It’s been a long time since I updated this blog! On the heels of nearly a year living and cooking in Mexico, I returned to WI and frantically began the search for my independence. Somewhere in there, fueled by the need for money and something different, I stopped writing; stopped cooking. Late nights were spent waitressing at a old fashioned-soaked Wisconsin supper club and days interviewing for jobs peppered along the employment spectrum, and somehow I lost sight of my creative outlet. And soon I found my footing with a job and moved from my mom’s landing pad to a lime green room in a vegan-only house in a hippie enclave on the eastside of town. I started taking graphic design classes 4 nights a week too, so I replaced one outlet for another. It was good. But man do I miss this!
Now that I’m not taking classes at night any more, and now that things have balanced out, and life has taken a breather for a minute, I have time again to fan the fires of my gastronomic creativity. Really though, all I want to do is start with something simple. And when I feel like I need to simplify things and streamline my life, like right now, I go back to the staple that keeps me ever happy: beans.
Beans are oft degraded and forgotten gems of nutrition and satiety, somehow forsaken and overshadowed by other kitchen behemoths in the blogosphere like zucchini spiral noodles and paleo muffins. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some zucchini, but like hell those “noodles” will ever curb my appetite for linguine. Meanwhile, beans quietly sit back stage waiting for the moment in which we need them, surprise us with their graceful subtleties when prepared correctly, and grace us with an array of nutritious and filling properties. Why we discredit and bastardize them, I’ll never know. But for now all I can do is urge anyone and everyone to take the time to prepare a delicious vat of beans that can carry you through the week.
So let’s talk nutrition for a second. All beans are not created equal, but you will find that beans in general are high in fiber, iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium to name a few, and are, in many cases like that of white and beans, are a full protein. When I was trying to get my iron up a few months back I ate loads of white beans because they are the highest of all the legumes in iron. Pink beans, like the ones in this picture, offer up 71% of the daily value of folate in one cup serving.That’s wonderful. Beans are wonderful! Simple an unassuming, yet packed with so much goodness.
So to kick things off I want share the tried and true “recipe” that I use for my beans. As with most of my cooking, it is merely a general starting point from which you can create your own delight.
The recipe on bags of dry beans always offers a long soak or quick cook method. I always soak my beans for at least 8 hours, but I’ve soaked them for up to 18 before.
16 oz of dry beans
1 Head of garlic
1 Large yellow onion
2-3 Jalapeño peppers
1/4 C Coconut oil (lots of traditional bean recipes call for meat to help build depth of flavor. I like coconut oil that helps thicken beans as well as adding health fat and silkiness to my beans)
Spices (I like turmeric, pepper, cumin, paprika, or none if I want the beans to have more of a neutral flavor)
Epazote (Mexican herb that is known to help reduce gas inducing property of beans)
Red pepper (great for color and flavor)
Mango (the sweet and sour combo can be a delightful, carribean style variation)
Anything else you’ve got on hand!
- Cover beans with a couple of inches of water and cover and soak for 8 or more hours.
- Pour off soaking water and rinse beans. Recover with 3 inches of fresh water.
- Place over high heat on stove.
- Roughly chop jalapeños, onions, and garlic and add to beans ( they will cook down so small-medium chunks are fine).
- Add spices (salt only at the end of cooking!).
- Bring mix to rolling boil, then reduce to simmer.
- Instead of placing a lid directly on the pot, vent the pot by placing a wooden spoon across the edge of one side of the pot and place the lid over the spoon. I learned from a friend in Mexico that it keeps the beans and froth from boiling over.
- Simmer for 2-2.5 hours or until silky
- Add additional water if the beans start to dry (some varieties require more than others)
- Turn off heat
- Add coconut oil and salt to taste. Cool and use however you best love your beans (my favorite uses to come!).
See ya’ll soon- I’m back in action!