Play I on the R ‘n’ B


The title of this blog posting is a  play on words based on the song “Positive Vibration” by Bob Marley. However, in this case “RnB” can be taken as to meaning rice and beans. Rice and beans is as simple as it gets. Most cultures have their preferred combination of grain and legumes. Indeed, entire civilizations were built on this humble combination. Given today’s plethora of unhealthy food choices, this combination of pantry food items remains relevant. And healthy. And cheap too.
The beans in the photo are Borlotti beans or sometimes called cranberry beans here in New England. I grew them in my little kitchen garden. Normally, when you purchase Borlotti beans at the store, you buy mature beans of indeterminate age. I had such a good year I was able to pick these beans before maturity, before their skins harden and they appear mottled all over. I think they look very attractive in their green jackets.
This was the first year I grew Borlotti beans. I would grow them again. And if you want to grow them too, they need to be staked. I supported mine on 8 foot tall bamboo canes.


This is red rice from northern Italy. They grow a lot of rice in that neck of the woods. For example, rice for risotto is grown here too in the paddy fields. And no, this red rice is not appropriate for risotto. I have also seen black rices from northern Italy, much like our wild rice from Minnesota.


You know it is Winter when you see roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts. One of the recurring themes of idea of seasonal cooking is this…….you never cook or eat any summer vegetables like cucumber, eggplant or a tomato. You need something heartier. If you have to, at least use organic canned this or organic frozen that. Conversely, you do not eat brussels sprouts to celebrate the Fourth of July.


And this is my little “brodetto’ or broth of garden beans, carrots, parsnips and rutabaga. This has no tomato or chicken stock. The beauty of using water for all your soups is that, for me at least, they taste cleaner and lighter. And you can really taste everything without that muddied chicken flavor. And needless to say, no cracking chicken bones, no extra expense, no extra time hubbling and bubbling a stock. Just shut up and do it.


So, how does one serve up this austerity laden, middle-of-winter, bereft of steaming carcass………I plonk some cooked rice in the bottom of a bowl. Then, I like to ladle some of the soup over the rice. Next, I just simply stir or slosh it all around and make a little well in the center. Finish it with Parmigiana cheese and really, really good extra virgin olive oil. This is how civilizations are built. Eat simple.



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