This recipe is dedicated to my friend, Sam. *mwah*
Ok, so I've been trying to phase my house over to more Real Food. This means, in general, that I'm trying to make whatever I can. From scratch.
This is my latest attempt. I wanted to make the classic canned baked beans...without the pork. (Because who keeps three square inches of pork belly around, just to make a serving of beans?! Not me - that's who.)
My method was to look at the back of my can of generic "beans and franks", mentally delete all of the ingredients that weren't....food....and go from there.
I thought they turned out really great! The beans were a little tough-skinned, but I think that's just because it was an older bag of beans. (Any bean gurus out there that can clue me in on a way to get softer skins?)
Aunt LoLo's Sweet Beans
2 cups dry pinto beans
1 tsp. dry onions (My Bean Master sister says dry onions taste better in beans than fresh. If using fresh, chop up about half of an onion, and saute before adding to your beans. Hat tip to Myrnie!)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 oz. canned tomato paste
Prep your dry beans - cover them with water, and swirl them around a bit. Pull out anything that floats, or anything that isn't a good-looking bean. (Anything black, wrinkled, split...those are all trash.) To soften the beans, either soak them overnight in cold water, or cover with water and bring to a boil. Either way, drain the water off afterwards, replace it with fresh water (about 2" over the beans).
Into the water, add all of the remaining ingredients to your pot, except your tomato paste. (Myrnie told me once that tomato products seem to stunt the cooking of the beans...I've never tried to tempt fate!) (And yes, Myrnie taught me how to cook dry beans. I still call her nearly every time I try to mix up a pot!)
Simmer the beans until they are soft, and then add your tomato paste. (BTW, 3 oz. is about half a can. Eyeball it...or add the whole can. Just add to taste!)
After a few minutes more simmering, taste the beans. Add more salt, sugar, vinegar, ground pepper...whatever flavor you're missing, chuck it in there. Just be sure to use a light hand - once it's in there, you can't get it back!