photo by Tortoro! Creative Commons
By Ed Nicholson
I’m currently in day six of the United Way of Northwest Arkansas/ Northwest Arkansas Food Bank $25 Grocery Challenge, in which participants are living on a food budget of $25 per person a week (what food stamp recipients receive).
My Dad’s a pretty good cook. Because Mom worked her tail off at a job that kept her away from home on occassion, kitchen duties fell to him frequently, and he didn’t shirk them. Pinto beans and cornbread were one of his go-to meals. He didn’t use a recipe for either; just started throwing things in the pot and pans. It always ended up good.
In another lifetime, when I was a less-than-prosperous musician, being friends with dried legumes served me well.
So Sunday night, on the second day of this experiment, we had beans and cornbread at our house. I had leftovers last night. We also made some bean dip (beans, cumin, a little Rotel and vinegar, all smashed together). And we still have some left. At $3.00 for the pot of beans and $1.50 for a cornbread made with real butter and buttermilk, that’s pretty good value.
Here’s how I do beans:
Soak 2 lbs. of pintos overnight. Drain & rinse. Add water, a big onion chopped, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, salt & pepper. We always add some pork (ham, salt pork, bacon, etc.–here I had about 6 oz. of leftover pulled pork from a shoulder I’d smoked the week before). Additional seasoning to taste. I add hot sauce. Liquid smoke is good. Cover & cook low and slow all day.
It’s no wonder that beans are a staple the world ’round. They’re rich in protein and a great source of dietary fiber, to offset all the carbs and starch you’re going to get with the rest of this diet.
By the way, at 87, Dad doesn’t cook much any more. But he can still throw down on a great pot of beans. Thanks, Dad.