Weekend Cooking: CD’s Chili Mole from Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon

Weekend Cooking image

Weekend Cooking is a weekly feature hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Click here to check out Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

cover imageThis is a cookbook for readers. The beautiful color photograph of dried beans on the cover of Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon is the only one in the book. The introductions and notes that accompany the recipes are as long or longer than the recipes themselves and include variations on, permutations of, and multiple serving suggestions for each recipe. The cookbook is nicely laid out, with simple green and black illustrations and green recipe titles adding spots of color to the easy-to-read black text.

I’ve been wanting this cookbook for a while and I finally bought myself a copy. Last weekend I decided to make something from Bean by Bean to persuade myself that I really did need another new cookbook. (For economically minded cooks, Bean by Bean is reasonably priced, probably because it doesn’t have photos and is a softcover book. It’s also packed with so many ideas for cooking not only dried beans but also fresh beans and soybean products like tofu and tempeh, that each recipe probably only ends up costing a few cents!)

I thought I had a fairly well-stocked (metaphorical) pantry, but when I sat down with Bean by Bean, determined to make something right away, I looked through recipe after recipe for which I was missing at least one essential ingredient (e.g. dried mushrooms, white hominy, serrano chiles, miso, lemongrass, seitan.) Other than dishes like minestrone and pasta e fagioli, which seemed too humdrum for Weekend Cooking, future use of this cookbook will require a little planning ahead and shopping for ingredients. (If I had had fresh chiles on hand, at least, or had shopped for produce more recently, I would have had many more options.) The recipes have all sorts of ethnic influences and are mostly vegetarian; any recipe that calls for meat has meat-free variations included.

photo of CD's Chili Mole
The finished chili over pasta with grated Cheddar cheese. Dried beans are definitely more photogenic than cooked!

I narrowed it down to a couple of main dishes that would be good for a cold, wintry weekend and settled on CD’s Chili Mole. The recipe is available online at Thrice Shy; it was very easy to follow. The chili smelled delicious while cooking and it tasted delicious, too. I followed the author’s suggestion to make it a day ahead.

I will definitely be using this cookbook a lot. The recipes have handy tags for whether they can easily be made gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and/or “meatist,” to accommodate different dietary needs in a single cookbook.

Notes about the author:

  • Crescent Dragonwagon has been a Vermonter since 2002, but lived in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for 36 years, where she was chef/innkeeper at Dairy Hollow House for 18 years.
  • She writes children’s books in addition to cookbooks, and writes a blog.
  • Crescent Dragonwagon is her real name.
  • Her mother is children’s book author/editor Charlotte Zolotow.

Bean by Bean
Dragonwagon, Crescent
Workman, 2012
370 pp.
$15.95, soft.

Disclosure: I bought my own copy of Bean by Bean.

Other opinions about Bean by Bean (all excellent):
Beth Fish Reads
WBUR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrooke



16 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: CD’s Chili Mole from Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon”

  1. Crescent Dragonwagon is one of my favorite cookbook authors. I think I have them all! I use Bean by Bean all the time — either for the recipes as is or for inspiration.

    1. I need to start doing better meal planning and shopping. I have a number of vegetarians in the family and the beautiful beans on the cover of Bean by Bean really grabbed me!

  2. I love Crescent Dragonwagon and have many of her cookbooks. But not this one. Will have to remedy that. Any cookbook she writes is fun with great recipes. the Dairy Hollow cookbook is wonderful. Thanks for this great review and reminding me that the book has come out. I will check out the other reviews.

    1. I had heard of The Passionate Vegetarian cookbook but never used it or owned it. This one includes some recipes from that earlier book so I may not need to have both!

  3. I have to admit that the first thing that struck me is the author’s name – is that her real name? The book sounds great – I love knowing the background on recipes – but I do love pictures in my cookbooks.

  4. I was going to ask if that was her real name, interesting story she shares. Pity about the lack of photography, but a great idea for a cookbook. You’ll be very knowledgeable after you’ve made a few recipes, I’m sure!

Would love to have you comment!