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Beans again

cannelliniburgers1 I’m sure there are readers out there who feel that either our diet here at Chez Siberia is horrifically limited or that I’m on the payroll for the American Dried Bean Congress or some other PR group. ‘

Today’s post is not going to change your minds in that regard.

In our ever-growing efforts to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals, tonight, I made bean burgers and cole slaw – my attempt at a summery picnic meal (no, your Auntie’s knees do not allow her to kneel down on picnic blankets on the floor. I do draw the line someplace). Bean burgers are generally made with black beans – probably because when they cook, they are very dark and if you squint your eyes extremely small, you might fool yourself into thinking that they are rather well-cooked beef burgers. There is no way these burgers can be mistaken for beef or anything else, really because they start out light colored and end up…slightly toasted light colored burgers. We shall have to just throw in the towel, close our eyes (and no, not think of England..) and…chew gratefully.

Cannellini Bean Burgers
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed really well, mashed rather thoroughly.
Veggies to mix in:
– one sweet pepper, chopped extremely fine
– 2 cloves of garlic, ditto
– Finely chopped mushrooms. If you are using canned, then one small can will do. If you are working with fresh mushrooms, then chop up 6 mushrooms that are about 1-1.5″ across the tops.
– 1/2 onion (about as large as a good-sized fist), chopped finely
Saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very limp

– 1/2 c. of flavored bread crumbs – if you are not eating any wheat products, you can replace with the same amount of cooked quinoa or cooked brown rice, barley, buckwheat (yay!) and so on.

– A good grating of black pepper, 1/4 tsp. of smoked paprika

Put the beans, the bread crumbs (or other grains) and the veggies into a big bowl (as the above photo indicates) and mix thoroughly. Take large spoonfuls (a spoon the size of the sort of thing you’d use to drain veggies in a pot – several inches across), form into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Then flatten with your hand or a fork. You’ll end up with something that looks like this – this recipe makes 8 burgers.cannelliniburgers2

Bake in an oven set at 375 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Then carefully, with a spatula, flip them over and bake again for another 10-12 minutes. This, frankly is just to give the outside a bit of crispness. If you’d rather fry them in a bit of hot oil, then bless you – go for it. Just cover the bottom of a fry pan with oil and heat until bubbling – carefully slip the burgers off a spatula into the oil and fry one side until crispy; then flip and fry again on the other side.

I served these with cole slaw (mine is grated carrots and cabbage with a mayo/vinegar dressing), on whole grain buns that I’d toasted a bit, but again, this was just to give the meal a bit of the ‘summer picnic’ feel. If I was not going to do that, I’d serve them with whole grain pasta or, for people who don’t do grains, I’d do a quinoa salad or potato salad or something like that.

Bon Appetit!!cannelliniburgers3

Desperate for spring

orchid1Your old Aunty knows that this time of the year can be mighty difficult. Too cold to garden outside in most places except for the Southern Hemisphere. And still short days; I don’t care where you live, but when you have fewer than 10 hours of daylight, it’s just depressing.

So, here at Chez Siberia, I try to get in as much ‘indoor gardening’ activities as I can. Planning the vegetable garden with the seed catalogs all spread out before me is one activity that I think all gardeners indulge in at this point in the year, if for no other reason than they want to beat everyone else to the newest and best and what is in short supply. But another thing I do is to do a bit of ‘housekeeping’ with the houseplants. (more…)

Winter Beans

beans1Fart scenes in “Blazing Saddles” notwithstanding, beans are good for you.
Need more fiber in your diet? Reconstituted dried beans are definitely your friend.
Want to move away from meat as a protein source? Ditto.
Looking for natural sources of trace minerals? Ditto.

And don’t think you have to eat soy beans (and the processed foods made from them) in order to get the benefits. Yes, soy beans are protein power-houses, but a lot of people are concerned about GMO soy beans By 2012, the US Department of Agriculture estimated that 94% of all soy beans grown in the US are GMO. (more…)

You really can love January.. sort of

hivebody2Once you get past THE HOLIDAYS (I think I might want to try to trademark that), it’s easy to just frankly fall apart.

The weather, generally, is dreadful – we’ve had everything from 60 degrees to minus 1F with rain, sleet, snow, and ice. This makes it very difficult to get into the swing of things, weather-wise; it’s difficult to even be able to figure out what to wear on a daily basis. Yesterday, it went from 4 degrees F (heavy slacks and tights/wool socks, turtleneck and wool sweater, heavy winter coat/hat/gloves/boots) to almost 40 in the afternoon (shedding layers, shedding layers). Totally crazy. Today, we were supposed to have sleet and freezing rain – so we planned for indoor activities, which January is a mighty good month for, as long as your activity area is heated or you can do your work all bundled up (see list above). (more…)

Working in the garden at Christmas

BLACKCURRENT1First, hello again and your Aunty hopes that your holidays this month (whichever ones you celebrate, and Aunt Toby believes that in these chilly and dark days, that we need to do our utmost to keep spirits up, flags flying, drums beating and bonfires glowing) have been wonderful, warm, and filled with hugs, warmth, a big of peace and terrific food.

Ours, believe it or not, have been filled with working out on the farm, mostly pruning apple trees (more on that for another time) because it has not been its usual ferocious cold and snowy time here at Chez Siberia. Ordinarily, we’d wait until most of the way through the winter but since a) we have discovered so many apple trees (and again, more on that for later) that need major weeding out that we’d never finish by the time they’d break dormancy in the spring and b)the weather has been basically so warm that we figured we’d get to it early when it’s a lot more pleasant to get it done (rather than standing out there in the wind and 25-degrees F with pole saws). (more…)

Fall Garden Report

fallbeets This fall at Chez Siberia has been ‘one for the books’ as they say. We are within a couple of weeks of Thanksgiving (US) and it frankly is a beautiful sunny day in the upper 50s. As a matter of fact, I did some gardening earlier today when I discovered that I’d missed a couple of garlic bulbs in the garden and they’d all sprouted (more on that in another paragraph here). For anyone out there who is somehow doubting that there is climate change, I have to say that our garden certainly shows that the climate is not what it used to be. When your Aunty was just a young person, by this time up here, we already had snow on the ground and it was sticking. The ground might now have been frozen all the way down but the top couple of inches were probably frozen enough that the snow did not melt. As a matter of fact, we used to take a yearly trip down to just north of New York City and the temperatures there on Thanksgiving Day were colder than it is here today. We definitely had to wear our winter coats in New York – no one is wearing a winter coat here today – it’s in the 50s.

This is not to say that we have not had any hard frosts – we’ve had several temperatures down to the low 20s here, which killed off anything not hardy – but certain veggies in the garden are still going strong, so I recommend them to anyone who is thinking about doing some fall vegetable gardening next year – if these will survive for us here, I think we’re safe in saying that they will do ok for anyone south of the Canadian border. (more…)

Peppers to Paprika

paprika1Well our gardening season took a long time to finish up. The peppers just seemed to hang there and not turn red (or yellow or whatever color the particular peppers were meant to be), but finally we got enough ripe ones or mostly ripe ones that I decided that we were tempting fate (i.e., a frost) here if I left them on the plants any longer. So, this week, I tore up all the pepper plants and hung them upside down in the greenhouse (this will ‘mature’ the peppers a bit, let them give off a bit of moisture and some of them will get more ripe) and then yesterday, the DH and I started to process the sweet ones for paprika. (more…)

Evaluating Tomatoes – and other things

tomato1Well, your old Aunty got skunked. Oh yes I did. My fault, completely – nothing like saving tomato seeds and then not labeling them properly. Somehow ‘Paste Tomatoes from 2014″ just doesn’t cut it because what I thought I was going to get were plum-type past tomatoes (like San Marzano), but instead, I got THESE!

Now, technically speaking, these ARE paste tomatoes – they are much dryer than salad or beefsteak-type tomatoes, but you tend to get far fewer on a plant, which is pretty annoying if what you are looking for is big production for canning or freezing sauce.

Grumble. (more…)

Garlic Number 2

Vietgarlic1] So, the garlic harvest and testing keeps rolling along. This is the second variety to mature and is called “Vietnamese Red” (because of the skins on the cloves are a purplish color).
Now, even while growing, I could tell that these were going to be big bulbs. First, the stems were much thicker than the stems on Susanville, which matured first. The stems on Vietnamese Red were thicker than my thumb, whereas the stems on Susanville were only the thickness of my pinky finger. More leaves makes for more photosynthesis which makes for bigger bulbs.

Which they were, both on the individual side and on the total production side. Again, recall the rules of this particular game: 8 ounces of cloves for each of four varieties, all planted under the same conditions (all at the southern ends of the garden beds so theoretically, they all got the same amount of sun and I watered all of them several times during dry spells early on). Now, all of these varieties were described in the catalog as ‘mid-season’, but Susanville was definitely earlier in terms of maturity; the other two varieties are dying now as well, so from that aspect, Vietnamese Red and the last two varieties are more of a piece than Susanville, but we will see how they do when we harvest them. (more…)

Purple peppers and other garden notes

dead garlic Although we really are coming into our gardening season where the veggies are really starting to produce, produce, produce, there are a couple of things which are starting to wind things down.

Like this bit of plot at the back of one of the garden beds. Well, this looks pretty pathetic, doesn’t it? This, my friends, is garlic ready for harvest. It is the first of four varieties that we are trialing here at Chez Siberia (because if it will grow here, it will literally grow anywhere), Susanville. Now, in the catalogs, this is referred to as a ‘mid-season’ garlic, but it’s died back very early here. This growing season (and for garlic, as you recall, we planted the cloves last fall, so the growing season went through the winter and our very chilly and wet spring as well) has been very challenging. Although the garlic was under heaps of snow during the winter, it still was extremely cold (minus 27 degrees F. a couple of times) and we got a couple of late frosts in the spring. So, we are very curious to see how all of the garlics handled the non-perfect growing conditions. (more…)

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