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Welcome to the latest issue of our Seasoned newsletter!

Welcome to the monthly Seasoned Newsletter. The weather is starting to turn chilly, so we’ve got a warming Black Bean Soup in this issue. There’s also Roasted Carrots and Red Onions, an easy side dish that can be transformed into an entrée when served over rice. Our Spicy Roasted Nuts are an excellent snack, but also make a great gift for friends or neighbors. 

Of course we’ve got a kitchen trick and a balance exercise for you, along with a recommendation for what is perhaps the single most essential kitchen tool, a chef’s knife. This issue’s “kitchen how to” shows you how to use that knife to chop and slice most efficiently.

Let’s get started!


Cuban Black Bean Soup

black bean soup beauty

Cuban Black Bean Soup

Rich in flavor and soft in texture, black beans are perfect for soup. Black bean soup takes well to the classic Latin-American flavors of cumin, chili, cilantro, and lime — add more or less of any of these, depending on what you like.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 Cups

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Large heavy-bottomed pot
  • Measuring spoons
  • Colander
  • Measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon or heatproof spatula
  • Pot holders


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 unit large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 unit carrots, scrubbed or peeled, chopped
  • 2 unit celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 unit garlic cloves, peeled and minced or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 cup (three 15-ounce cans) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • 4 tablespoon plain yogurt, for garnish


  • Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot, carefully add the oil. 
  • Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and spices and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Add the beans and broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours, stirring frequently. (If at any point the soup seems too thick and is starting to look like mud, add 1 to 2 cups more broth.)
  • Stir in the lime juice and taste the soup. Does it need anything to boost the flavor? More spices? Another squeeze of lime juice? A grinding of black pepper? A pinch of salt? Add whatever you think it needs. Serve right away, garnished with cilantro and yogurt, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

A Trick, a Tool, an Exercise

Chef’s Knife

This is the go-to tool for more than 90 percent of daily kitchen tasks, including slicing and dicing fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. Although they can be very expensive, one relatively affordable version that we like is the Victorinox Fibrox 7.5-inch Pro (about $27).

Peeling Ginger

With its knobby, uneven surface, ginger can be hard to peel—when we do it with a paring knife, we often end up cutting away a lot of the ginger along with the skin. To avoid this, use a spoon to peel your ginger. Just hold the ginger firmly in one hand and, with the other, scrape the edge of the spoon along the surface to remove the skin.

Narrow Stance Reaches

  1. Stand with your feet together, or as close as you can while still feeling steady.
  2. Stand tall and reach forward as far as you can with both arms.
  3. Progress by reaching out to the sides or varying directions.
  4. Do 20 reaches in each direction.

Spicy Roasted Nuts


Spicy Roasted Nuts

These are crunchy and just a little spicy — a perfect gift for any nut-lover on your list! Package them in small plastic bags, or in small lidded jars. Tie a ribbon around, add a gift tag, and get ready to say, “You’re welcome”! 
Prep Time 8 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 Cups

kitchen gear

  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spoon, for mixing
  • Pot holders


  • 4 cup raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, or a combination
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Turn the oven on and set the heat to 300 degrees.
  • Put all the ingredients on the baking sheet and use the spoon to mix well.
  • Once the oven temperature has reached 300 degrees, carefully put the baking sheet in the oven and roast until the nuts are a shade darker, 10-12 minutes. Set aside to cool before packaging. 


To make the nuts:
  • Sweet: add 1 tablespoon honey, real maple syrup, or sugar. 
  • Curried: add 2 teaspoons curry powder. 
  • Spicier: double the chili powder. 

How to Use a Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife might be the most essential kitchen tool of all, the one you use to chop, slice, and dice everything from apples to zucchini. Having a sharp knife and knowing how to handle it will make cooking much faster—and much more fun.

How to Hold the Knife

Rather than grabbing the knife as if you were shaking hands with it, hold it with your thumb on the side opposite your fingers, right at the base of the blade. This gives you much more control. (Some people like to place the index finger along the top of the blade, but whatever feels right to you is right.)

How to Slice

Whatever you are slicing, from a bell pepper to a skirt steak, the process and the
approach are the same.

  1. Hold your free hand in a kind of “claw grip,” with the fingertips holding whatever it is you are chopping, and the knuckles closer to the knife.
  2. As you continue chopping, move the claw grip hand steadily along the surface
    of the item you’re chopping. This allows you to hold the item you’re chopping
    steady without cutting your finger.

How to Chop

Chopping begins with your hands in the same position as for slicing. The next step is to keep the point of the knife steady on the cutting surface while moving the cutting edge of the knife across whatever you are chopping.

  1. Start by roughly chopping the item, using your free hand in a “claw grip” to hold the item as you chop, just as you did when slicing, and steadily moving this hand as you chop.
  2. Once the item is roughly chopped, hold the point of the knife steady against the cutting surface, then chop up and down with the blade, steadily moving it back and forth across the item as you chop, until it is as finely chopped as you want.
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