Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beans, Beans and then there are Beans

One food I can't get enough of is home cooked beans.  I can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still want more.  There is almost nothing I enjoy more than a bowl of beans.  Aside from being really healthy for you (they are high in fiber and protein, have been known to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks) they are also low in calories and fat (unless you throw in that ham hock or bacon).    Whether or not you have access to fresh beans vs. bagged beans, they are really good for you and worth exploring in a variety of recipes.

Coming from a family of bean farmers in the beautiful southwest, I must inform readers that there IS a difference between "REAL beans" and the bagged version people typically purchase from the store.  I am never in need of real food as long as Mom continues sending me beans from our relatives in Dove Creek, Colorado--which by the way is known as The Pinto Bean Capitol of the World (no kidding).  I can't get used to old seconds that are bagged and sold in stores after years and years of enjoying new beans.  My Alaskan friends....liken this to reds vs. pinks.....there IS a difference.  If you have an opportunity to order new beans, I highly recommend it, however, fresh or bagged---they are not only delicious, but also good for you!

When my Grandma Sadie passed away, I inherited her cookbooks.  I love this one, given to her by my cousin Judy when she was a teenager in Cortez, Colorado.   For grins and giggles, here is a recipe to try from this book.  It won the Blue Ribbon in 1959.

Mock Pecan Pie
Mrs. Virgil Bane, Cortez, Colorado

1 cup mashed pinto beans
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
pinch of salt
unbaked pie crust
    Preheat oven to 425.  Beat sugar, salt and eggs together.  Add beans.  Mix well.  Let ingredients stand for 1/2 hour.  Pour into pie shell, bake until crust begins to brown.  Reduce heat to 375 and bake 30 minutes more until center of pie is set.  Serve warm topped with ice cream or whipped cream.

Loving Hints from Me:
A few of my friends did not understand the need to "clean" the beans before cooking---even with the packaged beans you get in the store they are covered with dirt, dirt clods and small rocks. 
Dump out all beans on the table and pick through them.  Discard anything that looks "suspicious".

Wash beans really good and then cook them.

Many people think you must soak beans overnight but I've never found this necessary and don't think it makes a difference one way or another.

If you are boiling them on the stove, check often and add water as needed.  I don't know how many pots of beans I burned as a child before I finally learned this lesson.

Cousin Judy say's:  "Put them in the Crockpot overnight, they are good by noon and even better by dinner."

Throw in a smoked ham-hock to boil or pressure cook with your beans, just remember to take out the fatty part and the bones.

P.S. Beans need only to be pressure cooked for 1 hour--another quick meal idea.

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