Friday, July 29, 2011

Cool Beans!

Visitas de las Hermanas - Amado Peña

Today, Gene and I saw part of a fascinating episode of the show, Modern Marvels, entitled “Beans”, featured on the History Channel.  The topic is always one of interest, since Gene and I like eating beans so much.

The most popular bean worldwide is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea. Cooked, mashed garbanzo beans are the primary ingredient of hummus, a wonderful, creamy dip originating in the Middle East. Rich in vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6, hummus is an excellent source of fiber and protein, and is traditionally served with pita bread. You can find hummus in your local grocery store, and for a healthy snack, try it with baked pita chips, celery and carrots. Yum!

Below are links to a couple of delicious-sounding recipes using chickpeas that I’m going to try soon:

The second most popular bean in the world is the Pinto Bean, and most of us have tasted this wonderful bean in Mexican cuisine as refried beans. Interestingly, refried beans aren’t fried at all! Check out this interesting Food Tech video on the making of refried beans:

One of my most favorite pinto bean recipes comes from my friend, Drew, in Gatesville, Texas:

Miss Drew’s Beans
3 lbs. pinto beans
1 lb. bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I use maple-flavored bacon)
2 onions, chopped
3 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles
1 or 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

1. Wash and rinse the amount of beans you want to cook.
2. Using 1 quart of water for each cup of beans, cook up a big pot of pinto beans according to the package.
3. Do not add seasoning while cooking the beans.
4. If you pre-soaked the beans, cooking time will be 1 to 1 ½ hours. If you did not pre-soak the beans, cooking time will be 2 to 2 ½ hours. Stir occasionally, making sure beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, and add additional water if necessary.
5. Fry bacon and onion until cooked (bacon will not be crispy). Do not burn onions.
6. Add bacon and onion mixture (including bacon grease) to beans.
7. Add 3 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles.
8. Add chopped cilantro.
9. Salt to taste.
10. Cook 30 more minutes and serve hot. Enjoy!

Amado Peña

Amado Peña, renowned Southwest artist, created a painting, entitled Tres Hermanas, which depicts the Three Sisters – maize, beans and squash. These were the staples of the Ancient Pueblo People, as well as some of the later tribes, such as the Zuni, Hopi and Navaho.

Tres Hermanas - Amado Peña

The Native Americans used companion planting. First, they buried rotten fish, which acted as a fertilizer, in a mound with maize seeds. Once the stalks reached a certain height, they planted beans, which wrapped around the maize stalk. The beans provided nitrogen to the soil, and the stalk served as a pole up which the beans would grow. Squash plants encircled the base of the maize and beans to retain moisture in the ground, to provide ground cover, preventing sunlight from encouraging weed growth, and as a deterrent to pests due to the prickly hairs of the vine.

One cannot write about beans without mentioning the oh-so-dreaded side effect, flatulence. So, how can we prevent flatulence from beans? Try this tip while cooking your beans. Or, try Beano®, an enzyme-based, dietary supplement, used to reduce gas in the intestinal tract, thereby reducing flatulence. Beano® was developed by Alan Kligerman of AkPharma in 1990. He created this formula while researching lactates in an effort to provide a solution for people, who are lactose-intolerant. The man was a genius!

And, speaking of geniuses, Benjamin Franklin outlined the easiest of all solutions in the eloquent essay he wrote around 1781 entitled, “A Letter To A Royal Academy”:

“It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind. That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it. That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.”

Eat Beans & Hold Your Wind, Y’all!

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