Week 29/2021: all the beans

Week 29: week of 19 July 2021

What did I want to do better this week?

I’ve been focusing on my sleep again this week. Taking the baby steps approach.

So, how did that go then?

I had a bit of an interruption mid-week for some medical stuff, which actually made me take a day off work and rest. I sat next to the heater and read books for the day. That did me the world of good, I’m sure.

I’ve resisted the urge to turn my 5.30 alarm back on and have just been letting myself sleep until whenever I wake up.

Who am I kidding? I had no urge to do this.

I do want to try and make more of an effort to get up when I wake up so I have time for a walk in the morning before I go to work, but this week it’s just been nice to rest.

21 for 2021 update

Vegetable of the week (thing 2)

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from Alice Zaslavsky’s book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week, I chose chilli.

Kramstable and I have a regular Sunday night meal schedule that covers the ten weeks of school term. We have five recipes that we rotate through twice each term, which I make on Sunday night for dinner for both of us and which then gives him leftovers for lunch during the week. We’ve been doing this ever since once of us decided that making sandwiches for school lunches sucked and that an actual hot dish at lunch time would be much better.

We’ve changed out a couple of the dishes since we started doing this (pea and ham soup is now, thankfully, gone) but one we’ve had for a long time is baked beans. I first made this dish in 2012, and it found its way onto our regular Sunday menu some time after that. (I also now know that great northern beans are cannellini beans.)

I think we’ve only ever deviated from this recipe once, and Kramstable didn’t like the alternative, so the next time it was straight back to this one. Until this week.

Alice has a Smoky Baked Beans recipe in her book (page 218), which is very similar to our recipe, only it uses tinned beans rather than dried ones and it doesn’t have smoked paprika, molasses or red wine vinegar. It’s from the chilli section of the book and the featured ingredient is the “paprika-laden chorizo sausage” and a dried ancho chilli (which is actually optional).

I’d never heard of ancho chillies before, so I went into my favourite spice supplier, Spice World, and asked for it. Apparently it’s one of their most popular chillies. I later learned it is the dried form of the poblano chill, grown in Mexico and known for its “rich smoky quality, with sweet to moderate heat and a mild paprika flavour”. It scores a pretty mild 1,000 to 2,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit Scale, compared to 2,500 to 8,000 for Jalapeños and 30,000 to 50,000 for Cayenne Peppers. Or 2 million for the Carolina Reaper, and if you watched this year’s Masterchef you may know all about that one. I asked Kramstable if he wanted to try it and he was very unimpressed with its heat. It did, however, have a definite sweet, fruity kind of taste.

An ancho chilli on top of the recipe for Smoky Baked Beans
Ancho chilli

So into the pot it went, as finely sliced as you can slice a massive, crispy dried pepper.

I’d like to say I followed the recipe exactly but I didn’t. I added a jar of passata along with the tin of tomatoes, I added twice the amount of cumin and sweet paprika and more than a teaspoon of brown sugar. My normal recipe has three tablespoons of sugar and three of molasses, so I was comfortable with upping the sugar a bit.

I also didn’t add in the baked egg at the end. Baked eggs are not my thing. I’m not doing it. Ever.

Baked beans on a blue plate with two slices of toast
Smoky Baked Beans

Surprise of the night was when Kramstable said he liked this recipe better than our normal one and could we please have it instead of the other one from now on.

Wow. Next time I’ll make it with dried beans and adjust the cooking time. Maybe add another chilli or two. Alice suggests using Spanish pochas beans so I might see if I can find those too.

Annoying undone things (thing 5)

I finished one of the two books on the list. This was Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit, a book that I thought I’d enjoy more than I did. It’s “a history of walking”, which really appealed to me but I found the book very difficult to read, especially the first two sections. The final two sections, which focused on walking on the streets, urban and suburban design, the difficulty of walking in the suburbs, and some of the issues that women face while walking alone, flowed a lot better for me and I enjoyed these parts a lot more than I did the first half of the book.

Kramstable’s videos (thing 8)

I spent a couple of hours on Sunday working on the video.

My mother’s story (thing 9)

I didn’t get a chance to visit my mum this week because I was home, so I didn’t do any work on this project.

Brainsparker (thing 17)

This week I worked through two of the lessons in Module 8 to make up for missing one last week.

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 3 (1, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (2, 5, 8, 17)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 9 (4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 5 (3, 12, 15, 19, 21)

Other stuff

What I’m reading this week

  • Gut. The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ by Giulia Enders
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
  • Turning Down the Noise: The Quiet Power of Silence in a Busy World by Christine Jackman
  • Of Towns and Countries: Journey of an Architect by Dirk Bolt
  • Waking Up: Searching for spirituality without religion by Sam Harris

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 2): 1
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 2): 0
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 1
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 2 work days): 2
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I shut my computer down before 9.45 (Goal = 5): 6
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