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Bean there, done that

Dinner Diva column by Leanne Ely

OK, so gas is expensive. And food prices are going up. Real-estate prices are down and gosh, it’s getting hard out there to live! So what are you going to do?

Well, if you wanna get down and dirty and really get cheap, you need to start thinking beans, legumes – the dried variety. Bean there, done that, got the T-shirt! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

Being the quintessential cheap eat and nutritional wunderkind that beans are, nothing beats a big batch o’ beans. They are easy to prepare and virtually foolproof to make, especially when you employ these tips:

*The Presoak: After your beans have soaked overnight, give them a rinse and put fresh water in the pot for cooking. Some people may complain that you’re throwing away some of the nutrition, but honestly, you’re eliminating a lot of musicality of beans by doing this — if you’re following my lead.

*The Salting. Wait until your beans are completely tender before adding salt. Salt can make the tenderizing process not happen.

*The Water. If you have hard water, your beans may not soften. Use bottled water if that is the case. You can add some baking soda too (one teaspoon per quart).

*The Age. Old beans mean tough beans. Make sure you buy your beans fresh and that they’re from a market with a good turnover. Otherwise those beans may stay as hard as granite — even if you diligently apply all these fine steps. Beans are beans, but old beans are rocks.

Questions I invariably get asked but hate answering has to do with the “musicality” of the fine bean. Listen, there is no swift answer. If you ask enough people, they’ll all come up with their own remedy for fixing this indelicate problem. But the best one, believe it or not, is just eat more beans. Oh yes, more beans. Then your body becomes adjusted, and you’ll be a little more discreet in the aftermath of your bean consumption. However, all bets are off that I’ll ever show up at your house while you’re going through the “adjustment” period!

And if you’re wanting recipes, go to for oodles of bean recipes and more!


For more help putting dinner on your table, check out Leanne’s website,, or her Saving Dinner book series (Ballantine) and her New York Times bestselling book Body Clutter (Fireside). Copyright 2008 Leanne Ely. Used by permission in this publication.

augusta free press
augusta free press