Today’s mediocrity lies in a failed attempt. Well, failing is a little too strong; it was more of an unsuccess. As our credit card bills grow greater and greater and there isn’t an equal amount of growth in our bank account, I’ve been trying to re-budget different areas of our life to save a little more. So I decided that I would learn how to cook with beans. After all, they are extremely healthy and cheap.
For 81¢ I can buy a pound of dry beans. Emma and I picked out a few different types of beans, and I came home proud of my savings. As we live in Texas, I decided the best starter bean would be the black bean, and I could do some sort of Tex-Mex something (lots of good recipes here). So about an hour before I wanted to have dinner, I pulled out the beans. First mistake. Beans must be soaked, and you need more than one hour before dinner. Ok, so we’ll have beans the next night.
The next afternoon (I meant to do the overnight soaking of the beans, but forgot, so I tried the quick-soak method), around 2:30, I began by rinsing and sorting my beans. Then I covered them with water and put them on to quickly boil. No problems here. I let them sit for a couple hours, and then started cooking them for real.
I wish I had taken a picture, as I was amazed at how very black the water became. It was sort of creepy looking. But then I felt lame about taking a picture of bean water and being so mesmerized, so I showed Emma instead. Anyway, I decided not to be too risky, and to just make plain ol’ black beans and season them as I used them in meals. So I just let them cook.
One set of directions said to bring them to a boil and then simmer, and another said to just simmer. I think I made the wrong choice. I had them simmer, but since the heat was so low, I think I wasted my first cooking hour just waiting for the water to heat up. By the time my husband came home, they smelled all nice and bean-y (and I really do like the smell!), and I was sure that dinner would be ready within the hour.
So I cooked everything else up (this was only about a week ago, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what “everything else” was; all I can remember is the beans!), and kept checking the beans, but they were still a little crunchy. So we ate dinner and were going to have the beans as a little after-meal side dish. My husband decided to take the kids for a walk, and I went back in my room to get a little work done. There was still so much water in the beans I figured I still had some time before they’d be ready.
And that assumption was my next mistake. I came back to the kitchen as my family returned, and I heard, “Umm…I think your beans are done.” Yup. They were. In about 20 minutes they went from being almost ready to almost burned. All the liquid was gone, and they were sticking to the pot, and instead of having that nice, juicy, soft bean taste, they had that old, dry bean taste. A little mozzarella helped, but they were not the triumphal meat-replacing element I was hoping for (although somewhere in there I did add a bunch of spices, so they had a little flavor).
We ate them, more out of determination than enjoyment, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? So not quite a failure. More of a mediocre success. I haven’t tried any other beans yet. Waiting for my ego to bounce back. My friend says I should just buy canned, but I feel like that must be cheating. Plus, we also used some dry beans to make a rattle for the baby–can’t do that with canned!