Dear Dried Beans,
You and I, dried beans, have had a long and occasionally rocky relationship. I initially purchased you by the bagful, full of hope that you would be so much better than your canned counterparts. You are cheaper, and you contain less sodium. You take up less shelf space in my kitchen and I’ll be honest, you look beautiful, right out of the bag. I had high hopes, dried beans. High hopes.
But I’m afraid that you’re not going to like what I have to say next. The thing is, dried beans, well, this is over. We’re breaking up.
I wish I could say “it’s not you, it’s me”. But in all honesty, dried beans, it’s you. I realize that we are both busy people, but you are never considerate of my time. You insist on getting a water bath at least eight hours prior to cooking, and even after that you require hours of slow cooking to get you to soften up and play nice with my other foods.
It’s not for lack of trying on my end that this relationship has failed. I use the right amounts of water for you, I don’t let you boil too long. I tried to salt you at the beginning, after the first hour, and tried skipping salt entirely with the same result. I’ve tried the slow cooker, thinking the constant temperature would be good. Perhaps my stupid electric stovetop is partly to blame for your constant bubbling over and fussing while I’m trying to cook you in a dutch oven, but honestly dried beans, I just don’t have time to baby you along for hours on end.
But it would be insincere for me to say that this is the biggest problem that I have with you, dried beans. I could forgive the endless amounts of time I spend cooking you but for the fact that when you finally decide that you are done and ready to be eaten, you look like you’ve been hanging out in a blender. You start out looking beautiful, but after you’ve been cooked you’re about as pleasing to the eyes as Gary Busey on his best day.
I am a photographer, dried beans, and you know that. You know that I want to make appetizing, mouth watering pictures of my food. All I ever wanted was to make you beautiful, and no matter what I do, you insist on being frumpy. Soft and tasty, sure, I’ll grant you that. But despite all of the time and effort that I put into getting you there you reward me by exploding and breaking apart. All I wanted for my salads and soups was sleek, firm beans that are soft in the middle. Soft in the middle, dried beans, not soft on the outside. I need you to be more than just a bowl of tasty, delicious and comforting mush. I need you to be a supermodel and you’re just not putting out the effort. Would it kill you to spend a little time on your appearance? The worst part is we both know you can be beautiful. I’ve seen you be beautiful … but it’s always for other people, never for me. I’ll be frank, I feel like you’re doing this on purpose just to upset me. That’s ugly, dried beans, just plain ugly.
So that’s it, we’re through. Oh, quit it with the histrionics. You and I both know you don’t need me. Millions of of people out there love dried beans and are willing to spend the time and effort pampering you. Seriously, it’s going to be ok. A glass of wine and a nice long bath in a slow cooker and you’ll forget all about me.
Shoot to Cook
P.S. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine too. I saw a can of chick peas winking at me yesterday at the grocery store.