Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beans, beans, the musical fruit...

I sang it as a child, and I am sure you did, too.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel,
So let's have beans for every meal!

And then, like you, I giggled ("We just said 'toot'!") and then went on my way, not thinking about it anymore.  After all, nobody wanted to toot all the time, so nobody would even consider having beans for every meal, right? 

Until four years ago I could easily count the time I had eaten beans.  It was pretty much limited to the large spoonful that was slopped onto a tortilla at Taco Bell whenever I ordered a 7-Layer and my haystacks that were devoured at after-church potlucks.  And I am not even sure we can consider that brown mush that is served up with the label "refried beans" as beans.  It should more accurately be labeled, "Bean Puree".  It once was in the state of beans, yes, I agree, but now?  Nah, brown-bean-mush with a ton of seasonings.

And then I wound up with a Brazilian man, and this answered my what-I-once-considered-a-rhetorical-question:  Yes, there really are people who like to eat beans at every meal.  As far as most Brazilians (and Puerto Ricans and Costa Ricans and many others I hear) are concerned, a meal is not a meal unless it has the necessary components of beans and rice.

So a new quest began.  Not only did I need to learn how to cook, but I needed to learn how to cook beans.

Luckily for me, my best Brazilian friend Querubia taught me how to make beans: saute the onion and garlic in oil, open the can, add the beans, and cook.  Easy!  No problem!  Obrigada, Querubia, not only did you get me the man, but you taught me how to feed him, too.  She is quite a wonderful friend to have around...

Except Paulo didn't believe that beans from the can counted as beans.  Try as I might ("See, 'Beans', it says so right there.") he didn't see my point.  Yes, he agreed that they were beans, but they were not real beans.  However, being the ever gracious man he is, he said, "It's OK, I don't need beans and rice.  You are a good cook, I can live without it."  A quick kiss and a smile to let me know that I had his support, beans or no beans.  One of the many reasons I love this man.

We continued on, living in our bean-free existence, until one night we had some Brazilian friends over.  The conversation was great until they found out that Paulo had gone two months without eating beans and rice.  "WHAT?!"  This was uttered so loudly that you would have thought we had said Paulo had gone two months without food.  Apparently to our friends, this was the same thing.  "It's not a problem," Paulo answered.  "Tiffany is a great cook, I don't need beans."  "No, no!  You cannot be saying this.  You are BRAZILIAN!  You need BEANS!"

Well, today I can make beans.  All it took was a little lesson while I was in Brazil one day and a pressure cooker.  Then I came home, quickly forgot everything I learned, and made up a recipe myself.  I am not going to say that I make them as frequently as Paulo's friends would expect, but I make them often enough to keep Paulo happy.  And he is really the only one whose opinion counts.  About once a month, maybe twice (maybe) I pull those beans out and get to work.  It is not that hard, it just takes a little bit of time.  As far as the beans-and-rice, well, my rice sucks.  It is always too wet or too sticky or whatever, so Paulo makes the rice, I make the beans, and together we have a dinner that counts as the only true option in the mindset of most Brazilians.  Although he really does like everything else I make and always compliments me, whenever the smell of beans fills the house a smile crosses his face.  "Yes," he says, "tonight we are going to eat real food!"

My Bean Recipe:
Ingredients -
  1. beans (about one cup)
  2. 1/2 onion, chopped
  3. two cloves of garlic
  4. salt, much more than a pinch (maybe 2 teaspoons???)
  5. one bay leaf
  6. a little bit of oil
  7. water to cover the beans plus a little more
Directions -
  1. Sort and rinse beans.  Add to pressure cooker.  Cover with water until about knuckle-deep.
  2. Boil for 15-20 min.  Add more water at end if needed.
  3. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and oil.  Cover with lid, and cook on high until the pressure cooker starts singing.  Lower heat to medium and cook for 25 - 35 minutes. 
  4. Turn off heat and let cool down so the pressure releases.  Viola!  Delicious (and incredibly nutritious) beans!

Beans on FoodistaBeans


  1. tiffany, i always make 1kg of beans then i put it in small containers and freeze it! it lasts months, it's so cool..whenever i feel like eating beans and rice i just thaw and warm up some beans! also, you need the brazilian seasoning for the beans! i always tell my mom to bring me a whole bunch whenever she comes to visit, i can give you some if you want! :)

  2. Great idea!!! Maybe I can get together with you sometime and you can re-teach me how to make beans, because all those mine are pretty good, they could always be better. More Brazilian tasting at least! Thanks for the tip... I love when people share time saving/flavor enhancing ideas :) (BTW, I think it is so funny that "Sophia" is telling me this. What a smart little baby, hahaha!)


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