Our March weather has varied from warm, sunny days to cold, snowy ones. All winter we have watched from the dining room table as birds storm the feeders ─ finches, juncos, jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, magpies, and nuthatches.
Now, on spring-like days, they flock to the feeders in the cool of early morning but as the day warms are beaten out by mobs of bees. Yes, bees. We have a new mixture of birdseed and with nothing blooming something in it attracts bees. What a sight – bees swarming in and around the feeders. The juncos hop around to eat seed on the ground and sometimes attempt to land on the feeder perches but when it’s warm, the bees win. We’ve watched deer chowing down on the dropped seed and two grey foxes regularly visit in the evening to clean up after the birds and bees.
A lesson in accepting the unusual, the unexpected. Much like the state of the world.
My mood has been up and down with the news and the weather. I haven’t been inspired to cook and our meals include easily made dishes from my repertoire. Not that they aren’t tasty meals, just not brilliant.
I wrote about a favorite soup from my childhood, Campbell’s Bean with Bacon, in my book. I still make something similar and during the latest snowy days made a pot of Spicy Bean Soup.
I got a new variety of bean in the last Rancho Gordo bean club shipment, the Whipple, and cooked them to use for our soup. Use canned, drained pinto or black beans if that’s what you have. Need I mention how exceptional home-cooked beans taste?
Sauté a chopped, medium-sized yellow onion and a large diced carrot, in a couple tablespoons safflower oil or bacon fat. Cook gently for 10 minutes then add a handful of minced cilantro stems (save the leaves for garnish) and 4-5 slivered cloves of garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in 2-3 cups of cooked beans and 3 cups of the cooking liquor, or however much you have. Add water or veggie broth to make 3 cups of liquid. Stir in a generous tablespoon of tomato paste and one of chipotle puree. I couldn’t find my usual chipotles en adobo but bought a nice jar from Frontera. Easy to use and delicious.
Cook over low heat until veggies are very tender. Cool a bit then puree half the soup in the blender and add to unblended half. Thin with water or stock to desired thickness. Taste for salt and additional chipotle. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and chopped cilantro leaves.
I rarely use the entire tin of tomato paste in a recipe so I store the extra in the freezer. Place tablespoon dabs on a piece of wax paper. Fold over and freeze in a plastic bag . Easy to peel off the paper and toss into a soup or sauce.
Keep your winter jacket handy in the changeable weather and watch for those green sprouts. Spring is on her way.