Hello my fellow readers!
I am back after a brief absence. It all started out with a flat-screen monitor falling on my hand while typing at work which left me only able to type for work for a good two weeks, rounded out to a nice distracting week in Florida for Christmas, mourning my step-grandpa who died the Monday after Christmas, and I'm just now coming back to freezing cold temperatures and snow. Ack!
And now ... a three month budgeting hell! PEPCO's being a jerk and charging me $245 for electricity - and I was gone for one of those weeks. Not only that, but they normally charge me $180 and, yes, that's with the heat on. And then I needed all the godly household goods, like toilet paper and Downy and body wash (which Target seems to be having some killer sales lately - even beating Walmart!). Which means I have about $300 to spend on food this month. Eeek.
With the Christmas "gifts" I got from a co-worker gluten-free pasta, a thing of 365 gluten-free bread mix, and some of Bob's Mighty Tasty breakfast stuff, I should be able to get through this month. Next month is a whole other ball park and to which I am not allowing myself to panic over just yet (February and March mean 80 hour checks, which are a pain in the neck simply because they're not 88 hour checks - blah!). Although these generous gifts stretch the budget, they're not food food.
That's where beans and rice come in handy. Giant's has been friendly and having either canned or frozen veggie sales each week (or, if I real lucky, both). So, this week I will write about how I'm freezing beans because Giant's has one pound bag of various beans for only one measly buck. Which means for 3 bucks, I can have enough beans to last me all month AND gas out my poor co-workers (sorry in advance!). Once I combine the generous gifts and my poor excuse for a food budget, then I will something worthy of two weeks worth of meals - and a non-hungry employee is a happy employee :)
Luckily for me, I have public television. Not only that, but I was bored one night and PBS had some Italian something or another cooking show on and it happened to be about beans (or some Italian soup with some beans). Anyhoo, I figured out how to properly soak and cook beans. Apparently, if you don't want your beans drying out during the cooking process, then you best soak them overnight (duh) in salt (dur - what?). I don't normally cook with salt and so I forgo the salt. Apparently, you can wash the salt off of the beans before cooking and, as long as you remember to not add any salt during the cooking process, you're good to go as far as the sodium content goes!
So, tonight, as I prepped the beef stew (I got the beef stew cubes for like $2.35 at Whole Foods but, anyway, more on that later!), I decided to get out my beans that I bought. To prep them:
1.) Spread your beans out on a cookie sheet (I use about half the bag, or one cup). Throw away any wrinkly or broken beans, stones, or other foreign objects that don't look like a bean.
2.) Place beans into a colander and rinse in warm water.
3.) I forgot the ratio of salt to water, so I got down my Kosher salt and added a tablespoon of salt to about two cups of water. I need to do more research on this, but, so far, it's working (knock on wood) and I will report the results upon after eating my beans. Dissolve salt in water.
4.) Place beans in salt bath. Let soak over night.
5.) Before cooking, rinse the beans really well. Add beans to Crockpot. Fill Crockpot with enough water to cover the beans.
6.) Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for four hours. Drain the beans. Either freeze or use in any recipe.
Or, just go to 365 Crockpot. She has a nifty picture and there's some good info on red kidney beans to be found. Which is a good thing, because I plan on making a batch of chili tomorrow! I'm also freezing some pintos (more on that later, too, so stay tuned!).
Until the next time, may your hibernating and your cranky, "I'm-Not-Sleepy-And-So-Not-Hibernating" guinea not fight!