Monday, February 9, 2015

Foodie Non-Friday: Hill of Beans

You guys...we eat a lot of beans in our house. Beans and quinoa.

Often together. It’s yummy…you should try it.

The quinoa is expensive (but it wasn't when we first started eating I'm addicted and am willing to pay whatever the store is charging. I think that was their plan all along.).

But the beans are cheap.

I have always bought canned beans because according to the label on the shelf, the canned beans were cheaper per ounce than the dried ones.

Duh...I'll take the cheaper ones please.

But I kept hearing people talk about dried beans being cheaper. And one day the 2 pound bags of dried black beans (my favorite kind of beans…because I’m certain you were wondering) were on sale at Aldi for $1.99. So I decided to give it a whirl.

And to be fair, the unit price was still more, but I thought, "Other people can't all be wrong about dried beans, right?"

So...they have been sitting in my pantry for weeks. Mostly because...get ready for my confession here...I have never in my life prepared dried beans.


Let me pause right here and say this: I do not RECALL ever having made dried beans before. If you have known me to ever undertake such a task, please do not call me out in my comments below…I honestly do not remember. And frankly, no one should be surprised by this because really is this a memory-making activity? Probably not, unless it is eventful.

Spoiler alert: I will probably recall this experience.

And we’re back: I had heard tell that there was soaking involved. And it was just more overwhelming than I could handle.

And I had heard of "crockpot refried beans"...but again, that was intimidating for some reason.

Homemade bagels? No problem. Beans in a crockpot? Paralyzed with fear.

So, like any normal person, I avoided it.

Yes...I was avoiding beans.

Don't judge.

But then this week, I found a recipe which contained "refried beans". Now, I am not a HUGE fan of refried beans, mostly b/c of the fat content. And the "canned fat free" ones are kind of gross. As in they look and smell like canned dog food...which, I am pleased to report, I have never once found the desire to eat (neither the dog food nor the beans).

But I thought, "OK, here's my opportunity to face these dried beans once and for all. I shall Google and thusly attempt the "crockpot refried beans" (which, as it turns out, are not really fried or refried at all...who knew?).

So Google it I did and found a plethora of recipes. Argh…something else to deal with!
I waded through a few and they basically said the same thing…so I chose one and dove right in.

The conundrum (not really…that implies major issues and this was not…I just wanted to use that word) was this: my recipe called for 2 cups of beans. I was doubling my casserole recipe, so I needed 4 cups (you’re welcome, you math-impaired folks).

But the recipes I found only used two cups of beans. So clearly I had to double mine, right, which meant I needed to use the whole 2-pound bag of beans?

(If you’ve made dried beans before, you know where this is heading…please don’t spoil it for the newbies.)

So…the recipe I ended up using said to put 2 cups of beans in the crockpot (as well as other ingredients), and 6 cups of water. Which I thought seemed like quite a bit, but as I read through the recipe, blah blah blah, it mentioned something about “draining the excess water” (which I could only imagine would be a lot…) so I wasn’t worried.

NOTE: you DO NOT soak the beans ahead of time!

Though I did only put in 10 cups of water in with my 4 cups of beans instead of 12 cups (lest I truly be doubling it…), because, well, 10 would be MORE than ample, right?

But I am getting ahead of myself a bit, so instead of backing up, I shall fast forward (mostly because it has taken me 3 days to get this little, drivel bit of writing done and I need to pull the rip cord on it) and tell you this: they turned out just lovely with the right amount of liquid (no need to drain any off, but the beans were not too dry either).

However…they made a lot. The word “gargantuan” comes to mind. As you probably have discerned by this point, they soaked up all that water, leaving me with 10 cups of “refried” beans, instead of the 4 I actually needed.

So yeah…we’ve been eating some beans this week. A lot of beans…anyone want to come over for some beans?

Now, because I’ve really sold it here (they were good…just overly-bountiful), here is the recipe in the original ratios for you.


  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 cups beans (I used black, but the original called for pinto)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced,
  • ½ fresh jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups water

  • Combine all the ingredients in the crockpot.
  • Cook on high for 8 hours (so either overnight for those who love some refried beans first thing in the morning, or during the day)
  • Remove the bigger onion chunks and drain any excess liquid (as mentioned, I had no excess liquid…you can save some of the liquid to add back in if needed after mashing)
  • Using a potato masher, mash the beans and tah-dah! Enjoy!


  1. The only beans we ever eat are kidney beans in our taco salad and Northern beans in a couple of meals. I have also avoided dry beans except for kids' crafts. I don't think I'm convinced to do otherwise. :)

    1. Oh, they're easy-peasy...just don't make a whole two-pound bag at once is all! :)

  2. You Yankee girls have never had ham and beans with cornbread?!

    Dried beans are NOT scary, and they don't have all the sodium that canned beans have. Now, lest you think I am holier than thou and only use dried beans in all my cooking, let me be the first to say I'm ALL ABOUT using canned beans for recipes. But a supper of ham and beans on a cold night just can't be beat.

    1. Oh, I have, I have and they are tasty...with beans from a jar (you know...the FANCY ones). And yes, I can see the benefit of not having all the sodium and preservatives, but in terms of making beans for a recipe again I may not undertake such a task.