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I’d make a big pot on Sunday, using bones and drippings from our once a week chicken. In the fridge, those beans would last for days to be reheated and served in various combinations. They might be curried, dressed with sunflower seeds, chopped apples and raisins and poured over rice, or chili-peppered and served, with a little ground meat and cheese, over spagetti.
But all that basic advice may be found on the back of the bag or in your "big fat" cookbook. There are many kinds of beans, and they'll give you a world tour of eating—and that’s the interesting part to me. Currently, I’m working my way through several different kinds, because each lends itself to different recipes.
Split peas and lentils cook fast. The former are made to be cooked with a ham bone, a pig’s foot, or just lots of carrots, potatoes and onion. The yellow and red varieties are delicate and will cook to a mushy nothing if you aren’t careful. Yellow lentils, mixed with yogurt and curry powder, approximate Dal, an Indian favorite.
Black beans lend themselves to cooking with a Spanish or Portuguese flare. Cook them with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and a big squeeze of fresh orange juice. Serve over rice and alongside more of those cooked greens--only this supper time you'll be dining in Brazil instead of the Deep South.
Black-eyed peas and white beans are still the darlings of the south, especially good cooked with pork odds and ends and accompanied with dishes of greens and cornbread. Cooked white beans (or pintos) can go into the bottom of a well-oiled iron skillet, covered with a cornbread mixture and then baked into that original hand-held American take-out food, the venerable cornpone.