Many of my fellow RTW fasters are quickly completing their first items… but around here, our life has been full of other adventures.  My 20 year old son had his four wisdom teeth extracted on January 2 which led to a very full day of nursing and hovering on my part.  On Friday and Saturday I was involved with a wedding of the son of a close friend so those two days were full.  And then on Sunday I had an active role in my church worship service, brunch to lunch, and a vision meeting afterwards.  That doesn’t mean I was unable to do anything Home Economics related, however.

I was able to cook and freeze 2 pounds of black eyed peas, 2 pounds of red Kidney beans, and 2 pounds of white Navy beans.  I already had 2 pounds of black beans in my freezer.

I forgot to take pictures of the whole process, but I know you can find many sources online to tell you how to cook beans.  I first “clean and pick through” the beans (looking for bad ones or rocks), then cover with at least 1 -2 inches of water to soak overnight.  The next day I rinse them well and cover again with fresh water.  Then I cook them for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until they are soft.  One lesson I have learned is DO NOT ADD SALT or they will never soften properly. Here is a picture of my poor stock pot after a batch of beans:


Here are the beans after draining (I do save some of the liquid to add to the freezer packs):


After cooking, I put about 2 cups plus some liquid  in quart size plastic bags for freezing.  This time I used my Food Saver to make the bags and seal them (because I was out of freezer baggies):


I lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and freeze:


After they freeze, I “stack” them on the shelf or put them in baskets like this:


Then I place the baskets on the freezer shelf like this:


Now I am ready to use these beans and peas for lots of recipes.  We usually make a soup or vegetarian meal with these about once a week. Having them on hand makes the process simple.

Here is a Bean and Bacon Soup that is going to taste really good on this ice cold night!

1 pound dried navy beans                                                                                                 6 cups water                                                                                                                 2 tsps. salt                                                                                                                                               1/4 tsp. pepper                                                                                                             2 cloves garlic, minced                                                                                                              1 bay leaf                                                                                                                     4 slices bacon                                                                                                               2 medium onions, finely chopped                                                                                   1 small green pepper, finely chopped                                                                             1/2 cup finely chopped carrots                                                                                       1 8 ounce can tomato sauce                                                                                         1 tsp. minced fresh parsley

Prepare dried beans as directed adding the salt, pepper, garlic, and bay leaf. Since I did not do this, I am going to add these to one pound of my beans while cooking the soup and start it while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Cook the bacon until crisp; remove bacon, reserve drippings.  Crumble bacon and set aside. Add onion and green pepper to drippings; saute until tender.  Add onion, green pepper, and carrots to beans.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for one hour. Add tomato sauce and parsley to soup and simmer an additional 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with reserved bacon. Yield:  About 3 quarts. (Source: Southern Living 1983 Annual Recipes)

This will be a good soup for tonight, for me to share, and for me to freeze for one of those days when I am sewing and don’t want to stop to fix dinner.

Stay warm!