free commercial varieties of salsa. Keep reading those labels!

Other nutritional concerns

Go for the leanest beef you can find.

This dish can be high sodium if you are not careful, and maybe that does not matter to you.

Refried beans are often high sodium. You can get lower sodium canned whole beans, or cook your own beans without salt. Mash them, or pulse in a blender to get the creamy consistency.

Purchased salsa can vary a great deal in sodium content. Choose lower sodium varieties and well as gluten free. Trying a bit more heat also increases the flavor so you will not miss the reduction in salt.

Cheese can be high sodium. Use sharp cheddar for more flavor, and reduce the cheese to 1 cup.

Easy Mexican Lasagna

Serves 4-6

ingredients metric measure
1 pound ground beef 480 gm
2 tablespoons chili powder 15 gm
12 corn tortillas 12
1- 15 oz can refried beans 425 gm
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 240 gm
1- 4 oz can chopped mild green chiles 120 gm
3 cups salsa, approximately 720 ml
1/2 cup sour cream, optional 120 ml
1 avocado, diced, optional 1

cilantro to garnish, optional

Make and bake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground beef with chili powder.

Cut a few of the tortillas into quarters, to fit in the corners of the pan. You can use a knife, but scissors work great too.

In an 9×9 pan, layer 1/2 to 1 cup salsa, 2 tortillas plus some quarters, a few glops of refried beans, about 1/3 of the cooked ground beef, some chiles, and some cheese. No need to be exact here.

Repeat 2-3 times.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Garnish with sour cream, avocado, and cilantro.

Or be your own personal chef and prep the lasagna to bake or microwave later.

Allow cooked ground beef to cool. Layer as above in 3 or 4 smallish  oven safe dishes with lids. Cover and store in the fridge or freezer.

If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Or microwave for 6-10 minutes.

See, it really is easy.

Cocoa Bean Brownies

cocoa bean brownies

cocoa bean brownies

photo by vsimon who devoured them right after the picture

Maybe you read that right and thought, oh, cocoa bean bits in brownies, cool. But it really is cocoa and beans. You would never know if I had not told you.

Some years ago, I saw a recipe in USA Weekend magazine by Jean Carper for Chocolate Valentine Cake. Gluten free, and made with garbanzo beans. No wacky gluten free ingredients, nothing hard to find, or expensive.

It was a hit. But I took a good recipe and made it even better. Same great taste, texture and moistness, now it is a little simpler.

Quick and easy

Jean’s original recipe called for melted chocolate. Why not just use cocoa, oil, sugar, and skip the melting step? Five minutes prep start to finish. It works like a charm and is easier, cheaper, and more nutritious than a mix.

The amounts of ingredients have been adjusted a bit because the beans come in smaller cans now. And I have made this maybe a hundred times. With many kinds of beans. Kidney, black, white, garbanzo, whatever is in the pantry. It truly does not matter. Do buy unseasoned beans though. No bacon, no spice, ick, not in brownies.


I have switched to dark brown sugar because it has some antioxidants. The cocoa and the beans have much more though.

Beans, and cocoa too, are also good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. What is not to love here?

You can substitute your own cooked beans too. Use 1 ½ cups in place of the canned beans.

Cocoa Bean Brownies (or Flourless Chocolate Cake)

yield: 16 brownies

A thin batter puffs during baking, and then deflates a little.

Very chocolaty, very yummy.

ingredients metric measures
1/2 cup pure cocoa, not cocoa drink mix 50 gm
1/3 cup canola oil 160 ml
1-15 oz can beans, drained 425 gm
1 cup dark brown sugar 180 gm
3 eggs 150 gm
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 2 gm

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. How simple is that?

Oil an 8×8 inch pan. Or 9×9.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until brownies are just set.

Cool, cut and enjoy!

For a chocolate cake and a fancier presentation, use a round cake pan. Cut into wedges and serve with raspberry or strawberry sauce.