Monday, July 25, 2005

Frijoles and Guilt

I came back to the house to find a nice note from my field project advisor.

Also came back to a house that smells like cooking pinto beans.

This is the saga of the beans:

Among the 388,392,485 items left in my possession by the machetenim was a giant 20 or 25 pound sack of dried pinto beans. The only thing I ever buy 20 pounds of at a time, normally, is rice, since the fella and I both grew up in strongly Asian influenced communities, and I tend to cook something that goes on rice at least two or three times a week. But the beans seemed like a nice possibility. I like beans. The fella regards thick bean soup or beans with cornbread as basically the only non-fleischig meal he considers a real dinner. I determined to cook some beans.

That was just after the chagim, in 2001. I am still trying.

I cannot seem to get the beans to a non-crunchy consistency. They start to fall apart, and turn to paste, and they still have a slight CRUNCH to them. I went online and looked for pinto bean recipes. They all start with "cook a pot of pinto beans. When your beans are done..."

I found folksy reminisces by folks who grew up poor in Texas, but Mama always had a pot of beans on the stove no matter what. Do they explain how Mama cooked them? NO.

I found a webpage by some nutcase woman explaining how dried beans are going to be your friend after the U.S. government collapses and we're all in bomb shelters living off the land. Does she explain what you do to cook the dried beans while fending off the federal shock troops and homeschooling your kids in Christian self-reliance? She does not. "Cook your beans, and then..."

These people are no help at all.

The best help I got was from Latina Magazine, my favorite fashion mag ever, except for the late lamented Mode. Latina occasionally runs articles advising working women not to run themselves down if they get their beans out of a can, instead of cooking from dried like your mother and grandmother did.

Finally got a tip from a coworker. Don't put in the tomato sauce at the beginning. Apparently it has some enzyme that retards the bean-cooking process.

So right now, I have a Crock-Pot full of beans going. They've been going since nine-fifteen this morning. I am hoping for the best. I'll let you know how it works out.

I don't know why I am so focused on this, but for some reason it drives me NUTS that I can't do this.


Barefoot Jewess said...

When I was heavily into my "whole grain", health food period, beans were on the menu. Don't know about pinto beans, per se, but directions were to soak dried legumes overnight first. Have you tried that?

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

Thanks--yes, been soaking them. I think it may have been the tomato, since this batch came out close to what I wanted.

Barefoot Jewess said...

The tomato sauce advice is new to me. Might explain a whole lot, in retrospect. I learned something new! Thanks!

Let us know how this version turned out (okay, let ME know).

I see cholent in your future. I never had cholent until I went to Israel and stayed at an hotel. I LOVED it. It is on my list of things to cook. I love hearty stews.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, pinto beans usually need to soak overnight, then need to be simmered most of the day. There's a reason I don't cook them from scratch anymore