The Magical Fruit Shouldn’t Be Mysterious
A New York Times article has been circulating in The Compact Yahoo group, creating quite the discussion yesterday. The article introduces the New Poor, “people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.”
If you’re in for some good doom-and-gloom, the article is worth a read. It goes on to profile a woman who has been without a job for two years. She was turned down for food assistance because she makes only $25 more than the income guideline. Now, turning to resources like the local food bank, she is faced with the challenge of cooking with dried pinto beans.
Maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on the pinto bean thing, but it really stuck out to me. Are pinto beans really so bad that they need to illustrate a bad economy? She says that she has 10 bags of beans at home because she doesn’t know how to cook them. Here’s some Roger knowledge for you: Beggars can’t be choosers! If you are asking for a handout, you need to take what you can get. And if this woman is searching for jobs online, she can certainly look up how to cook some pintos! That is, if the directions right on the bag aren’t enough.
My favorite online resource for dried-bean recipes is The Hillbilly Housewife. Some of my favorite recipes from here include:
- Lentil Chili with cornbread, as featured in a previous post,
- My Best Pinto Beans, whose leftovers work well for Homemade Refried Beans, and
- Black Bean Soup from Dried Beans which is delicious! I added some salsa for extra kick.
I started making my split-pea soup in a slow cooker after reading a recipe on this site. And we all know how much I love split-pea soup!
If you don’t know how to cook dried beans, like I didn’t a few years ago, it is very simple. Beans like pintos, black beans, navy beans, and black-eyed-peas need to be soaked for about eight hours. Sort through your beans for rocks and stuff, then put them in a big pot, cover with water, and let sit overnight. If you thought beans were cheap in the first place, watch them nearly double in size after a few hours.
In the morning, drain and cover with new water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes, depending.
This is just a crash course for straight-up, plain beans. If you are making them with a recipe it will give more details about preparation and cook times.
Definitely give beans a try. They are a great source of protein if you are cutting back on your meat consumption; a good choice for both your grocery budget and the environment.
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