Foodie Friday: A Visit From The Spirit of My Grandma in a Walmart Aisle

by Maile on July 12, 2013

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Lately, I’ve seen a lot of articles floating around the web with intriguing yet disturbing titles, such as “The 8 Worst Foods You Can Eat” or “10 Dangers Lurking in Your Grocery Aisles” or “The Top Five Foods Currently in Your Pantry That Will Lead to Your Premature Death” or “What’s in the Food You Eat and Why It Will Give You and Everyone You Love Cancer”. Okay, so perhaps those aren’t the EXACT titles, but you get my drift.

I can’t NOT read these articles; it’s a compulsion of sorts. Because every time I succumb to the temptation, I immediately switch into frantic mode, scouring my kitchen cupboards in search of the evil culprits revealed in the article. However, my damn frugality keeps me from throwing them away there on the spot so I have to vow to myself and the world at large that I will never, ever, ever buy that product again.

This whole scenario works out pretty well when the culprits are things like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and food dyes. You can usually find those little rascals in all the heavily processed foods out there, foods I’ve managed to keep out of my cupboards for quite a while now.

But then I stumbled upon an article that demonizes canned tomatoes and beans because of their BPA linings, and I stared at my computer screen dumbstruck. I mean, come on, folks. If good ole’ fashioned canned goods (a pantry staple in my house) can’t be trusted, then, really, isn’t Armageddon just around the corner?

This week the gravity of the whole situation hung heavily on my mind as I stood under the obnoxious fluorescence at Walmart, staring at the rows of canned beans before me. “What do I do?” I worried. I felt trapped between needing two cans of chickpeas for a recipe but not wanting to actually pay Walmart to increase my percentages of developing cancer while also causing infertility in my children.

At that critical moment, the spirit of my depression-era grandmother fell upon me. It was as if she stood right there in the aisle with me, complete with her flowered print polyester dress and pink lipstick, and whispered in my ear: “Sweetie, it’s time to do it the old way.”  With that inspiration, I made 180 degree turn on my heel and found myself facing two shelves packed with bags of dried beans. I grabbed a 12 oz. bag of dried chickpeas and checked the price; I was surprised to see that it was the same price as one 14 oz. can of cooked chickpeas. Here’s the good news: for every cup of dried chickpeas, it yields 3 cups of cooked beans. That means, for the money, I can get over twice as many beans in one bag for the same price as one can.

I know, I know; it’s more work. That’s always the struggle, isn’t it? We want the convenience without all the nasty side effects. But the truth is, the amount of work it actually required was minimal. When I got home from the grocery, I took the bag of beans out of the grocery sack and immediately emptied them into a bowl of water. They sat on the counter top overnight. The next day, I threw them into a pot on the stove and put it over medium-high heat. I left them to cook while I worked out and showered. By the time I came back downstairs, the beans were ready to be used. Simple as that.

Since I have completely obliterated any reasons why you shouldn’t use dried beans, here are two fantastic recipes that will make great use of your cooked chickpeas:

Edamame-Basil-Hummus-5Edamame Basil Hummus– I was first introduced to this little specialty two weeks ago. It sat, all beautiful and gorgeously green, in a bowl on my friend’s countertop. “What is this?” I asked, intrigued. “It’s delicious,” she replied. And right she was.I proceeded to slather it on every menu item at dinner that night: smoked brisket, pasta salad, tortilla chips, and tossed salad. You could eat this with a spoon and not go amiss. Props to Two Peas and Their Pods for spreading this good news.

051122014-01-indian-vegetable-curry-recipe_xlgIndian Vegetable Curry– This recipe from Fine Cooking scored mega points with my whole family. My youngest daughter, who turns her nose at anything that isn’t oatmeal or rice lathered in soy sauce, ate this dish with a relish I’ve rarely seen her display. She shoved heaping spoonfuls in her mouth, declaring through her overflowing gob, “Mama, this tastes so good!” Filling, flavorful, and packed with fresh veggies, this recipe is a winner on so many levels.

Bonus: Dried beans can be frozen! Check out this website for a great tutorial on how to cook and freeze beans!

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