Friday, 14 January 2011

The Confetti Bean Jar

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
My favorite market has a bulk foods section. Buying my dry beans and grains there saves me money, especially when compared to buying beans by the can, couscous by the little cardboard box, or oatmeal in individual packets (less packaging waste too!). Once home, I store most things in a variety of glass jars. It's easy to find and use things, plus I can see when I'm getting low on something. Besides, having everything in sight, as opposed to stuffed into a dark cupboard, makes it that much more likely I'll use it.

I like the way it looks too - so homey - decorative, and colorful too. Dry beans, especially, come in such a variety of colors - lined up in glass jars they can almost look like art. Around here, we usually have a "legume of the week." Each weekend, I cook up a big pot of a different bean soup, and then refrigerate the leftovers. Last week, it was black-eyed peas (for New Year's); this week, black beans; next week, maybe split pea, or navy bean, or orange lentil, or ??? Legumes come in such variety, we can go for weeks without repeating. My husband heats up a bowlful each morning for breakfast on work days. Quick, warm and filling, the fiber in beans keeps his blood sugars level until lunchtime. I'll add a half sandwich for an easy lunch, or it's nice to have something readily available for dinner on days when I don't feel like cooking.

Over time, I've developed a pretty good eye when it comes to buying in bulk. I'm pretty good at eye-balling how much will fit in the jar when I get it home. When I have a bit too many beans though, or a last little bit left in a jar before buying more, they go into the confetti bean jar. When I have at least four cups in there, I make confetti soup.

My Confetti Soup recipe originally came as a gift in a jar. I've since adapted it to put together my own gift baskets. I layer scant cups of black, red kidney, green split peas, white great northern, and brown pinto beans in a quart jar (or just fill with all of them mixed together), and then add a seasoning packet, pint jar of home-canned tomatoes or tomato sauce, and a recipe card.

Confetti Soup (12 first course, or 6 entree servings)

4 cups mixed dry beans (best if some of them are split peas)
16 oz. stewed tomatoes

3 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
3 tablespoons dried chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried savory
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

Sort through beans and remove any stones or shriveled beans. Rinse in cold water. Soak overnight in 9 cups water (or quick-soak: heat to boiling over high heat, boil 5 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and let stand one hour). Drain soaked beans, rinse, drain again.

To drained beans, add 8 cups water and seasoning. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours or until beans are tender.

Add tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf, and serve.


Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

I like that idea... :) :) Now if you store all your beans and other things in glass jars on your countertop, what do you put in the cupboards? It's really a great photo :) :)

I'm currently thinking about how I want to reorganize my kitchen I use for dishes, the other for dry goods...but I think it's a good idea to store them out where you can see them too!!!

Thanks for sharing this. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Maa said...

Thanks for the great recipe and those jars do look good on the bench.
Did you accidently get the quantities for meals and entrees around the wrong way? Maa.

The Professor's Wife said...

Great idea! I have left over beans that won't quite fit all the time!

Tiffany Jewelry said...

at the havest time, my parents always put the rice, bean ,and so on in big bags. but we have to bask them often.


I like to cook up a batch of beans and just have them in the fridge where I can add them to all sorts of things, salads, caaseroles etc. This week I have container full of lentils which I made into patties last night. Rice is great to do as well.

Julze said...

I love all your big ol' jars!

Annodear said...

Oh yeah! I *love* this soup!!!! Time to make a pot... it's been awhile ;-)

Sue said...

aLove the jars-what a beautiful display that makes!

LindaG said...

Really love the look of your kitchen!
My parents never cooked beans, so I am trying to get to liking them as I know they are a wise, frugal choice.
Easy to grow or usually a good buy for your dollar.

I had a few black-eyed peas at the brother-in-laws on New Year's, but I didn't really like them. :(

I wish I could figure a way to fix them that I'd like them, no matter what I use.

My mom never used herbs, either, so that's a bit daunting, too; and as near as I can tell all the hubby likes is salt.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Mrs. Santos said...

This was a very enjoyable post. Thank you for the inspiration and the ideas.

Sadge said...

Lol, Heather! Half my cupboards hold dishes; the other half food. Here's a peek inside one:

LindaG: most of the time, my beans are cooked with a dried chipotle (a smoke-dried jalapeno pepper) - makes 'em spicy hot, but good! If you have fresh jalapenos, instructions for making a smoker here:

Aurora said...

Just wondering what your husband does with the beans for breakfast? Does he season them? I am not a huge breakfast fan, but savoury dishes I can manage!

I wish I had space to display our pulses, they are beautiful (and quite a comforting sight) when I open up the cupboards.

Annie said...

I always end up with a jar of mixed beans that didn't fit in their individual jars as well! And soup is definitely the best solution although sometimes I make refried beans.

Sadge said...

Aurora: depending on what kind of beans I'm using, I'll add one to all of the following: a chipotle, onions, garlic, celery, savory, cumin, oregano, epazote, carrots, winter squash, chopped frozen spinach, tomatoes or tomato sauce, turkey ham or sausage; and sometimes molasses or brown sugar for baked beans.

We'll eat them with corn bread, garlic bread, tortillas, over rice or quinoa, and sometimes topped with a glop of piccalilli.

What are pulses?

Aurora said...

Thank you, I thought it might be an unusual bean porridge or something! I have been known to eat leftover stew for breakfast.

'Pulses' is just a collective term for beans and peas, specifically dried ones. Must be a British thing!

SustainableMom said...

I just started using glass jars to store all my pantry stuff. I don't quite have enough but I am almost there. I have a tiny kitchen with even tinier counter tops so I have to put everything in the cupboard. I love being able to see everything. A few bonuses are when we got attacked by ants not one got to one of the items in a glass Jar! Also I now take the jars with me to the bulk section of our local Co-op grocery store and I fill them there. That way I don't waist a plastic or paper bag to get the food home in! Also then I know just how much I need to fill the jar.

Saskia said...

@Aurora: I keep many of my pulses, rices & pasta in glass jars on top of my kitchen cupboards. Obviously this does mean I have to stand on a stool to reach them, but since they're not the kind of thing you generally need to grab in a hurry (unlike herbs & spices, which I keep right next to the cooker & food preparation area) that isn't really a problem for me. They do get a bit dusty up there, but then I think anything left out anywhere will get dusty eventually!

Storing things like this in glass containers in full view not only looks good, but also means you can see at a glance when you need to stock up on something!