Beans and basketballs

The best thing about frosty cold weather is the hearty stew type things you are justified in cooking. We’re going swimming after school today so I want to have something ready in the oven as we’ll all arrive home together at tea time. Luckily I have a vast store of these type of meals in my memory bank as it’s pretty much all I cooked when I was working full time. Tonight its going to be baked bacon and butter beans or beeeeee as Z calls it.

I want to try to write a recipe but I’ve actually found it a bit tricky. I don’t really measure stuff and I use what I have so I suppose this is more of a method.

Soak the butter beans overnight It could be any kind of bean really and I often use split peas. You can use tinned beans but it doesn’t come out the same and works out a lot more costly. I usually have the bacon/ham in the freezer so have to get that out the night before anyway. I also – and have no real reason why except my Granny always did – cut a tomato in half and put it in with the soaking beans.

The next day – bring the beans to the boil and keep gently there for about 20 mins. Put the tomato in..While they’re cooking I do the veg and either;

add all to pot raw – I have done this today as the pot I’m using won’t go onto direct heat and I’m too lazy to wash up another. If I’m using a different pot I often gently fry all this to start it off, better if I have less time. Today I  have plenty of time to gently bake  the stew so the veg will all go into a mush anyway.

so, veg, always an onion and today also celery, carrot, garlic, some chopped cooking chorizo, chopped rosemary and thyme – just because that’s what’s still alive in the garden. Then today I added a bit of paprika, dried oregano, black pepper, dash of soy sauce, tsp of djon mustard, tsp of brown sugar, splash of vinegar. Sir in a ladle of bean water, thoroughly mix then lay bacon/ham/gammon joint on top.

spoon boiled butter beans (don’t worry – they won’t be soft and mealy yet – you’ve just cooked the toxins out) around the joint add a carton of chopped tomatoes stir round and top up with water to cover the beans  – sometimes I put a glug of wine in here if I’ve got some hanging around.

Then put in a medium oven and leave to get on with it. depending on the pan you may need to turn the piece of meat and you should keep an eye on the liquid topping up as necessary.

turning bacon mid cook

It’s done when the meat is falling apart and the beans are all soft and mealy. I usually serve it with kale or something green, watercress salad is good too but it is great on its own or with bread to mop up the sauce. You don’t have to just use bacon/ham, it’s yummy with  lamb shoulder. I also often do this meat free with just more veg and maybe add some chopped peppers and olives half way through. You can serve the leftovers on toast like baked beans.

The house smells amazing as I type this and as I’m the greedy sort I can’t wait for this evening. The thought of it baking in the oven will definitely sustain me through the fraught process of getting us all dried and dressed after swimming.

My BT today was the really kind man in the supermarket today who overheard me wondering aloud to Ida whether I’d be able to blow up Zephs’ new basketball with a bicycle pump and showed me the special (much cheaper) pumps with ball needles by the sporty stuff and how to use them. I made him laugh when I told him about how I’d got Z his much longed for basketball from Argos as I had a voucher for there and was surprised when it was passed to me over the counter deflated. It was a mystery to me how to inflate it as these are my first forays with Z into team sports.

It’s so easy to feel out of your depth – and may I always remember that and stretch out my hand in help and comfort to other bewildered people with as much grace and kindness as I received today.

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2 responses to “Beans and basketballs

  1. I am veggie but I am inspired by your organisation to cook this meal without the bacon. So fab to be able to do so many dishes from memory, sounds like Granny tuaght you well!

    • It’s really lovely done veggie – that’s how I learnt it as I was veggie too for most of my life. My lovely granny had loads of meat free recipes but due to economic reasons rather than ethical or health ones! She thought that meals with little bits of meat would count as veggie “it’s only little bits of ham….” and offal – “well tripe would just be wasted wouldn’t it…so you could try that” I think I must use a tip from her or a piece of handed down kitchen kit every day.

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