Homemade Fruit Snacks

img_5742

We’ve been giving Indira whole foods for a few months now, simply because she prefers them over purées and would much rather feed herself than be spoon-fed. Girl knows what’s up.

So far her favorite foods are mainly in the fruit category—oranges and blueberries ranking supreme. She adores these fruit snacks as well, and I feel good about giving them to her because they contain collagen, an essential nutrient in helping keep our bodies healthy and growing. Definitely recommend giving it a try if you’ve never used it before.

Homemade Fruit Snacks

A few notes: For the juice, I like 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup lemon juice. For the berries, frozen raspberries are my favorite. You can skip the honey/sugar if your fruit is really sweet, though gelatin has a way of reducing the overall sweetness in the end product, so a little bit extra can help. Finally, if you’re using raw honey, don’t heat it—just add it at the very end. // Yield: About 40 bite-size snacks

3/4 cup fruit juice
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup berries
5 tablespoons Vital Proteins gelatin (or other unflavored gelatin)

2 tablespoons honey or sugar, or a few drops of liquid stevia (optional)

Combine about half of your juice (just eyeball it), applesauce, and berries in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat until hot, but not boiling.

Combine gelatin with remaining (cold) juice, whisking to combine well; make sure there are no lumps. Note that this is how Vital Proteins gelatin works best–you combine it with cold liquid, then whisk in hot. Your gelatin may differ so revise accordingly.

Slowly whisk hot fruit-juice mixture into gelatin, whisking until well combined. You may need to return it to the blender if there are lumps.

Pour into a small glass baking dish (no need to grease) or silcone molds. I fill one little silicone heart mold and pour the rest into a small 3-cup glass baking dish. Refrigerate for a few hours until firm, then remove with a spatula (it should come out as one piece with some careful prodding) and cut into bite-size pieces or use a cookie cutter to make shapes if you’re feeling extra fancy.

img_5743

Motherhood

indira-birth

(Photo taken by our doula.)

I intended to share this post six months after Indira’s birth, since the last time I was here I was six months into my pregnancy. Turns out, however, that being cute like that is not totally compatible with being a mom and having a full-time job.

But here I am anyway! I’ll try to leave all the clichés by the wayside and just tell you this: When I last wrote about my daughter—who I hadn’t yet met and was probably the size of an orange—she felt like a dream to me. Too good to be true.

She still feels like that to me today. I wake up every morning and see her smiling at me…two inches away from my face…and just cannot get over the fact that 1) I made her, and 2) she is mine. I don’t see that ever going away.

img_7406

At almost nine months old, Indira is (a tiny) 14 pounds of pure goodness. She looks like so many people—while also being completely herself—who have passed on from this life but who we carry close in our hearts. Her deep eyes are reminiscent of Suraj’s father, she has the same dimples and twinkle in her eyes as my Dad did, and her expressions are often like Suraj’s mother’s, who passed away just two months before she was born (and who was also the only person we shared our name choice with before birth). I so wish her three grandparents had had the chance to meet her, but it seems like they might have in a way greater than we know.

(All politics aside) This past year has been the best year of my life because of her. It’s also been filled with an intensity I never anticipated. MOTHERHOOD: you are by far the most complex word in the English language. I feel you, but I can’t always define you. I talk about you, but I don’t know how to write about you. You are a new skin I wear, but one I feel has been there all along. I’m still figuring you out.

So here’s my best go at putting that word into words. Eleven Things I’ve Learned About Motherhood So Far (because I couldn’t stop at ten…). I’m sure there’s only about a billion more lessons to go.

  1. Giving birth is the most transformative moment of your life, no matter how it plays out. My goal going in was a non-medicated birth (meaning no drugs of any kind), and I did a lot to prepare for that, but oh dear God it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I understand 110 percent why people get epidurals. During my 24-hour labor (pretty average for first-time moms), Indira kept flipping in the wrong direction/position, which caused back labor that I can’t even begin to describe and that no bath, ball, or labor position could ease. I probably would have quit if I hadn’t been in what felt like another universe. Truly. With each contraction, I went to some other place—I couldn’t speak; all I could do was ride it out. Towards the end, when it was time to push, I remember thinking that no, I couldn’t do it any longer, I just needed to sleep and try again tomorrow (ha!). But Suraj, my mom, our doula, and our midwives all assured me that we were almost there. Forty-five minutes later, they placed this tiny little baby with jet-black hair on my chest and the world stopped. I MADE A HUMAN BEING AND SHE IS PERFECT. All the pain that came before, and after, that moment was suddenly eclipsed (sparing you the details on the after, but if you’ve given birth, you know what I’m talking about).
  2. The first few months are HARD. There is beauty, there is haze, there are tears of every kind—happy ones, sad ones, scared ones, I-don’t-know-why-so-just-let-me-sob ones, the list goes on. No one gets any real practice for parenthood and then suddenly you’re IN IT FOREVER AND THERE’S NO GOING BACK. You’re ready to dive in, but you’re also like omg can I swim?!
  3. But you do. You always swim. No matter how hard it is, you somehow keep going. “Quit” and “motherhood” are incompatible terms.
  4. Two more incompatible terms? “Maternity leave” and “accomplishing things”—other than, of course, keeping a human being alive. It took me a long time to be okay with this, especially as someone who rarely sits still. But it’s true—you’ll never remember the laundry or the dishes, but you will remember the sweet snuggles, and they’ll never seem like enough. If I could have taken a year off, I would have.
  5. It can take awhile to feel like yourself again. The postpartum period is a funny one. For me, I think it was harder than pregnancy. Hormones don’t just automatically readjust (especially if you’re breastfeeding), your body can take more time to recover than you realize, and you’re also learning to navigate a new identity—all while sleep-deprived. In traditional cultures, new mothers were often pampered and kept secluded (with their baby) for 40 days or more; can we bring this practice back please?
  6. Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and easy… NO, no, it’s not (and if it was for you, consider yourself very blessed). Seriously, anything that requires support groups, consultants, and 24-hour hot lines should tell you something. For me, breastfeeding was a much more traumatic journey than I ever expected. I had always imagined being my child’s sole source of sustenance, in that first year at least, and when we learned that that was just not possible for me (due to insufficient glandular tissue, something I had never heard of prior), it came as a huge blow. Feeding people is my love language and not being able to communicate in it stung deep. It still does, to be honest, and I still get emotional about it. But I also know how lucky I am that my child can be fed regardless. Breastfeeding is much, much more than just ounce output, and I remind myself of this on a daily basis.
  7. There is no ONE right way to do anything, despite what the Internet tells you. The right way is whatever works for your child and your family. Your baby hates being swaddled? Skip it. Can’t handle cry-it-out? Don’t do it. No time to mash up your own pureés? Buy them. Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s law. Also, is it just me, or does your sixth sense for recognizing this type of thing really come alive in motherhood? It’s like a mom superpower.
  8. No matter how long you stare at your child, it doesn’t seem like enough. While they’re sleeping in your arms, you’ll be looking at photos of them on your phone, and you won’t think there’s anything weird about it. Then your partner will join you and you’re both like Yeah this is totally normal.
  9. Support is a lifeline. Yes, you are in a beautiful little cocoon for those first weeks/months… but wait, there’s no food in here, everything is covered in a layer of dust, and it’s very hard to actually get out. I was so thankful for my mom and family who came to visit (and help) during that time, and friends who came with coffee, or to check in, or just sent a text reminding you that the world was still moving.
  10. Strangers disarm and turn into compassionate, goofy people when they see children, babies especially. You hear stories about grandchildren and grown children, get countless smiles, and witness grown men making silly faces for your kid while waiting in line or sitting at a restaurant. The world becomes a little softer and it’s really heartwarming to see.
  11. This final one is a big one. There are times when you will feel like you are not doing anything well enough. I’ve felt this acutely since returning to work. I can’t spend enough time with my child, or I’m not catching up on my workload fast enough, or, a favorite of mine, When am I supposed to cook dinner?! And I only have one kid! So, suffice it say, we are all learning as we go and whatever you are doing, whether it’s with zero kids or five, is ENOUGH.

I hope to be back to this space again soon, maybe even with a recipe, but if that happens three months later than what I had planned, well, see point #11. Someone’s already calling…

img_7433

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Pregnancy (Six Months In)

25 weeks

No makeup, yoga pants, loose shirts. Best kind of life.

I go back and forth on how much to share about my pregnancy here. Everyone’s journey down this road is a personal one. But at the same time, it’s also a highly social experience. People seem genuinely interested in how you’re doing, how you’re feeling, what you need, and so on (that or they’re really good actors).

As a somewhat introverted person, I’m never quite sure how to answer or what to say, but that of course doesn’t mean that pregnancy-related thoughts don’t swirl around my head on a daily basis. So, I’ve compiled my top ten observations so far. If no one else reads them, at least I’ll have them here to look back on years from now, when I’m sitting at my desk wondering how it all went by so quickly.

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Pregnancy (Six Months In)

  1. Pregnancy is ten months long, not nine (40 weeks = 10 months). That was news to me. Granted, the first two weeks are basically a freebie (spoiler alert: you’re not technically pregnant for them), but still, it’s ten! Which brings me to point #2.
  2. Ten months is kind of a long time (two months short of year!). It’s also kind of short (a whole human gets made!). This perspective changes on a daily basis. One day you’re like “Holy crap, I can’t believe I have seven more months to go…” and the next you’re all “Ahhh, I only have two more months to figure out what the hell goes on a baby registry and how to find a pediatrician…”
  3. Everyone’s pregnancy is different. Some love it, some hate it, some are sick, some are not—it’s kind of a crap-shoot and I don’t think you can (or should) judge anyone else based on your own experience. Personally, I’ve loved being pregnant so far, but I’m also not totally surprised that I do. I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was about four (my mom will fondly recall that I’d have her write out exact feeding and changing schedules for my dolls…) and as crunchy as it sounds, I feel honored to be a woman and to have this opportunity.

    Kid Essay

    My dreams are coming true, people.

  4. That said, totally weird things happen to your body when you’re pregnant. Seriously, pick the strangest thing you can think of, type it into google with “+ pregnancy” and the answer will be “yes, this is common” and the solution will be to “wait until you’re done being pregnant.” Itchy skin, varicose veins, crying uncontrollably when someone on Homeland dies, you name it.
  5. If the amount of time I spend staring at my own belly, as well as other people’s bellies/babies on Instagram, is any indication of how much time I’ll spend staring at my own kid, I will likely be 100% unproductive at all other things in life come birth-day.
  6. Picking out a name is both fun and exhausting. You realize how many names you associate with specific people (and therefore reasons why you can’t possibly name your kid that), what biases you have toward various letters of the alphabet, and how two people with two different accents (that would be your mom and dad, kid) can say the same exact name in two completely different ways. That last one is usually quite entertaining.
  7. For the most part, you put your hands on your belly in public to make it clear to everyone that you are indeed pregnant and not just hitting the burgers and fries really hard. At 6+ months, I am still waiting for my belly to officially “pop,” so I find this especially helpful in convincing people that there is in fact a baby in there.
  8. You eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and basically have zero qualms about it. Before becoming pregnant, I thought perhaps I’d become even more virtuous once that positive test popped up, but no. Your body knows what it wants and can handle, and there is absolutely no way you’re going near a salad if you don’t want to. This was very freeing for me. While I’ve continued to eat healthfully, I also haven’t been hard on myself for wanting toast three times a day (I’m looking at you, first trimester) or a brownie at 3pm. General balance is fine by me.
  9. The best place to go for advice is your mom-friends. The internet and its 50 million reviews and 25,000 baby wraps are great and all, but asking like-minded friends is really the Cliffs Notes version of all that. (On that note, thank you friends, mom, and sisters for always replying to my texts.)
  10. If you’ve picked a good spouse/partner, you become even more thankful for him (or her). Especially when he talks to your belly. ❤

Three more months!

 

What’s Really(!) Been Cooking + Blueberry Muffins

When I last wrote, I was about 16 weeks pregnant and headed home to share the surprise with my family at the Thanksgiving table (and what a surprise it was!—they were elated of course). Up until that point, Suraj and I had only shared the news with a handful of people, as we really wanted to wait to go “public” until I had the chance to tell my family in person.

Now that I’m well into my second trimester and feeling great, here we are. I am due the beginning of May—just four months away! Eeek! My pregnancy has been wonderful so far and we both feel blessed that everything has gone so smoothly. It’s amazing to me how natural the process and changes have been, and how your body just knows what to do. And those baby kicks, oh, they are just the sweetest, aren’t they?

I’ve still been cooking up a storm, with perhaps a bit more of a focus on carb-y things, cheese, and eggs because those give me the most comfort. I also adore avocado, peanut butter, and clementines (aka our baby’s favorite food), but all of those things I liked before so no major surprise that I love them even more now. All in all, I’d say we are eating very well! (Though you can best believe I am ordering sushi the moment we leave the hospital…)

Keeping with the carb theme, I figured I’d share a simple and (somewhat) healthy recipe for blueberry muffins. I’ve been loving having these at tea time, spread with a little butter. I make a full batch, then freeze half for future snacks and breakfasts. They stay moist and tender from the sour cream, a key ingredient in baked goods, in my opinion. Enjoy!

Muffins

Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Smitten Kitchen
You can use full-fat yogurt in place of the sour cream, but I really think the sour cream makes them the most soft and tender. // Yield: 9 to 10 standard muffins

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half spelt flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray.

Rub the sugar and lemon zest together, using your hands, in the bowl of an electric mixer. This helps release the lemony goodness of the zest. Just a couple minutes will do the trick and it will smell heavenly.

Add the butter to the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then sour cream and vanilla.

Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough will be quite thick.

Fill your muffin cups ¾ full (I like to use an ice cream with a spring release for this) and sprinkle raw sugar on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean (assuming you don’t pierce a berry). Serve warm, split and spread with butter.

What’s Been Cooking

Park Walk

It’s been another busy month around here, with more work trips (this time to L.A.) and time spent outdoors enjoying the last of the fall foliage (photo above Suraj took on one of our many walks at a park nearby). This week, I’m off to Buffalo for Thanksgiving and am really looking forward to the break.

I don’t have a set recipe for today, but thought I’d just share some links to things I’ve been cooking these past few weeks, in case anyone is looking for inspiration:

–These sweet potato waffles are my new fav. I made this recipe for the first time a few weeks ago, after finally buying a new waffle maker, and they’re awesome. We have a stash stored in the freezer and they are excellent re-toasted and spread with peanut butter and fig jam (trust me on this one…).
–For a quick, ready-made lunch solution, I made a big batch of these freezer burritos a few weeks ago and can’t recommend them enough. I kept them vegetarian and used sour cream, refried black beans (this recipe), brown rice, sauteed ripe plantains, and cilantro for my filling. They reheat in about a minute in the microwave. Suraj is a huge fan. I may do another batch soon, with scrambled egg, for a breakfast version.
–This wild salmon soup is a staple for us, and is especially easy to throw together when I have homemade broth on hand. We usually use potatoes in place of the squash.
–I thought I didn’t like teriyaki until I tried this recipe, and now I’m a total convert. It’s SO simple and SO good. We had it for dinner last night with garlicky green beans. You can get chicken with the skin on (vital for this recipe) at Whole Foods; it’s in the sealed packages.

As for Thanksgiving, here’s a few things I’m taking home with me, as well as what I’ll be making there (each of my siblings is bringing a dish or two, and my mom’s got the rest…homemade pies included. So excited!):

broccoli cheese bites. Super easy to throw together and will be a good breakfast/snack during my 8-hour drive. Would also make a great appetizer if you did them in mini-muffin pans.
butternut squash and orzo salad. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for months, after my friend Jess sang its praises. She was right; it’s great! I’m packing a huge container and we’ll likely eat it for a few lunches this week. I subbed feta for the blue cheese.
hummus. This is something I seem to take home and on vacation without fail (mainly because my sister loves it as much as I do). This recipe is my go-to; it’s so smooth! I add a little more water and/or olive oil at the end, and it’s done it about 30 seconds in my Vitamix. We’ll probably have it with salad and pita at some point. (Sidenote: Have you ever had pizza with hummus for dipping? You’ll never eat it any other way once you do.)
Italian vinaigrette. Is it weird that I am packing my own salad dressing to take home? Well I don’t care if it is because this is my new favorite dressing and I can’t imagine any salad without it. I also plan on using it in a panzanella (bread) salad I’ll make while I’m there, for which I’ll use this sourdough for the bread.
s’mores cupcakes. I made these a few weeks ago for a Halloween party, and they were a total hit. I’m going to make them again at Thanksgiving, for the kids (in hopes that they will eat them instead of all the pie).

Hope everyone has a fantastic holiday!

Thanksgiving Table

 

Dutch Babies

Dutch Baby 5

The first time I ever had a Dutch Baby pancake was in Buffalo, NY (where I grew up) at a restaurant called The Original Pancake House. My sister had told me about the pancakes—how each one was made to order (and required a 20-30 minute wait), and how they brought it out to your table piping hot, then prepared it for you by squeezing half a lemon and a flurry of confectioners’ sugar over top (which instantly makes the most delicious glaze-like syrup) followed by a bowlful of freshly sliced strawberries.

YUP. SOLD. Every time I’ve gone there since, it’s all I will order. Can you blame me?

With Buffalo being 8 hours away, however, I’ve been forced to learn how to make them at home. And that I have done. This recipe is my holy grail. I pull it out on weekends and have made it for guests as well, much to everyone’s delight. I actually think they’re easier to make then regular pancakes, as the 20 minute baking time = free time for you to do whatever else you need to do (slice fruit, make coffee/tea, cook sausage or bacon, chill, etc.). And the bonus is that they are super impressive when you pull them out the oven! Light and crisp on the edges and perfectly soft and pancake-y in the middle, they are everything brunch should be.

Dutch Baby 4

Dutch Baby 6

Dutch Babies

I always use cast iron pans for my dutch babies, as I really love how the batter rises in them, but glass pie plates work great too. For the flour, you can swap half of the all-purpose flour with spelt or whole wheat pastry flour (any more and it won’t rise as well). I’ve also successfully subbed in 1/4 cup dark buckwheat flour. / Note that there is no baking soda, baking powder or other leavener in this recipe–it’s not required! The heat of the oven forces the rise (magic, I tell ya).

For 2-3 people (enough for two cast iron pans):
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter, divided, for pans

For 4-5 people (enough for two cast iron pans)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cup milk, room temperature
8 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons butter, divided, for pans

For serving: 
Lemon wedges
Confectioners’ sugar
Strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries

Maple syrup

Depending on what size batch you are making, put two or four cast-iron pans or pie plates in the oven, on the middle rack. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

While the oven is preheating, combine the flour, sugar, and kosher salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract, then whisk into the flour mixture (unlike regular pancake batter, you don’t want lumps). You can also just dump all of these ingredients into a blender and blend for one minute if that’s easier (it is for me).

Once the oven is preheated and the pans are hot, place 1 tablespoon of butter into each pan and close door for a minute, to allow butter to melt. Once melted and bubbly, gently swirl butter around each pan, using pot holders of course, and then quickly pour batter into the center of each skillet. Close the door and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the batter has risen up the edges and it looks puffed and browned. Try not to open the door while they are cooking, as it may cause them to fall or not rise properly.

Remove from oven and immediately squeeze lemon wedges over pancakes then sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar (to make a lemony glaze). You can add a pat of butter too. Dump fresh berries on top and serve with maple syrup.

Note: If you have leftover batter, it keeps great if kept in a jar in the fridge. Just use it up within a couple of days.

Dutch Baby 3

Leftover-batter, weekday version: just as good! With ricotta, a schmear of strawberry jam, and berries.

Garlicky White Beans in Olive Oil

White Beans 2

Between work and weekends away, September was full. I started the month by participating in two back-to-back swim races—the first a 2-mile swim in the Merrimack River, and the second a 1.4-mile ocean swim in Cape Cod. I should probably preface this all by first telling you this: swimming in races, or competitively at all, is very new to me. I’ve never been on a swim team, or done a triathlon, or anything like that. I swam a lot as a kid, but that’s about it.

My close friend, Jen, however, is an accomplished swimmer and equally great cheerleader. After a few lessons with her last year (in which I actually learned to breathe properly while doing laps—eureka!), I felt good enough to try the 1-mile version of the Merrimack swim. I survived, and vowed to do it again this year, only this time aiming to complete the 2-mile stretch instead of the one. I also decided to finally join her for the ocean race, which I wussed out of last year because 1) shark sightings, 2) choppy waves, and 3) fear of swimming the wrong way into the great abyss.

Swim Race

Alas, both were great events. Exhausting and humbling too (the 60-70 year old bracket is NO JOKE). My favorite by far was the ocean swim. Over 400 swimmers, amazing views, great crowd, and a chance to swim in the open ocean—it was a really cool 53 minute moment.

After the swims followed a work trip to Pennsylvania (during which I also visited my sister and her family, woohoo), and then my birthday. And here we are. October. One of my very favorite months. For eating and for just being. And also for wearing scarves.

Continuing on this fall theme, I’ve wanted to post this recipe for white beans for a while now. I have been making them for years and it’s another staple in our house, especially in these cooler, heartier months. We eat beans and lentils a lot, a fact which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. They’re such a great protein source and I find them especially perfect for incorporating into packed lunches.

This particular recipe is dead easy too—cook your white beans (or use canned), then simmer them in olive oil, garlic, and maybe a few spices until they’re silky smooth and flavorful. The recipe is very similar to the garlic confit I talked about here (tip #7), but probably even more versatile. You can eat the warm beans and oil with bread, toss with pasta, mix into salad (the oil is an instant dressing), spoon over cooked chicken and rice, or purée into hummus. And because oil is a natural food preserver, you can keep a jar in your fridge indefinitely, pulling it out whenever inspiration, or time, is running low.

Garlicky White Beans in Olive Oil
You can always use canned white beans in place of cooking your own—I just prefer doing it myself as it’s cheaper and I prefer the taste. If you end up cooking too many beans, just toss the extra in a freezer bag and lay flat to freeze (as I mention here—see tip #4), then crack off a chunk whenever you need them.

1 cup dried white beans (navy, cannellini, “small white,” or whatever you like), soaked overnight in water
Olive oil (I prefer “light” not extra-virgin for this, because you’re heating it)
Kosher salt
6 to 7 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
Spices: red pepper flakes, dried basil, oregano, etc.

[If you’re using canned beans, skip directly to the next paragraph.] Drain and rinse the soaked beans and transfer to a cooking pot. Cover with at least one inch of water and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender—this usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes but will depend on the size of the bean and how long you’ve soaked them for. You want them cooked all the way through and somewhat tender, but not falling apart.

Drain the beans well and return to the pot. Cover with enough olive oil to cover by about 1-inch. Yes, it’s a lot of oil, but it can be used/re-used in tons of ways! Even if you end up eating all the beans out of it later, the garlic-infused oil that remains is great as a salad dressing, as a bread dip, or drizzled over pasta.

Heat the beans and oil on low until you start to hear the oil sizzling a bit, but not popping like crazy, which would be dangerous. Add the salt (a generous amount—I probably use a teaspoon of kosher salt at least), garlic, and any spices you like. I use the three spices listed above—a big pinch of each. You’ll have to taste as you go along for seasonings, but just add whatever looks good to you. You could also add garlic powder, fresh herbs, or even a few tablespoons of pesto.

Cook on low for 20 minutes or so, until the seasonings are fragrant and the beans are really tender—it’s okay if they start falling apart. Just be careful not to let the garlic brown (instead of leaving them whole, you can also finely grate/microplane the cloves, which allows them to just melt into the oil—both are excellent).

Once the beans are silky smooth, remove from heat, cover, and let sit until warm but not hot. Serve however you like (see suggestions above), or transfer to a large glass jar and refrigerate—it will last indefinitely so long as the oil is covering the beans completely. I’d argue it even gets better with age.

White Beans 3