Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

    Beans make perfect meal in busy winter

    It’s hard to find time to cook at this point in the semester.   Lunches and dinners become hastily assembled sandwiches, bowls of cereal or quesadillas.   We’re supposed to be gearing up for finals and when we’re not doing that we want to relax and not toil in the kitchen for hours.   Frankly, we are tired, trips to the grocery store have become more and more infrequent, and we are ready to go home to a full pantry and parents eager to feed us.   So, what to fill our bodies with for the next week?  

    The answer is…beans!   Cooking up a big batch of dried beans is an easy, cheap and versatile way to provide yourself with food to eat for a good while.   Dried beans are significantly cheaper than their canned counterpart and you can cook them up so that you can throw them into whatever you’re making (or make them the centerpiece of your meals).   I suggest cooking a few cups of dried beans at a time so that you can keep a container of cooked beans in the fridge for everything from quesadillas to stews and soups to bean salads to inspire your meals for the next week or so.   Beans contain more protein than any other plant food and are also a good source of amino acids, especially if combined with a grain like rice or corn.

    Select a variety

    Get yourself some beans.   In Walla Walla, visit Andy’s or Super One to buy beans in bulk.   These beans are usually fresher than pre-packaged bags so they won’t take as long to cook and will have better texture.   Try black beans or pinto beans for your first time around because of their versatility.   Then experiment with other varieties like kidney, cannellini, fava or pink.

    Clean, Rinse and Soak beans

    The first step is soaking your beans.   Measure out two cups of beans, pull out any small rocks or discolored beans, and then rinse the beans in cold water.   Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl covered with at least six cups of cool water (you’ll be surprised how much water they can absorb).   Beans should soak anywhere from 4-24 hours so that they cook quickly and are easier to digest.   If you don’t have time, don’t fret, but know your beans will need to cook longer.  


    Drain the soaking water, cover the beans with fresh water in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil for five minutes.   While the beans are boiling, cut up an onion or two and few cloves of garlic.   Remove any scum that has risen to the surface of the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer.   Add onions, garlic and any other aromatics to flavor your beans.   Aromatics include: bay leaves, dried chilies, sage, parsley, thyme, cilantro or rosemary. You can’t really go wrong here.   Cook the beans with the lid partially on until the beans are tender (about an hour).   Add hot water as needed so that the beans are constantly covered with liquid.  

    Season and Store

    When the beans are tender and creamy inside, add 1 teaspoon salt and other spices such as 1 teaspoon each cumin and chili powder.   Do not add the salt earlier because it will make the beans tough.   Keep cooking beans until they are soft, but not mushy.   When they are done let them cool in their broth and transfer them to a container.   Store in the fridge where beans will keep up to a week.      


    Here are ways to incorporate beans into your every meal.   For breakfast try making huevos rancheros by heating up some black beans (without their liquid) and throwing melted cheese, a fried egg and salsa on top.   For other meals, make some of your beans into soup or chili by adding carrots, greens, celery, canned tomatoes and chili powder to the beans with their broth and cook until the vegetables are tender.   Eat tacos and burritos all the time, sautéing up an onion until soft and then adding pre-cooked beans.   Beef up your quesadillas with a splatter of beans.   You can even add rice and more water to your beans halfway through the cooking process and end up with a pot of mixed rice and beans.   The possibilities are endless; if you get tired of beans you’re not being creative enough.   Search online for bean stew or soup recipes if you need more direction.   Make yourself some beans and good luck with the rest of the semester.  

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