It is likely no surprise that I love to eat beans. I don't care if they're the green, yellow or purple bean type, fresh shelling beans or dried beans, regular or heirloom. They are all wonderful in my opinion.
My friends, Jill and David, at Crescent Moon Farm did me a huge, big deal favor a while back and picked and labeled about 10 kinds of shelling beans for me that I used for one of my show, tell and taste demonstrations. I had Cherokee Trail of Tears, Painted Pony, 2 types of Cranberry -- one almost white and the other dark red, and a number more. I shelled them and added them to dishes but with only a few pods of each, it didn't add up to a meal. But soon there will be dried beans for sale and I can stock up, if I can afford it.
Yesterday I bought cranberry beans from Tierra Vegetables and enjoyed shelling them to teach a cooking class at The McDougall Program today. I made my soup for a Chilly Fall Night, even though it was the day time. Still yummy with winter squash, peppers, cumin, tomatoes, corn, and cilantro for a garnish. But back to the beans...
I realize that growing, picking and threshing beans is a labor intensive, labor of love type process which justifies the high price but there is a limit to my purchasing power. I consider the heirloom beans equivalent to eating a gourmet meal out in the world. Truth is that I much prefer my special beans to most meals that I can get.
Although yesterday fellow Registered Dietitian Jeff Novick and I ate at Peter Lowell's in Sebastopol where they offer a darned good (but possibly overpriced) macro bowl, with brown rice, beans, vegetables and your choice of tempeh, seitan or tofu. I got a really good ginger-something dressing with it that was really fresh. Jeff didn't say it but I know that he liked my tempeh better than his tofu so next time maybe he'll order that. Jeff liked the dish and the place is the "greenest" restaurant in Sonoma County.
And this brings me back to the expensive beans. If I cook my own rice (not in a nice oven proof crock) and serve it with the beans, vegetables and I'd add some of my very tasty sauerkraut, it would cost me far less than $9.50, even with my $8 per pound beans. Generally a pound of beans will yield from 5 to 7 cups, at a cost of more or less a dollar at the high prices. Add in my rice and veggies and I can have a darned good "gourmet" meal at home for a few dollars. The heck with eating out, except that what happens to the rice and other ingredients in that wood-fired oven is rather magical. And I've got to learn how to make the ginger dressing. And then I'm there.
For now, I wait for heirloom beans to be dry and ready to buy.