Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What happens when you don't read package labels

So here is a funny story. Today I made 2 lbs of pinto beans, yes 2 lbs.
Why? Not because I wanted to have 2 lbs of beans readily available to me for months...but because I didn't read a darn label. I have had this bag of pinto beans in my pantry for about 4 months and have been waiting for the perfect time to cook them in my crock pot. For some reason I kept putting it off, until today - well technically last night. After scouring the interweb for a pinto bean crock pot recipe and coming up rather unsuccessful (in terms of measurements), I just decided to go for it. One very important thing to remember is to soak your dried beans overnight before cooking them. So la de da there I went pouring the entire bag of dried pinto beans into a pot of water, without reading the label to see the quantity of beans I was getting ready to prepare.

This morning, still groggy from sleep, I get ready to load up my crock pot with the soaked beans. It was during this time when I realized I had soaked an excessive amount of beans and all of them would not fit in my crock pot.  This is then when I checked the bag and saw the big 2 lbs... DUH!

So here I am, now wide awake, hustling around before I have to sign on to work to figure out what I am going to do with all these beans....

This whole situation may make me sound a bit silly, but there is good news to this post. I have a lot of beans! Just kidding. I decided to cook half the beans in my crock pot (as originally planned) and the rest on the stove. Now I can compare and share the difference between the two.  I knew that I could at least freeze one batch of beans and not have to eat the entire 2 lbs for the rest of my life... or the next 2 weeks, however long it might take.

Cooking dried beans on the stove only takes 1 hour, which is somewhat of a positive. Dried beans are cheap, and an hour isn't that long in the big scheme of things. However, a lot of people don't work from home and have the ability to keep an eye on boiling beans... so stovetop beans are not the best idea for your average office-working individual.

Crock pot beans on the other hand take 8 long hours... which is horrible when you are stuck at home starving because you smell delicious garlic seasoning simmering away. The crock pot is good to cook things overnight, or while you are at work.

Taste & Texture:
Unfortunately I didn't season my two different versions of beans the same way, but from what I can tell there really isn't a difference in taste between the two cooking methods. Texture on the other hand, might be a different story. The crock pot beans seems to be a little softer, which makes sense since they were simmering so long. I would say that stove top beans have a texture more of beans that come in a can. If you want to make some refried beans, you might want to consider using the crock pot style.

** By the way - I used about 4 cups of dried pinto beans in my crock pot, and added water leaving about an inch between the beans and the top of the water. I cooked these babies for about 61/2 hours on HIGH.

Now that there are beans galore the next step is to figure out what else to do with them. Tacos, nachos, 7 layer dip!, mixed with quinoa, rice or cous cous and even just plain jane. Maybe something else a little more creative and un-mexican food related?  Freezing a good portion seems like a good idea though, unless I want to go into bean overload {insert any and all bean, tooting related jokes here}.

Moral of the story: Read the packaging, figure out how much you are actually cooking before starting the whole preparation/cooking process. Seems simple enough, but also easy to forget when there are 1,239,235 other things on your mind.

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