Cooking in Clay

Cooking in Clay

pb050027 Cooking in clay is one of those things that you read about in cookbooks and wonder what the fuss is all about — or at least I did, until my mother gave me this funny little pot one year for Christmas. I have no idea where she found it, it was an odd gift, even for her. For the first few years I had it, I assumed you could only use it in the oven. It wasn’t until I was at a party during one of the Squaw Valley Writers workshops and saw Barbara Hall using hers on her stove that I realized you could do that. She told me she’s had hers for decades, and they only get better the more you cook with them.

I have to say, she was right. I’ve come to love this pot, and it’s sibling, the larger bean pot I found at a garage sale. For beans, there’s nothing better, it imparts this subtle, wonderful clay-y aroma to the beans. I know, doesn’t sound appealing, but believe me, it’s terrific.

This weekend I cooked up a batch of black beans. I like having a quart of beans in the fridge — they’re so handy. A few tablespoons in a tortilla with some leftover rice for lunch, or heated up in a pot then pureed for a quick soup, or again, a spoonful or two added to scrambled eggs for an easy easy dinner. And on a weekend, a pot of beans simmering away on the back of the stove in my old clay pot, makes the house smell like home.

7 thoughts on “Cooking in Clay

  1. What a beautiful pot! You know, now that I look more closely, does it have a handle? Sort of hollow? Because I think my mom had one. She just used it for serving. What sort of finish does the bottom have? Gosh, I wonder where that pot went.

    Love the idea of having bean handy. I’ve got a tortilla press now and intend to use it lots this summer since we don’t have a/c. Having beans on hand would sure make eating simpler. Thanks for the great idea!

  2. It does have sort of a hollow handle — the bottom is unglazed clay, the inside is lightly glazed. I guess the unglazed bottom is why I thought I couldn’t use it on the fire for so long — Barbara’s were nearly black she’d used them for so many years, and she claimed they get stronger the more you use them. I’ve been using this one for — 15 years now? (How did that happen?)
    And cooking beans in advance is great — basically it’s making your own canned beans. You have to use them reasonably quickly because they’ll go off, but they’re nice to have on hand.

  3. Oh, how I envy you your ability to eat beans! They once were one of my favorite foods and then in my mid-20’s I began getting horribly sick whenever I ate any kind of legume at all (except green beans, thank goodness I still have those!) They’re a wonderful convenience food, enjoy!

  4. PS – I forgot to say that’s a beautiful pot! Something about having a 4-year-old hollering at you from another room affects the ability to express complete thoughts….

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