The Magical Fruit Part 2

I’m back talking about beans again. I hope you have been able to enjoy the magical world of beans. If you still haven’t taken the plunge (it took me 10 years!), maybe a little more encouragement will help. I am by no means an expert on bean cookery, but here are some tips from my kitchen.

Cooking with canned beans

Canned beans are great for quick bean additions. I usually start by opening the can, dumping the beans into a colander, and rinsing them. Sometimes when I don’t feel like cleaning the colander I just use the can to do a quick rinse. I keep the lid partially attached to use as a guard to keep the beans in the can as I dump out the bean “juices”. Then I fill the can with water, dump out the water, and repeat this a couple times. I’m not sure that is easier than just cleaning the colander, but hey, it’s what I do.

I have added canned beans to dishes like spaghetti, goulash, soups, and scalloped potatoes and ham (I actually prefer this dish with red beans in it now). I may or may not add a whole can to any one of these. Having some already rinsed beans in the fridge may encourage you to spring for a quick bean addition to a dish that may leave you wondering How did I ever enjoy this dish legume-less?

Here’s another quick canned bean recipe: Hummus

2 to 3 cloves garlic

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained with liquid reserved

2 tbs smooth peanut butter

A handful of fresh parsley leaves

1 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of black pepper and salt

1/3 cup olive oil

Chop garlic in food processor. Add the beans and half of reserved liquid. Add peanut butter, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Process until it forms a paste. Drizzle in olive oil and process until it is the consistency of mayonnaise. Enjoy on a sandwich, or as a dip for veggies, pretzels, or pita bread.

Cooking with dried beans

Since dried beans are cheaper than canned beans, I am pretty much just a dried variety girl these days. I usually soak and cook a double or triple batch at a time so I can freeze extras to create a quick bean solution. Before soaking, it is important to do a quick look through your beans to make sure there are no small pebbles or other such debris mixed in. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but I do find something occasionally. You can also take out any beans that look shriveled or funny-shaped compared with the rest of the group.

Soaking (6-8 hours) and cooking (1 ½-2 hours) the beans is a time commitment, but they require little attention during this process so you can easily accomplish something else while the beans do their thing. I usually soak the beans overnight and cook the next day. It’s helpful to cook tomorrow’s beans while I make tonight’s dinner. By the time I am done eating and cleaning up the kitchen, I have cooked beans all set for the rest of the week (or more if I freeze extras). This does take some planning ahead, but that is where the pre-planned menu is a big help.

My family has found some of our favorite beans recipes on the Kitchen Stewardship blog at Here you can even purchase The Everything Bean Book with lots more ideas to inspire you on your journey toward your personal bean goal.

Good luck!

by Manna-T from Heaven.

Call Me Maybe?

One of the difficulties we face when we return to the world involves connectivity. You said goodbye to your phone, Facebook, email, etc. when you left. But upon your return, you are faced with clear choices about what you want to do. Some people want to jump back into it immediately, while others slowly return, if ever.

Though Facebook and email are free, phones are not. What’s a post-convent girl supposed to do? When I returned, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to talk on the phone, let alone pay for one. Are there ways to ease into it?

After exploring many options, I would say the answer is yes. First of all, if you don’t feel ready to get a phone, don’t do it. What’s the point of forcing it? You’ll eventually get one, so enjoy the freedom while you can! One of the things I found enjoyable about the convent was not feeling the pressure of unanswered messages and calls. Also, once you have a phone, it creates an expectation. Therefore, if you don’t know if you are up for random calls from family/friends, getting a phone right now might not be the best idea. Borrowing other people’s phones will allow you to call out while also minimizing inbound calls.

Eventually you’ll be ready to take the plunge and the next question will be about money. Some people have a generous loved one who is willing to cough up the cash for a phone plan, but what if that’s not the case for you? When I started looking around for a phone plan, I was stunned. I was not in a position to sign a 2-year contract for $50-90 per month. My income was ZERO and I was depending on others to provide me with food, clothing and shelter.

I ended up getting a pay-by-the-minute plan through Page Plus and it served me very well. I had an old phone lying about and I got a new number via Page Plus. There are many no-contract phone companies, so look around. And, the benefit of using an old phone was that I paid nothing for my device. A lot of people have their last model phone in a drawer collecting dust and you can use this to help you get started. This can get you by for awhile until you get on your feet financially. I was hesitant to do this at first, because I assumed these companies would have poor service. But, I found out that many people are now switching to these no-contract carriers because they have the same service, cost less and don’t require a commitment. Be not afraid!

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and you have internet access where you live, I would recommend trying Google Voice. The easiest way to explain it is that it is a “pointer.”  You can get a phone number through them, and then “point” it wherever you want. For example, lets say you sign up for a Google number and choose 313-222-5555 (yes, you can select your phone number). You could have your account ring your parents’ house phone when anyone called your 313 number. If you stay with your friend for the weekend, you can have your friend’s cell phone ring when someone calls your 313 number. One of the many cool things about this is that if you have a minute phone, you can save your minutes by texting and calling through the web instead. Did I mention that it is totally free? It took me awhile to get the hang of using it but it was totally worth it.

In conclusion, the choices we have today for communication are changing all of the time. Pray about how available you want to be and make your choices based upon that prayer. Also, don’t allow anyone to pressure you to do things when you are not ready. For example, people can be hurt if you have a phone but never text them back. So if you’re not ready to text, don’t get a phone (or don’t tell people you have one!). If you are considering a phone but find the prospect of research overwhelming, you can ask friends or family members who are really into technology to explore some options for you. It can allow you to save money and give them a way to help you out. Finally, feel free to contact us if you have questions. God bless!

By Pinkie.

The Magical Fruit

You may already know which food I am going to discuss just by reading the title of this blog article? If you don’t, I’ll be nice and let you in on the fun. I am going to talk about beans: pinto beans, black beans, red beans, garbanzo beans… beans. Why? Because they are good for your body, good for your bank account, and delicious to eat!

While technically not a fruit, I do consider beans somewhat magical in the amount of health benefits they pack into such a small little container. They give your body protein, B-vitamins, iron, and antioxidants. They are also a great place to look for soluble fiber, which can help maintain a healthy balance of fats in your blood.

I learned that beans are good for the body and the budget in college nutrition classes (about 10 years ago!). That is why I always kept a bag of dry beans in my cupboard. What I did not know was how easy they are to prepare and add into my diet, and that is why I had the same bag of dry beans in my cupboard for about 10 years.

I took a new look at using beans in my cooking when I was looking for cheaper ways to provide my family healthy food. I can buy a can (about 1 ½ cups) of beans that are already cooked for $0.75-$1.50 depending on sales. If I use 2 cans in a dish to feed my family of 3 adults and 2 toddlers, that is $3 maximum for the main protein of the meal. Are you amazed?

Then I looked at dried beans. I can buy 1 pound of dry beans (about 6 cups of cooked beans) for about $1, which means I spend $0.50 on the main protein of the meal. Now I was amazed and decided to add beans to our family menu at least twice a week.

I try to start new habits with small, baby steps so I can quickly experience success. For my bean experiment, I chose to add canned pinto beans to quesadillas, tacos, taco salad, nachos, and chili. Thankfully, my family is not too picky and didn’t mind having one of these five dishes twice a week for a month or two while I gained confidence.

To me, beans (canned or dried) are a great meat substitute or supplement because they are inexpensive, low in fat, and high in fiber. If you are intrigued and interested in trying your own bean experiment, I would suggest making a goal to include beans in your diet x times a week or a month. For me, making a menu makes it more brainless and more likely that I will follow through with my goal. Identify dishes you already eat and then see if you can add a can of beans.

If you are coming up dry for ideas, try this easy and delicious one: black bean brownies. Take a chocolate cake mix and instead of adding eggs, oil, etc. add pureed black beans. Rinse one 15 oz can of beans, then add back to the can the beans and fresh water. Puree the beans and water. Add that to the cake mix. Bake as per the instructions. A delicious way to get started I would say!

by Manna-T from Heaven.