black, black, black is the color

Ever since my college days, I’ve had an appreciation for dried beans—at a dollar or so a bag, they provide a creative outlet for a cook AND a week’s worth of meals.

After growing them myself, I’ve moved on from appreciation to something more like reverence, and not just because they taste better when they’re only a few months old. Now I look at a 1-quart bag and I see not just a staple foodstuff but an entire row of beans that has been cultivated, harvested, hulled.

When I think of the times when I didn’t finish a bean pot before it turned—or before I just got tired of it—I’m astonished. It’s taken me this long to break into this year’s harvest because some part of me has been waiting for a special occasion—as though dinner is not occasion enough.

This is my third year planting Cranberry Beans. I also added Marfax Brown, an heirloom variety that’s supposed to do well in rough northern climates, and—on a whim—Black Turtle Beans. I didn’t expect much from the latter, as black beans are so associated with southwestern cooking. But they turned out to be my heaviest producer of the summer.

The problem with black bean soup is that the inky beans turn any other vegetable an unappetizing gray. I suppose this is why so many black bean soups in restaurants are pureed. But somehow pureed soups seem too fancy for Roseboom. I considered supping on beans alone, but then I found some purple potatoes in my pantry… the perfect solution!

While I was in Baton Rouge for the holidays, I raided my Granny’s backyard kumquat tree. (Yes, Virginia, there is citrus to be picked in Louisiana this time of year.) I used these to make a kind of chutney of sliced kumquat, onions, coriander, honey—just right for brightening all that dark earthiness.

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One Comment on “black, black, black is the color”

  1. lisa Says:

    We’re starting seeds for our first garden in our new house in Oakland. Trail of Tears black beans will be grown, once the weather warms up.


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