The other day on I Eat Trees, Keri wrote that she wanted to start eliminating as much packaged food from her family’s diet as possible. If she could make it, she wouldn’t buy it. I commented that I would love to do the same thing, but that my issue is time. Right now I just can’t seem to find the time to make more things from scratch. Which is sad since my blog is called “Everything is Homemade”!
See I like to try to make things at home as a challenge. Just to see if I can do it. But working that homemade “thing” into my regular life is a whole other story. Take homemade bread for example. I’ve made it a few times just to see if I could do it. But I don’t make bread for us to use on a regular basis. And I would love to!
I decided to take my own advice that “it’s not all or nothing.” Instead of thinking “well if I can’t make everything homemade all the time then I may as well not even try”, I’m going to try to think “I’ll make what I can at home when I can find the time and if I can’t that’s okay too.”
So this was on my mind yesterday when I did the weekly grocery shopping. I almost always buy canned beans. They are so convenient. Pop open a can and throw them into anything. But yesterday I decided to get dried beans instead. Here are a few reasons to choosed dried beans over canned:
1. Dried beans are significantly cheaper than canned
2. Dried beans do not contain any sodium or any other ingredients
3. Dried beans can be seasoned however you want when you cook them
4. Some argue that dried beans taste better than canned
5. Dried beans contain less packaging and are therefore better for the environment
6. Canned beans could contain BPA in the can lining.
Now if you remember, I tried to cook dried beans recently and it didn’t turn out so well. Since then I found basic dried bean cooking instructions that work really well. It’s simple:
1 cup soaked dried beans
3 cups water
Cook in a crockpot on low for about 8 hours.
Beans can also be cooked on the stove top. But cooking dried beans in a crockpot is essential for me. I work full time and I am gone a lot on the weekends. I can’t hang around a stove for a couple of hours waiting for them to cook. I have also tried cooking beans on the stove top before and I have trouble getting the right level of heat. I either have it too high and they boil or I have it too low and the beans never cook.
So I’m going to try cooking up batches of dried beans weekly in my crock pot. Once I get a system down it should be easy! First up this week is black-eyed peas. Here is my new process for cooking beans:
1. In the evening, place beans in a large bowl covered with several inches of water. Let soak overnight.
As soon as I got home from the store yesterday evening I put all the black eyed peas in a big bowl to soak.
2. The next morning, drain the beans in a big strainer and rinse them with cool water.
3. Place beans and fresh, clean water in a crockpot (do not use the soaking water – use that water on the plants). Use the 1:3 ratio described above. For every 1 cup of beans, add 3 cups of water.
Side note: When I decided to soak all these beans, I didn’t think about the fact that my crockpot can only cook 3 cups of beans at a time because it can only hold 9 cups of water. So I enlisted the help of my baby crockpot to cook up another cup. And I still have about 3 cups of soaked beans leftover to cook tonight or tomorrow. Live and learn. Next time I will plan better.
4. Turn the crock pot(s) on low and let cook for 8-10 hours. Go to work or do whatever you do.
5. When you get home taste the beans to see if they are done. They should taste like canned! Soft but not mushy. Still firm but not too hard. Once beans are cooked, turn off the crock pot and drain if necessary. Then divide them up for storage. I plan to freeze mine in 1 cup increments.
If you do the math I am currently cooking up 4 cups of black-eyed peas and I have 3 more cups to go. Seven cups total! I will have black eyed peas for the rest of the year!
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these guys do not burn up like last time. I’m going to run home right after work so I can check on them!