Dark Days: Local Beans, Holiday Chaos

December 22, 2009(updated on January 24, 2023)


When I was still in Philly, anticipating this vacation I’m currently on, I imagined that I’d rise early (being an east coaster out west), snag a car and spend a couple of hours each morning at a coffee shop with my computer. I figured keeping up with the blog would be easy, given all that concentrated time I’d have, communing with the internet.


Of course, the best laid plans rarely see the light of day. I have not been waking early. Instead, I’ve been sleeping until 10 or later, gobbling up nearly 12 hours of sleep a night (my candle was fairly well burnt by the time I boarded that plane last week) and allowing myself to flow with the chaos that is family during the holidays.


I did manage to sneak away on Saturday for a couple of hours, in order to wander the final PSU Farmers Market of the season. I bought mountains of sweet potatoes, onions, beets, tiny red potatoes (for Christmas dinner), brussels sprouts, garlic, apples, pears and a beautiful orange squash for pie. I wandered for a bit with Sarah, chatting while she bought some local beef and mushrooms.

Sarah, buying meat

Knowing that I wanted to try to cook my Dark Days meal even though I was away from my normal vendors and sources, I searched out a main dish that would keep everyone in my parents’ tiny house happy (my mother doesn’t eat pork, my sister avoids red meat entirely and her friend Jamie is a vegetarian). I wound up with some gorgeous local pinto beans, purchased by the tin scoop (I felt delightfully like Laura Ingalls Wilder as I ladled up my beans into a crunchy paper bag).


I cooked three cups of them with twice as much water, a pungent chopped onion and several mashed garlic cloves until they were tender (towards the end of cooking, I added a bit of chili powder, salt and pepper). For dinner tonight, we set up a bar of tops and bottoms and let everyone compile their own dream bowl of beans. I ate mine with some toasted local bread and cheese. The rest of the house paired theirs with some tomatoes (the last from my parents’ garden, picked green and ripened slowly in the garage), chopped red onion, brown rice, tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro and sour cream.

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7 thoughts on "Dark Days: Local Beans, Holiday Chaos"

  • That’s pretty much my recipe for pinto beans! I’ve found that they make a great topper for a baked potato.

    Enjoy your holidays.

  • And the weather hasn’t been too bad for your visit…

    Growing up we were able to choose our favorite meal for our birthday dinner. Mine, more often tha not, was beans, fried potatoes and cornbread. My brother chose lobster. 😉

    Looks good.

  • local beans!! How cool. I was just whining about not being able to find local garlic here on the east coast and now I also wonder: why can’t I find local dried beans?
    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your shopping and coooking process and like the “tops and bottoms” phrasing!
    Merry Christmas!

  • Did you buy any bread that day? You may have bought it from me! I’m always so glad when visitors get to experience our farmers’ market here in Portland.