There is food I dream about.  And the classic French cassoulet is the top of my list.  This dense, rich, earthy casserole of beans, sausages and meats gently simmering – filling my kitchen with its mouth-watering aroma is indeed the stuff that dreams are made of.

Since we now raise our own pork I was even more determined this dish should be perfection itself.  I now have lean fresh pork fat,  fresh pork rinds and spare ribs.  All organic, all from milk fed pork.  What I did not have was Tarbais beans.   It is the these fat, white, meltingly smooth French beans that are the essential ingredients for authentic cassoulet.    The skin of the Tarbais beans is unusually thin and delicate.  The bean is low in starch and of remarkable tenderness.

I poured over my seed catalog and found the Heirloom Tarbais seeds.  We were a little late planting our garden this year but seven days ago we lovingly and tenderly patted the soil over the beans.  Almost like Jack’s magic beans they popped out of the ground four days later.  This summer promises to be incredibly hot.  Perfect weather for beans.   They will grow through the summer climbing up to six feet on supports and finally in the  fall we will pick, shell and store away our Tarbais beans.

Come the rainy, gray winter months Tarbais beans will find their way into a slow cooked cassoulet of incredible richness and flavour.  Over two days the ingredients will be off the stove and in and out of the oven several times.  Then when the breadcrumbs on the top of the cassoulet become a mahogany brown I will give it a  quick stir and return it to the oven one last time.   It will be the perfect dish to serve for Friday night supper with friends and family.  There will be lots of crusty home-made bread to sop up the juices.  I’ll provide extra large napkins to tuck under chins and we’ll  sit around the kitchen table and nibble and talk into the night.

(recipe to follow sometime in the winter months to come)




  1. Those six-foot bean stalks do sound rather magical. It reminds me of okra stalks. Is there nothing you cannot do, Virginia? It is wonderful to know you are keeping up with your garden. I will look forward to seeing your harvest as I have never seen these French beans. A happy summer to you!

    • Dear Jo Nell, I must admit that these days I just point and Lar does the planting, and the weeding, and the watering. He is very attached to the garden. He says he just loves watching the plants grow and everything else is a bonus. But having the garden to walk out to and pick some zucchini or lettuce or green onions for dinner is such a pleasure. It is very restorative. And a happy summer to you. Keep well. XX V.

    • It would appear that this discussion of cassoulet should start … take one package of beans and plant them! But really it really is the love of planting and watching your garden grown. It is a bonus that evolves the lovely thoughts of food.

  2. So I have written a response prior to this and WordPress would not post it. So I shall try once more. You know how I love, love, love cassoulet! I am so delighted that yours will be made from your On my way! harvest of beans and piggy!!! Oh your photo of that cassoulet with those scrumptious morsels of pork belly made me shiver with anticipation. See you soon!

    • Monsieur Tin Man I also shiver with anticipation but it is because in a couple of weeks the four of us will be sharing stories, a little wine and cooking together. Our own fine pork will definitely be own the menu. See you soon dear Tinny. XX OO V.

    • Planting Tarbais beans was like planting Jack’s Magic beans. Before we could get their chicken wire frame to climb the beans were wandering all over the garden. I think they are very social and simply enjoyed visiting the patty pan squash. They are no wandering up their very own climbing wall and behaving themselves. XXX OOO Virginia

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