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