Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recycled Ham & Beans and More Freezer Cooking

Today has been a lesson in dollar-stretching, creativity!

I got up early this morning and immediately set to work doing some big-batch cooking. I put on a big pot of pinto beans and made a double batch of corn bread. I also cooked up a big bag of chicken tenders (some to use in chicken ranch salad for lunch; the rest to be cut up and used in other recipes on other days) and baked muffins and French bread.

When the beans were done I transferred part of them to the crockpot, along with all the broth. To that I added some sea salt, black pepper, dry, minced onion, and two frozen turkey ham ends for flavoring. I turned the rest of the beans into baked beans, divided them into pans, and froze them for later. I got three pans of baked beans in addition to the beans and cornbread that I served as tonight's supper. Part of the cornbread I shared with my dad (who happened to be making chili today); the rest I cut and packaged into family-sized portions before putting in the freezer.

Here's where the dollar stretching, creative part comes in...

After supper I went to the kitchen to clean up and here I have all this beautiful, rich, brown, bean broth sitting there in the crockpot, along with those two turkey ham ends and I was thinking, "Surely that ham can be used again. And WHAT am I going to do with all this broth?" ( There was only a handful of beans left in it, but I couldn't bear to throw it out!) I asked my husband what he thought I should do. "Should I save those ham ends and reuse them in another pot of beans later on?" He reminded me that during the Great Depression people did things like that all the time, and said, "Sure!" That's what I should do! He also reminded me of the story that Leo Buscaglia shared in his book "Papa, My Father", in which Leo's mother would tie a string around a ham bone, and when the family meal was done (beans, soup, whatever), Mama Buscaglia would pull out the ham bone, save it, and reuse it until every bit of flavor was cooked out of it.

So...having that settled (the ham ends WILL be frozen and reused again), now...what to do with the broth??? I got online and found several good sites on what to do with leftover bean broth. One of the best things I found was this recipe:

                  Ingredients: bean broth, cut up veggies, a grain (barley, corn, hominy, etc.) any leftover
                  beans, a tomato product (sauce, ketchup, salsa, etc.), salt and pepper

                  Heat the broth, toss in the veggies, grain, beans, and tomato product, and season with
                  salt and pepper. Cook for at least 20 minutes or until grain is cooked. Pasta is also a
                  nice addition.

Here is another site that I really enjoyed reading:

http://www.culinate.com/articles/features/bean_stock

Well...I intended to write more, but, unfortunately, I've got to go. You all have a great evening and I'll talk to you again soon.

Love,
~Rebecca

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