Category Archives: Gluten-Free

Bean Prep: Sorting and Rinsing

Beans seem to be a recurring topic here, but why not?  They’re frugal, nutritious, and so versatile.  And they can even be sprouted for more nutrition – but that’s another post.  Today I just want to talk about the prep work involved BEFORE the cooking starts.


For my non-bean-converted friends: are you intimidated by the steps involved in preparing beans?  Or do you just think you don’t like the taste? 


I wish I had some great segue here, but I don’t – I really just hope to remove the intimidation.  I’ve loved beans ever since I can remember, so I can only urge you to keep trying them different ways.  Baked beans, chicken tortilla soup, and white chili are some ideas to get you started.  And you already like hummus, right?


If you’re new to using dried beans, sorting might be the most confusing step.  It doesn’t take long, and it can be kinda fun (especially if you have some OCD tendencies.)  There are many ways you can do this, but here are some methods I’ve used in the past:


– Take small handfuls and inspect carefully


– Spread the beans out in one layer on the counter or in a large flat pan with sides (like a jelly roll pan) so you can see all the beans (and any foreign objects) all at once


– If you’re using a slow cooker, you can pour the beans onto the clear glass lid and spot the misfits pretty easily (although you can’t tell in this picture):




Here are a few things I sorted out of some pintos awhile back:




Those black pebbles are commonly found in a lot of beans, but you DEFINITELY want to fish them out – the one time I didn’t sort my beans, I ended up with a really gritty-tasting soup because those pebbles are concentrated field dirt.  I usually find more in black beans than any other type of bean – maybe they’re sorted with optical scanning equipment so they get by because they appear to be beans?  That’s my theory anyway.


I also look for beans that are small and shriveled, excessively dirty (like a black spot covering a whole side of a white bean), or otherwise look old and mishandled.  Beans that are old won’t cook as well and won’t taste as good.


The next step – rinsing – is fairly straight forward.  You can put the beans into a large sieve or colander and run under the tap to clean them well.  This is not optional, unless you’re cool with consuming a nice layer of “field dust,” which could include insect droppings, dirt, etc.  A good rinse will remove a lot of this, and the next step should remove the rest.


Soaking — the final step — is also easy, but requires a little more forethought.  It becomes mindless pretty quickly, though, once you work all of this into your  weekly kitchen routine.  I will discuss this in more detail in another post.


Do you have a favorite bean recipe?  I’m always looking for new ones!


Baked Beans



Doesn’t that fuzzy picture make you want to eat some?  My camera batteries decided to die tonight at dinner, and the backups were nowhere to be found.  That’s life sometimes.  But back to the food…


Do you have any fun memories associated with baked beans, like a summertime picnic or dinner at Grandma’s house? 


My husband fondly remembers eating “beans and wieners” as a child – baked beans with chopped up hot dogs mixed in, for the unschooled.  In fact, he’d been craving this meal for so long that I finally broke down about a month ago and bought some nitrate-free hot dogs and bacon for the express purpose of recreating his salivatory memory. 


The baked beans came out so well that I’ve made them three times in the last month.  So I guess it’s time to share!  This recipe is adapted from one in Peace, Love, and Barbecue by Mike and Amy Mills.


Baked Beans


1 ½ lbs dried white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, navy, etc)

8 strips of bacon (nitrate-free)

1 small onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups ketchup (organic, no HFCS)

½ cup molasses

¾ cup muscovado or brown sugar

2 tbsp prepared mustard

1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp sea salt, finely ground

2 tsp pepper


1. Rinse the beans and soak for at least 12 hours (overnight), 24 hours if you have the time.  Drain the soaking water, then cook the beans in a crockpot on low all day or in a large pan on the stove (about two hours).


2. When beans are closed to being tender, cook the bacon in a skillet.  Once the bacon is fully cooked, remove it from the skillet and sauté the onions and garlic in the bacon grease until onion starts to change color (this won’t take long).  Remove from heat and let sit until the next step is completed.


3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together remaining ingredients, plus the onion, garlic, and bacon grease from step two.  If you want to crumple the bacon, add it in at this step (otherwise, you can wait until it goes in the pan).


4.  Drain off most of the cooking water from the beans (you’ll want to leave a little bit to mix in with the mixture in step three), then go ahead and combine everything in the bean pot.  After it is mixed together thoroughly, pour into a 9×13 baking dish and cook in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until bubbly.


Note: You could definitely cook it at a different temperature – I just chose 400 because that was the temperature my cornbread needed.  You are going to eat cornbread with this, right?

Refried Beans: Easier Than You Think!

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile, but I can’t ever seem to remember to take a picture.  Which is why I have no picture accompaniment – but I’ll add one next time I make this.  After all, Sarah asked for the recipe.


Let’s start by saying that I love beans in just about any form.  I’ve eaten beans nearly every day of my life, which is probably why many of my recipes involve them.  I used canned refried beans when cooking them until this last year, though, because it seemed easier.  Not tastier, though, if you’re used to the real thing – and when you’re buying the Amy’s brand, they can be pricey.


As with many things I post, this hardly seems post-worthy – but it’s easy, frugal, nourishing, and most of all, flavorful.  The spices really should be added to taste, so please adjust as needed or start with smaller amounts and taste as you go.  This is really just a guideline as to what flavors should be present.


Refried Beans


1 pound dried pinto or black beans (or mix of both – but the black dominates)

Pinch of asafoetida or epazote

¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander seed

Salt and pepper to taste (I use a lot)


1. Soak beans for 24 hours (or overnight if that’s all the time you have).  The next morning, drain soak water, add new water and a pinch of asafoetida or epazote, and cook on low in a crock pot all day until dinner time.  Don’t add any of the other seasonings yet – the salt, especially, will slow down cooking time.  (You could also cook the beans in a pot on the stove; adjust cook time accordingly.)


2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, adding the onions when hot.  After onions have softened, add garlic, cumin, and coriander and sauté about two more minutes. 


3. Add cooked beans, salt, and pepper.  Mash the beans (still in the pot) with a potato masher until they look the way you like them – Husband prefers not to see a lot of whole bean, so we mash quite a bit – and taste for seasoning.  I’m always needing to add more salt here.




– Chicken broth could be substituted for the water during the bean cooking step.

– If you opt to cook the beans on the stove instead of the crockpot, just sauté the onions and garlic in a small saucepan then add them in with all the seasonings to the cooked beans.  I’ve done this before and it works fine.

– I’ve tried to make this entirely a crockpot thing, but it never seemed to taste as good.


So what’s next?


Well, following my obsession with sprouting, I’d love to come up with a sprouted and refried bean recipe.  I don’t imagine it would change much except in the cooking time.  So expect that to come soon.


Also, I would like to try making them with lard – the most traditional preparation.  I don’t, however, have access to high quality lard (just the hydrogenated stuff at the store – yuck!), and I haven’t yet tried to render it myself. 


How do you make refried beans?

Part of the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Citrusy Rhubarb Sauce for Breakfast, Dessert

Is rhubarb showing up in your gardens, CSA boxes, or farmers’ markets yet?  Truly, rhubarb is the bellwether of spring.  Asparagus, too, but ruddy rhubarb makes a more striking contrast with the drabness of winter. 


Packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, and even some calcium, rhubarb belongs on any spring menu.  Its tart, celery-textured stalks play well with the sweetness of honey or fruit.  Try this sweet-tart sauce on baked oatmeal or with breakfast porridge, yogurt, or ice cream – including a full-fat dairy product will help the absorption of the vitamin K.




Citrusy Rhubarb Sauce


3 stalks of rhubarb, diced

½ cup raw honey

1 clementine (zest and juice)

A few dashes of cinnamon (1/4 tsp?)

3-4 whole cloves


Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on the lowest heat possible to keep at a very low simmer until the rhubarb softens.  (You can test it by trying to cut it with a spatula – it should fall apart with no resistance.)  Serve warm or let it cool and refrigerate for later, and remove cloves before serving.



I will post a recipe for strawberry rhubarb vinaigrette as soon as local strawberries are available.  This farm, right around the corner from my house, runs a u-pick during strawberry season.


What do you like to do with rhubarb?

Part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays carnival.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meatloaf

I have no picture today.  Let’s blame it on how good this was, how fast it went.  No leftovers!  I usually take pictures BEFORE I sit down to eat.  Alas, the four vials of blood drawn from my arm this morning are taking their toll.


Meatloaf usually isn’t my thing, but this had just the right flavor.  I also wanted to post something to prove (to two people in particular – you know who you are) that I’m human, and I don’t make every single ingredient from scratch.  Maybe someday, eh?


Why the need for a gluten- and dairy-free meatloaf recipe?  Well, normally I use breadcrumbs to bind with the egg, and before my daughter came along I added parmesan cheese.  This isn’t a dish I make too often, but it was Husband’s request, and I like to cook only one dinner.  It’s just easier that way.


Meatloaf (gluten-free, dairy-free)


1 egg

1-2 tbsp brown teff flour

1 ½ lbs ground beef

¼ cup green bell pepper, diced

½ cup onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup ketchup (organic, no HFCS)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


2.  Whisk egg in a bowl, then add teff flour and combine.  Add meat to the bowl and fold the egg mixture into the meat.  I used my fingers – disgusting, but more effective.  Then add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.


3.  Press the meat mixture into a greased baking dish.  At this point, you can add some more ketchup to the top of the meatloaf if you wish.


4.  Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 155 degrees.


I hope you enjoy this!


Oh, and you know how I said I thought the menu plan would end up getting changed?  Well, I remembered today that we’re travelling this weekend.  So next week will have lots o’ repeats again.  But at least I should have some fun pictures to share!


Part of the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Pepper



Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, you name it – just about any vegetable is great roasted.  In The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters sings the praises of roasted vegetables when she explains her guests’ astonishment that all she did was “toss them with a bit of oil and salt and throw them in the oven.”


A couple years ago, Husband and I ate dinner at some friends’ house we had just met (shout out to JW!).  I was pregnant with my son, and they made Indian food – a reliable indicator that we would get along well.  Roasted cauliflower was one of the side dishes, and it made such an impression that now my preferred method of preparing cauliflower is roasting.  I wish I could remember how theirs was seasoned, but (unfortunately) the pregnancy fog takes over from there.  Some kind of curry?  I wonder if she remembers. J


I usually go Alice Waters’ route when roasting vegetables – tossing them in olive oil and seasoning with sea salt.  Really, it’s a foolproof method for veggie success.  Tonight I mixed things up a bit with fresh lemon and pepper, but this is still so simple that I shouldn’t even be calling it a recipe.  If you try it, though, you will enjoy it.  Because roasting is the formula for gustatory awesomeness.


Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Pepper


1 head of cauliflower, washed

Olive oil to coat

Lemon wedges

Freshly ground pepper

Sea salt


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop the cauliflower into equal bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.  Toss in enough olive oil to coat, but not so much that it pools up at the bottom.  Squeeze a couple of lemon wedges on the cauliflower, add in some freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste, and toss again.


2. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet and roast until the edges start browning (20 minutes? I’m terrible about timing).


3.  Serve as a side dish with salmon and millet pilaf if your toddler doesn’t eat it all first!




Part of Fight Back Fridays and the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Sausage, Potato and Apple Skillet Dinner

This is such an easy, flavorful meal, but it’s a bit of a splurge (on account of the sausage), so we only have it occasionally.  It’s also best eaten right away – not as leftovers – but you probably won’t have anything left anyway.


The original recipe came from one of my husband’s students.  Husband is a high school English teacher and apparently talks about food quite a bit in class.  A few years ago, one of his students brought in a recipe for Sausage Skillet Dinner – reportedly, her dinnertime favorite at home.  Beyond that, I’m not sure of the recipe’s origins, but we’ve doctored it a bit and made it even better.


This recipe makes four servings, but it’s easy to adjust – sometimes I just add more potatoes to stretch it.  It’s also not entirely a skillet meal, so I hope that part isn’t deceiving.  It looks like a lot of steps, but it comes together quickly, especially after you’ve made it a time or two.


Sausage, Potato, and Apple Skillet Dinner


2-3 russet potatoes (or more if using smaller potatoes)

Olive oil (enough to coat potatoes)

Seasoned salt (I will have a recipe for this next week)

1 kielbasa sausage

1 small onion

1-2 small red apples

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp sucanat

½ tsp caraway seed

Parsley to garnish


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut two large potatoes into wedges and toss in enough olive oil to coat.  Whether you leave the skin on is your preference – I peeled mine because I wasn’t using organic potatoes.  Throw in enough seasoned salt to your taste, and toss to coat.  Bake on cookie sheets, evenly spread out and not overlapping, until desired crispiness is reached.  Don’t let them go too long, though, or they will be hard – remember that they will still continue to cook once you take them out of the oven.


2.  About 15 minutes into the potatoes’ baking, chop the kielbasa into diagonal, bite-sized pieces.  We use sausage with no nitrates, preservatives, etc. – Wellshire and Applegate Farms are the brands we usually go with. 




Brown the sausage in a cast-iron skillet for about ten minutes on medium heat; since this sausage is already cooked, we’re really just heating it through and giving it enough of a browning to make it look mouthwatering.  Yeah!?  Meanwhile, cut onion and apple into wedges.  I left the skin on the apples because these are organic.  Then combine vinegar, sucanat, and caraway seed in a measuring cup and set aside.


3.  When sausage is done, remove to a warm platter.  Melt butter in skillet, then sauté onion and apple until apples are just tender.   If potatoes aren’t done yet – which they might not be – just turn off the heat on the skillet until they are.


4.  When potatoes are done, add them, along with the sausage, into the skillet.  Give the vinegar mixture a stir and pour over the skillet mixture, tossing it to coat.  Garnish with some parsley (fresh or dried) and serve!




I will try to get my seasoned salt recipe up sometime this week, but as usual, I make no promises.  So often, life gets in the way — but thankfully so.  After all, I would have no reason to write if it weren’t for the sweet, quotidienne toils of earthly existence.  Every day is a blessing, and I’m blessed with the everyday.