Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday: Vegetarian Crockpot Use

My crockpot is one of my kitchen appliances that I use the most, along with my handy-dandy toaster oven. Since our family eats largely vegetarian meals (hubby is a vegetarian, we eat only chicken, turkey and fish) then most of my meals that I cook are vegetarian. However, this makes it challenging for those Once a Month Cooking Plans, because, well, frankly, I don't think bean dishes freeze well. *smile*

So, an alternative for me is my crockpot. For a vegetarian, there's not much you can make in the crockpot, except for beans. What I do is this: Every week (usually it's Tuesday) I cook beans in my crockpot. My three main beans are pinto beans, black beans, and black-eyed peas. It's so simple. Wash the beans, cover them with filtered water in the crockpot, cook on high most of the day, then turn to low when you see them getting done. Some people are bothered by the gas that beans produce, but I find that sticking a few whole garlic cloves in there while they cook seem to help us just fine. Also soaking them before cooking for four hours with a tablespoon of baking soda helps, too. (Make sure you rinse the baking soda off the beans before cooking.) Cooking beans in the crockpot this way also leaves out the tedious boiling and simmering you might otherwise do on the stove.
I also find that cooking the beans in the crockpot gives the beans the most perfect texture--firm outside but squishy inside. That night, we make burritos with the beans in the crockpot. The leftover beans are saved and used in another dish later in the week. For example, if I made pinto beans, we would eat the pintos in a burrito, then later in the week I might mash the leftover beans and make refried beans for tostados or in some type of Mexican casserole (enchilada, etc.) It works great with the refried beans because you already have those soft cloves of garlic in the beans and can mash them up with them.

I'm telling you, this is easy...and yummy! My $20 crockpot has lasted forever--what a great investment. It works for me!!

More "Works For Me Wednesday" can be found here.


L.L. Barkat said...

another helpful digestion aid... put a 1-inch piece of kelp in the pot... this actually makes the beans more digestible. Soaking overnight has its own wisdom too. For, as a bean begins the sprouting process, it undergoes chemical changes!

If a person can't do once a month thing, she can still do a Meal Plan to make things easier.

Miriam said...

Thanks for sharing this, Andrea. For awhile I have thought I'd like to use more beans in my cooking, but haven't yet taken the time to research and figure out how.

Would you consider sharing some of your favorite recipes using beans? (Or even one would be helpful.)

bluemountainmama said...

i'm in the opposite situation...i ate mostly vegetarian until i married my hubby, who likes his meat and potatoes. but i try to get veggie meals in at least once a week or so, though i'd like to do more. i have the same request as miriam- if you have more recipes using beans, i'd love them, too. crock-pots are da bomb! :) i tend to get my sinking spell late afternoon/early it's nice to be able to make everything in the morning and stick it in the crockpot to cook all day- then just dish it out in the evening.

Anna said...

I love crockpots! It was my first kitchen purchase when we moved to the UK (because of the different plug). What a way to cook!

Ann Kroeker said...

I was *just yesterday* looking at a bag of beans and thinking, "I should Google to find out any secrets to cooking beans in the crockpot." What wonderful timing! I was thinking that one had to presoak, regardless of the gas issues. It's nice to know that it works just to stick them in there. I want to cook everything possible in the crockpot. It's my favorite electric gadget.

Elise said...

This is so great - I have the worst time cooking beans!
I am definitely going to try them in my crockpot - thanks!

Alexandra said...

Thanks, I'll have to try this...been meaning to cook some beans recently.