My Grandpa Miller used to say “Poor people have poor ways.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. I have been a part of, as well as witnessed many poor ways in my lifetime. To this day, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t know how to fix without having some used bailing wire on hand, using a pocketknife in place of a screwdriver, or basically trying to fix about anything without having the proper tools to do it with. I think the U.S. Marines call it adapting and overcoming, but in my case, it is just plain ole poor people with poor ways.
I remember when Grandma Miller would cook dinner for all the family that would show each Sunday, and being the trooper she was, she would adapt and overcome on many occasions. One particular thing I remember vividly she would do, was to make a pot of beans by mixing and using whatever type of beans she had on hand, and they were always good! You have to remember, when you live 25 miles from a grocery store and need to feed a large hungry bunch, you take your poor people with poor ways knowledge, then adapt and overcome.
I have heard tell and witnessed it firsthand of people who do not like beans? The only comment I can make to that is these people obviously have never eaten them prepared in the many different versions I have. The thing I like about beans is they can be prepared in so many variations to be eaten on their own or used in other recipes as well. Until recently, I was in the habit of using a lot of canned beans in recipes like baked beans, chili w/beans, bean soup, and other recipes. I still do this on occasion for convenience. A while back, I was invited to a cookout and asked to bring the baked beans, well, I didn’t have any canned beans of any kind to use, and was too lazy to go to the store, so I adapted and overcame, I had dried beans on hand, so I cooked up a small pot of those, to make my baked beans with. It turned out to be some of the best baked beans I have ever made.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine, had bags and bags of commodity pinto beans they were wanting rid of, and asked me if I wanted some. I said, “Heck Yeah,” those are like gold for somebody who loves cooking, and I took all I could carry. Now I had all the beans I needed to prepare on their own as well as prepare for my other recipes.
The whole key to using beans in other recipes is the way you season them in the recipe you are preparing. In fact, when I use canned beans in a recipe, I ALWAYS empty the contents in a colander and thoroughly rinse all that nasty looking juices off of them before using. If you make your own beans to use in other recipes, that is not necessary, and the beans are tastier. Today, I’m sharing just a generic bean recipe, of how I prepare beans that I’m going to use in other recipes such as baked beans or added to chili, when I have no canned beans on hand. This method works well and totally adds increased flavor to the chili or baked bean recipe. All I do is prepare the amount of beans I will need for the recipe, add the listed spices below and cook until tender. This is how I season them for use in making my baked bean recipe, or to add to a pot of chili, but please use your own imagination to match your own tastes.
Simple Recipe Beans (to replace canned beans)
1 lb or less of Pinto Beans
¼ of an onion chopped
1 heaping tablespoon of bacon grease
1 tablespoon Chili seasoning
Dash of Garlic Powder
Dash of cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans if you have time, if not, don’t worry about it. Melt the bacon grease in a pot, add the beans and stir. Cover the beans with tap water only (I use chicken stock when making the beans as the main course, but no need to here). Add all your seasonings to the pot and stir. Bring the beans to a boil, then turn down to simmer. Add water as needed, but just enough that the beans will soak it up and form a juice more consistent to a sauce, rather than having a lot of extra juice. Cook the beans until tender.
Now you can use them immediately for your baked bean or chili recipe, or put them in a container and refrigerate until ready to use later that day, or in the next couple of days.