I once exploded my stove.
We'd been in Brazil for a whopping one day. We were hungry. I was feeling adventurous and fearless and very BRAZILIAN, so I decided to make ... spaghetti. (Quick. Easy. And like four ingredients.)
I had the radio on, didn't understand a word of it, and was singin' it scat style OOOOOO BEE BAAA BOOO DAAAAAAA! Baby Little Prince on the floor next to me, My Man on the phone with family, assuring them that we did, indeed, arrive alive.
Then I moved a pot. And
Turns out my lovely Brazilian stove was not, in fact, a chic-y glass top stove like my mommy has.
It was, instead, more or less like this:
See that lid? The glass lid that I was supposed to lift UP? And instead, like some American idiot, cooked right on top of it?
Yeah. That's me.
The pot moved, a sonic boom that broke the sound barrier, and glass, glass raining down all over the kitchen.
Luckily I said my prayers that morning, and neither I nor LP were hurt.
(And I believe we went out to eat that night.)
Truth is, I learned a few things in Brazil. Things like the LESS water pressure you use in the shower, the HOTTER the water. Or Every Price is Negotiable. Or bundle up your kid no matter how freakin' hot it is outside, or the Grandma Police will be on your tail.
I also learned how to make beans.
Do you know how to make beans?
Since the days of the Great Depression in the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has encouraged its members to be self-reliant through building up a year's supply of stored and preserved food and other necessities. We hear it every six months in General Conference, and intermittently throughout the year. Food storage! Food storage! Store food! Does everyone have their year supply? Free bird!
There's all kinds of information on the internet, including a Food Storage Calculator, telling you exactly how much peanut butter YOUR FAMILY would eat in a year. (Although they're woefully ignorant of chocolate chips.)
According to this handy-dandy device, my family of five (I didn't even include baby #4) needs to store ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY POUNDS OF BEANS.
Again - do you know how to cook beans?
It drives me crazy when I hear women say, "Oh, well, if I'm hungry enough, I'll figure it out." NOT. It took me a solid year to cook beans good enough to eat. I burned more than a few pans. (And at least one stove.)
So now I'm going to teach you. BEANS.
First things first. Pick through them. Pull out all the cracked, shriveled, peeling, and generally icky ones. Then cover in water and let soak. (The longer you soak them, the faster they'll cook. Plus it extracts all the "gases" that make beans so famously musical. I usually soak mine an hour or so, because I'm not very good at thinking ahead.)
Alright. Now drain the beans, and refill the pot.
IMPORTANT!!! GO OUT RIGHT NOW AND BUY A PRESSURE COOKER!!!
They run $35 to approximately a million dollars. I bought a super cheap one, and it has served me well for many a year now. Go cheap.
If you DON'T buy a pressure cooker, then expect to cook your beans for about a week before they're ready to eat. Seriously.
Alright. So put your presoaked beans in the pot and FILL with water. You want at least one middle-finger length of water ABOVE the beans. This is crucial.
Now let the cooker cook. DO NOT ADD SALT OR SEASONING YET. IT WILL MAKE YOUR BEANS TOUGH.
(No one likes tough beans.)
It'll take a few minutes for the pressure cooker to get hot and the top to start spinning. Let it spin for 30-45 minutes, and then do whatever you have to do to release the pressure. (Every pot is different.)
Keep it on the burner, but don't put the lid back on. Just let it keep boiling without any pressure. (Add more water if you need to.)
In a separate skillet, saute some onion, fresh garlic, and chopped bacon and/or kielbasa in oil. Amounts completely depend on taste. I LOOOOOVE me some garlic, so I really go to town. Add oregano, cumin and cilantro. (This is what I do - you can season it however you darn well want to.) Once the onion is soft, add it to the beans, as well as about a tablespoon of salt and a bay leaf. (Again - this depends on taste. I like it rather salty. I also cook a lot at one time, then freeze in small quantities.)
Let it continue boiling, stirring occasionally, for another 30-45 minutes. The longer you cook it, the thicker the beans, and the stronger the taste. I like me some thick-ish beans. Everyone's different.
Feel free to taste it every now and then and add more of anything. (Salt! Always more salt ....)
Serve with rice, and you got yourself a complete protein for pennies.
Just make sure you lift up the lid before you get started ....