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Monday, March 28, 2011

Beans and Cornbread and "Latchkey" children

" Sometimes you need to get back to basics."

While growing up as young girl in Texas, some of my friends families did not have much money. The families always were hospitable and shared what they had regardless of how meager the dinner. My parents would do the same when my friends came over for dinner. I think in the long run, this helped parents who worked from being rushed and from losing time when retrieving a child from a playmate's home. While some dinners at my friends consists of an elaborate sit down dinner (with some hideous things on our plates) dinner with stoneware, others parents picked up Pizza on the way home and we dined on paper plates. However, at the homes of my less fortunate friends we would have a dinner of beans, rice and tortillas, bean tacos or other times we would have Beans and Cornbread for dinner on colorful melamine plates. To this day, I still love beans!

My husband loves Pinto Beans too. Thankfully, I forgot how much I loved them, until my husband thought we should bring back the "simple dinners of our youth". I slow cook the Pinto Beans all day long, dish the beans up in a big bowl and serve them with hot freshly baked cornbread split and filled with butter. If you want a side dish then serve hot steaming greens.

Her's the basic recipe for "Pinto" beans:

1 lbs. clean, picked Pinto beans
1/4 Onion, minced
1 t Pepper
1/2 t Sea Salt
1 slice bacon thick cut, roughly chopped (or you can leave it in a whole piece)
1 T Baking Soda

Sort through the beans, and put them in the Crockpot. Remove all clumps of dirt, broken beans and anything which is not a Pinto Bean and add them to the crock pot. Add water to the beans and baking soda making sure you have at least 3 inches of water covering the beans. Allow beans to soak overnight.

The next morning, discard the water, rinse the beans three times or until the water runs clean. Add water to within 1 inch of the top of the medium size crock pot or about 5 inches above the beans. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot (except salt). Turn the crock pot to "high" for 6 hours, turning the beans occasionally from time to time with a large spoon.  

To check the beans and see if they are cooked through, remove a few beans with a large spoon, observe if the skin curls up when the beans are taken out of the water and hit "just air". If the bean skin curls, they are done. Add the salt and stir, and turn the heat down to "low" or warm and prepare the cornbread (this will take another ~ 30 minutes start to finish). Serve immediately with hot freshly baked cornbread. 

You may add freshly chopped onion, shredded cheese as a garnish for the beans.

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