“Spring” cleaning.

by Adriana


Some people make new year’s resolutions. I used to, until I realized that come lunch time on the first day of the year, I already wasn’t following my resolution and then I would feel terrible about breaking it and would give up and have more dessert. Usually, my resolutions were food related. This September, my daughter started senior kindergarten and my son started going to daycare two days a week leaving me with two whole days to do whatever I want. I have had four of these days so far and they have been… great, and busy, and I can’t believe 3:00 pm rolls around so fast. This year was a new schedule for us, but familiar because of my daughter going to school on the same schedule as last year. Except this time around it felt more like a new year, more so than 1 January ever feels for me. I wanted to start this year off on the right foot so I made some commitments to myself (some I have already let slip) and they were to: 1. spend 20 minutes a day writing, 2. spend at least 30 minutes a day walking, 3. spend 10 minutes a day meditating or giving prayerful thought to something and 4. put thought into what my children are eating and what we will be having for dinner. Also, I resolved to clean my house. Not just your regular weekly or biweekly clean. I cleaned my house. I’m actually still cleaning my house. I went through almost every nook and cranny and looked at the things that I haven’t looked at since we moved in over 5 years ago. I opened the cupboards and drawers that normally I would quickly shut again for fear of going through it. I still have a few cupboards and drawers to go through, but I no longer spend 4 minutes searching for a wooden spoon in our utensil drawer in our kitchen, nor have I bought a double of something we already had in our cold storage room. In 5 years you accumulate a lot of stuff – some good, some bad, some just because you can’t bring yourself to throw it out. I must have about 5 kilograms of dried beans which I bought with every intention of making. However, I have never made a bean dish from dried beans before, as opening a can is so much easier. So I was a little intimidated. Last night, I decided I wanted to do it! I wanted to make beans from scratch. I wanted to finally put a dent in that bean collection we have had for years. So, I found a recipe from a Turkish cookbook that I have and went for it. The first step is to soak the beans overnight. This is the sort of dish you can’t just decide to have for dinner, it takes some forethought but it ends up being worth it in the end. If you have never soaked beans before, it’s a little disconcerting in the beginning because the soaking dried beans take a long time to resemble canned beans and they look a little freaky. However, this dish is filling and satisfying (and strangely enough, doesn’t make you bloated or gassy) and served with some nice fresh crusty bread, it’s a delicious hearty dinner. We had guests over and we served it with chicken – I know, I know – some vegetarians we are!… but we didn’t eat the meat, only our guests did.

Turkish-Style White Kidney Beans with Garlic and Olive OIl

  • 2 cups dried white kidney beans, picked through

1. Put your picked through kidney beans in a bowl that will hold at least 4 cups of liquid as your beans will double in size. Cover the beans with cold water so they are fully submerged and allow to sit overnight. If the beans absorb most of your water, simply add more cold water.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, broken into whole cloves and peeled
  • 4 small carrots, chopped

2. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic and carrots and allow to soften without browning, about 15 minutes.

  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

3. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot and allow to soften, about 5 minutes.

4. Drain the beans that have been sitting and add to the pot. Stir until the beans are covered with your other ingredients and then add the sugar and salt. Stir. *Adding the 2 tablespoons of sugar will give your beans a sweeter flavour but adding 3 will make them quite sweet. My husband likes it with 3, but it was too sweet for me. It’s personal preference.*

5. Add the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 1 1/2- 2 hours. If you prefer a thicker sauce, remove the lid for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time to allow the water to evaporate. If you like a sauce to dip your bread in, leave the beans covered.

These beans will keep in a fridge for 3 days, and will serve 6 – 8 generous portions for dinner. Serve with fresh crusty bread and a nice thick plain yogurt. Bon appetit or as they say in Turkey, “Afiyet olsun!”

If you’re like me and you have a pantry or cupboard full of meal ingredients you haven’t got around to making, give it a whirl and see what interesting and different things you can come up with. Making dinner every night doesn’t have to be the bane of our existence, it can be an adventure into something completely different, a step in the right direction. One of our guests ate 2 servings of the beans and after dinner commented on the fact that he loved dinner because he couldn’t remember the last healthy meal he had. It made me feel great. When people take seconds (and thirds and fourths in my husband’s case), it speaks volumes for the food. And look at that, I just got more than 20 minutes of writing in. Two of my four resolutions done in one day… if I can only find a way to count cleaning as my walking!