Within the past several years I have been on a journey — a journey that includes living with intention.
I evaluated my life and I wanted something better, not only for myself, but for my family. Living in the Pacific Northwest provided a blank canvas to start creating a more natural lifestyle. My husband and I agreed we wanted a simpler approach to life, one that included local eating, sustainability, and growing more of our own food.
What started out as simple changes — such as replacing conventionally grown veggies to organic — has morphed into growing our own garden, raising chickens for eggs, and making our own cleaning supplies and beauty products. Not only has it been an exciting adventure, it has provided a wonderful learning opportunity for our family to live with respect for our earth, for our animals, and for one another.
#LifeFromScratch is even better than I imagined it would be. The more I dedicate to the lifestyle, the more it gives back to us.
My greatest joy comes from preparing a meal with ingredients we have grown, to wash laundry with soap we have made, to cook our own beans and sauces, to put up preserves from our hand picked berries, to garden with fertilizer our chickens gave us, and to decorate with items I have repurposed.
It may come as a surprise when I tell you that cooking beans from scratch is easier than ever, thanks to my tried and true recipe. My beans, without fail, would always turn out hard and tough. Finally one day I tried this method and never went back to canned.
Why cook your own beans when canned ones are cheap and easy? I have three important reasons.
Taste: There is no comparison between canned beans and home cooked. Everything from the flavor to the texture is just better.
Price: 2 cups of dried bulk beans equals 4 cups cooked. I make a big batch to keep both in the fridge and the freezer. I buy my dried beans in bulk which saves me even more money.
Nutrition: Homemade beans are soaring with nutrients, they are less processed and even better, contain zero BPA chemicals often used in the metal of the cans beans come in.
I use my beans in a variety of ways. Garbanzos (also known as ‘chickpeas’), make delicious flavors of hummus. I add garbanzos to my minestrone soup and I roast them with olive oil and sea salt for a crunchy, healthy snack to have on hand.
My Black Beans are used primarily for chili, a skillet meal using quinoa or simply served over steamed rice with sour cream, salsa and avocado.
I also cook Split Peas from scratch. Our family adores split pea soup. The only difference is a shorter cooking time. The beautiful part? The peas thicken themselves as they cook and break down a bit, creating a lovely silky consistency.
So, let’s cook some up!
- 2 cups dried beans, adjust quantity if needed (here's a great non-irradiated brand of bulk dried beans)
- Rinse beans in a colander under running water. Pick out any stray rocks or cracked beans.
- Place them in a large saucepan and cover with about 3 inches of cold water. Add nothing else.
- Put a lid on the pot and soak overnight (alternatively you could do the soaking process in the morning and cook the beans later on in the day if you wish.)
- The next day, drain and rinse your beans again. Put them back in the pot and again, pour fresh water over them - about another 3 inches (you want to make sure the beans have plenty of water to cook in)
- Bring water to a boil and then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Don't add any salt. Salt can tend to toughen beans if added too early
- However, if you would like to add some flavor to the cooking water, now would be the time to add fresh rosemary, onion slices, whole garlic cloves or spices.
- Watch your beans to make sure there is enough water going and they remain at a low simmer. You may start to see a white foam gathering on top of the water. Skim it off and discard.
- Once your beans are tender, turn off heat and remove. Add 1 tsp salt to the beans (per 2 cups dried beans) and let sit, covered, until water is room temp. This adds a lovely creaminess to your beans and provides a delicious texture.
- Finish by draining thoroughly and they are ready to use.
Have fun by trying new bean varieties. The list of options is endless and will open up a whole new world of culinary adventures.
**Also, please note that many scratch mommies prefer to soak their beans, which we fully support! You can learn more about that through the Weston A Price Foundation.