Sunday, March 15, 2015

Navy Bean Soup ala Robin Mather for Cook the Books Club

Our Cook the Books selection this time was The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather.  I don't know how I have never read this book.  Not only is it about eating and shopping locally, which is near and dear to my heart and a lifestyle I try hard to emulate, but the author lived on only $40 per week for food right here in my home State of Michigan.

When I first began my journey of raising my own food and supporting my neighbors and friends that did the same, I read book after book after book about it.  Never during any of my forays into the library, bookstores or internet searches did I come across this book.  I am so glad that my friend, Debra of Eliot's Eats chose it for us to read. 

Image result for the feast nearby

The Feast Nearby is not a cookbook but contains many delicious recipes.  It is an autobiography of sorts, written by Robin as she moved from one chapter of her life into the next.  Having gotten a divorce and lost her job in close proximity to each other, Robin found herself moving back to her home State of Michigan and living in her 650 square foot vacation home.  But Robin is not alone in her journey she has her standard poodle, Boon, and her African grey parrot, Pip, to keep her company.  Soon she added laying hens and a kitten to the menagerie.  Robin tells the story of how she had to learn to live on a much smaller budget than which she was accustomed without a hint of self pity or woe is me attitude.  Rather, she took it on as an adventure and a challenge to feed herself and her animals on only $40 per week.

I love Robin and I loved this book.   I think you will too and fortunately the deadline for this selection is not until June 1st.  This gives you plenty of time to find the book (I got mine from the library), curl up with it and lose yourself in the delightful adventures of Robin Mather.  Then you can create a recipe or use one of the recipes from the book, as I did, and post a blog sharing it with your readers. That's all there is to it.  When your post is done you will email the link to your blog post and a photo of your dish to Debra and she will take care of the rest.  In fact, it is still so early that our last selection is still up since that post was not due until the end of this month.  You can find my recipe and post on Comfort Me with Apples here.

Robin's story starts in the spring and covers a complete year.  You would think that, with it being March, I would have made a springtime recipe.  You would think wrong because here in Michigan, while the weather is into the 40's this past week there is still about 6" of snow covering the ground.  I went with a cold weather dish, one of my favorites, Navy Bean Soup.



Robin's recipe was simple and delicious.  We enjoyed it very much and I am sure you will too.  I think I am going to be buying this book.  It deserves a spot in my cookbook collection.

Navy Bean Soup
by Robin Mather as written in The Feast Nearby

2 lbs. dried Navy Beans
1 1/2 lbs. smoked ham hock
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 t. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the beans under hot water removing any that are broken or damaged, until they are slightly whitened.  Pour the beans into a pot with 2 quarts of hot water and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour.  Drain the beans into a colander and rinse with cold water.  Return the beans to the pot.

Add the ham hock, onions and carrots along with another 2 quarts of hot water and bring to a boil.  Decrease the heat, cover and simmer for a few hours.  Remove the ham hock and set aside to cool, allowing the beans to continue simmering.  When ham hocks are cooled, remove the meat from the bones and dice, discarding any gristle.  Add the diced ham to the pot along with the thyme and season with pepper.  Stir to combine and taste.  Season with salt if necessary.  Simmer the soup for half an hour before serving.  Print Recipe

18 comments:

  1. This reminds me that I have ham and beans in the freezer that I need to get out and make before the weather gets too warm. With a nice pan of cornbread. The book sounds interesting.

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    1. It was interesting Paula and an easy light read if you are just looking to pass some time.

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  2. That is how I make my bean soup, with ham hocks. The best flavor. It was my mom's recipe. I do add potatoes to the soup and garlic. The world is better with garlic. Safer too ... From vampires.😊

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    1. I know, can't be too careful around those vampires. I usually add garlic as well and use chicken broth instead of water but I wanted to stay with the recipe as written. I was surprised how flavorful it was with so little seasoning and using water in place of broth.

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  3. Looks delicious, Wendy! I love ham & bean soup! I'm having trouble getting into the book, for some reason, maybe it'll pick up for me soon!

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    1. I hope so Amy....It didn't read as a novel to me. More like picking up a magazine and reading blurbs.

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  4. Ok, disregard the comment on your St. Paddy's Day post.... Got it figured out! So glad you liked this book. It's always a little concerning to recommend a book you LOVE and put it out there for everyone to critique. You win the prize for the first post! I haven't even drafted my announcement post yet! May have to highlight you in that!

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    1. LOL and disregard my reply to your comment on the St. Patty's day post. I did love the book. Thanks again for hosting.

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  5. I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would. And I LOVE this soup. Will definitely put it on my to-cook list in the Fall.

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  6. This was a good read. I enjoyed all her little frugal cooking tips. And those dried cherries you Michiganders produce are so good!

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    1. We grow great cherries and apples in Michigan. Thanks Rachel.

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  7. Trying again to comment.... I love a bean soup! cathy from delaware girl eats

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    1. I wonder why you had a hard time commenting? Thanks for not giving up Cathy.

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  8. After my last misadventure with beans, I need to buy as needed only. They don't keep very well here. But, that said, your soup looks quite delicious.

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    1. Thanks Claudia. You could always substitute canned beans.

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  9. Glad you enjoyed the book and the recipe. Dry beans are a precious resource for the kitchen.

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    1. They sure are Simona and thanks so much for hosting.

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