Friday, September 11, 2009

Dried Beans used to terrify me.

At work we are calling these "challenging times" and while our little family isn't panic stricken - we are certainly looking to be more cost conscious. On this note, I turn to a subject that terrifies me. Dried Beans.

Dried Beans are about 1/3 of the cost as the beans in the cans, sometimes even less - in addition to the price benefit of dried beans comes the health factor: the canned beans have sodium and preservatives that I'd rather be free of. But my fear of the dried bean preparation had me sticking with the canned beans - until this week.

I'm not a bean preparation wiz - this is my ONLY use of dried beans so far. And if you're like me - this will help you tip toe into the dark cool water of dried bean use.

Vegetarian Chili with Dried Beans in the Slow Cooker

The evening before I took 1/2 a bag of black beans, red beans and white beans (so 1.5 bags total) and rinsed and sorted them well - pick out any discolored or misshapen beans. Put them in a big pot of water and boil. Once the water boils turn of the burner and cover - let it sit for 3 hours or more (I let mine sit overnight because I forgot...oops...and it was just fine). DO NOT TRY TO TASTE A BEAN AND FOR GODS SAKE DON'T SMELL THE WATER. I tell you this because I did and it was AWFUL. The thing I learned after the fact and I spent an hour on google making sure I hadn't ruined everything is that beans lose most of their gas power through this process when you use dried beans (so less tooting - another huge win of Dried Beans!).

In the morning drain your beans and rinse again, pour them into your crockpot add in two cans of diced tomatoes (if you're using fresh add them later), 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 (or more if you like yours meatier) bag of Morningstar meatless crumples, 1 bag of frozen corn, 1 onion diced and 2 peppers diced, 1 packet of chili seasoning. Crockpot on low all day.

I can't taste the difference between REAL meat and the meatless crumples - but its been a while so maybe I just don't remember how it tastes - but if you're trying to cut costs, improve your health and sneak your way into this vegetarian occasionally lifestyle this is a good first step.

I also through some baby goldfish crackers on top and that was a huge yummy topping.

ps - I know that these posts are better with photos. I know that I have an awesome camera. I also know that with a little girl pulling my yoga pants down, a dog praying to the food fairy and a general lack of coordination that it's just not going to fly. Trust me though- it looks divine and tastes damn good too.

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