Okay. So if last week wasn't enough of an emotional ride for this unstable lady, the Lord is further teaching, testing, and stretching me. Which I am thankful for. But dang, man.
This morning, my husband left for a week (okay, okay…till Friday) training in Maryland. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the United States, that's a long way away from Alabama. Which means Georgia, me, and this little peanut in my uterus are flyin' solo this week. Well, we'll have each other, but you know what I'm sayin'. Our main man is gone, leavin' the ladies to…well…do whatever we want, I suppose.
But don't worry, I have big plans.
I am going to shave my legs.
I am going to paint my toes.
I am going to sweep the sand out from under the area rug.
I am going to attend a ladies coffee night at my Pastor's home.
I am going to schedule a playdate for Georgia with a new family we met at church yesterday.
And I'm going to eat beans.
Regular readers know this: my husband hates beans. Georgia and I, however, love beans. So for tonight's supper, I'm fixin' a rustic Tuscan bean & tomato soup. That's right – beans, as an entree.
Never leave your wives, husbands. You'll never know what sort of madness they'll get into with you gone.
And in the spirit of all things bean (did I mention they're delicious and wonderful for you and full of nutrients…and cheap?) I thought I'd share how I batch cook and freeze beans for ease on you (and the wallet), as well as convenience.
Now, I know canned beans are crazy convenient. But they're also, like, six times as much as dried beans. So instead of splurging, I always buy my beans in bulk and cook them from scratch. It hardly takes any effort. I swear.
You will need:
– Dried organic beans of your choice
– Filtered water
– Course sea salt
Step One: Pour the desired amount of dried beans into a large bowl. I usually do around 6 cups or so of dried beans at a time.
Step Two: Cover the beans with a large amount of water – they will soak up a lot and in order to get them hydrated, you need to provide them with plenty of aqua.
Step Three: Set the bowl of beans out on your counter and ignore for the next 12-24 hours. Now, isn't it nice to ignore things once in awhile?
Step Four: After the beans have “hydrated”, strain out the extra water and pour the beans into a large stock pot. Again, cover with a large amount of water (about 4″ above the top of the beans). Bring to a low simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 3-4 hours. Then, throw in 3-4 cloves of garlic (I leave them whole for easy removal after the beans have cooked – it's only purpose is to add a nice flavor). Continue to cook until the beans are very tender (the cooking time will vary depending on the amount you're cooking).
Basically, I structure it like this:
– After I finish dinner dishes, I'll soak my beans and leave out on the counter over night.
– After breakfast dishes, I'll get the beans cookin' in the pot.
– After lunch dishes, I'll check them for “doneness”.
– When I'm hungry at that awkward time between lunch and dinner, I'll dish myself up a nice bowl ‘o beans.
This really doesn't require more than 10 minutes of passive work, so it's really not too bad.
Step Five: Salt the beans to taste (optional). I always use a course sea salt for this because you can get by using so much less of it.
Step Six: If you'd like to freeze some of the beans, simply allow them to cool to room temperature, scoop into freezer ziploc bags, and voila. Instant freezer beans. When you're ready to use them, simply remove from the freezer and allow them to de-thaw. You can also just keep a bag or two in your fridge for easy access throughout the week.
And that's it rock star.
While my husband is off learning about, ya know, stuff, I'll be here, eatin' Tuscan bean soup.
Which, by the way, is a really good idea when you live on the Gulf Coast and it's approximately 137 degrees outside. Just in case you were wondering.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.