Friday, January 13, 2012

Why not ‘Bean Day’?


I love beans. Aside from their gustatory pleasure, they are a never-ending source of stories. Some time ago we had an American story from World War II on Soy Beans for Freedom. Today I give you an article from World War I, from the Washington Post of January 13, 1918. It is an appeal from a Mrs. Christine Frederick - clearly a bean-lover herself - which is still entirely relevant almost a hundred years later. I love the sweet dessert idea for lima beans.

We have had wheatless days and meatless days urged upon us, but why not consider the merits of one “bean day” every week? Beans, as we know, are meat equivalents; and even though the price has trebled in the last year, they are still cheaper and give more nourishment of the same kind than animal protein. Now, with the gathering of the crops, dried beans should be hanging a-plenty in cellar or attic, and the creative housewife will find still more ways to use them than before.
There are black, red, white, and all manner of mottled beans. Their value is about the same; all are high in protein and starch, so that really the bean is meat and potato combined. The whole family has also sulphur compounds of great value. The one disadvantage they possess is the thick leathery skin, which sometimes irritates the stomach and makes people think that “beans don’t agree with them.” It is better to keep back the skins when cooking for children and persons of weak digestion.

Mashed Beans.
Until recently few housekeepers were familiar with the method of using bean pulp instead of the whole bean in the familiar “pork and beans.” To make this pulp, boil any lima, pea, or red bean in very little water until tender. Press through a fine puree strainer and season. This pulp can then be used hot instead of mashed potato, or it can be made into croquettes or patties or as a stuffing for meat and vegetables. The pulp of lima beans is particularly sweet and delicious. If combined with beaten egg yolks and stiffly beaten egg whites it makes a soufflĂ© or baked custard which is most delicious and nourishing, especially for children.
This pulp is really a 100 per cent no-waste food, for even though the price of beans is abnormal, it must be remembered that there is not an ounce of loss through bone, gristle, or trimming: they are the most concentrated food. The one ingredient that they lack is fat, so it should always be combined in their cooking: high contrasting flavours, like tomato, pepper, thyme, etc should also be used.
Much is being made of the new emigrant from Japan, the soy bean. It is the most nutritious of the entire family, is as easy to cook and tastes just as well as our own navy bean. It can be boiled, baked or made into soup, and the flour makes delicious muffins and pancakes. Ask your dealer about the soy bean and try some of your favourite recipes with it.
Another bean that could be used more is the large red kidney bean, whose pulp is particularly mealy. This is the kind used by Mexicans and Asiatics and which is so tasty in hot pungent dishes. The pulp mashes well, makes excellent croquettes and stew. The small red and white mottled Italian bean has very good flavour, especially excellent for baking. The lima has the sweetest flavor of all and makes the best mealy pulp.
It is now possible to secure in package form flour made from various beans. These make excellent soups very quickly or can be used as a thick cereal or made into puddings in which children delight.

Making Up Left-Overs.
Beans are also a food which use up scraps and left-overs to the best possible advantage. Any small trimming of meat, ham, celery tops, or the water in which vegetables were cooked can be used as the water in which to boil the beans and increase their nourishment. There is not a ham shank too small or a bacon rind too old to be used for flavouring. Carrots, cabbage, and celery too wilted to appear as vegetables, can be cut into fine bits and combined in the various bean dishes. Beans should always be cooked with the pot lid off in order to let the sulphur compounds escape. The water in which they were soaked should not be used, but do not throw away the water in which they were parboiled, as this holds some of the valuable elements. It seems natural for beans to cook best in earthenware, and many of us should try the plan of cooking soup in crockery like our frugal cousins, the French. The flavour is better and the service made easier by cooking and serving in the same dish.

Quotation for the Day.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent.
Epicetus (55 AD – 135 AD)

1 comment:

Sometimes Kate said...

I have a recipe for fudge and mock pumpkin pie using pinto beans.

Personally, I love beans, except for those little white beans. I think they're mostly bland, and slightly bitter. They're fine in tinned baked beans, since they have lots of stuff to drown the taste, but even there, I'd rather make baked beans with red beans.