Sunday, February 8, 2009

crockpot beans to cry for

It is morning as I begin to write this. As with many Sunday mornings of late, I find myself online perusing recipes and in the kitchen chopping ingredients in preparation for the evening's meal. 

This morning the chopping brought me to tears. Literally. 

No, it wasn't at anything crazy, but rather a fairly usual suspect when it comes to kitchen crying - an onion. What was strange is that I don't think I've ever gotten teary eyed from an onion before. 

Why do people cry at onions, anyway? I googled it. It turns out that when you chop an onion, it breaks the onion cells, releasing into the air an enzyme that reacts with the eye (interestingly, it's the same enzyme that makes them so tasty!). Normally, I shield myself from these enzymes with my contacts. But this morning, I stood in my kitchen, wearing glasses and chopping while tears streamed down my face.

So, it is in the honor of the onion that I name tonight's side dish:

Crockpot Beans to Cry For
Serves 6-8

If you thought far enough ahead to start soaking the beans over night, you can jump right into the put-it-all-in-the-crockpot step. But if you're a late planner like me, follow the shortcut described below.

1 lb. dried kidney beans, rinsed and sorted
2 apples, cored and diced (no need to peel)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. molasses
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. brown mustard
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tsp. salt

In a large pot, cover beans with water. Bring to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for about 40 minutes, until beans just start to soften. Drain.

Add beans and other ingredients to crockpot. Add enough water to cover the beans. Cover and cook on low until the beans are very soft, about 8 hours. Check periodically and add more water if needed to keep the beans from drying out.

A couple of notes: 
  1. This recipe makes quite a lot. I'll be freezing half of it (possibly more) for consumption at a later date.
  2. In response to JR's complaints of late that he wants spicier food, at the put-it-all-in-the-crockpot step, I also added some hot pepper sauce. More can be added later in the cooking process per your taste, if you really want to spice things up.
Tonight, the beans will serve as a side dish for our California veggie burgers. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I'm enjoying it at a BBQ at the beach... but the satisfaction is fleeting - I open my eyes to find it's still winter and I'm still wearing wool. 

Let me know what you think!

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