Today, April 7th 2020, is the official Arizona Gives Day, a day to encourage the public to give to their favorite non-profits. Given the current circumstances of the world, many have been asking for extra donations lately. For medical equipment, for cleaning supplies, for money, or simply for you and me to stay home.
I’ve been asking for help for one of my favorite places, and one of the places where I teach, Tucson Botanical Gardens. I’ve run a personal fundraiser, as well as encourage people to donate directly to the garden, or sign up for a membership to the garden. I am incredibly thankful to all of you who have helped. Every bit and every person helps so much.
The following recipe is dedicated everyone seeking help. It was written at the request of amazing chef and person Tracy Dempsey, to accompany the CSA (community supported agriculture) bag many of us pick up at her wonder pastry / wine / etc shop in Tempe, Arizona, TDO & ODV. These bags have been full of sweet baby carrots, rich red beets, green garlic, beans, etc… plus additions of bread, meats, cheese. If going to the grocery store has become uncomfortable for you, look for a CSA near you. It is a wonderful way to support independent and local businesses while getting something back in return.
If you are in the Phoenix area and are looking for other local businesses to support, let me recommentd:
These are just some of my favorites. There are so many others.
Now for the recipe itself. I cook my beans and grains in general in a clay pot, found for a bargain of a price on a clearance rack, though well worth the full price. Clay retains heat beautifully, meaning less heat from the stove is required, meaning less heating up the house, meaning a more evenly cooked bean with a velvety texture.
Trade some toilet paper for some beans if you need to, from a safe distance of course, but get your hands on some beans. If you don’t have wheat berries, no worries. Steel cut oatmeal will do the same, but use at half the quantity. Quinoa, amaranth, lentils, any other grain will do. No other grains, no worries again. Maybe throw bacon in there, celery, onion. Whatever you have. Or keep it just beans. Either way, enjoy it.
Mayocoba Bean and Wheat Berry Soup
Most beans nowadays do not require soaking before cooking, and some actually suffer in texture from it. Very old beans may require a soak and long cooking time, which is why it is best to cook and eat this highly nutritious food regularly. My only exception to the no soaking rule of beans I regularly use are tepary beans, which are hard and dense and require that extra softening stage and a much longer cooking time. A well cooked bean should be creamy in texture, with just a small crack in the skin revealing the soft inside.
- 5 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp dry Mexican oregano, ground between the palms
- 1/2 tsp dry thyme
- 1 cup mayocoba beans, rinsed and picked through
- ½ cup Sonoran wheat berries, rinsed and picked through
- 1 tbsp minced green garlic or garlic
- Baby arugula, to taste
- Fresh chopped herbs such as cilantro, parsley or chives if available, to taste
- Salt as needed
Bring 5 cups of water to a boil, add herbs and beans. Cover loosely and simmer for an hour or so. Add wheat berries and cover loosely again, simmering for half an hour. Add garlic and continue to cook until beans and wheat berries are tender, approximately one hour.
Add more hot water to the pot as needed if it begins to run dry while cooking. Season with salt to taste when both beans and wheat berries are tender.
Before serving, top with a good bunch of baby arugula and a sprinkling of herbs. The addition of a poached egg turns this dish into an even more satisfying experience.