Monday, February 4, 2013

Beans from Scratch; Lessons From A Kitchen Expert

More and more I am convinced that learning how to cook the "staples" (beans, grains, legumes, etc) is key to being able to feed families inexpensively, without having to depend on recipes for every meal.

My Mom has been cooking beans for children and families for the last 30-40 years, and has perfected the art. A few years ago I asked her how she did it. She emailed me written directions, including approximate measurements. I would like to share her art with you, here.

How to Cook Beans From Scratch: years of experience, right here:

Hi Ashlee! I changed my bean recipe after talking to Kari (my aunt) and reading some books about cooking beans. I have an aluminum pressure cooker which I have found out is very bad for heavy metal contamination. Your pressure cooker is stainless steel so you should be fine.

First off, it is really best to wash thoroughly, then soak the beans overnight, change the water in the morning, and then cook them in a pressure cooker during the day some time. They can be cooked more gently and for only about 23 minutes in the pressure cooker, and they will be very soft. After soaking, you can alternatively cook your beans in a crock pot on low, for about 8-10 hours. If you run out of time, you can always put them into the fridge and then cook them whenever. You can take unsoaked beans and cook them directly in a pressure cooker, but make sure they are covered with a couple inches of water or the top layer will be crunchy. Dry beans can be cooked in the pressure cooker directly, for 45-60 minutes.

Second, pressure cook them in water and kombu (seaweed that aids in digestion of beans) and nothing else, not even salt. This was hard for me to do, because I am so used to seasoning and flavoring. The books I have read say to season and add fat after the beans have been cooked. Then season, add fat, and cook for a half hour or so longer very very gently not using pressure but while the beans are still in the pressure cooker. Ashlee, these measures are for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans that have been cooked.

Third, use about 1 T celtic sea salt

1 T paprika

2 t. cumin

20 turns or so of the pepper mill

1 -3 t. chile powder or more, depending on the intensity of the heat.

Fourth, put the following in the food processor so you won't have to chop, chop, chop:

3 - 5 garlic cloves

1 large onion, quartered

2-6 carrots - broken into smaller pieces

2-4 stalks of celery - broken up

Any other veggie you like

Because the beans already have the water they were cooked in, in order not to get them too watery from adding the chopped vegetables, you can drain some of the water off and discard some of the bean water.

Next, you need fat in order for the beans to taste good. I found that if I tried to cook fat free, little children just wouldn't eat the food. You can use olive oil, coconut oil, bacon and bacon grease, butter, or a combination. I like the taste of coconut oil along with either a little butter or olive oil. Everyone will scarf that down. 2 - 3 Tablespoons.

Cook this mixture for 20 - 30 minutes on very low heat.

Now is a good time to add a green pepper or two. That way, it will still be a little crunchy when you serve it, if you like crunchy.

Well, that was a looong explanation. I hope you have time to read it! I also hope I remembered it right. You can modify the seasonings to suit your taste. Once, I juiced carrots and added the juice after the beans were cooked, so it would still be raw and have all the enzymes in it that help our digestion function at a more premium level. I also added the pulp. It was yummy.

For me, this is comfort food. I was horrified to read that if you use floridated water in an aluminum cooking pot, the contamination is dramatically increased. I have a hard time cooking beans now, although I really enjoy them. So, be glad your water isn't floridated.

With Love, Mom


Speaking of my water not being floridated.

That's because we live in the mountains and have our own well. Pretty awesome most of the time. But last week (hence no posts) the pump on our well decided to give out, and DIE!

Pretty dramatic, I know.

A full day's work, and $1,200 later, we have a new pump. And blessed running water. Aaaawwwww water. But there goes the rest of Paul's bonus money from work for the year, because we also had to purchase the fridge. Boo.

Oh, and we got an aesthetically damaged fridge for half the price. The dings/dents are on the side, where we can't see them so we don't care. Half price!

The inside. LED lights!

Oooohhhhh, who knew a discounted fridge could be so exciting!

So the next time you have to go buy a fridge or any appliance, (which I hope is never, they are so pricey!) just ask the employees at the appliance stores if they have any discounted, slightly damaged options to look at. You could make it outta' there like a bandit! Gettin' awesome discounts!


  1. Oh my gosh, you're well AND your fridge went out at the same time! That is a double hit! THANK YOU so much for posting this!! I like your new fridge.

    1. You're welcome! Hooray for homemade beans!

  2. Wow, that should say "your well" NOT "you're well" :)

  3. dang it! going to have to return mine and get a stainless steel one! hope I still have the receipt.....

    So happy though to learn more about this subject! What if I never knew about the aluminum?? and the flouridated water soaked with the aluminum?

    It always seems like 2-3 things in the house go out at once! Brandon was deathly sick while our sink busted! Dad (LEE) had to come and replace it since Brandon couldn't even get up! The sink water ended up soaking in the counter mdf like a sponge and warped the counters! It made my kitchen unusable for a couple of days while my kids are throwing up too! It was a miserable week that just added to how odd January ended up being with the extreme snow and ice storms. Thank goodness for the times of calmness in between!!! Need time to gather more of my forces to prepare for the next appliance battle!

    1. Yikes, Carolyn! Sounds like my worst nightmare! I am so glad you all are doing better. Winter can sure be hard on families.

  4. I had to chuckle that someone else was having appliance problems. Mine are not as serious, but a problem for a vegetarian, ha ha. The shelf that holds up the produce drawer broke last week. So down one shelf and no cover for the produce drawer. That style with the freezer on the bottom looks great.

    I nominated your for a Liebster Award...I know you are an established blogger, but just wanted to give you a shout-out and maybe help some of my readers find yours. I have had trouble commenting on google blogs, so I am using a different account here. But here is the link to my blog and the info. about the nomination. Take Care!

    1. Thanks so much for the nomination, Julie! I so appreciate it! I'm tickled to know you have found my site useful. It keeps me going. It is super-hard as a veg eater to go without a fridge, for sure. Ugh, appliance issues!

  5. oooooh! It looks like my fridge but Silver. I LOVE my fridge! The double doors are awesome huh?!

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