A simple guide to cooking dried beans

I’m starting off the week with a big batch of home cooked pinto beans. Later I’ll add them to soups or chili, stuff them into toasted campfire burritos, or fold them into a soft egg scramble for a breakfast tortilla wrap. And that is just the beginning of the bean goodness.

If you usually tend to open a can of beans, I want to walk you really quickly through how I cook mine from dried. I think once you try it, you’ll be converted.

Not only is it more affordable (especially if you buy organic canned beans), but you can control the amount of added salt and, well, like most homemade versions of pantry staples, the taste is far superior to anything that comes in a can.

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So I attended a food photography workshop

Last weekend the stars aligned in my favor and I slipped away from everything – dishes, diapers, and other domestic duties – to attend a food photography workshop here in Montreal with Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille.

Organized by the resourceful Mayssam, to whom all credit is due, the intimate workshop was held at Montreal’s SAT food lab, a thoroughly modern yet rustic setting.

I came expecting to learn from Aran, as well as network with a few fellow bloggers; what I didn’t expect was the affinity that formed within the group, nor the lump in my throat that came while watching Aran fashion her magic.

With absolutely awe-inspiring focus, she demonstrated the making of a definitive ‘Cannelle et Vanille‘ photograph. I learned so much just by watching her, but perhaps my greatest lesson of the session was to slow. down. Think more about the shot, the story, the light.

We got to play around in the afternoon session. Here are a few favorite shots of mine that I snapped.
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Ask Aimee: The Answers

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed receiving your questions. As each one popped into my inbox, I smiled, and couldn’t wait to answer them. A few made me scratch my head and others had me thinking back ten years to the days of professional kitchens and cooking school.

I closed the questions after 48 hours, or else this would have been an ongoing series (pipe up in the comments if you’d like to see that happen), as it is, this post is wordy!

We’ve got a lot of questions, so let’s just jump right it, shall we?

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Ask Aimee

*Thank you for all your great questions, both via email and here in the comments. The opportunity for questioning is now over. Look for my answers very soon!*

Let’s have a bit of fun, shall we? Since I’m probably never going to be a guest on a late night talk show, and content here on the blog revolves exclusively around food, I’m going to give you an opportunity to ask me about anything. Sure, you can stick to kitchen-related questions, but feel free to expand if you like.

Ask me about blogging, the family, my background, Montreal, – whatever! Just ask. Do you want to know my favorite summer shoe of choice? Curious to know if I really grew up without electricity or telephone? Ever wonder how I got started blogging? My ideal vacation spot? What’s always in my fridge?

Ask away!

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The Best Party Trick Ever: How to Make Thirty Minute Mozzarella

The following is a guest post from Andrew Wilder of Eating Rules. Welcome, Andrew!

A couple of years ago at a Fourth of July party, I pulled off one of my best party tricks ever.

Showing up with a gallon of milk in hand, I asked my friends if I could borrow their kitchen. Spying the other items in my bag — a bunch of fresh basil and cherry tomatoes — they knew I had something good in store. They eagerly let me take over.

Half an hour later, I emerged victorious from the kitchen with a platter of fresh caprese, made with still-warm mozzarella.

I’ve been using this “30-minute Mozzarella” recipe, from Ricki Carroll’s book, Home Cheese Making, for a few years now.  I’ll admit, it comes out slightly different each time (the type of milk, how quickly you heat it, and how much you stretch it will affect both the flavor and texture), but it’s always been a big hit. [Read more…]