Thursday, October 7, 2010

butterbeans

If you have read any of my posts, you already know I hate to cook. Except for the occasional special meal when we are having guests, or holidays.  I can tolerate those.  But the daily grind of preparing something to swallow so we can go on living?  I hate it.  But there was a time....

When I first got married I wanted to be a good wife.  I kept our first apartment immaculate.  I kept all our clothes clean and pressed.  And I cooked.  Or tried to....

Remember me talking about not being allowed to help in the kitchen?  And learning to cook from my mother-in-law when I moved to Alabama?  Well, this is about that little window of time between leaving my mom's home and starting my own, and before I landed in Alabama.  I am thinking of a particular meal that has become a running joke in our family.

I was doomed to fail you see.  First, because of my ignorance of all things food, and second because at times I am more obstinate than the most stubborn mule alive.  You tell me something or try to make a suggestion, and I dig in my heels and do it MY way just to prove I can.  Which mostly works for me....

Except with butterbeans.  I was humbled by a lowly butterbean not long after Steve and I married.  Y'all may know them as limas.  Dried limas caused my downfall as a new wife and cook.  Not those tiny baby dried limas you see in bags in the rice and bean section of the grocery store.

NOOOOO...these are LARGE limas.  They don't look too intimidating just laying around in the plastic bag.  It is when you add them to a pot of water that they turn evil and rise against you.

Now fade to a summer day in California....beautiful weather and we are going to the boat races.  Being the good wife, I don't want my new husband to miss a meal because we are going out, so I decide to cook the beans and put them on low heat while we are gone.  I figure they will just lay there in their warm little bath like happy little butters....

Except for this conversation (this was the beginning of the end for me and the butterbeans):

him: honey what are you doing?
me: putting the butterbeans on.
him: isn't that a lot of beans?
me: no, mom always cooked a whole bag at a time.

let me add here that navy beans do NOT equal butterbeans in size, not before or after they are cooked.  Butterbeans are the Goliath in the dried bean world.

him: I don't think mother ever cooked more than a couple cups at a time.
me: I know what I am doing...I am cooking enough so that we will have extra for leftovers next week.
him: you do know they swell when they cook?
me: (snorking at him) of COURSE I do, now leave me alone and I'll be ready to go in just a minute...

So I put the whole bag in a 5 quart dutch oven on top of the stove (this is 30 years before crockpots exist). 

Did I mention it is a 4 pound bag of beans?  I put them on low, put a lid on the pot, and off we go to watch the boat races.

Two or three hours later we come home and I walk to the stove to check my beans, which should be ready by now, I am thinking to myself.  And I see...

Beans.  Everywhere....the pot is full, the beans (which aren't cooked much by the way) are pushing the top off the pot like a monster emerging from the deep....there are beans on the stove top, beans running down the front of the stove and piled in the floor... beans...beans...beans....everywhere I look.

Steve is standing behind me at some point with his mouth hanging open like a fly trap...and I just turn to him and say...

"DON'T SAY A WORD"....

But secretly I am thinking I have never seen ANYTHING swell that much...

So I start dividing the beans that are still trapped in the pot into other pots so I can at least cook those...and I spend quite a while scraping the bean victims off the stove and floor and burying them in the trash.  I end up with a 5 quart pot and three 4 quart pots filled with beans, after they finally finish swelling and cooking. 

We ate those beans for over a week, maybe two, and to this day I avoid cooking them more than maybe once a year.  When I do cook them, I cook a handful at a time now. 

I did learn my lesson you see.  I just wouldn't admit it to Steve.  To this day he tells the story of the butterbeans.  And I act like I planned it that way the whole time....

And I don't mention the three pounds of lentils I cooked just a couple years ago....that was when I found out that dried lentils multiply like rabbits when you hide them in a pot of water.

I think I will just forgo cooking dried beans forever.  It's safer.
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