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Bean Basics

Bean Basics

Sure, canned beans are convenient, but there is something incredibly satisfying about soaking and cooking your own dried beans. First, there's the beautiful simplicity of it: A large bowl and a little planning are all you need to make a pot of beans—just cover the beans with water and let stand overnight. Then there's the financial factor: Dried beans are a fraction of the cost of canned, with 1/2 cup of dried beans yielding as much as a 15-oz. can (1 1/2 cups, drained). The homemade method also lets you infuse the beans with seasonings as they cook, avoiding the excess sodium found in canned beans while creating dishes that are full of flavor.

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May I also recommend pressure cooking? It's cuts out the soaking and yields beautiful beans in under an hour, without having to plan from the night before. I grew up eating pressure cooked beans almost every day, and it's something I['m so thankful to have learned.

In a slow cooker, put 1 cup dry pinto beans per 2 cups water; add one sliced yellow onion, garlic if you like it,chopped jalapeno peppers, coarse black pepper,and chili powder and let it go on HIGH for 6 or 8 hours. Don't add salt while cooking-makes the beans tough. In about the last hour or so, i like to add oregano, rosemary, cumin, etc.-whatever you like the taste of. When you can blow on the beans and the skin splits, they are done. Let them go till they are the way you like them; I like mine soft. This makes two good-sized bowls of beans for me. You can do however much you like. Just be sure you have plenty of liquid-- any kind of stock works fine. A couple of pieces of corn-bread full of chopped green onion/chopped jalapenos goes good here, too Can you tell a Texas girl when you hear one? :-)

California Dry Bean Board recommends: Cover the beans with water, bring to a boil, let boil 2 - 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let soak 4 - 8 hours. Pour off the soak water. This is called the Hot Soak method. After soaking, I freeze some -- having soaked more than I need for the recipe -- then I have some ready to go into the pot another day.