Patience is a virtue, but it isn’t one of mine. And so I am pacing, expectant, as a friend of mine is days, maybe even hours away from having a baby I feel like she’s been gestating for years. I keep wishing things would hurry along, because while I know people with babies, very few of those people live nearby. And when you have babies, you need other people around you to have them. People with babies need other people with babies because what we really need is a support group with wine.
The longer you have babies, the more you need wine. Mine is an accidental hurricane, a destructive force of nature seemingly bent on exploring and subsequently breaking all my things. That this is going to happen to someone I know is very comforting.
And so my friend is almost there, and because one only needs so many onesies, I had said I would make her freezer meals in lieu of a shower gift. So I have been plodding along, making a container of something here, and a pot of something there. Tonight I added one more to the freezer, a pot of ham and white bean stew, a creamy, savoury combination of leftovers and slow-cookery.
I left the stew in the Crock Pot to cook for ten hours today, and when I came home this place smelled like salty meat and garlic and herbs; using just a few bits and pieces, there was enough hearty stew for at least eight people, I’m sure of it. It’s not beautiful, but it’s delicious, and plenty soothing for someone with a newborn and the imminent danger of having all her favourite stuff smashed by a happy little Hulk.
Ham and white bean stew
(Serves 6 to 8.)
- 1 lb. small white beans, such as Great Northern or navy beans
- 1 lb. cubed ham
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 stalks celery, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 6 cups stock (ideally homemade ham stock, but store-bought chicken stock will work too)
- 1 tbsp. grainy mustard
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- Juice of half a lemon, if needed
- Salt to taste
The night before you plan to eat, cover one pound of white beans with an inch of water.
In the morning, drain and rinse your beans. Put them into a slow cooker, along with ham, onion, celery, pearl barley, stock, mustard, rosemary, and bay leaves. Stir, cover, set slow cooker to low, and cook for 10 hours.
Go to work, or about your day, or back to bed.
When you get home, stir in pepper, Parmesan, and parsley. Taste, and add lemon juice and salt as needed. Serve with bread. Feel virtuous.