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« Day 4, Week 1: make bread dough; enjoy a dinner you made on Day 2 | Main | Day 2, Week 1: pasta with tomato sauce, green beans, pudding & peach! »

Day 3, Week 1: Bean & Tomato Stew, Rice, Summer Squash Two Ways

Think of this as Hydration Day. The key Cook for Good ideas today are:

  • You can afford to eat like it matters if you'll shop in the often-scorned center aisles. Load up on dried beans, rice, and tea you brew yourself. 
  • Don't ship water. Add local water to these thrifty, high-nutrient foods to stretch your budget and lower your environmental impact.

You started the hydration yesterday, by soaking black beans. (If you didn't, don't worry. Either start soaking them now or just skip that step and cook them a little longer.) Two pounds of dried beans makes about twenty servings of cooked beans. Today you'll experience what I think of as the dance in the kitchen. Send the kids out to play, turn the phone ringer off, put on some lively music, and move to the meanwhile!

  • Save eight servings (4 cups) of cooked black beans for Bean Salad with Fresh Corn, Peppers, and Tomatoes later in the week (page 136 in Wildly Affordable Organic)
  • Make eight servings of Cuban Black Beans (page 140)
  • Make four servings of Bean and Tomato Stew with black beans (page 134)
  • Make eight servings of rice (page 203)
  • Make eight servings of Grilled Summer Squash Two Ways (page 207)

organic black bean and tomato stew with grilled pineapple and grilled summer squash

I recommended canned tomatoes, another ingredient from the center-aisle, for the Bean and Tomato Stew. Canned tomatoes usually cost much less than fresh ones, making organic possible for more people. If you have a garden or can afford fresh organic tomatoes, by all means use them instead.

1. Decide when to turn on your slow cooker by checking the recipe for Cuban Black Beans. Cooking all the beans with bay leaves and salt will add flavor to the other recipes as well.

2. When beans are cooked but still firm, drain four cups and set aside to cool for the bean salad.

3. Cook the vegetables for Bean and Tomato Stew in a pot on the stove. When the vegetables are cooked, move two cups of beans into that pot. Cook eight servings of Rice and of Grilled Summer Squash Two Ways.

4. Add the vegetables and spices for Cuban Black Beans to the slow cooker. Let them them simmer until tender, possibly through dinner. Remove from the slow cooker to speed chilling, then refrigerate four servings to eat on day seven and freeze the rest to eat in week two.

5. Enjoy Bean and Tomato Stew with black beans on rice with hot Summer Squash Two Ways for dinner. Because the grill will already be on, you may want to grill some fruit as an additional side. I usually eat all local fruit in season, but couldn't resist this organic pineapple for just $3.99. It's an example of thrift enabling luxury!

Sometimes I also brew a pitcher of Good Iced Tea on hydration day, but that's a bonus step.

6. Refrigerate extra beans, squash, and rice.

If you only cooked once a week, but you cooked like this, you'd save money, get healthy, and save the planet! Mix it up by chosing different types of beans and recipes every week. See page 59 for ideas.

Reader Comments (2)

Tasty, but far longer than 20 minutes today. I've never thought of myself as a particularly slow cook, but I often find that cookbook estimated times wildly underestimate how long it will take *me* to make something. Am I just that much slower at chopping than everyone else? :( I am looking forward to next week's more concentrated cooking sessions; hopefully economies of scale will make up for some of that effect.

Btw, this blog post is a little confusing in terms of how many cups of beans go in each dish. The amounts listed in your second paragraph don't match the amounts you say to move in the later steps (2 and 3). To have them match, the amount in step 2 should be 4 cups, and the amount in step 3 should be 2 cups.

Aug 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Thanks so much for your comment, Heather! You're right about the cups of beans above ... I fixed the post.

Thanks for sharing the timing comment, too. I have timed myself doing this five or six times in nineteen or twenty minutes, but this is the day that takes the most concentration. I don't have professional "knife skills" but do cook a lot. I timed all the recipes in the book at least twice, too, starting with pots in the drawers and food in the fridge or pantry. BUT everybody works at different paces. At least the times should show the relative time it takes to make a recipe: Zlaw is faster than lasagna!

I'd love to hear from others about the timing.

Jul 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Watson
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