Friday, October 23, 2009

accidentally awesome bean soup

bean soup

a few weeks ago i went on a southern cooking frenzy, and i made barbequed (how the heck do you spell that word?) boston butt in the crockpot and braised turnip and mustard greens with bacon. both of these things generated a bunch of broth-y liquid for which i had no immediate need, but which seemed too good to throw away. so, like a good thrifty housewife, i put it in the fridge overnight, skimmed off the fat, and then put it in the freezer. this broth became the base for some bean soup i made that turned out about 20x better than i thought it would. i think this soup will be ALMOST as good with just chicken broth or other stock, but the complex flavor of that pork roast and the greens definitely brought something to the table. one other note, everything in this recipe but the beans, broth, and tomato puree came from my local farmers market. yay for local!

it's fall--it's the right time for a simple hearty bean soup--get cooking!

1 lb dried white beans, soaked overnight
1 lb smoked polish sausage
~8 to 10 cups broth
1 can (14 oz.) tomato puree
1 medium onion
1 red pepper
2 bay leaves
1 - 1.5 lb red russian kale (or other variety of greens)
salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

i made this in the crock pot, but i am sure you could do it in a dutch oven or large stock pot just as easily. slice the sausage in 1/4-inch slices and roughly chop the onion and red pepper. combine everything but the kale in your pot.

in the crock pot i cooked this on low for about 7 hours. then i added the kale and let it go for about one more hour before calling it good.

on the stove, i'd say bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for ~3 hours or so. if you do it this way, watch your liquid level and don't hesitate to add some broth or water if too much evaporates. when the beans are starting to get soft, but not mushy, add the kale and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.

add salt and pepper to taste, and hot sauce if you want a bit of a kick to it.

serve with some good crusty bread.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the salty sheep

ss mosaic
The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop
105 W Church Street
Swansboro, NC 28584

i had the good fortune of stumbling across the salty sheep yarn shop in swansboro while on vacation last september. it's in swansboro, at the end of a little street of shops in the tiny historic district of the town. the building in which it sits also houses a fabulous deli/coffee shop/irish pub, a pottery shop, and a cigar shop. in our family, that means there's something for everyone.

i've been back to the store four or five times now, and that has been enough to make it one of my two favorite yarn stores ever. (the other is purl soho, where i get to go next month--whoo hoo!) this one is probably the closest thing to what i would do if i opened a store myself. i think it's a great example of where dreaming can get you. the owners, peggy and amber, were knitting friends who often joked about opening a store in this location, and then--one day--the space opened. amber called peggy, and less than 3 months later, they opened for business. just like that. not to make it sound easy--i think there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in those three months, and a TON of work after the doors opened. but the fact that they pulled it off and have managed to build a profitable business in less than two years is nothing short of amazing to me.

this is a store full of fabulous. they decided early on to stock it with yarns they wanted to knit with, and this is working VERY well. any knitter who walks through their door is bound to leave with SOMETHING. they have a boatload of many of my favorite yarns, including malabrigo, blue sky alpacas, be sweet, dream in color, and rowan. it's a wonder i don't felt it all with my drooling. and if i were a sock knitter, i would just pull all the koigu and malabrigo sock yarn tothe floor and roll around in it. it ALMOST makes me want to knit some socks. (but not quite.) and here's the part i love: they are completely up to date. there's ravelry open and running in the store on one or both of their laptops. if you pick up something interesting, both peggy and amber can tell you 10 things you could make with it. i have been in so many stores where the help is kind of not there, but not the salty sheep. they are ON it without making you feel like you can't think for yourself.

further, the salty sheep is a community. i feel like part of this community in spite of living so far away and getting to the store so seldom. and i have discovered through ravelry that i am not alone in this. there are others here in the cary/raleigh/apex area who get yarn shipped from the salty sheep all the time in spite of many closer and larger stores. that truly says something.

on this year's beach trip, meredith and i were fortunate enough to be able to pull off going to the friday knit night at the salty sheep. there was yarn. there were snacks. there were about a dozen very friendly knitters and crocheters. and amber and peggy made is out-of-towners feel 100% welcome. meredith knitted practically a whole hat, and both of us spend too much money, which is only the Right Thing.

in conclusion, if you are down in the emerald isle-swansboro-atlantic beach-beaufort-morehead city-jacksonville area at all ever for any reason, and you are a knitter or a crocheter, then you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't find some time to go check out the salty sheep. it's utterly worth it, and i can't wait to go back!

the store: the salty sheep yarn shop
the ravelry group: the salty sheet support group
my pictures of the store: the salty sheep, a set on flickr