Sunday, January 25, 2009

come and listen to the whining one more season, one more season*

Today was Anadama Bread. (Shh. Don't tell anybody, but I've been calling it Dammit Bread. Naughty!) Supposedly the name comes from a man cursing the wife who left him with nothing but a pot of cornmeal and molasses (Anna! Damn her!). I've read this in a few places, and it sounds a little sketchy. But swearing about food is funny, so I'll allow it.

I'm having a Bean Quandary. Remember when I made that garbanzo bean soup a little bit ago? Well, I forgot to tell you that it was in the crock pot for TWO DAYS. And then I decided that the beans were never going to be cool to me, so I went ahead with the recipe. The soup was tasty but gritty. Then I took the rest of the package of garbanzo beans and cooked them and made hummus with them--only the best hummus you or I or anyone we know has ever eaten--and they had a great texture, not at all gritty. WHY? We eat a wicked ton of beans, and even when I presoak my beans the night before it takes all freaking day for them to get soft--right up until dinnertime, and sometimes not even then. I've even avoided salting them until very late in the cooking, because I seem to remember the Cook's Illustrated people saying that helps. But it doesn't, and then Bittman tells me that I can add salt earlier, and presoaking isn't even necessary. That even black beans--which we eat most often--will soften after two hours of cooking. Two hours? Is he on crack? Or am I? Why do my beans take so very, very long to soften? They don't say anything about "except in areas with hard water." So does hard water not affect bean cooking times? Because Utah water is hard enough to slice, and I always thought that made beans take longer. But the beans and cookery books are in league with each other to ruin me.

We just tasted the dammit bread, and here are the results:
initial thoughts: The crumb is shiny and stretchy, and it's very soft.
straight up: I think this is an acquired taste. This is not great bread. I blame the blackstrap molasses. (Blackstrap is all I ever buy, because I love the strong, bitter flavor it gives to gingerbread. It helps the sugar shut up a little.)
with unsalted butter: Hmm. This is better. It's almost sweet, and has a long, pleasant finish.
with strawberry freezer jam: This is great bread. The molasses makes the jam taste more complex and less sugary. It is going to make terrific sandwiches.

A few minutes later, John is saying he's got to have more of that bread. It grows on you. In Reinhart's terms, it was cool, creamy and loyal. So that's two successes from his book. I'm going to have to buy it.

*Today's post title is from a Star Wars/John Williams parody medley that we love because we are nerds. If you follow the link and scroll down the page, you can find "Star Wars" on the album see dee and listen to it. Totally worth it. I'll save my treatise on a cappella music and its attendant dorkery for another time.


highdeekay said...

ok, your post is most timely for me. I was thinking yesterday that I need to ask my good friend Layne for some most awesome bean recipes because I just don't even know how to use/prepare beans. I don't even own any dried beans (hmmm, I bet we have some in our food storage so that might be a lie). So, this enlightens me some and I will look forward to being inundated with glorious bean recipes.

tipsybaker said...

I've had trouble with beans not getting soft, but only periodically and have decided -- in my case -- it's the beans. Like, they are old. I used to buy big bags of beans and store them but now I just buy as many as I need. This does not guarantee success, however, as sometimes supermarkets sell old beans.