I miss blogging. I miss cooking interesting things. I miss eating out. I miss a lot of things. I don't mean "miss" in a crave sort of way, but in a I-remember-doing-those-things-once sort of way. What do I crave? Oh, what I wouldn't give right now for a bowl of potato vereniki (what in Polish and now English are called pierogies) with that toothsome homemade dough, the creamy potatoes, and the sweet golden onions. Actually, pretty much anything potato is my new best friend. And meat, particularly really fatty ground meat -- yes, the stuff I normally eat about once a year.
No, I was not abducted by aliens and replaced with the meat and potato obsessed person. I am just pregnant :) It's all very exciting, but also very unfamiliar territory for me. It was reassuring to have Jen, another pregnant woman, in one of my classes this weekend. After a few weeks of "evening sickness" (my "morning sickness" happens right around dinner time), I was sadly starting to get used to the idea that this is how my life will be from now on. But Jen reassured me that it gets better after a few months. I found it interesting that she also craved all the foods she ate in her childhood. I've cooked more Russian food in the last 3 weeks than I've cooked in the whole last year. I took this chance to perfect my pirozhki dough, so at least I am learning something in the kitchen.
Teaching has been surprisingly therapeutic. It's my chance to make all the dishes I can't actually eat because I know someone else will be enjoying them. All my usually favorite winter veggies (butternut squash, delicata, celery root) make me sick. But cooking them with my students last friday gave me a virtual experience of tasting them.
Soups have been my one salvation. I can't seem to figure out how to make healthy meat and potatoes, so soups provide me with a comfort food fix and an easy way to sneak something good for me into my diet. Today I made a kale bean soup that was really satisfying and healthy. If I keep this up for a few days, I'll reward myself with potato vareniki.
Kale Bean Soup
Feel free to substitute any beans that you like for great northern (also known as cannellini) and cranberry beans. You can even use drained canned beans (about 1 jar for 1 cup dry beans). You'll just need to add water or stock to your soup instead of bean cooking liquid.
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch kale, well-washed
1 cup dry great northern beans, cooked*
1 cup dry cranberry beans, cooked*
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
- Set a large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are tender and golden, about 15 minutes.
- Remove stems from kale and discard. Coarsely chop kale leaves.
- Add garlic, tomatoes, and kale to the pot. Mix all ingredients up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat to high. Cook until kale is wilted, 4-5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook uncovered stirring occasionally until kale is tender, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beans with their cooking liquid and enough water to make the consistency of the soup that you like. If using canned beans, use plain water or stock for liquid with 1/2 cup dry white wine.
- Season to taste with salt. Add bay leaf and simmer until the liquid absorbs the flavor of the other ingredients, about 15 minutes.
- Serve with good crusty bread.
Since each type of beans has it's own cooking time (which is kind of unpredictable because it depends on the age of the beans) soak and cook each type of beans separately.
- Put the beans in a bowl, cover with cold water (at least 3 cups water per cup of beans) and let the beans sit overnight.
- Discard any floaters or strange looking beans. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse under cold running water.
- Place them in a pot and cover with 4 cups cold water.
- Do not cover with lid and don't add salt! Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water just starts to boil, turn down the heat to low. The liquid should be less active than traditional "simmering." You shouldn't see any bubbles and should have to look at the pot for at least 5 seconds to detect any movement.
- Great northern and cranberry beans will take about an hour to cook +/- 20 minutes. After the first 40 minutes, taste them every 10 minutes to see how they are doing.
- When the beans are tender, generously season the cooking liquid with salt. Add 2 Tbsp dry white wine, and take the beans off heat.