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The Rancho Gordo Blog

A Gift From the Tarahumara Bean Bag

In the garden In the kitchen

I met my pal Christopher Ann on one of the online food forums and we've been buddies ever since, even taking two trips to Mexico together. In fact, I wouldn't consider going without running my itinerary by her in case there was a chance she was free. She often haunts the border towns between Mexico and Texas and if she's driving, she is always kind enough to do some obscene shopping for me (see the entry Cooking With Clay). This last trip she toured the famous Copper Canyon and while scouring the markets of the Tarahumara Indians, she came across...

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To Soak or Not to Soak?

* In the kitchen

That is the question. Or at least the most popular question. In Mexico, most cooks don't soak. In Italy, the soak and change the water. What do you do? Does it work? Then I'd say keep on doing it, up to a degree. I recently received this email from a cooking school instructor: I am an instructor at where we have a Natural Chef program and we have had two bad experiences with your beans. We are so excited about them since they fit our style perferctly so I wanted to follow up on our disappointments. The problem: On two...

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Menu For Hope

In the garden In the kitchen

From the Menu for Hope site: Every year, Food Bloggers from all over the world get together for a fundraising campaign. We call our campaign 'Menu for Hope'. Last year, we raised $17,000 to help UNICEF.This year, Menu for Hope III raises funds to support the UN World Food Programme. To us Food Bloggers, food is a joy. On our blogs, we celebrate food as a delight and even an indulgence. Unfortunately, many others who share our world do not share that privilege. For them, food is a matter of survival. This "Menu for Hope" is our small way to...

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Cooking With Clay

In the kitchen

My favorite way to prepare beans is in a clay pot, right on the gas stove. It looks great and there's an element of "Look Ma! No hands!", but it's also a clever gentle way to slow cook food. My friend Christopher Ann emailed me from a recent trip to Mexico and told me that there were a lot of pots that I might like. I told her I'd prefer a few big, good pieces more than a lot of little ones, so she went on a wild shopping spree and drove back from Mexico with the most glorious bounty...

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Borlotti Beans and Chicken

* Cranberry In the kitchen

This was surprisingly delicious beyond description. I haven't had Borlotti beans in months and found half a bag in the pantry. They are a cranberry type bean which means they have a mottled pod when fresh and when dried and cooked, they are velvety and rich. They also have a nice pot liquor, which is why they are so popular in Pasta e Fagioli in the north of Italy. And the twist is they come originally from Columbia! After the bean were cooked (they cooked all day in a slow cooker), I poached a whole cut up chicken in water...

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Rancho Gordo in Wine Spectator Magazine

In the garden In the kitchen

Things have been wild at the warehouse this week. We noticed a sharp increase in Internet sales and figured it must be people thinking about the holidays and presents. That may be some of it but we're featured in a short blurb in the current (12-31-06) number of Wine Spectator magazine and the response is amazing. You can bet we'll be using the pull quote: "...if you've had beans that have caught your attention in a restaurant lately, chances are they were Rancho Gordo." A million thanks to author MaryAnn Bovio of Wine Spectator who did a super write up....

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Tequila with Prickly Pears (Tunas)

In the kitchen

I planted my cactus about 2 years ago. It seemed fine until this summer and it just took off. Fresh new paddles for eating as a vegetable were harvested all year but more dramatic were all the prickly pears, or tunas. They were good about ripening in stages until recently. All of a sudden they seem swollen and ready to pick, or risk having them split and rot. Several years ago, I discovered you can take ripe fruit and add it to a mason jar of tequila with a spoonful of sugar and make a fine little drink. You let...

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Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Potatoes and Sardines

In the kitchen

My Mexico is one of Diana Kennedy's later books. I remember looking forward it's publication and the slight disappointment I felt when it arrived. Some of the recipes seemed very obvious and others required ingredients that were impossible to obtain. It felt like I would never use it. Never say never! The more I learn about Mexican food, the more I realize how much more I have to learn. This book is full of gems (and obscurities) and it reads like a good novel for those who have at least scratched the surface of Mexican food. My traveling buddy Christopher...

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

* In the kitchen

Every year it seems like Turkey Curry is the featured after-Thanksgiving recipe in most of the newspapers. I suspect most of us just pick at the turkey until it's finished. My mother was famous for her Turkey-Rice Soup. Famous? Maybe not, but we all loved it. I made enchiladas last night with some leftover chile sauce from my breakfast chilaquiles. The tortillas were dipped first in hot corn oil until soft, then in the chile sauce. Inside I rolled some boiled potatoes (from Little Farms in West Marin), some of the turkey and some chopped raw onion. The enchiladas were...

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Video Lesson in Coooking Beans

In the kitchen

A lot of times at the farmers market, I'll explain how to cook the beans to a new customer. This is followed up with printed instructions. This followed up with a follow-up lesson, going over the same thing. Again. So my friend Grant and I decided to make a video with instructions. It ended up being far too indepth so I've rededited it to just cover the basics. Down the road I'll do a more advanced version. You can laugh. It's OK!

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Yellow Eye Beans

In the kitchen

I have to confess that I'm not in love with ordinary Navy or Great Northern beans. They have a blandness and "comfort food" quality that puts me to sleep. Navy beans also have a slight gumminess that I really don't care for. I much prefer the buttery Runner beans or the light and delicate Marrow bean. But I do understand there are moments, especially as the colder weather approaches when you want something a little less challenging, a little more familiar and still full of flavor. Meet the Yellow Eye bean, an incredible heirloom bean you need in your pantry....

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Appetizer Peppers

In the kitchen

Here in the Bay Area, small European-bred peppers have been all the rage for a couple of years. The most famous is the Padron, popularized by Happy Quail Farms and others, which has a distinct nutty flavor and the occasional hot bite. Mariquita Farms grow a similar Friarelli which lacks the nuttiness but has a pleasing, slightly bitter (amaro) aftertaste.After rinsing the peppers, saute them on high heat with a little grape-seed oil and kosher salt. Cook them until they blister a bit and are somewhat soft. You don't want to overcook them but they should be pleasant to bite,...

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