Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Can Cook Beans

I was making the Heinz bean recipe yesterday and as I was getting started I remembered how, when I was first married, I hadn't a clue how to cook dried beans.  They're nutricious, economical, diverse and easier than we credit them.  Legumes (leg-yooms); including beans, peas, and lentils, are high in fiber and when served with a grain, potato, or other such carbohydrate, you have a complete protein!  Yes, folks, complete as in beef, chicken or fish.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I am impressed with the humble legume.

You'll want to start by cleaning your beans.  They're produce and, like berries or nuts, you'll find the occassional debris.

Beans are thirsty and soak up a lot of water.  Use a large pot and fill generously with water.  You cannot use too much water, but I will admit that I've burnt my share of bean batches.  Learn from me here, use lots of water!  Go ahead and cook the whole bag while you're at it, beans freeze wonderfully. 
Most varieties are cooked in two boils with a rest period between.  Pictured are navy beans and, like most, need 1 hr. for their first boil.  Set a timer and don't wander too far.  Keep an eye on them to be sure your beans are always covered with water.

Above is what they look like after their first boil.  Now go ahead, cover them and let them rest for an hour.  This makes for a good laundry day.  Also a great time to give your poor houseplants some much-needed attention.  As I've mentioned, you'll need to stay nearby.

After their rest, boil again.  Here is where the different varieties show their individuality.  Some only need half an hour, others I've had to boil for two hours.  Just be sure to keep the water-line above your beans, stir periodically, and taste for doneness.  They're ready when they're tender but not mushy, as in the photo below. 
Now it's time for your delectable recipe!  Happy cooking!

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!