Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Experiments, and Why They Should Be Performed in the Kitchen

If you are anything like me, you can pull together a meal using about a handful of recipes in your head. There's a slight amount of variation depending on what happens to be in the kitchen at the time, but mostly, dinner consists of the same old same old. Gets old quick, doesn't it. Then, you lose your desire to cook, and when the helpful souls in the household won't give you any ideas of what they want, your motivation just goes right out the window.

So, the kids are gone for 10 days. I could just make tuna pasta salad. Again. Or roast chicken quarters. Again. Or, I could start playing around in the kitchen. Again! I like to play, just don't have the time for it, usually.

We like Tex-Mex. But honestly, tortillas and refried beans and all the fixin's are expensive. So, I reasoned out to myself that there had to be a cheaper alternative. I have a crockpot. I can make beans, right? So, with a goal in mind, I set out on a research trip in front of my trusty search engine and came up with several recipes that looked tasty enough, and easy. I thought this was hard stuff! Boy, was I wrong. Now, it does take some time, but very little of it is hands on.

Here's what I ended up doing for refried beans, sans the refried part.

1 pound pinto beans
1 vidalia onion
1 red onion
6 cloves of garlic
some cumin
some salt

1. Pick through the beans, toss the bad ones and any rocks you may find.
2. Put beans in crockpot and cover with about 3 inches if water, let soak overnight.
3. Drain beans.
4. Cover them once more with about 3 inches of water. Peel onions, chop in quarters, toss in pot. Peel garlic, toss in pot. Add cumin. Set crock pot on low for 10 hours, walk away.
5. When beans are done, pick out the onion. Send onion to compost pile. (You do have one, right?)
6. Drain beans, reserving at least some of the bean juice.
7. Mash the beans up to desired consistency, adding salt to taste. Add bean juice as needed.
8. Place in airtight container covered w/ some juice if you aren't gonna use it up right away.

NOTES: I'd guess I added about 2 tsp of cumin. I never measure these things. It required a fair amount of salt to get the taste right, but that's a personal thing.

NOW, you can fry these up in bacon grease, olive oil, or whatever, but frankly, I don't wanna. They taste far better already than any refried beans I ever tried, and they have very little fat. I left the garlic in for taste. You can leave it in or take it out, as you wish.

What am I gonna do with this stuff? Well, today I'm making tortillas, I'll let you know how that turns out. The plan is to make burritos for my crew's lunches.

This turned out really good. I had about 2/3 cup with a wedge of the cornbread...YUMMY!

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