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Beans and Cornbread

Quick apologies for my absence. I recently moved. Just a few miles, but into a house. A grown-up house. It is amazing and stressful and overwhelming and fun. Not only did that take a bunch of time, but I was cooking out of a microwave and electric skillet for several days. Sadly, this photo was an improvement on the unpacking of my kitchen at one point. But now I’m all unpacked and ready to go!

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Last week, I had a guest post on The Kitchen Professor on Cornbread in a Cast-Iron Skillet. It is one of my favorite uses for cast iron skillets. Check it out!

And, if you are looking for something to go with that cornbread, I have a recipe featuring another specialized pot quickly becoming one of my favorites. The pressure cooker. Several food blogs I follow have posted about pressure cookers in recent months. Last summer, as I was packing my kitchen, my friend commented on how nice my pressure cooker was. I told her it was because I had never tried it. Now that I’m all unpacked, I’ve been testing it out. It’s pretty great. Brown rice only takes 20 minutes to cook! With the recent demise of my rice cooker, this has been a life saver.

But my real favorite is beans. While the beans in my crockpot are great and easy, pressure cooker beans are so quick. I have generally soaked mine, but you don’t need to do so. Beans are a nutritious, filling, and affordable meal. Beans, cornbread, and a side of greens. Very Southern and very delicious! Enjoy!

Pressure Cooker Beans

This isn’t an exact recipe. Just some ideas and resources I have found helpful.

1 pound of dry beans
Aromatics: large chunks of onion or dried minced onion, celery, garlic cloves or powder, bay leaf
Salt: either up to 1 teaspoon salt or you could add a few slices of bacon (yum)
6-8 cups water

1. Optional: soak beans in 6-8 cups of water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain water.

2. Combine beans, aromatics, salt, and water in pressure cooker. Make sure you don’t fill your pressure cooker more than about ½ full.

3. Cook according to your cooker’s guidelines. Here is useful information about cooking times and adjusting for altitude, etc.

4. VERY IMPORTANT!! Let the pressure release naturally, which will take 10-15 minutes. You can put the cooker under cool water to fast release the pressure. However, you will have weird beans. The beans in my picture were cooled that way. Some were slightly underdone. Lots of cracked beans. Have patience and let it release naturally. Totally worth the extra time.

What do you like to cook in a pressure cooker? What do you wish you knew how to cook in a pressure cooker? Let me know in the comments and I’ll experiment for you!

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Guest Post – Quick Vegetable Stock

I’m very excited to share a guest post from The Kitchen Professor today. Check out his awesome site here! It’s a great source of recipes, product reviews, and information about cast iron cookware.

There are three main reasons that I like to make my own vegetable stock:

1. I never seem to have vegetable stock when I need it.
2. You can use your vegetable scraps to make homemade stock.
3. You can avoid high sodium broths and stocks.

The great thing about vegetable stock is that you can get complex flavors out in short order – as opposed to chicken, beef, or fish stock where you need to simmer the stock for a while. You can get a lot of flavor in 15 minutes or so.

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Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 – 2 carrots, no need to peel
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon of paprika (I like the smoked variety.)
¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
1.5 quarts of cool water
Optional: Kosher Salt to flavor
Optional: Other vegetable scraps if you have them.*

*You can save all sorts of other vegetable cuttings to use like: red, green, yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, fennel, fresh herbs of all types especially thyme, parsley, rosemary, and sage. You can save your cuttings in the freezer over the week and make your stock weekly.

You will need the following:

Large cutting board
A Sharp Chef’s knife (see a selection of my favorite chef’s knives here)
Large stock pot (3 to 5 quarts will work)

Here is what you do:

1. Coarsely chopped the onion, carrot, and garlic.

2. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, paprika, and black pepper to a large stock pot.

3. Add 1.5 quarts of cool water to a large stock pot and cover the pot.

4. Turn the heat to high until it reaches a boil.

5. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

6. Allow the veggies to simmer for 15 minutes and up to an hour if you have the time.

7. Strain the stock through a strainer. You can just ladle the liquid through the strainer, while holding the strainer over the pot.

8. Use the stock immediately, if desired.

9. Or, you can allow the pot to cool off the heat, uncovered for about an hour. Cover, then move to the refrigerator until cooled completely.

10. I like to move the stock over to a mason jar or other airtight container. The stock will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

As you can see, making your own stock is super simple and only takes a few minutes. You can get fancy by adding different vegetables, too. Like if you were making a mushroom risotto, then you may want to add a handful of mushrooms to add to the overall complexity of the dish.

Bio
Doug isn’t really a professor, but he geeks out in the kitchen. He can barely follow a recipe and just uses them as guidelines. Doug blogs about everything from knives and sharpeners to cutting boards to cast iron, with some recipes thrown in just for fun. Check out more at The Kitchen Professor!

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