Black Bean and Corn Soup

2013-08-24 05.20.10

During the summer CSA we got a TON of sweet corn. I  mean a ton – 12 ears per week. That is way too much for 2 people to safely eat. My routine was to roast all 12 ears in the oven the night we got them. I would save the number of ears I thought we could eat in the week and then remove the corn from the others. By the end of the summer, despite eating corn like it was going out of style, we still ended up with 3 gallon freezer bags filled with corn.

When fall rolled around I decided it was time to start making a dent in the corn. Over the summer we also inherited a few gallons of tomatoes from my dad’s farm and a decent amount of hot peppers from our own garden (probably the only fruitful plants in our garden). What better to make with all of these items in the fall than soup! Pair that with a bag of dry black beans and you have a simple, nutritious, and filling meal.

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While you can use canned black beans (be sure to drain and rinse!), I chose to use dry beans since that is what I had on hand. It is best to prepare these separate and in advance. If you don’t, you run the risk of excessive gas in your soup (and subsequently in you). You can remove the gas by soaking them in water the night before you use them. You can then add these soaked beans to your soup directly. If you do this, they may be firmer than you are used to, so another option is to cook them fully before adding them to the soup. If you like to cook them in the crock pot before using them, here is a great resource. What I did was soak an entire bag overnight, cook them in the crockpot (per the link above), and then used only what I needed for the recipe. The rest I put in a freezer bag and stored in the freezer until I needed them again.

2013-08-24 06.23.04

Crock-pot Black Bean and Corn Soup

Ingredients
These are all estimates, as I don’t measure when I am putting things into the crock-pot for soup

  • 2 cups of corn (I used sweet corn but regular would do as well)
  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups cooked/canned black beans
  • 1/4 cup diced hot pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional options – ground beef/turkey, shredded chicken, shredded zucchini, diced green peppers

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker
  2. Add water to desired consistency (soupy vs stewy)
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Crock Pot Chicken Masala

Back in 2007 I spent a month in India for a “HIV/AIDS and public health challenges” volunteer experience. It was absolutely amazing. We were completely immersed in the culture, which scared the crap out of me at first. I flew alone – for the first time alone and the first time ever on a plane for more than 3 hours. It was a 26 hour non-stop flight. I arrived at the Delhi airport, surrounded by a language I had never heard before (Hindi). My ride was no where to be found and I had no idea how to figure out how to contact him/her. Thankfully a half hour later I found them. And they didn’t speak English. They were employees of the NGO that my non-profit was affiliated with. They weren’t dressed very nice, but were nice to me. I couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical about the situation. Before we left the airport I tried to call my parents and J to let them know I arrived safely. My phone disconnected me 3 times and they were, of course, worried something happened to me. Thankfully it stayed connected long enough to hear I was OK and that they should call J to tell him I was safe. I then went with the two Indian men I had just met to an old van. Yes, one of those creepy vans without side windows. They loaded my luggage up for me and I sat alone in the backseat without a seat belt (because they don’t use those in India). I was honestly so scared that I might not make it through the night, but I knew I had to trust that everything would be fine. The ride was an experience I will never forget. It was my first glimpse into the chaos of Delhi driving. When we were at stop lights, children and women begged at our car (just like you may have seen on Slumdog Millionaire). I had never seen anything like this. We finally drove down a dark ally, my heart racing, and arrived at my hostel. The hostel keeper didn’t speak English, of course, and my two other travel partners hadn’t arrived yet, of course. The women at the hostel were very nice and helped me get settled into the room we (the 3 girls) would share. I was so scared and had no idea what was going to happen next. After I fell asleep there was a loud pounding at the door – it was my travel partners (but my mind went to the worst possible scenario, of course).

Taj

After that moment the trip improved greatly. One of the girls spoke Hindi, which made all the difference. Our experience was amazing. We were immersed into India. Working and living in conditions similar to those of the lower-middle class of India (which would be poor in the US). We worked with homeless children, men dying of HIV/AIDS who were disowned from their families, young boys who were already addicted to drugs, amputees who lost limbs from drug use, women who had been abused, and so many more amazing people. This was an experience I will never forget. I went from being scared to death of a country to not wanting to leave. I still hope to go back someday and experience India all over again.

loving her new glasses

A woman in Old Delhi who just was fitted for these new glasses

teaching English in the village

Teaching English in a Village

india-child in slums

A young boy in the slums of old Delhi

nutrition classes for eye healt

Nutrition classes in the slums of Old Delhi for eye health

 

During our time there we ate a lot of traditional Indian food. We usually ate whatever was prepared for the people we were serving, so there was tons of dal with rice and nann. We often ate with our hands. The food was absolutely delicious. I ate the best mango I have ever had in my life  – so ripe I could peel it with my hands. I fell in love with paneer and kheer (and probably put on a few pound because of it). Occasionally we’d venture out and eat at a local restaurant, which was always amazing. I only made the mistake of getting something too spicy once the entire month, was a pretty good success. 

thewhole group

Since being home, I have tried to make Indian dishes occasionally. The cumin, chai, cinnamon, and masala spices bring back memories instantly. A friend of mine made us Chicken Tikka Masala when I stayed with her in Madison a few months ago. It was so easy and SO delicious. I made this for J a few weeks ago and he loved it too. I served it with the very Indian side dish of green beans, haha, but it needed a vegetable! If I were doing it again I would add raisins to give it a touch of sweetness.

chicken masala

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
(unfortunately I don’t know the source of this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 24-oz chicken breast or thighs (1.5 pounds)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or plain non-fat yogurt if you want a non-fat option)

Directions

  1. In a 4 or 6qt slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and masala. Place the chicken on top, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours (or high for 3-4 hours).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Prepare the rice before serving.
  4. Just before serving, stir the cream into the masala. Serve over rice with cucumber relish.

Slow Cooker Beef and Cabbage

 

The kitchen counter doesn’t look much different this morning than it did 4 days ago when we picked up the CSA box. My days have been so long that I haven’t had a chance to look at the produce, let alone do something about it. I have been leaving the house at 4:50am and getting home at 8pm – just enough time to shower, do some reading for the morning, and go to bed. They feed us at the hospital, so I haven’t been very motivated to cook this week either. But today will be different; this morning I have house chores, food prep, cooking, freezing, and canning to do. I thought the weekends were for rest and relaxation…

Anyway, here is a recipe I made a few weeks ago. The weather has turned and it is now crock pot season. As I’ve mentioned before, we bought 1/2 a grass-fed cow from a local farm last winter, so we have a lot of beef to eat. We’ve made a surprisingly huge dent in the stored and the basement just has 1 milk crate full of meat left. Thank goodness, because we just purchased another 1/2 (but this time we will share it with a few other people).

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Crock pot beef is a simple meal to throw together in the morning before work. You can really add any vegetables to the mix; This recipe has cabbage, onions, green peppers, and carrots. I plan to use some of the frozen vegetables from our CSA when I make this again during the fall/winter.

Slow Cooker Beef Roast

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 3-4 pound beef roast
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large green peppers, diced
  • 1 pound carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • Water

Directions

  1. Spray a 6qt crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Place roast in crock pot. Pour vinegar over the top. Season with pepper. Cover with vegetables. I like to put the cabbage in last.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Check after 6 hours – if there is no liquid, add water. There should be plenty of liquid from the vegetables cooking down.

 

Crock Pot Green Bean Casserole

Here is a simple made-from-scratch green bean casserole recipe. There are notes at the bottom to make this even easier.

crockpot green bean casseroleCrock Pot Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of green beans (can also use yellow beans), cleaned and trimmed.
  • 1/2 large onion diced, or 1 small onion
  • 20 ounces ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 ounces of freshly sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of 2%  milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • cornstarch (as needed)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Spray a 6qt crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Slice with food processor or chop into cut beans. Add enough beans to fill the crock pot  1/2 way.
  3. *In a large pan, brown the ground beef with 1/2 of a diced onion. Add to the crock pot.
  4. **Add 1 tbsp of oil to the same pan and sautee the mushrooms. Remove from heat.
  5. **In a measuring cup, add 1/2 cup milk. While stirring with a whisk, add 1/2 cup flour and mix well to prevent clumping. Add the remaining 1.5 cups of milk and stir well.  Add to the mushrooms in the pan and return to heat. Add salt and pepper (just guess – maybe 1/4 tsp each). Stirring continuously, bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to stir and cook for one more minute to thicken the mixture. If the mixture isn’t thickening, cook for another 1-2  minutes. If it still seems runny, sprinkle cornstarch and stir well. Only do this a little at a time. Once thickened, remove from heat and add to the crock pot
  6. Mix everything together. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Top with breadcrumbs or crunch french onions when serving.

*If you are short on time, you could just add the meat directly to the crock pot. This is a little risky since there is a chance the meat will sit in the “danger zone” longer than it should and bacteria present on the meat could grow. People do this all the time and don’t get sick, but I just feel better about browning it first. If you put the meat in the crockpot uncooked, try to cook the first 2 hours on high and then reduce the heat to low for the remaining 4 hours.

**if you are short on time, you can skip steps 4 and 5. Instead, just use 1 cup of milk, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, and 1 can of sliced mushrooms. Mix in a bowl and add to the crock pot.

Chili Verde

Chili Verde by a Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 4 pound chuck roast
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced chiles
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 10 tomatillos, diced (peel off the outer wrapper, if they have one)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Directions

  • Place the roast into a 6 qt slow cooker. Add diced bell pepper, onion, and tomatillos. Pour in the contents of the diced chile can and the tomato can. Add spices. Stir a bit to get the spices down the sides of the meat. Add chopped cilantro to the top.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork. If the meat seems tough,  chopped it into large chunks, and put it back in the pot for another hour or two
  • Serve with rice, corn tortillas, shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. Here is a A Year of Slow Cooking’s refried bean recipe if you’d like to give it a try!

Slow Roasted Cabbage and Potatoes

Slow Roasted Cabbage and Potatoes by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cabbage (cut into wedges)
  • 12-14 colorful baby potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks (no need to peel)
  • 10-12 whole cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine veggies into the crockpot with the whole garlic cloves. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat. DO NOT ADD WATER.
  2. Cook on low for 4-6.
  3. The vegetables are done when the potatoes reach desired tenderness.
  4. The cabbage will get a little carmelized and crispy around the edges where they touch the crock walls.

Carnitas

Slow Cooker Carnitas by a Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 7 cloves garlic (whole intact)
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • corn tortillas
  • sour cream, salsa, sliced avocado (optional)

Direction

  1. Use a 6 quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the salt and cumin. Rub mixture all over the pork, then plop into the slow cooker. Add whole garlic cloves. Squeeze on the citrus, and pour the beef broth evenly over the top.
  2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the pork shreds quite easily with a fork. If your meat is still fully intact after 8 hours, remove and cut into chunks, then return to the crock and flip to high for about an hour or two.
  3. Shred meat fully and serve on warmed corn tortillas with desired toppings.

Lemon and Rosemary Lamb

Leg of Lamb with Lemon and Rosemary by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds whole leg of lamb
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons prepared dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 lemon, juiced)

Directions

  1. Use a 4-quart slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl, combine honey, dijon, the spices, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to form a paste. Smear this paste on all sides of the lamb roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The lamb should be easy to cut with a fork when it is done.

Caramelized Onions

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds tiny onions (sometimes called boiler or pearl onions)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (one small box)
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Directions

  1. Use a 4-6 qt crockpot.
  2. Cut the top and bottom off of all of the onions and peel away the skin. If you get some of the onion and peel that off an outer layer, that’s okay. It takes a while to peel the onions; make sure you’re in a good mood.
  3. Put the onions in the crockpot and toss with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the pat of butter and the raisins. Toss in the pine nuts.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.

Acorn Squash Crock Pot Recipe

Acorn Squash Crock Pot Recipe by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • Acorn squash
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 pinches of salt
Directions
  1. Use a 4 quart crockpot. Cut the squash in quarters, and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.
  2. Put 1/2 T of butter and 1/2 T of brown sugar into each quarter. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of cinnamon onto each brown sugar pile. Add a small pinch of salt to each quarter.
  3. Lower the pieces into your crockpot. Cover and cook on low for about 3. The squash is finished when it is fork tender and peels away from the skin easily.