When I was growing up, my dad did most of the cooking in the house, but on weekends Mom would sometimes cook, usually dried beans. I think if I had to choose one food group to live on the rest of my life, it would be beans.
The kids love beans and rice, so I pulled out of the pantry some dried butter beans from my dad’s garden and soaked them overnight, so we could have them for dinner Monday.
I never prepare beans exactly the same way, but it generally goes like this:
Soak beans the night before, then rinse in the morning. Put them in a crockpot.
Warm some kind of smoked pork product in a skillet (bacon, sausage, or best of all, a ham bone) and hopefully render out enough fat that you can saute an onion in it. If not, you’ll have to use a little oil. Depending on what kind of beans I’m cooking, I may also add celery, garlic or peppers.
Put the meat and veggies in with the beans, and add a bay leaf and thyme.
Cover with water and cook on low all day.
When they’re done, add salt and seasonings to taste.
Last night, I happened to have buttermilk in the fridge, so I decided to whip up some cornbread. What follows is a modified version of Mark Bittman’s recipe, and it was so good that the kids and I ate just about the whole pan.
Best Homemade Cornbread
3 T butter
1 ¼ buttermilk
1 ½ cups cornmeal
½ cup flour
1 ½ t baking powder
1 ½ t salt
2 T sugar
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Put 2T butter in a glass 7 x 10 baking dish and place in oven to melt. Set a timer so you don’t forget about it while you mix the batter.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
- Measure the buttermilk in a larger glass measuring cup than you need, then add the egg and mix. Stir into the dry ingredients.
- Pull the baking dish out of the oven if you haven’t already, and pour in the batter.
- Bake about 30 minutes, just until the edges are lightly browned and the sides start to pull away.
- Take the remaining 1T butter, and let it melt over the top, spreading evenly as it melts.