Beans – True Down Home Comfort Food

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I was born in the Philippines. I lived there for my early childhood. Everything, I mean everything was served with rice. Rice every which way you can dream of and can’t think of: sticky rice, fried rice, sweet rice, chocolate rice, coconut rice, rice cake (literally a cake, a floury cake thingy). There was lots of seafood because well, the Philippines is approximately 7000 islands (depending on typhoon season). So what did I eat growing up? I hate seafood, I hate Chinese or oriental food and rice is usually last on my list of side dishes. We all know I don’t eat anything on a bone (can’t do the tendons, ligaments and all that other stuff). I survived on cheeseburgers, mac-n-cheese and pizza. That sums up my childhood and well, early adulthood. Then I met the love of my life, Steve. Born in Matewan, WV.

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The first time he took me to meet his grandma (whom had 17 children, seriously 17 pregnancies, can you freaking imagine?!) I was in complete awe of this place called “God’s country”. First off, there is an incredible amount of railroad tracks and cricks (creeks for us Northern folks). You were constantly going over a crick or tracks. Lots of amazing trailers, double-wides you would swear were houses on concrete foundations. Big trucks and fast cars everywhere. Clearly folks spent money on their transportation. Where “yall” is one word and there is a smile and wave everywhere you looked. A place where after 5 hours you suddenly had a southern accent (which looked way stupid on this Filipina). The mountains and the hollers are truly breathtaking. It is someplace where an outsider never feels like they are outside. West By God Virginia is truly God’s country.

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On that first trip down to WV, we stopped by his Aunt Barbara’s. She had a huge stockpot on the stove and was making “beans”. Never heard of it. I was 23-years-old. She offered me a small bowl and being polite I took it. With that first bite, the gates of Heaven opened wide and a full gospel choir sang, “Hallelujah”. I finished the small bowl and asked for another big bowl. I’ve been hooked since! Most folks make it with a hamhock. Ok, we know where I stand with bones so that ain’t happening. Through the years, Steve and I mastered our own version of beans and it is mighty tasty! Just a couple hints: save your bacon grease anytime you cook breakfast and make sure the thick ham slices are diced into large chunks. I know for most they are thinking posting a recipe for Beans seems silly. But I can’t be the only one who didn’t have this true down home comfort food until they were in their early 20s?! Someone out there is wondering how to make beans, this post is for you!

Printable Recipe: Beans

Ingredients:

  • Bag of pinto beans

  • Small onion, diced

  • 3 large spoonfuls of bacon grease

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1.5 cups largely diced ham

  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

The night before, rinse off the beans. Put beans in the crockpot.

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Fill with water until the water is approximately 1.5 inches above the beans. Let beans soak over night.

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In the morning, the beans should have swelled up with all the water. Ensure you have 2-3 inches of space between the beans and the top of the crockpot. If the beans swelled higher, remove some of the beans until there is 2-3 inches between the beans and the top of the crockpot. Discard the beans that were removed.

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Add water to about 1/2″ from the top of the crockpot. Add the onions, bacon grease, minced garlic and diced ham. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Cook on high for 6-8 hours stirring every hour or so. Add more water as needed to ensure beans remain covered. Cook until beans are tender and broth is thicker. Beans are served best with cornbread. I ain’t talking about your sweet Jiffy cornbread…I’m talking follow the recipe on a container of corn meal kinda cornbread. Enjoy!

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Can’t wait to go back down to WV. I really love it down there!

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