Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Thermos Experiment

I'm all turned around this week. Jim's working a later shift and its throwing a monkey wrench into the works. Last night I made Mac Uncheese and added cooked lentils to make it a little heartier. It was a nice addition and everyone enjoyed it.

Before bed I put some red kidney beans into the slow cooker. Its such a great way to have the beans tender when you're ready to use them. I tried a little experiment with them. I filled Jim's 1 liter thermos about half way with the cooked beans, added a generous amount of cooked, shredded swiss chard, a tablespoon of vegetable broth powder, and some uncooked bulgur. I finished by filling the thermos with boiling water and shaking it to mix the ingredients. I'm curious to hear how it turned out when Jim gets home tonight. If it worked out well this offers me more lunch options not only for Jim but for the kids too.


rachel said...

do you soak the beans first, when you cook them in a crockpot? i am just about to make a baked beans recipe from the cook's illustrated best recipe cookbook, and it says not to soak the beans first.
so, heck, i won't!

~Dawn said...

Will you know if it worked or not, by him coming home extra hungry or will he flat out tell you?

Katie said...

Hi Rachel,
No I don't usually soak the beans first when I use the crock pot. How did your baked beans turn out?

Oh no, he'll come right out and tell me.

Jen and Steve said...

How do you cook the beans in the crock pot? I usually use canned beans but I just bought a bunch of dry ones to try using (for chili, soup, etc.).


rachel said...

i cooked the beans for more than 4 hours on high, then for more time on low, and they still aren't quite cooked through. and the sauce (molasses, mustard, etc.)didn't get nice and thick and syrupy. it's still watery. i don't usually cook beans in the crockpot. so i am still experimenting!
do you cook unsoaked beans on low all night?

Katie said...


I do this all the night before I plan to use the beans. Rinse the beans first. Then place them in your crock pot covered with at least two inches of water. Turn the crockpot on low and let it cook overnight. When you wake up in the morning the beans are ready to use.

The only exception I've discovered so far is chick peas. Cook them on high overnight. They take a long time to soften up.

Beware of adding tomato, vinegar or salt to beans that haven't softened up. All three of these things will make it almost impossible for the beans to finish cooking.


I think I may have been unclear in my answer to you originally. If I'm cooking the beans overnight, then I never presoak them.

However, if I'm planning to use them right away in a recipe, then I usually have them precooked first, even using the crock pot.

From your description, it sounds like something prevented the beans from softening up and I'd bet the recipe you used had one of the three ingredients I mentioned to Jen.

If the beans soften but the broth is too watery, an easy way to solve this is to mash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken things up.

If the beans never softened a run through the food processor and a return to the pot might help but you'll have baked bean pate rather than baked beans.

Hope that helps a bit. I have rotten luck with baked bean recipes in general.

Ruthie said...

I have problems with beans not softening a lot, they need LOTS AND LOTS of time! Maybe my SC has less power (its super old) but most beans take over 12 hours on high for an hour then low.

Love the thermous idea. Did the bulgur get soft? Or does he eat it crunchy? And were your beans seasoned? And if so, with what?? :) I don't usually have veg broth poweder, so I was thinking italian herbs, garlic & onion pwdr?

Love ya