Kristine Kidd

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Avalanche Threat
Kidney Bean Stew with Pickled Cabbage

This winter has been extreme at our cabin. We’d already gotten 8’ of snow, and more was in the forecast. An avalanche destroyed one house in our mountain community, did great damage to two more, and then stopped across the street from ours. Yikes! We are all grateful that the damaged homes were empty and, thankfully, no one was hurt.

We rushed back to the cabin once our road had been cleared and the avalanche warnings had been lifted. Our roof was heavy with snow, our driveway lined with 8’ walls of snow, but we also found a sparkling, sun drenched winter wonderland. We snowshoed, ate dinners fireside and enjoyed the beauty that only winter brings. That is, until the next storm arrived.

Weather reports rated this one a blizzard, and it trapped our neighborhood for four days. Hwy 395, the main artery for the entire eastern Sierra, was covered with such an abundance of snow, all resources were thrown to cleaning it up before road crews even thought about smaller streets. The route up to our community didn’t get cleared for several days, and our tiny street was still buried under 4’ of snow. By then, Steve and Jen needed to get to important meetings, Emily and Brian were desperate to get to their first responder jobs, and Katharine, Tony and I wanted supplies.

The community worked together to get everyone where they needed to go. Steve and I snowshoed up to the houses closer to the main road, and helped shovel out Tony’s mega truck. Then we all pitched in and rented a bobcat equipped with plow and snow blower from a nearby business. It was able to open one crude lane so Steve, Jen, Emily and Brian could get out for work obligations, and Katharine and I could make a quick trip to town in their monster truck to resupply our cabins (traveling by car was out of the question, even in our all-wheel drive Subaru).

As I snowshoed supplies back down to our cabin in the dark, gentle flakes of snow drifted down, but within an hour snow was falling heavily. Before we knew it, another avalanche warning went out, and this time Katharine and Tony’s house was at risk. The steps to take were crystal clear, Katharine, Tony and their 10 sled dogs would move in with us!

This was a huge amount of work, everyone was preoccupied with worry, logistics needed to be worked out, dogs needed to be crated, walkways needed to be shoveled and then re-shoveled, the driveway needed to be cleared, but we were safe and together.

And then we were starving for something hot, filling and comforting. In the winter, I stock the cabin with canned beans, long keeping veggies, spices, cheese, Kind Bars, nuts, lots and lots of chocolate…  There was absolutely no chance of driving anywhere for ingredients. This recipe for a not so traditional red kidney bean stew was born out of ravenous hunger and items I had on hand.

Kidney Bean Stew with Pickled Cabbage

Kristine Kidd
A robust stew, perfect for a cold day. It's inspired by a recipe in Joe Yonan's fabulous book Cool Beans, a must for anyone interested in adding more legumes to their diet. While I prepared it on the spur of the moment with items in the cabin pantry, I've made Joe's dish so many times, it definitely influenced my cooking that day. I served the stew with corn tortillas I toasted briefly over a gas flame. If you don't have the time or inclination to make the pickled cabbage, simply slice cabbage thinly and sprinkle on top of each serving.
Servings 4 servings


Pickled Red Cabbage

  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ head red cabbage, cut into wedges, then sliced crosswise about 1/2 thick (about 2 cups sliced cabbage)

Kidney Bean Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground. black pepper
  • ½ bunch kale, chopped
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ground ancho chile
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 15.5 oz cans red kidney beans, with liquid
  • cups (or more) water
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro


Pickled Cabbage

  • Combine cider vinegar, ¾ cup water, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the cabbage and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the cabbage and liquid to a class or ceramic bowl. Press the cabbage under the liquid. Let cool while preparing the stew. (This will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)

Kidney Bean Stew

  • Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale and continue cooking until the onion is tender and begins to brown, about 5 minutes longer. Add the coriander, Aleppo pepper and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add both cans of beans with their liquid to the pot. Add 1¼ cups water and the maple syrup. Bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beans and vegetables are tender and flavors blend, pressing some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the stew slightly, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. (This will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Rewarm before serving, thinning with more water if needed.)
  • Divide the stew among bowls. Top each with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle with fish herbs. Using a fork, transfer some pickle cabbage to the top of each and serve.
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