And just in time for grilling season! That is, if you push grilling season the way we push grilling season around here. Which is to say, you consider it warm enough to grill as long as scarves and earmuffs aren’t required.
And even when they are.
I’ve been using this recipe for a long time now, and my favorite thing about it is that it gives me another excuse to drag out Ye Olde BMG Crockpot. But now, if it’s even possible, I love this recipe more.
‘Cause, HELlo. One more way to use up leftover whey!
If you’re no stranger ’round these parts, you know that I like to make homemade ricotta cheese out of extra milk that’s just sitting around, waiting to sour on me. And if you’re like me, you’ve done this before and ended up with jars upon jars upon jars of whey taking up valuable refrigerator real estate. And, if you’re even more like me, which is starting to get a little creepy, honestly, you’ve Googled “uses for leftover whey” and discovered that acidic, yellowish whey, like the non-probiotic kind you get after you’ve made ricotta cheese, can’t be turned into more cheese or very many other appetizing things. But. BUT.
You CAN use that whey part-for-part instead of water for soaking beans, and my, oh, my, that’s what you’ll always do with your whey from now on, because it boosts the recipe’s protein and nutrition and makes the house smell rich and cheesy while it cooks! Just make sure to leave a little extra cooking time, since acid can impact bean-softening time.
Really, so many things can impact bean softening time. El Nino impacts bean-softening time. Ladies, your cycle can impact bean-softening time.
The time you spend watching the pot and waiting for it to boil will impact bean-softening time. Whether or not you’ve filled out your 2010 Census form also probably impacts bean-softening time.
I think you get the picture. Basically, you should just set this sucker up to go in the morning, press “START,” and forget about it for a while. Like, ten hours. Toodles. No, seriously, just walk away. Keep walking. Don’t turn back. Don’t fret. Stop biting your nails about the bean-softening time thing. I made half that stuff up. The beans want you to have a life. Very good off you go thank you.
Long story short, these beans will change your life and you will henceforth never part from them, so look for the recipe below. It’s vegetarian. Vegan if you use water instead of whey. But. BUT.
Before that, a garden update!
Peas are (finally) sprouting, as are my lettuces, radishes, and baby greens. I’ve even crafted some eco-chic (read: very cheap) seed markers out of popsicle sticks and a little protective packing tape:
What’s most exciting to me are these babies, which recently arrived in the mail from Northern Brewer:
Oh, yes. You got it. They’re HOP RHIZOMES! The Boy will now be able to brew his beer with homegrown hops, which will help us all to breathe a little easier at night.
To the bean pot!
Crockpot Vegetarian Baked Beans
Makes about 8 servings (The Boy and I always have enough for leftovers, freezing, and Irish Breakfasts the next morning)
1 lb. dried navy beans
2 quarts water or whey from cheesemaking
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
5 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. kosher salt
2 T. soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
Sort and rinse the beans, and toss ’em in the crockpot. Then toss on the other ingredients. Then toss in a spoon and toss it all around. Then toss on the lid, and…start the slow cooker on low heat (sorry–couldn’t figure out a way to use “toss” there. I know, I’m disappointed, too.) And, uh, hey, guess what? That’s it! Stir ’em around every now and then, and otherwise just allow for 10 hours of prime bean-softening time. You can always speed this up somewhat (I said “somewhat,” don’t get greedy now, the beans will not be rushed), by cooking on the high setting. I’d say that would probably clock in at around 6 hours. Enjoy!