I love beans. I could eat them every day. The only reason I don't is because Hubs thinks he has to have meat and potatoes. Meat can be cooked in the beans or served on the side, and so can potatoes, actually. I don't like meat fats or potatoes in my beans. At all. But fried potatoes, ham or smoked sausage and corn muffins are often served as a side dish to beans at our house. Still, this is not what Hubs means when he says, "Meat and Potatoes".
When I was growing up, we had beans for supper every Friday. Sometimes it was pinto, sometimes butter beans, sometimes big or baby limas. Except for the navy beans that are what canned Pork'n'Beans are, I never knew there was another kind of dry bean till I was grown and found out that most people did not make chili with Pork'n'Beans, I learned that Hubs thought the only kind of bean there was, was Great Northern, and then one Christmas one of the bosses' wives sent her husband to work with jars of "Hillbilly Bean Mix" for all the "support staff", and there were all kinds of funny looking beans in the mix. Since that time, most grocery stores have started stocking a bag of mixed beans with a seasoning packet in it, I guess the name wasn't copyrighted because it's sometimes labeled as such. What's in the seasoning packet? If you make your own, it can be whatever you like. I think the standard is a broken bay leaf, some peppercorns, a garlic clove, wrapped up in a little square of cheesecloth. But you can add whatever you like. I don't particularly like to mess with fishing a bouquet garni out of the beanpot, so I tend to use things that will cook up into the beans, like onions, chopped sweet peppers, crushed garlic, and dried spices and herbs like oregano, a little chili powder and some hot peppers, maybe. I might put in a whole bay leaf and just tell people to watch out for it in their bowl. It's like the little baby trinket baked in the King Cake, something I don't understand, at all, but oh, well. Oh, and you can add cooked and crumbled sausage or bacon or ham, or cook it with a ham bone.
I have even canned beans but they end up kind of gummy and not worth the effort, since if I want beans fast I will just cook them in my 6-qt capacity pressure cooker, it cooks at 10 pounds and an hour is plenty. These were from my canning experiment of several years ago, there was one cup of dry beans soaking in each jar in this picture. After they had soaked overnight I drained off the soaking water and filled up the jar to within an inch of the top with boiling water before putting in my big pressure canner. It was 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.
Mom's beans were sometimes cooked with ham, or at least a ham bone, but there were many times when they were just cooked in water with a lot of onion. Mom loved her onions and I guess that's why I feel like no main dish is complete without onions. Many side-dishes, too. Mom even enjoyed onion tea and said it was very good for you even when nothing was wrong with you but especially when you had a cold. Mom loved to read and maybe she found that out by reading it somewhere. She learned a lot of things like that from Dad's German grandmother, but I think if she had learned about onions from her, she would've "doctored up" us kids when we were sick and I don't remember onion tea from my childhood, at all. Onions are good for us in a lot of ways and they are delicious in a lot of ways besides. One of God's gifts, if you ask me. HERE is more medicinal information about onions.
I try to make beans at least once a week, too. Hubs gets kinda "squeaky" on the day after so I try to make it a day when we're not planning to go anywhere, especially if it's going to involve a little time with us being closed up together in the truck. And of course I don't want to serve them the day before his workout days. And yes, you people that also go to the workout center, you're welcome.
In the summer, I like to cook black turtle beans, drain them, and combine into a salad with chopped fresh tomato, sweet onion and bell peppers and canned corn, with enough Italian salad dressing (or my own oil and vinegar dressing) to blend all the flavors. Sometimes I will add some short lengths of green bean, as well. This is served cold but I usually stand in front of the refrigerator and eat it out of the jar with a spoon. Just so ya know. Hubs generally won't touch it, and so if avocados have gone on sale I might even chop up one of those and mix it in. The acid in the salad dressing keeps it from discoloring, and it kind of becomes one with the dressing and makes it pretty yummy. But you do have to eat it up quicker than when you don't have avocado in it. And the broth that is drained off the beans? Well, it's hard to use up the bean broth when the beans are black. Ordinarily if you have extra, unseasoned bean broth, you can add it to a bread recipe instead of about half the water called for and it punches up the nutrition of it. But black bean broth makes blue bread. If you feed a "suspicious eater", then you'll end up eating all that batch of bread by yourself. Trust me. So sometimes I just cook the black bean broth with some onion and a little salt and I will drink it hot, out of a cup, when I need a little mid-morning snack. It freezes well, too.
I'm used to consuming a lot of "roughage", as Mom used to call it, and I might have a little "boost" first thing the next morning but normally that's the extent of it. Back when everybody was making cabbage soup to help them tolerate being on a diet, I saw a lot of people complaining that it had an unwelcome effect on their colon and if that happens, that's a sign your colon is not healthy and you need to eat a more healthy diet. Just not all of a sudden, like consuming a whole pot of cabbage soup in one day.
I know this is the time of year when a lot of people are dieting, and if you want a recipe for cabbage soup you can find it most anywhere on The Internet. I don't follow a recipe, I just dump in things I have. Start with a small head of cabbage, roughly chopped. Add a chopped onion, a one-pound bag of carrots, peeled and chopped, a quart of canned tomatoes and a quart of canned green beans. No meat, no meat broth, nothing starchy like corn or peas, potatoes or macaroni or rice or barley. From there you can add summer squash, if you have it, celery, spinach or other greens if you like them, a chopped turnip or kohlrabi if you like it. You can just go wild as long as you remember to use vegetables that have low calorie counts. Water to cover all. Or more, if you want. The only seasoning I add is salt and pepper. You could add herbs if you want to. Or a cube or two of beef bouillon if you want, but it's mostly salt so reduce the salt accordingly. This is nice to have in the refrigerator for those times when you want something but you can't afford to consume very many calories. Just heat up a nice big mug of this. It's satisfying and filling.
I have noticed that there are a lot of bloggers posting about doing "A Week Of Beans". Usually this involves just cooking up one big pot of, say, Pinto beans, and using it in different ways each day. The first day, beans with fried potatoes and cornbread. The second day, bean salad. The third day, bean burritos. The fourth day, chili with beans. And yes, I do use pinto beans in chili. The fifth day, refried beans with rice and tamales. I forget what the last two days were. I have not tried this and if I did Hubs would probably be pretty hacked off at me.
Hubs grew up with less variety in his diet than I did. When we married, he had never eaten broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus or artichokes. He thought he hated cooked cabbage because his mother always cooked it till it literally stunk up the whole kitchen. Don't do that. Just saute' some fresh, chopped cabbage in some butter, like you would onion. He still hates beets, no matter how they're fixed. And greens. He won't even try asparagus. He won't eat sweet pickles, just dills. Oh, I shouldn't have gotten started on this. It can turn into a rant. Easily. So suffice it to say that Hubs' colon is not as healthy as mine is. It's the price he pays.
I started to add the recipe for Calico Beans, which used to be a big favorite at our house when I was feeding hungry boys, and then I did a search and discovered I'd already given the recipe in March of 2014 in a post called "Cheap Eats For Big Eaters". That's HERE . I don't fix it very often any more because it makes so much, and it has so much sugar in it. I would probably cut the sugar in half if I made it today.
There is also a dish I tried last spring, when I had made a big batch of beet greens with baby beets. Oh wowsers, that was delicious. Seasoned with a little real butter, a dash of vinegar. I made "Beans And Greens". I enjoyed it very much. Hubs, of course, would not touch it. You simply make a pot of beans, I used Great Northern, which is a medium-sized white bean. I think the recipe called for Cannellini bean. When the beans are done, saute some beet greens and some sliced baby beets, add some sliced onion if you want, cover and simmer till the beets are done. Season with salt and pepper, some cider vinegar, and a little brown sugar if you want. Spoon some into the center of your bowl of beans. Mmmmmm.
All this talk about beans is making me hungry. I might make a pot of chili today, as it's really cold outside, 12º. And yes, the HVAC guy came Saturday afternoon and got our new coil installed and I gave him a little over $1,000. But we are warm and well.
I hope you are warm and well, too. xoxoxoxo