Sunday, May 30, 2010

Three for Three

The Anasazi were an indigenous people who lived in the southwestern corner of Colorado thousands of years ago.  The word Anasazi (pronounced ah-nah-saw-zee) is a Navajo word meaning 'ancient ones.'  They were cliff dwellers who carved their intricate homes into the sandstone of the Mesa Verde area of southwestern Colorado.  They were also accomplished agronomists and developed a sophisticated and extensive  irrigation system for their crops which were primarily corn and beans.

The Anasazi bean is similar in shape and size to the pinto bean, but is mottled red and white in color.  The story goes that a 1500 year old sealed clay pot was discovered at an archeological dig at Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado.  The sealed pot was sent to the Colorado State University Agronomy Department for study and safekeeping.  Several years later, an graduate student in Agronomy at CSU found the pot in an old cabinet, opened it, found the red and white beans inside and attempted to sprout them in the university hothouse.  Much to the student and his professor's relief and surprise, several of the beans sprouted and thrived.  The seeds were harvested and replanted for several years until enough seeds were stored to plant an entire field of beans.  The beans were dubbed Anasazi after the people who inhabited the dwellings where the clay pot was found.

Anasazi beans cook more quickly than pinto beans and have a mild sweetness to them.  They are an excellent substitute for any recipe calling for pinto beans and the fact that they cook more quickly is bonus to anyone who knows how long it can take to prepare a pot of beans!

Before me, Yeoldfurt had a deep-seated aversion to beans.  I found that out the hard way when the very first meal I cooked for him was Sloppy Joes ...with beans.  I was completely dumbfounded by his reaction when he saw the beans because I did, after all, only cook what was already in his cupboard.  But after he explained his Emergency Bean policy (one can to be kept on hand ...but eaten ONLY in case of emergency, I adjusted my cooking to accommodate him.

Nine years later and feeling semi-secure that he likes my cooking, I meekly suggested one day that he let me show him what GOOD BEANS could be like.  He loves Cajun food, so I made him Red Beans and Rice.  I made some fresh cornbread to go with it in case he was completely unable to eat the beans.  But he loved it.  For the past two years, he's even requested Red Beans and Rice for supper all on his own.   A year or so after that, I tried another bean recipe on him  (recipe here) with surprising success.  So a couple of weeks ago, I decided it is now time to broaden his bean palate and introduce him to the Anasazi beans.

I decided on Anasazi beans because I thought Yeoldfurt, being a Native American himself, might appreciate the historical significance of this little legume.  I figured if he liked them, we would plant some in our garden for next year. 

Saturday morning I decided to make a small pot of Anasazi beans.  It can take hours to make a pot of beans, even if you pre-soak them overnight.  But that's one of my favorite things about Anasazi bean. They need to be rinsed, but don't need to be soaked which saves a lot of time.  I measured one cup of beans, rinsed them, and added them to the pot with three cups of water.  I brought it to a full rolling boil, then turned it down to low and put the lid on.  They cooked down to the tender stage in about 30 minutes.  While they were simmering, I cooked a three slices of bacon in the oven and diced up a medium yellow onion.  When the bacon was done, I put the diced onion in the bacon grease and returned it to the oven for a few minutes until the onion was soft and translucent.  While the onion was cooking, I ate the three slices of bacon ...breakfast.  Yum!  When the beans were tender, I added the onions and bacon drippings to the beans, along with salt, pepper and several dashes of Cajun Seasoning.  I let them simmer another five minutes, then took them off the burner to cool.  When they were still only slightly warm, I moved them to the serving dish I would use tonight and put them in the refrigerator.  Thirty minutes before supper time, I warmed up the beans and made rice in the same proportions (one cup rice, three cups water).  Since Yeoldfurt is as adamant about having  actual meat at every supper meal as he used to be about no beans at any meal ...I also cut up a link of kielbasa to throw in with the rice and beans.  I made a half recipe of cornbread and we had a cheap, easy but nutritious supper. 

Yeoldfurt was skeptical and I was downright nervous about that first spoonful.  But he enjoyed it enough to go back for seconds so now I'm three for three on bean recipes with him.  Guess it would be safe for me to start figuring out where to plant beans in our fall garden. 


  1. That sounds REALLY good. That's it. I'm coming to your house for dinner,even if I do have to travel a good thousand to do it ;)

  2. You're welcome at our table any time! If you bring the whole brood, better call when you get 100 miles and give me a headcount so I can be sure and have enough!


  3. .......stewed plums.......Plum danish, it just don't have the same ring to it. ;-)

  4. Free fruit is free fruit. Can't have any of it going to waste, now can we?

    I don't know how we missed it before now, but we noticed this morning that we have a bumper crop of muscadine grapes in the trees along the driveway. I mean bucketloads! I've never harvested any before, not sure what I'll do with them. But free fruit is free fruit, right?

    : )

  5. Woman you make my mouth water. Beans,rice,meat AND cornbread. A feast for the God's. I'd be proud to set at your table. That man is lucky to have you.

    See Ya.

  6. LOL, thanks Tony. I think he agrees ...hope so!

  7. Hmm seems like a post like this one several years ago is what intrigued me enough to try my own Anasazi beans. I was glad I did, and love how easy it is to grow them in the southwest!!

    Praying all is going well for you and YOF...

    Hugs from NM

  8. I'm glad to hear that, HB. I was hoping they were easy to grow. I still have about a cup of beans from the bag I bought at the grocery store. Think I can sprout them?

  9. Welcome to my blog, Stan. New followers are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what you find here!