Monday, September 11, 2006

Beans, The Musical Fruit

Beans, beans, the musical fruit,
The more you eat, the more you toot.

All this talk of beans reminded me of the early days of my marriage. Those were the days when I didn't know how to cook, as opposed to these days, when I don't want to cook. DJ kept mentioning that he just loved a big old pot of beans and ham, with cornbread and a slice of onion, washed down with a glass of milk.

After we moved to Yellville, I found I could no longer ignore the call for beans. So, I asked his mother about it. I didn't even know what kind of beans he was talking about, but I was sure I could find them in the grocery store. A bean was a vegetable, wasn't it? Didn't they come in cans? Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the kind of beans he was talking about came in plastic packages, dried.

I had to ask his mother what to do with them, of course, and she didn't laugh. Not in my face.
She told me to get two packages of beans, one Navy and one Pinto. Then, put them in a pan and soak them overnight in water. She said I might have to add water at some point before morning. Then, I was to pour out that water, add more, along with a ham hock, or diced ham, a diced onion, salt and pepper and simmer them all afternoon, adding water when necessary, until they were soft. Then, I could make the cornbread, which she also had to instruct me on (sigh), and serve it with an onion slice and a big old glass of milk. Nooooooooo problem! I later learned that if I peeled a baking potato and put it in with the beans, it would soak up the noxious gases, and we wouldn't embarrass ourselves the next day. One thing is very important: Dont. Eat. the Potato.

But, I digress. When I got to the grocery store, I noticed that the beans came in packages of different sizes, regular, large and huge. I picked up the regular size and thought, "there aren't very many beans in here. Maybe I'd better get the large size. DJ will want more than one serving." Oh, what the heck. I got the huge size of Pinto Beans, but only the large size of Navy Beans. Probably I had enough for two meals, I thought.

I put them into the soup pot, and covered them for the night. When I got up the next morning, there were beans EVERYWHERE! They had expanded! They had tossed that pan lid off and oozed down the sides of the pan, across the counter top and onto the floor.

Two meals, indeed. The town of Yellville had a population of 900 souls at that time, and I could have fed all of them. I think DJ knew he'd better not make fun, or they were the last beans he'd get in that house, because he didn't say a thing. After I cleaned up the mess, and cooked the rest, he just sat down and dug in, with the appropriate "Mmmmmmmmmm's". He didn't even complain when they kept turning up on the dinner table for a while.

You know who laughed? My mother. She who had never cooked a dried bean in her life.


Maya's Granny said...

What happens if you eat the potato? Do you explode with gas?

I love beans. I don't think my mother had ever made them, either. I visited her and her sister last summer and my aunt made a pot of beans and she soaked the entire bag just for the three of us (I was recovering from surgery, and they are in their 80s, so none of us had much of an appetite). There were so many beans!

saz said...

Never knew about the potato trick - probably cuz I never learned how to cook beans! Too funny about beans oozing everywhere the next morning. You can laugh about it now....can't you?

Ginnie said...

Hilarious, Betty. I did the same thing after we moved to the South...trying to cook southern-style.

John said...

Beans are very popular in the UK.
H.J. Heinz have just introduced an 'improved' recipe in a can, and reintroduced their old slogan...'Beanz Meanz Heinz' which got slightly changed in years gone by to 'Beanz Meanz Fartz'.

Alan G said...

First time I ever cooked lima beans and ham on my own had a similar experience. Those jumbo bags just don't fit too well in a crock pot after soaking over night do they?

Never heard about the 'potato' thing Betty. I will have to try that next time I fix a pot of limas.

Betty said...

Maya's granny: Yep. You won't be tempted to eat it. It turns absolutely black.

John: "Beanz Meanz Fartz". How funny. But then, that's what the potato is for.

Ginnie: My mother hailed from Elizabeth, N.J. I teased her about being a "Yankee cook".

Saz: Well, I'm laughing, now. I guess.

Alan: I have never cooked dried limas, only the frozen kind, but it would probably work for them, too.

Peggy said...

Its always nice to know that I am not the only one making simple errors when learning how to cook new things.

The first time I tried to make cream of tomato soup with the bounty of tomatoes from the garden, it turned out like pink glue.

Kell said...

I am so hungry.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Put me on the list of those who never cooked beans Betty....can't count pork 'n beans, huh? My mom never made them either. I'm surprised your mom knew what to do, since she never made them herself. Cool trick with the potato...first I've heard of that.

I'm sure DJ appreciated your efforts....even if your mom didn't Mom's always get the last laugh.

Betty said...

peggy: Eww, pink glue. Campbell's makes pretty good cream of tomato soup. lol

joy: It was my mother-in-law who taught me. As far as I know my mother never made, nor ever tasted beans and ham.

gawilli said...

As a kid I always liked it when we had ham because shortly after we would have beans and cornbread. I never knew about the potato thing either. Boy, wish I would have. Mostly now we have red beans and rice.

willi said...

My first experience with dried beans was trying to cook them without soaking them -not a good batch of beans. We tend go with canned beans and avoid the soaking. I like the red beans and the black beans.

I didn't know about the potato thing. Does it work with canned beans?

Dang just when I get comfortable farting around the wife some blogger has a tip to cure it.