Cruising the Blogs: Katie Workman and Her Beans

Sunday April 21, 2013

A few years ago, a cooking blog that featured recipes from various cookbooks appeared. It was called Cookstr. It was the brainchild of a young woman named Katie Workman. It picked different topics, like fondue or soup or Cinco de Mayo, and then gave a few good recipes from established food writers in that theme. It is a good use of all those cookbooks we tend to have on the shelf but forget to open up. Its like discovering anew in our own backyard.

So the name was familiar. Workman. The name of a small privately owned independent publishing house in New England that specialized in cookbooks, calendars, and mothering books.

It came on my radar with the Silver Palate Cookbook which put Chicken Marbella, which is now probably one of the most famous American dishes highlighting Moroccan flavors in an easy casserole, on every foodie’s dinner table. Oh that style! The wildly colored cover with a patchwork of images. The page layout that is characteristic of Workman with the off-center narrow side column chock full of info and drawings. The print is easy to read, and the style casual and chatty. The recipes scream DOABLE. Cookbook readers just loved it all and bought hundreds of thousands of copies.

One of my other favorite Workman titles is The Olive and The Caper, Adventures in Greek Cooking, by Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise, both stellar food writers who intertwine food with antropology and history. This book has MAPS and photographs, updating the Workman style. Katie Workman is acknowledged too. Susanna and Victoria have written a bakers dozen excellent books and yet while they stay well known in the pro food world, they are all but unknown in the bigger food media. Too bad. These are talented writers and Workman recognized that. The book took years to write.

Later creating Artisan, he published The French Laundry Cookbook, featuring a stellar restaurant chef. Other Workman companies include Storey Publishing, based in North Adams, MA (where my grandfather was born), which was acquired in 2001 and has been publishing books for the “backyard homesteader” before that was a phrase or trend; Timber Press, a leader in the gardening field; and HighBridge Audio, the Minneapolis audiobook publisher of bestselling fiction and nonfiction titles. Workman also handles distribution for Black Dog & Leventhal, Greenwich Workshop Press, and The Experiment. Talk about a publishing visionary. It just goes on and on. Peter Workman.

So when Katie Workman published her book called The Mom 100 Cooks, no one was surprised since she had publishing and writing in her DNA. She now blogs, has a Facebook page, and a website So Katie is now taking her place in the professional food writer genre with her own distinct voice.

The following blog by Katie Workman is from 2010 that I found and loved. NYM loves that the humble dried bean has become vogue in the kitchen and we make them every chance we get. The fact that there are more beans than ever to choose, makes it all the more exciting. The slow cooker is a really excellent way to cook beans. The NYMSC book got its first inspiration because Julia Child made beans in her own slow cooker overnight! It was like having the slow cooker endeavor being blessed by the Pope.

I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of our NYM team at Harvard Common Press to extend sincere condolences and heartfelt wishes to the family of Peter Workman, who passed away the first week of April. Since Workman is family owned, we look forward to more titles in the future to tease our palate and tweak our intellectual curiosity about food, driving us passionately to the kitchen to cook.

Beans and a Slow Cooker, Sitting in a Tree

January 14, 2010

tags: beans, Beth Hensperger, crock pot, crostini, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, Recipes, slow cooker

by Katie Workman, Editor-in-Chief

So, this year I got a slow cooker, and I am very excited to see what all the hoopla is about. Essentially what a slow cooker does is braise things, very slowly, using moist heat. Because the pot stays closed and there is liquid inside, the temperature stays low (but safely low), and that means you get to toss everything in in the morning, and forget about it all day. The idea of a hot meal waiting to be be spooned out is a gift at the end of some days (and we all have some days).

Beans Getting Herbed Up

What’s a slow cooker good for? Anything that benefits from long slow cooking does extremely well: stews, roasts, tough pieces of meat. But these days smart cookbook authors, and home cooks, are developing recipes for all kinds of surprising things that can be made in the slow cooker, like blondies, lasagna, and duck confit (which, when you think about it, isn’t that surprising, but it sure is cool).

But while the slow cooker is coming into its own in all sorts of way, one of the all-time greatest uses for this appliance is cooking beans. The humble, lowly, and amazingly versatile bean. The incredible, edible bean (I know, that’s not how it really goes).

Beth Hensperger is an author who knows her way around a slow cooker (amongst many other topics).  She has written 18 cookbooks, including the Not Your Mother’s ____ series, and several of those books focused on the slow cooker. So, when I needed some advice on cooking beans in my new slow cooker, I was awfully glad to find her chart. This is from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, and I’m keeping it close at hand.

White Bean Crostini with Fresh Herbs

I just made a white bean crostini, with simply cooked cannelini beans, olive oil, some minced shallot, fresh mint and parsley, and truffle salt (what???), and those beans from the slow cooker were what beans oughta be.

For me, one of the keys to embracing a new appliance is to leave it on my counter, since I am definitely an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of person.  But this year I really want to see what the fans are raving about.  What are you favorite things to cook in your slow cooker?

Slow Cooker Beans Cooking Times Chart, from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook:

The cooking times suggested below are based on 1 to 2 cups of beans or legumes with at least 3 inches of water to cover. Beans can also be cooked in broth or vegetable stock, which tastes especially nice if the beans will be eaten as a side dish. The beans should always be completely covered with liquid throughout the entire cooking time. They are done when tender and most of the cooking liquid has been absorbed, although if you are making a dish to eat with a spoon, like Tuscan beans, they can remain soupy. Always check towards the end of the cooking time and add more boiling water if the beans look too dry. If they are to be used in another dish, such as chili, soup, or vegetable stew, cook them until al dente rather than totally soft.

The following chart tells approximately how long to cook various kinds of dried beans on HIGH in the slow cooker. Each cup of dried bean will swell to about 3 cups when cooked. These times are meant to be used as guidelines because variables such as hard or soft water, the mineral composition of the soil where the beans were grown, and the age of the beans can affect cooking times. Hard water will lengthen the cooking time. Remember that beans and legumes always take slightly longer to cook at higher altitudes. All beans, except split peas and the various kinds of lentils, should be presoaked (for about 8 hours or overnight), which rehydrates them, making for more even cooking, and leaches off some of the compounds that make beans hard to digest (note that you should pour of the foamy water at the end).

Presoaked Dried Bean Cooking Time on HIGH

Anasazi 3 hours
Black beans (turtle beans) 3 hours

Cannellini beans 3 hours

  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 3½ to 4 hours
  • Fava beans 2½ hoursFlageolets 3½ to 4 hours

    Great Northern beans 2½ hours

    Kidney beans 3 hours

    Lentils, brown 1½ hours (firm-tender) for salads, 2 hours (completely tender) for soup

    Lentils, green (du Puy) 2 hours

    Lentils, red 1½ hours

    Lima beans 2½ hours for baby or small 2 hours for large

    Navy beans 2½ to 3 hours

    Pink beans (pinquito), small 3½ hours

    Pinto beans 3 hours

    Red beans, small 2½ hours

    Soybeans 4 hours

    Split peas, green or yellow 2½ hours

    White beans, small 3 hours

  • Black-eyed peas 3½ hours

Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2013

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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