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Dinner Inspiration: #2

Tonight's meal hit the spot, with heirloom beans in a BBQ sauce, a steamed Murasaki sweet potato, and a crunchy salad of Navel orange, sliced baby Bok Choy and Brussel sprouts and sweet pepper. The salad was dressed in the leftover cooking liquid (sugar, fresh ginger, smashed green Cardamon seeds and saffron) from making candied tangerine peels the other day. I simply combined that reserved liquid - it was too delicious to toss! - with some white Balsamic vinegar.

If you're looking for some heirloom beans with 'Wow!' factor, you should try the Christmas Lima beans from Zürson, Twin Falls, Idaho. They're also known as Large Speckled Calico beans, and are said to have been first cultivated in the United States in the mid-19th century.

These creamy burgundy mottled, chestnut-flavored beans are originally from Peru. They cook up perfectly in the Instant Pot on the Bean/Chili setting. In fact, they were so good, when I took them from the pot, that I couldn't stop sneaking a sweet mild flavored spoonful here and there. Yikes. Leave some for a meal, huh?

Oddly, I'd never got around to using the automatic Bean/Chili button on my Instant Pot until I cooked these beans. It was a really last minute thing, and I hadn't soaked the beans overnight as I would normally do and cook using the Manual settings. So, I thought, "what the heck have I got to lose except a pot of beans?" I rinsed the dried Christmas Lima beans, put them into the pot with about an inch of water over them. I season right from the git go. Some salt, lots of pepper, granulated garlic and onion powder, some dried Bouquet Garni herb blend. I put some Better Than Bouillion Vegetable Base - about a teaspoon - and a splash of Worcestershire sauce in the water. As I said, use the Bean/Chili button and set the time for 45 minutes. Yes, that does seem like a long time. But, these beans held their shape and were perfectly creamy and delicious. I tossed them into the fridge until the next night, when I dressed them in BBQ sauce and a few more herbs and put them into the oven to slow-bake (275 degrees) for about an hour before dinner. BAM! Perfect!

Note: Reno, Nevada is technically 'high altitude' at 4412 feet, so beans and grains do take longer to cook here. Adjust accordingly if you live at a lower altitude.

The Murasaki sweet potatoes are a delight! We love them beyond words. That glorious ruby-colored skin and the truly sweet flesh is to die for. I just put a couple in the Instant Pot before dinner, about 15 minutes on High pressure, in the steamer basket with about 3 cups of water in the bottom of the pot. They came out tender and tasty. Just right for slicing.

Then, for salad, I had the last of some Baby Bok Choy in the bin, and some of the bigger, leafier Brussel sprouts. Those slice up so well in a salad. Cut up a couple of those red mini peppers (for color and more 'crunch'), a peeled Navel orange and salad was done. Oh, like I said, except for the dressing.

The other day, I'd made some candied tangerine peels, and cooked them in a simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water) flavored with smashed green Cardamon pods, several slices of fresh ginger and Spanish saffron threads. It was heaven-sent. I've been pouring it in my home-brewed Kombucha. But, with some white Balsamic vinegar it kills as a fast salad dressing.

Well, there's my dinner story, and I'm stickin' to it.


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