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The Method: Dried Beans

The beautiful beans coming to us from Morningstar Farms are such a tasty and economical source of protein. For those of us lucky enough to have wood stoves, there is nothing easier than sticking a cast iron pan on the stove and leaving the beans for a day or two while they plump up. If you are using your range, you should always soak your beans first, to save energy and effort. Plan ahead and soak them overnight in a cast iron dutch oven, covered with about 2-3 inches of water and a generous amount of salt. (Your future self will thank you for soaking 2 cups of beans; this will yield about 6 cups cooked, around 3 cans’ worth. You can freeze whatever you don’t need now for later use.) When you are ready to cook the beans, drain off that water and replace with fresh, covering them with about 2 inches of water again. Adding half an onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, more salt, and a piece of kombu seaweed at this point will help your beans taste amazing and be easier to digest. Bring your pot to a good simmer. Keep an eye out as they cook, and add more water if they start to get dry. Depending on how old your beans are (and Farmers to You sells this years’ crop, so they are very fresh) they may be cooked and soft in 45 minutes, or they may need more simmering and water. Now is the time to nurse them and make sure they have everything they need. The reward is a stockpile of creamy, flavorful beans you can use in many different meals. At this point, you can either discard the onion and garlic, or you can blend those aromatics right into whatever soup or stew you are making.