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Cooking Dried Beans Is Not Scary.

October 5, 2011

 

I’ve been vegan for over 3 years (feels like longer) and was vegetarian before that for around 2 years, and I just learned how to cook dried beans last month.  Feels like the start to a meeting of Bad Vegans Anonymous, doesn’t it?  I don’t know why, but the task always seemed so daunting to me.  I was afraid.  Afraid that I would forget to soak the beans (which I actually did one of the two times I made beans last month, but that is why it is handy to have a helpful semi-vegan boyfriend around).  Afraid that the beans would, like, never really cook.  You know, that they would stay hard and inedible.  Afraid about how long it takes to cook the darned things (1 1/2 hours?  Before I can even really start the recipe?  Shew!).  But you know what?  I sucked it up, and I’m glad I did, because now I get to eat things like this:

oh, beans!

And completely fear-free.  Listen, beans aren’t hard to cook.  People have been telling me that for years, and I never believed them.  Kind of like how I never believed my mom that practicing yoga would really help my outlook on life.  But then I tried these things, and I’m (seriously) a better person for having done so.  Yep, cooking dried beans makes you a better person.  There.  I said it.  Ok, I don’t know, but it does make you an economical person who makes things from scratch like it ain’t no thang.  And I really want to be that person all the time.  Above you see the Cuban Beans from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Cooking.  (Again and again I will tell you that this book does not get enough play from the vegans out there…it’s full of great recipes that are easy and yummy!)  They are wonderfully spiced, and taste pretty amazing with a couple of dashes of hot sauce.  With it you’ll see an ugly hunk of a cheezy broccoli and millet casserole that I made on the fly that actually tasted pretty good, despite taking way longer to cook than I initially planned for.  The week before, I made the black bean soup from Veganomicon.  It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (you know, the black bean soup you get in restaurants) because of the addition of thyme, but it was darned tasty.  I made it for a couple of friends, and they both kind of went gaga over it.  It, too, was made better with the addition of hot sauce (and next time I’m just gonna go ahead and take out the thyme and add more cumin, because I’m a stubborn old soup curmudgeon).  I followed the recipe tip and pureed part of it with my immersion blender, so it would be creamier.  (No pics because we were drinking a lot of wine that night.)

Ok, real talk: Beans cooked from scratch taste better.  Truth.  They take a while to cook on the stove top, but it’s not like I don’t have time on my hands.  And I’m sure that a bunch of you have time to put beans in a pot on the stove and forget about them for an hour and a half. (And you can totally make them ahead, then refrigerate [or freeze!] until you need them.)  Listen to a new believer.

What sorts of things do you not cook because of stupid fears?  See you all at the next meeting of BVA.

 

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2011 10:38 am

    Oof, immersion blender. I need one of those. Soooooooo bad. And I totally agree – beans are definitely better from scratch!

    Hmm.. what don’t I make because of my stupid fears.. bread. But not just any bread, vegan/gluten-free bread. I’m sure if I found a good recipe I’d be in my happy place, but I have a feeling I won’t be able to make it without crying in the mixing bowl.. wishing I had a piece of REAL bread.

    • October 5, 2011 11:02 am

      immersion blenders are the best invention ever! (ok, maybe not ever.) get one! gluten-free baking is a land i have not yet conquered…all those different flours make me nervous. someday!

  2. October 5, 2011 10:53 am

    Ha ha ha… I agree that beans from scratch taste better, but I’m not sure about how they impact one’s good person status.

    I am scared to cook/eat okra, in part because my spouse insists that it is the most horrible slimy thing ever, and slimy textured foods freak me right out.

  3. October 5, 2011 10:54 am

    Making seitan…definitely. I wasn’t so sure about it, but I made it w/the VCON recipe a few nights ago. NEVER buying it again LOL

    I love making beans “from scratch.” Adding some kombu actually does help 🙂

    • October 5, 2011 11:00 am

      seitan used to be something i was afraid to make, too! until i finally realized how darned easy it really is. (but still, i can only steam mine…the simmer method leaves me in tears.)

  4. October 5, 2011 11:18 am

    Yay for cooking beans from scratch! I cook my own beans too. Where I live, the only canned beans available in most stores are cannellinis and borlottis, so if you want to eat adzuki or any other “unconventional” bean, you gotta cook it. Also, it saves so much money it isn’t even funny! I actually did some research and there was a 266% difference between the cheapest canned and dry beans. So there’s a number which should convince any scared vegan 🙂
    The person scared of cooking stuff in my house is my boyfriend. I go ahead and experiment, and he cringes at the sight of the kitchen 😀
    Happy MoFo by the way, I’m visiting your blog for the first time and am just in awe of all the beautiful pictures! Will be back 🙂

  5. October 5, 2011 1:56 pm

    In Brazil rice and beans are part of daily meals so I was pretty stoked when I first realized people have canned beans in other countries.The easiest way to cook beans would be using a pressure cooker (you can cook more and freeze it – without any condiments). It’s done in 40 minutes. But I’ve noticed that pressure cookers are not that common in other countries too, so my advice would be let it soaked in water for the previous night and it will cook faster too, while you’re preparing your meal 🙂

    • October 5, 2011 5:07 pm

      I do have a pressure cooker, but it’s a big one for canning, and until I get a chest freezer, I don’t have enough room to make and freeze a whole lot of things 😦 However, I did soak my beans, but during the day while I was at work, that way, I could start cooking them at around 5 and have dinner ready to go by 7!

  6. October 5, 2011 5:59 pm

    I avoid making gluten-free stuff like the plague. I made cookies once and had them blow up in my face and I’m not one to handle failures very well, especially expensive ones. Plus all those different starches , fours and binders overwhelm me so much I feel like every baking session will end with me rocking myself slowly in the corner.

  7. October 5, 2011 6:48 pm

    Totally agree! I make beans in my rice cooker and pressure cooker and I no longer buy canned beans! They are SO GOOD! (also agree about seitan — found a super-easy seitan recipe on a blog and it was a game changer!)

  8. October 5, 2011 11:12 pm

    I love me some home-cooked beans, too, but I rarely do it. I don’t even know why I don’t. convenience, maybe? the waste of packaging is definitely a good reason to go home-cooked. thanks for the inspiration!

  9. October 5, 2011 11:58 pm

    I’ve only recently conquered my bean cooking fears. Finally! They do taste so much better, and I love that I can freeze leftovers.

    I think my cooking fears have more to do with trying unfamiliar spices and seasonings than techniques.

  10. Emily permalink
    October 6, 2011 1:39 am

    Glad to see you’ve come over to the dried beans side; crock pots are our mightiest weapon.
    Seriously though, if you think making beans is easy on the stove it’s even more ridiculously easy in a crock pot. Soak, rinse, fill up crock pot, turn knob, stir every hour or two, DONE.

  11. October 6, 2011 3:02 am

    I love cooking beans from scratch. Especially things like black beans, which are super expensive and hard to find tinned here, or things like black-eyed beans, which I can’t get here at all!

    As for things I have fear for cooking – yeasted breads (though I am getting through that by using my breadmaker to do the kneading and rising), things that need pastry rolled out, and fresh pasta.

    • October 6, 2011 9:39 am

      i’m afraid of all of those things too, but mostly just because i’m lazy. they seem to take so much time! (as if i don’t have enough of that on my hands…)

  12. October 6, 2011 1:09 pm

    Hooray for cooking with dried beans! They are super easy & delish–and cheap!

  13. October 6, 2011 3:17 pm

    glad to hear this. yes: cooking dried beans and lentils is one of my fears, I admit. now I have new inspiration to just get over myself!

  14. October 10, 2011 1:37 pm

    Yesterday I went to the grocery store and passed right by the canned beans and loaded up on dried. I soaked some garbanzo beans last night and plan on cooking them tonight for dinner. This is your influence! Glad you’re posting regularly again, I’ve always loved your blog.

    • October 10, 2011 8:47 pm

      yay! i need to get some of those to make falafel from scratch. thanks for reading; i’m trying to make the blog a top priority again 🙂

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