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Ceci Beans in Garlic Oil

April 29, 2010

Ceci Beans in All Clad Pot
Freshly soaked ceci beans waiting to be cooked.

Ceci Beans in Garlic Oil.  Cecis are garbanzos. However, I am Southern and stubborn and therefore, refuse to call them by their common names. There are no chickpeas in this house.                             

  • 1-1/2 cups dried ceci beans
  • 2-3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups olive oil, heated slightly

Place beans in a large, tall container and cover with 8 cups of cold water. Allow them to soak for at least 4 hours. Drain. Place in a heavy pot and cover with enough fresh water to top the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium. Allow to cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours checking periodically to skim off any foam that forms on the water’s surface.                      

Drain beans thoroughly and place in a quart jar. Toss in the garlic and cover everything with the olive oil. Cap tightly and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before eating.                    

IMPORTANT NOTE: Fresh garlic left in olive oil for too long is dangerous. Garlic is a low-acid vegetable and without proper processing, garlic-in-oil preparations offer perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin. So be sure to keep the prepared beans in the refrigerator, take out only what you will eat at one time, and consume the entire recipe within 3 days.                 

Note: I make this dish without salt; however, you may add it either to the cooking water or to the finished jar. If you really like salt, add it to both.


Happy Birthday Vanilla Extract

April 27, 2010
Vanilla Extract Cropped

So dark, even direct sunlight can't find its way through.


Vanilla Extract. I made this extract on my birthday a few years ago and after a few weeks of shaking it periodically, I put it at the back of my cupboard and didn’t remember it again until my next birthday. Discovering it back there was such a wonderful surprise that I call it my Happy Birthday Vanilla Extract. A year of brewing at the back of the cabinet had created a rich, dark, sublime flavoring that is so precious to me, I parcel it out as one would a century-old balsamic vinegar or a French truffle. Bit by bit.  

The process is unbelievably simple:  

  • 8-10 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans
  • 2 cups vodka

Fold each vanilla bean in half and place folded end down in a clean glass pint jar. Fill the jar with vodka (making sure the beans are completely covered) and cap tightly. Shake vigorously. Place the jar in a safe place for at least a month before opening.  

As long as you continue to top off the jar and add more beans as necessary, your extract will continue rebuilding itself for years.  

Note: For my extract, I sliced 2 of the beans down the middle before I added them to the jar. Doing this means that I have vanilla seeds in everything I prepare with the extract, and I like that.