Richard’s Slow Cooker Country Beans (and refried bean substitute)

These are beans that can be cooked and served as is with a side of corn bread or some of the beans (and the other ingredients) can be put through a blender and used as a replacement for refried beans in tostadas or burritos. They are cheap and fairly easy.

Ingredients:
  • One package of dried beans (pinto, black or cannellini)
  • Country ham (I used an 8 oz package of sliced country ham) or a smoked ham hock
  • Water (for soaking the beans)
  • Water or chicken broth for cooking the beans
  • Two 4 oz or 4.5 oz cans of chopped green chilies
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried onion flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Start by rinsing and picking through the dried beans, picking out any broken or shriveled beans and any small stones. Throw the beans in your slow cooker pot and cover with water (about 2 inches over the beans). Put on the lid and let them soak over night.

The next morning, drain and rinse the beans and put them back into the slow cooker. Dice the slices of country ham, fat included and throw it in with the beans. If you are using a ham hock, just bury it in amongst the bean. Throw in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the dried onion (maybe a little more as I really don’t measure this) and around a teaspoon of garlic powder. Open the two cans of chopped green chilies and toss them into the slow cooker. Cover with 6 cups of liquid and stir to mix all the ingredients. Chicken broth is best but I used water and threw in some powdered chicken bouillon and about a cup of while white wine I had in the fridge. Put on the lid and cook (about 4 hours on high, 7 to 8 on low).

At the end of the cooking time, taste the beans and decide if they need more time. This would also be the time to season with the salt and pepper as needed. Take out about 1/2 cup of beans (and any sundry pieces of ham that go along for the ride) but try not to get too much liquid. Drop the beans into your blender and process until they are the consistency of refried beans. Be careful as the hot beans can cause pressure to build up in the blender jar.

Return the blended beans to the pot, stirring them in and allow them to cook on low and thicken the beans (this same blender method is how you make the beans into a substitute for refried beans, using as much liquid as needed to get the consistency desired).


Tasting the “King” of Grapes

I am looking forward to leading a blind tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon tonight, ranging from a $4.50 bottle from California to some from Australia at the $27.00 price point. Should be interesting to see how they all fare.cab tasting


Hot Dog and Wine Pairing

2011 Cougar Vineyards Miscuglio del Circolo (Temecula, CA)

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My “Secret” Wine Source

I love wine, this should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. White, red, dry, sweet, I pretty much like them all. I plan vacations around winery locations. I will take a chance on wines in expected places – when driving across country and I saw a winery sign in Oklahoma, I stopped – not with high expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. I do have my favorites, the reds out of Southern California, Arizona and Spain, but I want to try as much and as many as possible. In order to do that, I have a “secret” wine source that sends me daily emails about wonderful wines they have been able to get hold of, often in “limited quantities,” and I want to share it with you. My “secret” source is Garagiste (actually a front for Jon Rimmerman, a wine seller and marketing genius).

Every day I get an entertaining email describing a wine, how he came about having access to it or possibly some philosophical musings on life. The email always ends with the deal and it’s usually a very good deal. Sometimes, like today, the email offers up a deal on very high quality food stuffs, such as olive oil or walnut oil.

Grapes at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, Pearce, AZ

Grapes at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards, Pearce, AZ

My wines from Garagiste are almost always ones I would not have access to trying and have included a 2005 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Fay,” a 1997 Terreno Chianti Classico Riserva, and a 2010 Close Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages “Les Echalas” Rouge. All were excellent.

If you live where wine can be shipped to you, I highly recommend you sign up for the Garagiste emails. Even if you never buy a bottle, they are good reading for the wine soul.

For more reading on Jon Rimmerman and his business model for selling wine (and he sells lots of it), check out the article on him in the New York Times Magazine.


Beer Choices for the Weekend

Beer Choices for the Weekend – looks kinda like a Rogue has the edge.

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What I Am Drinking Now…

Coulter IPA by Cismontane Brewing in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. 65 IBU, 7.2% ABV

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My beer for tax day

SchlitzAlmost afraid to put this up. Was at the store buying some beer and some wine for a wine tasting when I came across the beer I have loved from youth.


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