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Saturday, July 02, 2011

Portuguese Beans

Part of living a frugal life for me includes remembering how my grandparents lived! My maternal grandparents lost their farms in the Dust Bowl and had to begin again, working as migrant farm laborers to survive. My paternal grandmother grew up on a successful farm in the San Joaquin Valley with her parents and when asked about how she survived the Great Depression, answered, "What Depression?"

But HER mother, 
my great-grandmother Emma, 
was extremely frugal! 
She re-used everthing, 
even the giant Purina dog food bags 
she kept neatly stacked on the porch. 
She kept balls of string and rubber bands, 
and bits of foil from packaging. 
Her parents (and her husband) 
had emigrated from the Azore Islands, 
where relatives were so poor 
they kept their pigs under the outhouse!  
I learned many tips and tricks from her 
on frugal living.

One was beans.  
Portuguese Beans.  

They are cooked once a week and eaten 
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
Simple but fragrant and delicious, 
you NEVER get tired of them!

So this week, with money tight, 
we decided to make a pot of beans.  
I gave the recipe to my son, 
and when I came home yesterday afternoon, 
the aroma of those beans hit me at the front door, 
and a fast track of wonderful childhood memories 
came flooding on the wake.

You can eat these beans for dinner, 
alone or with bread.
You can eat them for lunch.
You can eat them for breakfast 
with a couple of fried or poached eggs on top.
You'll see... they're addictive.

An added benefit is the fiber!

Here is my grandmother's simple recipe.

Portuguese Beans

Pinto or kidney beans - 1 pound
2 to 3 slices of good bacon
1 big onion
3 to 5 cloves of garlic
ground cinnamon
ground cloves
ground cumin
ground allspice

Pour 1 pound of pinto or kidney beans into a pot.
Pick out any stones you find.
Cover with cold water and soak overnight.
Next morning, rinse the beans.
Cover with cold water and put on the stove on medium heat.
Bring to a boil, then simmer.

While the beans are simmering:

Cut up 2 or 3 slices of savory bacon into 1" slices
Fry in a skillet until they are crisp
Remove the bacon and add 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves garlic, chopped
Fry until SOFT (not crisp)
Add the bacon back into the pan

Now add:
1 can tomato sauce, tomato paste, or a small can of stewed tomatoes
1 full teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

Stir the spices into the sauce and bring to a boil.

Pour the sauce into the beans, rinsing the skillet out with bean water and putting all the luscious bits back into the bean pot.

Simmer beans, covered, until they are soft.

This recipe can be put into a crockpot in the morning for your evening meal.

Once the beans are done, then salt to taste, which really brings out the flavor.
Adding salt to cooking beans makes them tough, so add the salt at the end.
Be generous - these beans like salt  :)

* * *

The beans can be kept cold in the fridge for about a week.
Just dip into them and heat up what you need.
They also freeze well.

My favorite way of eating these beans 
is with thick slices of home made bread and butter.
You can put them over rice (not traditional but good) 
to extend them.

I hope you enjoy them.
Even my granddaughter (who HATES beans) 
loved these!

Try them!

* * *

Until next time,

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without!


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