Monday, January 25, 2010

Modified Can Night

Awhile back we enjoyed a series of books by Lin and Larry Pardey about their sail around the world in the 24-ft Seraffyn. The books are charming and adventurous and worth a read. The Pardeys sailed -- and still do -- without refrigeration, and used to rely heavily on canned food on their long passages. When they needed to reprovision they would scout local stores and buy one of each kind of canned food that appealed to them and have "can night" where they would cook from the cans and decide which ones were good enough to lay in.

We don't eat anything from cans but I do have the habit of tossing things in the freezer when I cook too much or when I don't have time to use something before it will spoil. So today we're doing our version of can night -- cooking whatever is in the pantry and freezer. I scrounged around and assembled a bag of dried giant lima beans, a box of vegetable broth, a bag of mixed mushrooms I had sauteed and frozen about a month ago and some CSA kale blanched and frozen last summer. I don't even like limas so I can't remember what possessed me to buy them, but they're beans and it's Monday so let's make something of it.

Giant Limas with Mushrooms and Kale

1/2 lb. dried giant limas, soaked overnight
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 c. vegetable broth
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (I used shitakes and baby bellas)
1/2 bunch kale, blanched, squeezed dry and chopped
a few sprigs of thyme
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. or more berbere

Now here's where my lima inexperience revealed itself. When I drained the beans in the morning I noticed the skins were loose and yucky looking. Whenever I cook edamame I slip the skins off, so I figured I had to do this to the limas, too. Tedious, but zenlike.

Put the beans in a pan with the broth and thyme, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until beans are tender. (And here I realized that without the skins to hold the beans together, they pretty much disintegrated. Onward.)

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until golden; add to the beans. Saute the mushrooms on high heat until browned; add to beans along with the kale.

Add berbere or, if you don't have any, try a little smoked paprika, or cayenne pepper, or whatever appeals to you. You want the beans to be a little spicy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

We thought these were delicious, and ate them with a loaf of Irish soda bread from a mix I found in the pantry.


  1. Actually, two comments!
    1. Don't you remember Mom and Dad's story about returning from their honeymoon and finding that all the labels on the cans in the pantry had been switched? They had surprise night every night for a long time. (1939...cans were big, I guess.) Also reference Sam's early blog entry about interesting cans in Hungarian supermarkets.)
    2. Dad LOVED lima beans, especially in succotash.

  2. I completely forgot the story about switching the labels on the cans! But I do remember Sam's cans. We also used to cruise the Asian markets in the strip and get cans of unidentifiable things for Drew when he was younger. He always ate them :O

    I remember Dad liking limas. Neither of us does. The funny thing is in this recipe they just disintegrated and we weren't even aware we were eating beans at all.