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dried beans

Bean Cooking Tip of the Day: Clean ‘em before you soak ‘em

One of the ‘complaints’ (disadvantages? annoyances?) about cooking with dried beans is that you have to wash and soak them before you cook them. And you need to cook them ‘low and slow’ for a very long time.

Well, here’s another one, but no one should allow this particular step to stand in their way of making beans from scratch: You really need to go through them and get out all the pebbles and rocks. I cleaned up a batch of beans to start this morning and this is what I got: A bunch of rocks that were bean-sized (makes sense – the screens that the bean processors use would hold back anything larger than a bean, so anything bean-sized or smaller would go through) and a bunch of teeny pebbles.

Any of which, should someone (and with your Aunt Toby’s luck on this, c’est moi) bite into a forkful of beans with one of these items in it, could probably cause a chipped or broken tooth and a very expensive trip to the dentist. I don’t know how much that sort of a trip costs where you live but considering the cost locally, I’ll take the 5 minutes to clean. And making beans from scratch is so much better than using canned (if nothing else, you’ll avoid all the sodium, which no one needs) that it’s worth it.

How to clean dried beans and peas:
You will need the following: A light colored dinner plate, a large bowl, a colander and beans.

Step One: Put a handful of beans on the plate and move them around. Anything that is not the same color, shape or size as the other beans goes out. Those things will be either ‘sick beans’ (which you wouldn’t want anyway), rocks or dirt. When you’ve cleaned those beans, slide them into the bowl and go on with more beans until you have cleaned them all.

Step Two: Put the colander in the sink. Put enough water (at this point, temperature of the water does not matter) in the bowl with the beans to cover and using your hands, swish them around to wash. Pour the whole mess into the colander and run tap water through that. Pour the beans back into the bowl and repeat this process two more times. Your beans are now CLEAN. Now you can cover them with hot water and soak them so that you can cook them.

There you go; you’ve just avoided a trip to the dentist. You can thank me later.

Where Aunt Toby tells you to give up canned goods for the holidays

In the Northern Hemisphere, right now is the coldest, darkest, most depressing time of the year, which is why we have people doing everything from lighting bonfires, stringing electric lights, and entertaining anyone who wanders by with food and drink. All in the service of bringing back the sun (or the spring, or whatever belief system you ascribe to). And since most of us do not have time to do much of anything at this time of the year, what with all the bonfire lighting and light stringing and carol singing (who WAS Carol, by the way? Why aren’t these songs called “Barbara” or “Ermentrude” or some other woman’s name?), any ideas which will help in the time saving area are worthy indeed. Here is one.

Slow cooker. (more…)

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