life is good, I am happy

Creamy Coconut-Basil Braised Romano Beans

Sweet jeeze and peas. I’m back…. or am I? It’s been a long time.

After my last post, as I struggled my way through post-partum depression/anxiety, I realized I needed to put all my focus on my family and my health and let everything else fall to the wayside. It’s been hard finding my way back to who I was before I was a mother… and I realize now that it’s because I won’t. I needed some time to find out who I was all over again.

Creamy Coconut-Basil Braised Romano Beans

I’ll try to keep my piece on PPD brief; When someone you know has a baby, especially if it’s someone you love, offer them your support and your ear (and probably your arms and your cooking skills too) and pay attention to the signs of postpartum depression. I was lucky to have the support of all my family, my partner, his family, my doctor and a local support group for women/families struggling with PPD/PPA(nxiety) (Family Services Ottawa). I can’t imagine trying to deal with it all alone. Birthing and then tending to a newborn child is amazing/wonderful/miraculous/joyous etc etc etc…. but HOLY SHIT IT’S ALSO SO SCARY AND LONELY AND EXHAUSTING AND ISOLATING AND (sometimes) SAD. I was a real mess. BUT I found a plan that worked for me, and it saved our family. It helped me collect all the tiny pieces of myself that had been stolen by depression, and gave me the courage to find new pieces. My daughter Ruthie is almost 8 months, crawling/standing, eating anything (like raw ginger?!) and everything, and is just, in general, the very awesomest baby and addition to our family we could ever have imagined. Life is good and I am happy. Happy like I was scared I might never be again. Every day I relish how good it feels to laugh and smile and eat and enjoy my life. And though it wasn’t a walk in the park, I wouldn’t know this joy without having gone through some heavy sadness. I am a stronger person for it, and a better mother and wife.

Ruthie MaeI’ve been cooking my little heart out the last few months, trying to find my groove in the kitchen again, but didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to return to documenting until I was ready… though I’m not sure I ever would have been. But then I had a vision of these beans and knew they’d be a perfect return to my former love, blogging. Hearty, healthy, bright and full of flavour. It’s the kind of easy lunch or dinner that whips up quick (assuming you start by soaking the beans the day before you want to dive into them) and gets better as it sits. They’re good on their own in a deep bowl with a few dashes of hot sauce, they are killer on crusty toast; the bread acting as a broth-sponge to sop up anything that might be left on the plate, they’re a great side to some crispy, seared chicken thighs or some marinated, battered and fried tofu. The jist here is, they are tasty, you should make them and eat them immediately.

Creamy Coconut-Basil Braised Romano Beans

Creamy Coconut-Basil Braised Romano Beans
serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2″ chunk ginger
1 ripe tomato (about 1/2 cup chopped)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp turmeric
Pinch cinnamon
1/2 sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp lemon-basil pesto (recipe below)
3 cups cooked romano beans*
1 can (400ml) coconut milk (full fat is best, of course)
2 cups vegetable stock
3 cups packed, chopped kale
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the coconut oil in a large, heavy dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced onion and use a micro-plane to grate in the ginger (a cheese grater will work in a pinch). Once the onion is translucent, add in the tomato, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the garlic is nice and fragrant. Add in the pesto and stir to combine. Add the cooked beans, coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Cover for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let simmer uncovered for another 20-30 minutes until beans are tender. Stir in the kale and let cook for 5 minutes. Taste the broth for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Spoon into bowls and top with fresh ground pepper.

*dried romano beans are easy to find and have a nice subtle flavour. To prepare, place 1 1/2 cups dried romano beans in cold, chlorine-free water for 24 hours (about 3 cups water to every cup of beans is the rule). Once soaked, rinse the beans and place in a pot of cold, salted water. Simmer for 1 hour or until tender.

Lemon-Basil Pesto
1 cup packed basil leaves
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon if necessary.