Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blueberries and Pinto Beans

I have recently begun to use real blueberries in cooking. It all started last fall when my brother-in-law spoiled me one weekend when I was staying with my sister and him. He made pancakes for breakfast with fresh blueberries. I had never had them. So yummy! I had to try it at home myself. It's so easy to do. You just use your normal pancake recipe then drop several blueberries in the cake once it's on the griddle.

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to make blueberry muffins. All I had ever done in the past was use a cheap boxed mix with these fake blueberry pellets. After a bit of hunting through some of my recipe books, I found one for blueberry muffins. So much better than fake bits, very small amount of additional trouble, and, if blueberries are on sale, just a dime or two more than the box mix. Good grief, why did I ever use the mix? Well, because I didn't know how easy it was to make my own. Not ever going back to fake muffins.

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I am using dried beans for many of the things I used to use canned beans for. It's a little extra trouble and takes a little extra planning, but beans store easily and I reduce my can waste (even though the steel cans do hit the recycle bin) by so much. But one thing I have not had much success with is making refried beans from scratch. I have tried a few times, ending up with a mess of such tasteless mush that it all went to waste. I'd let it go for 6 months, a year, whatever. Then I would get the gumption to make another attempt. I had not been able to find any sort of recipe that worked well for me.

Then a few months ago, my favorite cooking show aired an episode that included refried beans. Yay! Well, not so yay. They used canned pinto beans. Oh, come on! For the show, it was a way to really speed things up and to make the recipe so much easier without sacrificing quality. But it was important to me to use dry beans, not canned. However, it did give me a starting point. I began with their recipe, but used pinto beans I had soaked and cooked. It turned out okay. Nothing to write home about, but not a complete disaster either. I changed a few things around, tried again. This time it was better. Still could use something, I wasn't sure what, but it was better. I felt like I was onto something if only I would keep trying. This weekend I tried again with another little change, and wow! They are not fabulous beans, but they have flavor and are good beans. Finally better than canned refried beans, and I use dried beans as my base. No preservatives, no artificial flavorings, and made fresh! Happy dance!

Slowly I conquer pre-made convenience foods, replacing those with things I make from scratch. As I do this, I feel better about the quality of the food I feed my family. It's also beginning to make a difference in my food bill. Dried beans are a fabulous value. I utilize my garden more effectively.

Next up, to make my own tortillas or enchilada sauce. Not sure which I feel most up to tackling. I'll let you know. :-)

Eat well and remember
Kindness Matters!

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