Saturday, 12 April 2008

Beans in the Crock Pot

I really hated beans when I was a kid. I don't think my Dad liked them much either, being the typical meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. Mom occasionally made a pot of beans and ham just for herself; I think it was her comfort food. She subscribed to the practice of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. I remember negotiating her down to 3 beans in order to assure my good fortune. I somehow acquired a taste for beans as I got older and I'm pleased to have the memory of companionably sharing beans and cornbread at a couple of meals.

Beans aren't quite my comfort food, admittedly, but Bill and I do very much enjoy them. My dead-easy recipe for beans requires a bit of foresight in soaking a cup of beans at least overnight. More often I soak them for about 36 hours, replacing the soaking water several times in hopes of reducing the gas-producing quality, though I tend to think your stomach just gets used to digesting beans as you eat them more often. When I'm really organised or have the time, I use the discarded soaking water on houseplants, as I've read it contains nutrients.

In the morning (or at least by noon) I put the drained soaked beans in the crockpot with a diced onion, a can of chopped tomatoes (I buy whole tomatoes and save a few pence by chopping them with scissors in the opened can) and, if I have it, a couple of pieces of bacon or a bit of ham; cover with water. It's important not to add salt as it makes the beans tougher. It's all well cooked 6 or 7 hours later. Serve with rice and/or cornbread. As Jamie Oliver says, "Delish!"

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