A French Provincial Staple

I am full of the dance of Spring.

This morning there were dots of frilly green out my bedroom window—and a miniature red squirrel playing in the Chinese Elms. Zooming up a branch, then down, twisting on a pence, leaping to the neighbor branch immediately into a zip eight feet down. He was leaping this way, pirouetting that, full of the passion for life.

A welcome touch of color in our garden

It was the perfect season to give a morning party for the gracious testers of our recipes, celebrating good food and a good God at the genesis of Spring.

One of our testers prepared the following Ragout for the French Meal in our collection of menus.

She and her guests liked this dish so much she decided to make it a “staple” in her cooking.

White Bean Ragout can be presented as a meal in itself, and yes, it is delicious. Sometimes it’s difficult to stop eating it! But don’t worry; it’s quite nutritious.

Dale says White Bean Ragout is the original of the baked beans we value at barbecues today. Do you think canned pork’n beans can tough the French Provincial version? See for yourself.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             [RuthAnn]

White Bean Ragout

You will need:

Great Northern beans, dry or canned, 2 cans


1 medium Onion                                         1 to 10 strips of Bacon

3/4 cup Chicken Stock                               1 clove Garlic

1 can Diced Tomatoes & its Juice             Salt and Pepper                    

1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight. Change the water; then cover with cold water and cook until almost soft. Drain.

2. If using canned beans, open and drain 2 cans.

3. In a large skillet, saute strips of chopped bacon (1 to 10 according to your taste).

4. Add 2 medium diced onions and one clove of minced garlic. Saute until soft.

5. Add chicken stock.

6. Add the drained beans and crumbled bacon.

7. Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste.

8. Simmer until soft.

Tip: If you are using canned beans, be sure not to cook them so long they become mushy.

                                                              Serves 8


A Hearty, Scrumptious Meal

Expanding Your Understanding:

Dried beans are a very good source of protein and fiber. To get the maximum benefit from the these beans, pair them with corn or rice. We see these pairings frequently in cuisines all over the world. Almost automatically, Spanish rice and frijoles appear on your plate in Mexican restaurants. And who doesn’t enjoy sitting down to a bowl of pinto beans and hot cornbread slathered with butter. (I’m getting hungry. I think I will finish this later.)

(I’m back. That was a very good dinner. I’ll tell you about it at some other time since RuthAnn asked me to write about beans.)

As I was saying, I find it amazing God has tuned our taste buds to enjoy these combinations that are necessary for survival. Who told the Hopi Indians of New Mexico 500 years ago that beans or corn were not complete proteins by themselves? How do economically depressed people know they need to eat cornbead with their collards? You’re right.Our heavenly Father looks after us  in so many ways.

We have a variety of beans available today. The most common are navy beans, great northern, kidney beans, red and black beans, pinto and lima beans. All of them have about the same nutritional benefits.

Although, at first glance, beans may not seem to be the most glamorous of foods, we can make them exciting with the way we season them.

The White Bean Ragout in our French meal uses tomatoes and bacon. You can do that with any white bean. Puree some great northern beans, then add a teaspoon of anchovy paste and a little cream. Most of us have enjoyed navy beans baked in molasses, brown sugar or maple syrup with a little tomato paste. That is an American combination of flavors.

Chili powder and onion do wonderful things for black beans. Pinto beans take on a new taste when you add a few red pepper flakes and a little ground cumin.

Try butter and dill with lima or butter beans. Sausages in lima beans make a meal. The French have a dish called a “cassoulet” in which you can bake a mixture of several varieties of beans with whatever types of meat you have leftover from previous meals.

To give kidney beans a different flavor, substitute red wine for half of the cooking liquid and sprinkle a little prosciutto on top.

Don’t forget about soups. Beans can add flavor, texture and nutrients to many different soups.

So beans at the market in their little plastic bags might look frumpy, but go ahead and take a bag home and make something glamorous out of them.                      [Dale]


Food for thought:

Mother once told me her Mom was an excellent cook. She said Grandma baked all of their bread and fixed mammoth breakfasts for her husband and their seven children every morning before they went out to pick cotton. Their staple was beans.

Morning Devotionals

In the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, a handful of dried beans turned out to be the doorway though which Jack saved himself and his mother from extreme poverty.

As beans are a staple for our physical lives, God’s Word is a staple for our spiritual lives, providing stimulation and nourishment for our souls. I have discovered that if I read the Bible and pray right after I rise in the morning,  I feel anchored throughout the day. The presence of the Lord is palpable.

I can’t tell you how lovely the Bible is to me! It offers me hope with promises to claim for my children . “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13); guidance as to what my  next project should be— “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him”(James 1:5), and conviction when the muscle of my discipline refuses to work properly— “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out” (Proverbs 25:28, MSG)

Through the word, God helps me persevere in my struggle to place Him first in everything. [RuthAnn]

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