beans

Degas Dried Beans

by Nancy on February 28, 2012

in Tips and Tricks

Cooked dried beans are a healthy addition to your diet but some people avoid them because they produce gas in our intestinal tract. You can easily eliminate all or most of the gas by adding just one step to the cooking process and it doesn’t even increase the preparation time. Gas is produced in the large intestine from a sugar present in dried beans that is too large to be absorbed through the small intestine wall. The good news for us is that this sugar is water soluble.

Place the beans you want to cook in a large pot and fill it with water. I put 2 cups of beans in a 3 quart pot of water. The more water relative to beans the better. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let sit until cool – at least 1 hour. The beans will continue to cook as the water cools. Drain the water (and the gas producing sugar dissolved in it) from the beans and your degassed beans are ready to use. I use the same pot to make bean soup so I rinse the pot to remove any bean cooking liquid from it. Some beans like Anasazi beans will cook completely or nearly so as the water cools. Other beans may need more cooking time but the 1 hour cooling counts as part of the total cooking time. It’s that easy!

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Mild Midwest Chili

by Nancy on December 28, 2010

in Main Dish,Soups

Winter holidays were full of family parties and at New Year’s we had two! On New Year’s Eve my parents went square dancing but us kids, my grandparents and my uncles and aunt went up the (gravel) road a whole 1/2 mile for a evening at my Great Aunt Irene’s house. We watched football, played Tripoly and card games, ate all kinds of great tasting, bad for you snacks and welcomed in the New Year watching the Times Square Ball drop on TV with Guy Lombardo singing Auld Lang Syne.

On New Year’s Day, well later the same day, we gathered at my grandparents house for more football, preferably with the Green Bay Packers playing and winning. After huge Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts (and being out late the night before) my grandmother made a couple of simple soups for our meal, chili and oyster stew. Oyster stew was a favorite of my grandfather and I think New Year’s was the only time my grandmother made it because she had to special order the oysters. Oysters were not a common food in the Midwest.

Chili on the other hand was a meal we had frequently. Both my mother and grandmother canned tomatoes in the summer and this was a dish that used them that everyone liked. They mostly canned tomato juice (passing cooked tomatoes through a colander got rid of the seeds and the skins easily) so chili was really a tomato juice based soup. Midwesterners don’t tend to like much heat in their food and the chili was mild. If I remember correctly, my mother used about 1 tsp. of Shillings chili powder mix in 3 quarts of chili. This wasn’t powdered chili, this was a mixture of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and a mild chili powder.

I only grow tomatoes for fresh use in my urban garden so I modified my mom’s recipe to use store-bought canned tomatoes. I make my chili chunkier, more like a stew, by using diced tomatoes instead of tomato juice as a base and leaving the other vegetables chunky. I vary the type of beans that I use. My mother used kidney beans but I sometimes use pinto beans or black beans instead. You could even use garbanzo beans to add a cheesy flavor.  I’ve spiced it up a bit by increasing the amount of sweet spices (cinnamon and cloves) but keep the hotness down by adding only a small amount of hot chili powder. I did grow up in the midwest after all.

Mild Midwest Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3  14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1  14 ounce can kidney, pinto or black beans
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. whole mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes or powdered chili (optional)
  1. Brown ground beef in 4 quart pan.
  2. Add celery, onion and pepper and saute with beef.
  3. Add tomatoes and beans including liquid in cans.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.

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Simple black bean and corn salsa.

I learned to do much of my cooking without recipes. Cooking was based on what ingredients were available and one kind of guessed how much of each to use learning by trial and error. I love simple recipes like this where it is easy to remember the ingredients and amounts. Here you just use equal portions of the main ingredients. If you have leftover beans either in the refrigerator or in the freezer, use them. If not, use 1 14 oz. can of beans drained. I prefer frozen corn over canned for its fresher flavor but use what you’ve got on hand. Choose the chilies based on how much heat you want; bell pepper for mild, Anaheim for medium or Jalapeno for hot. Out of season you can use canned chilies. Likewise you can choose the variety of onion based on season or flavor. Use green onions in the spring, later in the year choose red, yellow or white based on your preference. You get the idea. The dressing is equally simple, standard oil and vinegar with only one spice.

Simple Black Bean and Corn Salsa

  • 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 3/4 cup whole kernel corn
  • 3/4 cup tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup green chilies
  • 3/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro

Dressing

  • 2 T vinegar
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Chop tomatoes, chilies, onion and cilantro.
  2. Combine all ingredients in bowl.
  3. Mix dressing in separate bowl, pour over vegetables and toss.
  4. Marinate in refrigerator to allow flavors to combine.

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