That lady at church, the one handing out snack sized baggies of white bean flour samples? Yeah, that’d be me. You see, I just discovered the absolute coolest (this week anyway) substitute for flour as a thickening agent! Great White Northern beans!
Country Beans by Rita Bingham, is another superb cookbook for the serious homemaker. Whether you want to sneak that extra bit of protein into soups and sauces, or if you’re trying to cater to special diets (gluten-free, lactose-free, for instance) this cookbook is a worthwhile purchase. My copy was given to me a month ago and I can only say I wish I’d had it 15 years ago when I first started keeping hearth and home!
After reading about the multiple uses for bean flour, I’ve had a blast experimenting. Thankfully, my mom is generously loaning me her wheat grinder to grind up beans*. Pinto beans for an excellent instant refried bean recipe (3/4 cup of this make-ahead mix whisked into 2.5 cups boiling water and voila, refried beans in minutes–which mixed with picante sauce and topped with melted cheese…mmmm–it’s so good!), Great White Northern beans for thickening gravies and soups a tablespoon at a time. Best part about it is you can’t taste the beans!
I made a big pot of tomato soup to go with grilled cheese sandwiches the other day when we had friends over…none of the six children present were aware that they were eating beans with their soup. And the soup thickened up so nicely…
Today I fixed pot roast for lunch with my parents. In making gravy, I poured the pan juices from the beef roast into a sauce pan, brought them to boiling and added 3 tablespoons white bean powder, whisking thoroughly with my Pampered Chef mini-whipper (every cook needs one of these, they eradicate lumps!). I let it simmer for several minutes and served it with Yukon Gold potatoes and the beef…talk about tasty and smooth, and the perfect gravy consistency. Three cheers for bean powder!
This cookbook has a variety of ways to use up beans, from chips to crackers to hearty bean soups (it’s not all about powdered beans!) to breads and salads, to sprouting beans and canning them, and how to incorporate them into breakfast foods, drinks and shakes.
Last but not least, here are some pluses about bean flour:
- bean flours are said to be easier to digest
- and implementing them into your cooking a little bit at a time helps your digestive system develop the enzymes needed to digest beans efficiently
- bean flour thickens in 1-3 minutes after adding it to hot soups and gravies
- beans are cheap, big nutritional bang for your buck
- no chemical additives, colorings, flavorings–a great whole foods choice
- beans are high in B vitamins, iron, and carbohydrates (these bean carbs are “working calories” which digest slowly and satisfy your hunger longer!)
What other incredibly unique cookbooks are out there? I’d love to know!
*note: when using a grain grinder to grind beans, run a cup of hard wheat berries through after every two cups of beans to clean the grinding stones.