Beans & etc.
(old beans)
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(last worked on: September 5th, 2021)

You're looking at the end result.

Here's what to do with a cold one (5 minutes) --and note the toasting bun.
(The first batch tasted fine with ketchup but, somehow, my wife did not like them^ --so I ate hers too.)

^ It was a different story for the 9/4/2018 batch. She at first refused to believe the burgers were made from our (new improved) black bean recipe. Today (5/26/2019) she again pronounced her bean-burger "good" --quite a compliment --coming from her.

* These beans and burgers are quite filling --and some say bloating, so best eat no more than two the first time. (If no one in your house ends up liking them, best not give them to your dog. Folks 'round here say that dogs bloat badly and get into trouble with beans.)

* Earlier I tried ladling hot beans from the pot over baked, buttered, salted and fork mashed potatoes (still in the peeling/shell). That was good enough that my wife also ate a helping --but I like the burgers better. Next I'll try beans and butter on our home made oat bread. (Later: yup, that was good too.)

* We've long known that eating red meat is bad for you and bad for the planet --despite that it's affordable and good tasting. We also know that off-the-shelf or vegetarian restaurant Yuppie food substitutes are both expensive and not without questions. (Soy? GMO? Need good teeth to eat it? Got $9.00 plus tip for a sit-down vegeburger?)

* What's really needed is a McDonald's style, fast food, drive-through vegeburger (--but with far fewer choices, lower prices and a drive-up reader menu --before you get to the speaker).

* Failing that, here's some DIY, starting with OLD bliggety black beans --beans which have been sitting on our pantry shelf for at least a decade. --We've got 24 quarts of the dang things.

* Why black beans? Because they're supposed to be one of the most nutritious and protein laden plant foods available --to help keep vegetarians from starving to death. They don't taste like much, but with enough onions, salt, butter and sugar, even an old pair of socks can taste pretty good.

First off: let's hear from some experts --the kind of folks who write books and post web pages.

* We start with what should be the last word --from the venerable Ms. Aliza Green, who wrote The Bean Bible (copyright: 2000). Unfortunately, she doesn't take a firm position on the very first issue of black bean preparation: whether or not to soak-wash them. She does, however, present ample opinions for and against, while making it clear that her practice is to soak beans --especially old beans --and at length.

* Soaking is said to remove indigestible "oligosaccharides" --the stuff which make people phart. To make it work, you need to change the water 3 times during the soak period and rinse between changes. However: urban legend has it that many folk's digestive systems soon gets use to the challenge of unsoaked beans.

* OLD beans and most store bought beans are said to need soaking in order rehydrate and cook evenly (if not be soak-washed as well). Really old beans can take 12 to 24 hours --which might result in fermentation --which is headed off by cold water rinsing and water changes. (It's implied that fermentation is not a good thing --hmmnnn: but might it help with digestion? Might it lend an interesting sour taste?)

* Some chefs, however, do not presoak-wash beans, saying it flushes away minerals and flavor. Yes: they cook their beans in the soak water --or maybe they slow-cook, such that the beans are simultaneously soaking. This is the method used by the indigenous peoples who dwell in the region between Central and South America ("MesoAmerica") --as we learn from Fast Vegetarian Feasts, by Ms. Martha Rose Shulman (1986).

* In the interests of experiment and simplicity, and before discovering the "Food Lab", I washed my OLD beans in a colander, but I didn't presoak or further wash/rinse them. Now: having eaten at least 3 cups of the finished beans, I've so far experienced no "digestion" problems (oh: social ruin!).

But --stop the music! :-) At the web site for "THE FOOD LAB", ("Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science"), the oddly named J. Kenji López-Alt --holds forth with what is surely the last word (or 2 words) on soaking beans: "Don't bother". Take the link and learn why.

Yes: my old beans were a long time a-brewing: about 12 hours. I made a double batch: 2 cups of washed black beans (plus all the other ingredients) in a "slow cooker" set to "low"; another 2 cups in a medium enamelware pot placed in a 210 degree (Fahrenheit) oven. The oven pot finished first (my wife pronounced upon bean softness), so next time I tried our slow cooker on its "high" setting and that worked fine. (There's no "medium" option on our bargain cooker, just "keep warm", "Low" (154 watts) and "High" --rated at 250 watts of power, checked it at 231 watts.)

* Another issue is when to add the salt --and how much. Some say to put it into the cook pot straight away and even into the pre-soak water --in order to preserve the bean's skin and integrity. Others say to wait until half way through the cooking period or even after, since you want the beans/cellulose to get soft. This is also said to help with "digestion". So: I stirred it in after the beans were done, then simmered for another hour.

To Make a Pot of Beans: The Recipe (using the no pre-soak method):

* Put into the slow cooker: 3 rounded cups of well rinsed black beans.

--Add 2 quarts of water

> 1 large or 2 medium onions --diced (or: 2 rounded tablespoons of granulated dried onion)

> 2 rounded tbsp of granulated, dried, California garlic

> 2 tbsp butter


> If you've got one: a shaggy ham bone. If not: another 2 Tbsp of butter.

> 1 rounded Tbsp cilantro

> 1 Tbsp parsley

> lots of diced mushrooms

> a diced green pepper

> a jalapeno -sliced and seeded

* Cook in a slow cooker, stirring occasionally --first on the "high" setting until it boils, then back to a "medium" simmer heat for a total of 8 hours (for most recent batch), or until the beans are agreeably soft.  (My "High" is rated at 250 watts and it took over 3 hours to start boiling.) I then went to the "Low" setting (154 watts), at which level it continued to simmer and bubble for 5 more hours (a total of 8 hours). (I have no "Medium" setting, just "Keep Warm", "Low" and "High".)

* After the beans are cooked, add

> 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt

> A cup (packed) of brown sugar

* Stir, then cook/simmer for another hour.

* Scoop the beans out into bowls and top with a pat of butter. (Tastes mighty good --the juice too!)


Now you can make those bodacious, end-of-the-world Bean-Burgers:

* Put into a flat-bottomed mixing bowl: 2 cups of well drained, cooked black beans (per the above recipe), along with a good representation of whatever's been cooked with it (onions, spices, mushrooms), 2 slices of coarse grated bread^, 1 heaping teaspoon of seasoned salt (something like: "Lemon-Pepper"), 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (add 1/4 level tsp of xanthan --if you use a home-ground, non-gluten flour). Add in 1/4 cup of brown sugar (packed). (My first batch was without and it tasted pretty good.)

^ It might be better to skip the bread and use another 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. That came out great today (5/26/2019).

* Mix the ingredients together --which might/should look rather dry, but it gets more moist as the beans blend in. Rapid stamps with a potato masher should get it, but no big deal on the mixing. The burgers taste just as good with plenty of black beans still showing.

If your bean glop is on the moist to watery side, that's okay. The xanthan might take up excess water after a short while, or you can just slow cook it dryer.

* Put cooking oil into a frying pan. This bean concoction ends up oil thirsty, so start with plenty. Maybe you can't afford enough "extra virgin" olive oil. I ended up with Mazola ("good for the heart" --says so right on the bottle). (That's the oil we normally pop corn in, using a "Stir Crazy".)

* Turn up the heat until the oil is hot, run the heat back to med-low and lay in your bean glop as patties --no more than 1/2 inch thick, so that they cook (firm) through. You'll have to scrape them off the pan (with a plastic spatula if you're stuck with a non-stick pan) and turn them over a couple times in order to keep oil under the patties.

* Frying goes pretty fast, since the beans have already been cooked. Fry them until both sides look (umm) "cooked". (No blacker --bad for you.)

* Good gosh(!) but this stuff sticks to a hot, well oiled pan, even after the first turn-over. Best not fry the patties too hot. (Just soak the pan in water for a while and it will come clean.)

Stop wasting your life --and get a steamer.

Make that two steamers: a large one (photo) and a smaller one.

Etc. Recipes
(printable PDF files)

Apple Sauce: An old family recipe (no doubt --which I've grossly adjusted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook).

"Italian Spaghetti": Actually, more like a hot dish --using elbow macaroni/whatever and a can of chili.

Oat Bread: The real deal here --not half glutinous "bread flour", like most other recipes.

Bird Bread: What to do with all that old buggy flour you've been hoarding and putting off using.

Lentil Stew: This started out trying to be soup --and I do include a soup modification.

Broccoli: Break off the florets and stems into the steamer's colander, bring the steamer pot's water to a boil, put on the colander and cover, steam the broccoli for 12 minutes: nice and tender. (If you steam it for "6 minutes", like it says elsewhere, provide your gathering or family with spittoons for the stems.) Serve cut up with several pads of butter, liberal salt, black/table pepper, and a side of mayonnaise to use as a dip.