Rancho Gordo

Good in Everything

It's been a strange the past week here at Casa RCakewalk. My Husband has been sick for almost 2 weeks with an awful mutating cold, (rendering him only fond of eating frozen pizza and tortellini), and I finally succumbed to sickness last Friday. I kept it well hidden until Saturday, when I really started feeling poorly.

Sunday began fine, and after our church-going, Boy-O and I relaxed most of the afternoon on the couch - a rarity especially for me. Then, the poor kid got sick. I think God matches up the perfect child to the parent, since I felt so bad for my little creature, and yet he just was sick and fine with it. He couldn't keep even water down, and yet he just cuddled up to me and looked up at me with his big eyes and said, "I missed you when you were in New York".

Needless to say, I haven't been cooking a whole lot. I haven't been eating a whole lot either since for the past two days I have no sense of taste, which I'm sure has resulted in a loss of a couple of pounds. I'm never usually hung up on weight, and don't feel like I'm an unhealthy weight, but sometimes I feel a little on the "heavy" side this time of year. Daily walking has diminished, and food consumption is higher due to the holidays and warming, comfort foods. But it does frighten me how easily I can lose weight when I'm not trying, and makes me even more thankful that good health usually bestows upon me a couple of extra just for this purpose.

I thought I'd reflect on some of the foods I made just prior to our foodless state, starting with this wheat bread I made just after I got back from the NYC trip:

I still procrastinate ordering my Amazon cart which currently contains: Ration (Ruhlman) after reading so much praise for it, The Breakfast Book (Cunningham) - one of my favorite cookbooks as novels, The Flavor Bible (Page and Dorneburg) - which I first saw in the Spice House and then heard an interview on Public Radio in the same day, then I rented it from the library which confirmed my need for it. And finally, Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day. Zoe Francios and Jeff Hertzberg often share base recipes on their website, and this recipe was the base for most of their whole grain versions in the new book (that has been on my order list since October when it was released...).

I've newly found that I like to let stored dough rise on parchment sprinkled with cornmeal. It's infinitely easier to slide around from counter resting place to peel and right into the oven, since it tends to be so sticky. Strangely, the parchment doesn't burn at 450 degrees either.

I'm remembering that I will likely add Jim Lahey's My Bread book to the cart sometime soon as well. I think he kind of pioneered the "artisan bread at home" methods that everyone is writing about now. His method requires baking inside a dutch oven - so I need to get a high temp safe replacement handle for my Le Crueset, hopefully before I finally get my library hold copy to sample.

Last week I made some chili using the leftover frozen tamale filling and some of the mystery "red" beans that I got from my Mom in a half gallon canning jar. They are old, but some of the best beans I've had. On my last cooking attempt, it took forever to cook them - even after soaking, so I resulted to pressure cooking. I just pressure cooked them from the get go this time, and it's a perfect way to get a soup going fast. I ate this for lunch and dinner most of last week - with the exception of one meal of roasted broccoli:

Yes, I ate almost a whole bunch of roasted broccoli myself. The oven was on for the aforementioned frozen pizza, and I took advantage of the 425 heat for this. I usually steam broccoli, and kind of forgot how delicious it is roasted. Obviously, since I ate this all myself. Just a drizzle of olive oil and sliced garlic, and then after the heat a grating of lemon zest, squeeze of lemon juice and a grating of Parmesan cheese.

Since my cold was increasing, I didn't think I was hungry at all on Saturday, but after the zoo cake competition we all seemed famished. We were close enough to the Alterra on North Ave., so we got some lunch. I never know what to order at Alterra, since everything always exceeds my expectation...

Sasa and I each got a cup of the White Bean Chili (that was mildly spicy and thickened with potato), and a then split this sandwich special which was hot brie, tomato, and basil on a soft roll. This seemed out of season and ordinary, but it was not. It was out-of-this-world good, and we were so full that I really didn't have dinner that night.

In fact, I didn't eat again until Sunday afternoon when I felt strangely hungry again. I could still taste, and I wanted to use up some salad, so I made poached eggs. Secretly, I was wondering if I could poach an egg to rival the ones I ate a week ago at CraftBar. And, *rubbing nails on collarbone*, I did. It may have seemed a strange combination served on a honey-Dijon vinaigrette dressed salad, but it worked for me. I re-fried a couple of potatoes leftover from a Friday night dinner, and was set for the rest of that day.

Sunday night, I poached some chicken Steve Sando style in onion, cumin, a pinch of thyme some salt and pepper. I started soaking some Rancho Gordo Flageolets, intending to mimic a bit of that Alterra chili I had Saturday.

Monday, I didn't think I'd get around to the actual soup making due to sickness, but managed to by the end of the day. I can't taste to season, so I suspect I may freeze it all for healthier days in the near future. I emailed my new food guru, Lo from Burp!, and asked her how long she thought I could get away with soaking the beans. I'm glad I asked her, since she said this:

So, the beans are soaking away?

If you change the water, you can actually soak the beans until they start to sprout (this is actually recommended by a couple of foodie camps, as the nutrient composition improves upon sprouting). From a food safety standpoint, it's of no concern to leave the beans, as long as you change the water -- but the beans may taste slightly different after soaking for longer than a typical overnight. They will also cook more quickly, so be cognizant of that when you ultimately make your soup.

I was was so glad I decided to ask her, and very intrigued to hear this. I've sprouted mung beans at home, why not Rancho Gordo Flageolets? Since I did end up making the soup, I saved out a small bowl to continue soaking and changing the water daily until I see some sprouting action. I love a good experiment.

Which brings us to this morning: Boy-O taking a nap an hour after waking up, and thankfully keeping his little bits of nourishment down...

And me, finally committing to finish this Alien Illusions scarf for R1. Embarrassingly, I began this back in September and still have not finished it. To my credit, I usually go for a bit more "mindless" projects that I can complete without much effort and thought included, at least for the time being when I don't have committed time to knit with abandon.

I ripped out almost a whole Alien head about a month ago, and then left it to collect dust when I finished up my Christmas Knitting. I'm back, Aliens, and I'm not giving up this time until you are DONE! If it's one thing about being a little bit under the weather, it's that I don't feel so bad about sitting idle and knitting in the middle of the morning. See? Everything can have a silver lining...

The Best of 2009: Personal Food Photography Favorites.

I think when I look back, the whole reason that I started food blogging was because I was taking all of these food pictures, and I was only showing them to the same 3 or 4 people. I've loved my kitchen for quite a few years, but only somewhat recently entered the digital age of photography. I like to think that I know what's going on with technology, but yet really, I'm in the dark ages. Until I got married, I never even had a computer in my home, and most people were surprised at how many computer-related things I knew for really not being all that interested in them.

A few months ago, we had to invest in a terabyte of extra storage, since I was taking thousands of photos in super high resolution. It seems ironic that food photos were eating up tons of space. I've since started shooting in smaller formats, but still have a day or so in the future I must devote to paring down the digital clutter. Digital clutter, it seems to me, is much worse than the physical type, since you don't see it and it overwhelms your computer before you know it. More than once everything has frozen up due to space issues, and I've frantically had to transfer things over and cross my fingers that I wasn't loosing anything.

That said, I've dug into the external hard drive storage to unearth some of my favorite food photos from each month of 2009. Since I started blogging in April, I have quite an online collection of photos both here and on flickr. The ones below are of die hard obsessions, and are compositions that appealed to me, if not to the larger photographic community.

Off we go:

Granola from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Granola is absolutely an obsession with me, and its one that appears to have no waning in sight as we enter a new decade. Of the many varieties that I've tried and tweaked and eaten (I can not imagine the pounds of rolled oats I've eaten this year...) this one is still one of my most favorite. In fact, I made a batch today, in spite of the lack of freezer space. In addition to being obsessed with granola, I am obsessed with frozen granola. I love it mixed in with day-old oatmeal, sprinkled on top of a Wheatabix biscuit, sprinkled on ice cream or poured directly into my mouth from a ramekin. You really must try it.


Dorie Greenspan's Cupcake.

Yes, it is the same as the banner cupcake above. I made them for a Super Bowl party, which is ironic since the thing I love most in the culinary world is chocolate cake, and the thing I hate most would have to be football. I forgot that I took quite a few different shots of this ganache topped beauty, and I like how it appears that I was shooting in a glamorous white facility somewhere and not on my sunlit dining room table. I'm pretty sure I ate a lot of them myself, and like I've said before, it is truly a miracle I am able to maintain my current weight.


Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Granola.

I went through a DVRing craze of watching Nigella on Food Network near the end of last winter. While I can't say I've watched much Food TV lately, I guess when the holidays are over and the rush of January is gone, and the whole of winter and snow seems to be beating me into couch potato-ing submission, I do catch up on DVR'd obsessions. As I recall, I was also watching all of the Jamie Oliver's I had recorded as well - so I must have been feeling rather British at the time.

This granola
is so different than any of the others I've tried, and has the benefit of being the recipe to introduce me to brown rice syrup, which is seriously one of my favorite things. It's so good and not so sweet, and has the best crunch of any I've tried.



I started the blog this month, and it was just a couple weeks after unexpectedly loosing one of my uncles, who was quite young. I think a great silence fell over me, since though I was far away from him, I remembered him so well from when I was small - and my brother and I were regularly (and gladly) tormented by all of my Mom's brothers (she had 4!). He had such a natural ability to be funny. Not just funny - an incredible wit that goes unmatched to anyone I've ever met. I like to think that the Northwoods are missing the laughter that he brought to everyone who knew him.

Eggs will forever remind me of this, and for a good reason. They do embody the necessity and the circle of life. It seems like a cruel truth, until closer observation. There is such joy to be found in every part. God has given us this set clock to which all of us are bound, and there is no escaping it. Whatever you believe, "When the game is over, all the pieces go back into the same box" as a fortune cookie I had once said.

While it seems like a strange way of coping with something so unexpected, eggs for a week in April did help me, though I felt in no way able to help my family as much as I would have liked to.

Alton's English Muffins.

My boys went to Chicago, and I stayed behind to catch up on knitting and being alone. Of course, this found time led me to do some rare shopping and I bought some egg rings. (Read more about it here.) It took me three tries to get them to turn out properly, but they were very tasty and ready for their photo op...


Black Beans.

I think this is just a random picture from one dinner one night back in June... before I was aware that I would be obsessed with Rancho Gordo, I'm sure these were just regular Non-Gordo's. I am always amazed at the agriculture in our country, and that even if you are short on cash, you can step into any supermarket and buy a pound of beans for about $ .99. These were mostlikely from the bulk bin at my food co-op, so they may have cost slightly more.

I took this
related picture in November (with a Rancho Gordo variety), and one of my favorite flickr contacts left the nicest comments aboutthe respect due a black bean... you'll have to click over and read it.


Mango Salsa.

My first post back in April was about mangoes and mango salsa. I think I ate mango salsa or a mango crisp for so long that the last time I bought one I made it into salsa and then couldn't even eat it! This never happens to me very often, but I think a new category has emerged: Foods I'm Tired Of. They still are amazing, and I wouldn't want to offend any mangoes who happen to be reading this. I'm pretty sure it's just a phase, and maybe by next June, I'll be ready to devour them once again.



In a Saveur article from this fall, I read about a "real life Johnny Appleseed". I never gave so much thought to the "American-ness" of apples before reading this article, and having it explain how there are so many unique American varieties due to the unique way that apple trees are propagated. I think that each tree must then taste unique to itself, since that is why this sauce is the exact taste that comes to mind when I think of applesauce, since I've been eating it pretty much since birth.

The applesauce I made above was from my Gram's tree in Northern Wisconsin. I don't know the variety, but it is sweet and tart. I didn't add any sugar to it at all - and if you'd ask the Boy-O, I know he'd agree that it is plenty sweet. I had a great time being a whole season canner this summer, and looking back at all of the photos I have of my processing, reminds me of this everyday miracle of food preservation.

I am indeed still looking for someone to eat beets with, since this batch of fine looking noodles is still snuggled in the frozen depths of my deep freeze... I just haven't had the occasion to serve them. I may just have to invite a new food blogger friend over to indulge with me...


Tostadas de Salmon Ahumado and Rancho Gordo Christmas Limas.

Mostly Foodstuff's Majestic and Moist Honeycake

There are three photos for October, since I couldn't choose. GOP turned my eye to the amazing Rancho Gordo in October, and I am forever grateful. Sometimes, there is this thing called "perceived value" which can be an inflated idea of greatness that you inflict on something you really want to be wonderful.

But, dear reader, Rancho Gordo is not included in this definition.The day I placed my first order, I made the delicious smoked salmon tostadas, and the first cooking experience with said beans was this amazing Christmas Lima. They were so good, and only improved with refrigerated residence. I have the other half pound from this batch, and am going to have to make the same meal again.

And as for the cake, well this cake, is the cake of all cakes... at least for a cake lover such as myself. It is so wonderful, and only more complemented by Deena's post about it. I'll say no more, you must try it for yourself. Just look at it gleaming there, you know you need to turn on the oven and brew yourself a pot of coffee...


Turkey Sandwich with Spicy Dilly Beans.

This was a great use of the little bit of leftover smoked Thanksgiving turkey. These dilly beans are going to be a staple at my house from now on. I could easily eat as many of them as an actual side of vegetable instead of the one of a pickle that it actually is. It's spicy, and dilly: It's Foodinjars Spicy Dilly Beans! And by all means add that extra cayenne pepper.


I come from a teetotaling family, so the making of homemade hooch wasn't exactly the first thing that came to mind when I was completely obsessed with tart cherries this last July. Curiosity, however, is the mother of experimentation over here at Casa RCakewalk...

I poured a tiny little cordial cup the other day to see how it was coming along, since the recipe I used suggested letting it rest for several months. It's very sweet, I'll say that, but it's also very cherry. I'm for sure going to have to make a black forest type ice cream, I know this much. It also, strangely, didn't seem overtly strong - but I think the sugar was fooling me. At any rate, it made a very nice picture for the end of the year.

So, at year end, thank you to my small handful of loyal readers that inspire me to continue taking photos and ruminating on life (usually as it pertains to the kitchen) around my house. I've had more fun doing this than I ever thought, and I've met some interesting people who are amazing canners, cooks and bakers! It does seem like the year has evaporated on me once again, and sometimes I wish I could just put the lid on it to slow the process. But then I remember the eggs, and realize that it is all a part of the plan,and that each of these 3 grey hairs I recently noticed are par for the course.

Happy New Year!!!

Last week in food...

I will be the first to admit that sometimes I feel hopelessly technologically challenged. I seriously have been trying to upload a picture of pie for 45 minutes. Good thing the Boy-O is tired out from a long weekend and taking a deservedly long nap...

I've had this problem before: I take a photo horizontally, upload it into Picasa, and then somehow the computer sprites tweak it into vertical mode. I go in, change, save, reload - and it is still miraculously vertical. I've repeated this process now so many times that I'm about out of patience. So, If you would like to see this photo, click here.

And now, on with the Post:

Last week was busy in preparation for E and Laura's visit on Friday. I do like to clean and organize, this is true, but somehow I never felt like I had enough hours in the day. I realised around Wednesday that I feel this way since Daylight Savings time has robbed me of 60 precious daylight minutes. I now wake at 6:30 am, and am shocked to be turning on lights promptly around 5 pm. I know I'll get used to it, but the initial week always sends me into denial a little bit. Thankfully with the onset of shorter days and cooler weather, I feel re-inspired to cook. Some highlights from last week:

Spinach and bacon pizza with jalapeno Monterrey Jack cheese. I've decided on giving up my food snobbery of pizza dough construction (Sorry, Alex Guarneschelli...) and going with the "whatever is in the icebox" approach. It's good! I let a portion of the Artisan Bread in Five stored dough sit out covered with a towel for about an hour, and then added the toppings.

One pizza truth I will forevermore adhere to is the addition of the cheese after the pizza has baked 2/3 of the way. Oh, and bake at 500 degrees f. My own, unwritten rule is to only include 3 ingredients as toppings (not including the cheese), but I forgot about the onions until it was too late, so this one only had two. I just remembered that I also sauteed the spinach with sliced garlic, and that was a great idea.

It was even better a couple days later when I had it for lunch. I was cooking my beans via the Parson's Method (more on that below), and slipped it into the oven on its foil for 10 minutes.

Bay scallops with mushrooms, sherry "cream" sauce and polenta. I Loved this. My Husband Liked it, since he's not a huge fan of polenta. I hate to hear this, but secretly plan on making it for lunch every once in a while.

CSA farm box. I got a Harvest Share box from my new CSA, Highcross Farms on Thursday. Lots of late season produce including kale, arugula, parsley (even though mine has suddenly turned into a hedge in the back yard), squashes, onions, brussel sprouts... 10 minutes after I lugged it in the door, I had the beets on a sheet pan destined for roasting.

Friday, the girls were coming, and I planned to make Crispy Kale, since I remembered reading about it in Bon Appetitseveral months ago. I actually received Tuscan Kale in my box, and was so excited since I have never seen it anywhere before. I went ahead and tried the same baking method with another spicy green (unknown variety to me) and some curly kale as well.

I think I preferred the curly kale, since it literally melted in your mouth, but they were all delicious. And my Husband loved it too. Crispy kale, yes and polenta, no? Go figure... another 10 years, and I should have this down pat!

Friday, I decided on a bean soup since it's flexible in the serving time. Rancho Gordo Midnight blacks, cooked via the Parson's Method mentioned in the book Heirloom Beans. I was so curious when I read this, I just had to try it. I figured a soup pot of beans was the best way to experiment.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees f. In a dutch oven, bring one pound of unsoaked beans to a boil in 6 cups of water. After it boils, put on the lid and slip it into the oven for 1-2 hours. I checked at 1 hour, and then again at 1:20. They were done enough to add the salt, so I added 1 t. and then back in the oven for another 20. Perfect black beans! And, a delicious soup. But some things no matter how delicious, do not translate well on film.

Now, PIE! All the pie talk last week did really wet my appetite for pie in the home. I wasn't sure what kind to make. I did know that I wanted to make Cook's Illustrated Magazine's vodka pie crust. I call it this to differentiate it from all the other pie doughs I've made. This one is really great, and the vodka allows for easier rolling since the liquid evaporates in the oven. It's flaky and tender so Alton Brown would be proud, and my friends agreed that it was pretty darn tasty, so I'll take it.

The guts included a layer of what was essentially cranberry jam. The recipe was peeking out at me from behind the vodka pie dough recipe. I don't know why I never thought to make it before. I do know that I'll be making it again. As for a photo of the finished product? You will have to click on over to my Flickr stream, since I'm nearing the end of my allotted computer time for one day. And, all this pie talk is making me hungry.

The Christmas Lima: (or in Which I Confirm my Love of Rancho Gordo)

As promised, here is a photo-heavy documentation of my first encounter with Rancho Gordo beans. And let me tell you, they are worth the hype. I am known to read cookbooks like novels, and in this particular book (Heirloom Beans), Steve Sando states that he often lovingly refers to people like me as "bean freaks". Last week while perusing his blog, he mentioned that there are people on flickr posting photos of shipments of beans! Yes, I had to look. My favorite was a shot of a girl with a pound of beans on her head; one of the comments read, "And, um, you have beans. On your head. Isn't there a pool for that or something?"

Head over there and take a look, I'm not joking.

All obsessiveness aside, I received a pretty high accolade from my non-foodie Husband when he said that this was one of my top meals (actually, he added here, "EXCEPT for the BEANS", which I did see him eat some of, and he did go on to say the broth was excellent. I smugly noted that the broth would not taste like it did if not for the beans, so I'm counting it as a win.)

Since the recipe, as far as my short Google search is concerned, is not posted on the Internet and the recipe is actually gifted from Farm Restaurant at Carneros Inn in Napa, I don't feel entirely confident in recording it here. Instead, I'll urge you to purchase the book, either directly from Rancho Gordo or at Amazon. If the following photos look good to you, the book will most certainly be a welcome addition to your kitchen.

Now, on with the dinner!

Carneros Inn's Christmas Lima with Pork Chops, Cabbage and Asian Pear Relish

Yesterday morning, I actually got up when it was still dark, too excited to go and soak my beans that I couldn't go back to sleep. Bean Freak? Yes, I think so. I washed them thoroughly, and soaked them for about 6 hours. Meanwhile, I went to the last South Shore Farmer's Market of the season. While my beans were not local, most of the other ingredients were: Just look at this cipollini onion!

I've never seen one larger than about a shallot, let alone the size of my hand! I love this farm, Highcross Farms from nearby Cambellsport, WI. I have to say that consistently they have the nicest and most reasonably price organic produce I've ever seen. I'm hoping to see them at the Winter Farm Market, and may even get a CSA share from them next year, and be done fretting about my sunless gardening efforts. I stocked up on the sweetest yellow carrots (which I roasted whole last week, and my Husband ate them and liked them!) as well. There was a carrot in the ragout.

I cannot remember the varietal of cabbage I got, I loved it though. The recipe called for Savoy, and this is related to the Chinese cabbage I think. I may braise the rest, since GOP did that the other day - and I was jealous, even though she though it made her house smell like a tenement building...

The easiest ever pear relish: chop one Bosc or Asian pear into 1/8 inch dice, add 1/2 t. lemon juice and some salt and pepper and chopped chives. I actually forgot to put in on top of our meals until after a couple of bites, and I was glad I remembered. It added a nice sweet dimension, and intensified the chestnuttiness of the Lima's.

It reminded me of one of my favorite appetizers this summer, when I was at Sasa's for dinner. She cut slices of ripe pear, and served them with Pecorino cheese. There happened to be a bag of Kettle Salt and Black Pepper chips on the table, and we ate them topped with the pears and cheese. Delicious!

When I threw the pork chops on the grill, I added the cabbage so it could wilt. I love the color of the bean broth, a deep chestnut red-brown.

A side note about the bread: Today is day 4 of this loaf, and it is still amazingly good. I really think that King Arthur mix I used on a whim is going to become a staple. It has got the nicest, deep grainy flavor, without being overly chewy. That is a good thing for a 3 year old, of whom I worry about choking hazards with. I was running errands the day I left it to rise, and it got enormous. Though it looks like it may weigh 5 lbs, it really was as light as a feather.

Very excited now, as the cabbage wilted and I added a bit more salt and pepper. Also, couldn't be more pleased with my gas grill which makes such an easy task of outdoor cookery. The last time I tried to use my charcoal grill, I was trying to light the silly thing for 90 minutes. That is not an exaggeration. I ended up cooking the food inside.

The finished dinner. Both of our plates were suspiciously clean after mopping up all of the juices with the bread. Jeff just had about 10 beans left in his bowl. I figure the nutrition was gleaned out of them, however.

And today for lunch I had the meat free version as promised to myself (though technically, there was a little bacon in the bean pot...) I scooped on a healthy amount of the pear relish, and I think it may have even improved overnight. I often think this is the case with beans, and they are really at their best at days 3-5 of their refrigerated residence. In fact, next time, I may even make the ragout one day prior, and just grill the meat the day of. Or, just eat it as a soup.

May you all be as inspired to eat beans, be they Rancho Gordo or not! I know that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg for me concerning dear RG...with a whole new book full of inspiration. I forgot to mention that the book is published by Chronicle Books, one of my favorite publishers. They have the nicest photography and layouts, and those two things work well with cookbooks. Recent Chronicle cookbook favorites include The New Whole Grains Cookbook and Cupcakes!

I am so fortunate that this whole beany obsession hit just now when we are really in a cold Autumnal mood. What better way to take me through the winter than slow cooking. I love to press my hands to the top of the red Le Creuset as I pass by to warm up. Winter is the best time of year for us Kitchen Types!

Rancho Expectations

Yesterday, I got my first order of Rancho Gordo beans: and yes, I was actually looking out the window and saying "YES! The beans are HERE!!" when the UPS man came to the door. I was that excited.

It's no secret that I love beans. I grew up on pintos, mostly, but a bean of some kind was usually around in various soups and sides. For his birthday two years ago, I gave my little brother a brown t-shirt that says "Powered by Frijoles", and I have to say, I should have gotten myself one too, since I'm jealous when I see him in it.

GOP ordered the same gift box that I ordered, and got hers just slightly before mine. I'm guessing a friendly competition will ensue to see what we come up with. She is lovingly saving some beans for planting in the spring...but since I'm somewhat disheartened by the lack of sunlight (and thus growth) on my backyard plot, I don't know if I will be that virtuous.

Since I've been fortunately employed in the home for the past several years, I love experimenting with different methods of doing familiar things, and already the Heirloom Beans book has given me some good new things to try.


I think there are a lot of interesting places in the world, culinarily speaking, and if I were able to travel more, I think I would still have this opinion: We in the Americas have some pretty diverse and amazing foods! My Gram took that idea a bit farther when I remember her often saying "There's a little bit of all the world in Wisconsin." Maybe that is a little more true for the gardeners like her (that could even occasionally cultivate melons up in the high zone 4 region), since the heart of most places is directly related to the foods consumed there.

While I may feel a slight pang of guilt from the ordering the local foods of California instead of Wisconsin, I am still overwhelmingly happy to support Rancho Gordo on the quest to propagate more people into the bean eating population. And not to over look the completely amazing packaging!

Those Christmas Lima's in the upper left are my first project, I'm planning them for dinner tomorrow with pork and savoy cabbage, an amazing looking recipe from the book. Sometimes, I think an obsession with an otherwise overlookable thing is just what I need. The Rancho Gordo descriptions of beans online do not fully compare with the natural pattern and beauty of the real thing. A true miracle to find the flat, purple and cream beans actually in my hand.

My next order of business will be to order a clay pot cooking vessel. For some reason, it is infinitely easier to depart with my money for this kind of thing, than for say, clothes or plastic trash bags. I have the same t-shirts and jeans for the past 5 years, and while that sometimes is frustrating, I just have to buy BEANS! and now CLAY POTS! Please check out the Rancho Gordo blog for some great links to clay pots from a couple of recent posts - I'll probably end up ordering from one of his recommends. For now, I'll have to be satisfied with my my LeCrueset 5 1/2 quart round oven... which I do love, and use almost daily. I'm sure an obsessive and pictorial tale will follow my first dining experience with Rancho Gordo, so stay tuned. I know I'm not going to be disappointed.