Bean Manifesto

I think of talent as a gift you possess you have not worked for; like being able to talk backward, or having uncommonly good balance. I only have one. I love all foods. Everything. All fruits, vegetables, meats and grains and pretty much every preparation, though I certainly have preferences. I will eat anything that is actually food including live bugs and warm iguana blood. I have always been this way. My mother never had to threaten or cajole me to eat, she was forever chasing me away from raw hamburger, basically trying to stop me from eating things. I did have an aversion to cream of mushroom soup for a while because we were so poor everything we ate was en casserole. Now I think it tastes like childhood.

I was a waiter for many years and as most waiters are, I was obsessed with food and restaurant culture. I dined in some of the finest dinning rooms in the country, eating everything from foie gras foam to lavender infused lychee fruit. After all those extravagant meals I can say with assurance that my favorite food is beans. Of course I love every kind of bean and the thing that amazes me the most about them, other that their obvious health and fiscal benefits, is that every time I eat them I think, man these are so good! I also say this, and considering how often we eat them, it’s a testament to Felipe’s patience that he smiles and nods his head, rather that screaming,” I KNOW YOU LOVE BEANS ABBY! ”

What I have noticed during my trips to the US is that people eat beans only occasionally and mostly from cans. I have more than once visited a pantry and found the same bag of beans in it that I encountered six months prior. You know the one, mixed bean soup with the carcinogenic liquid smoke flavor packet.
So this is my Bean Manifesto, I hope to inspire anyone who reads it to eat beans at least three times a week. To buy said beans in bulk and to prepare them yourselves.


  • Beans are a whole food, no processing, and no packaging.
  • Beans are one of the cheapest forms of protein, and are loaded with fiber.
  • If you cook your own, you have more control over the salt content and texture.
  • Beans simmering on the stove feels homey.
  • There are more than 4000 kinds of beans to choose from.
  • Beans have a long shelf life.
  • Beans are easy to grow.
  • Beans are wonderful on the grill, so they are great for camping out.
  • Beans keep well unrefrigerated; don’t let anything break the surface of the water after they boil.

I know that we buy things in cans because it’s easier, but consider this, it takes about three minutes to sort, flush and start a pot of beans to boil. With the help of a timer you can easily do other things while they simmer. Plus, beans are incredibly versatile, you can make a pot of simple beans and have a base for a variety of dishes throughout the week, soups, salads, dips, stock, appetizers, side dishes, and meatloaf to name a few.

Beans are the epitome of very simple, very easy, very good, and they will work a magic on you as you sit down to a bowl of beans in their broth with just bit of salt. They will cleanse your palate and remind you that something that is inherently good does not need embellishment. Our palates become jaded with so much variety, so many trimmings, give your taste sense a rejuvenating bath in a bowl of beans.

This is the easiest way to make beans. If you prefer a fancier recipe see Sally Schneider’s A New Way to Cook, a book I love so much my copy has lost its cover and is in two pieces.

Basic Beans

First, look the beans over in a white napkin to make sure there is no debris, rinse them in a colander and dump them in enough water to cover them, plus two inches. Bring to a boil. After they boil you can let them sit for an hour or refrigerate up to 8 hours, this will reduce cooking time, or lower the heat and cook at a high simmer, place a lid askew on the pot and set the timer for twenty minutes. Check the beans. This will give you an idea of how often the water will need to be replenished. Using your timer, I carry mine so I can be outside, maintain the water about an inch over the beans. When the beans begin to break open but are still too hard to eat, put in some salt.

These are the approximate measurements
1 cup beans
1 quart water, adding as necessary
1 teaspoon salt
This will yield 3 cups of beans, I usually triple this.

This is my favorite way to eat beans, it’s an adaptation of Sally Schneider’s mature greens recipe.

Beans and Greens
1 big bunch of greens; collards, mustard,kale, chard, about a half pound per person
1 cup of beans with their water, per person
sliced garlic cloves, I use five or six for two people
crushed red pepper to taste
oil, olive is nice but not necessary, I use about a third of a cup, but just a tablespoon will do
lemon, lime or vinegar
salt to taste

Wash, de-stem and chop the greens, sauté the garlic in oil until caramel colored, add crushed red pepper sauté one minute, add greens and stir to coat and distribute garlic and chili, add beans and cover, cook over med heat until the greens are wilted. Squeeze on your citrus or splash with vinegar, (I use cider vinegar.) You can add more bean water for a soupy dish, or fry it until dry. This dish is great on bread, or as a taco filling. It also makes a lovely pasta sauce with a bit if the pasta water and a splash of olive oil, and it is an excellent side with quail or rich meats.


frijol hiaku

the heat is a glove

horses swat disapproval

boiling beans giggle

coming soon, Dinner and a Swat Team and Milk Money

paz, Abby

This entry was posted in Recipes, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , by vsvevg. Bookmark the permalink.

About vsvevg

Hello, I'm Abby Smith. I started this blog in 2010 to write about the pursuit of a self-sustainable life in rural Mexico. In 2015, my then-husband and I moved to Nicaragua, where we created a successful farm-to-table and in-house charcuterie program for a high-end beach resort. In 2022, with mad butchery and cheese-making skills under my belt, I started a sustainable food systems consulting business. Happily, I also have more time for my first love-- writing about food and the complexities of the simple life.

9 thoughts on “Bean Manifesto

  1. Ok, so I have a couple of questions. When you say you can keep them unrefrigerated, and not to break the surface after they boil – you mean they can sit on the stove almost indefinitely as long as the surface is not broken? Next, is it true that when you put them in a pot to boil, and some of them float, that those beans are ‘bad beans’ and should be removed? Okay, third, so you initially bring them to a boil, and then decide if you want to continue cooking them for a particular recipe? Thanks Abby! And yes, Felipe is sweet to be so patient. 🙂

    • I don’t know if Iwould eat themyear later, but they keep for several days by maintaining them under boiled water. Keep in mind that anything, a bug or drips of condensation from the lid can cause decay, good news isthey stink if they’re are bad, so you will know, also once the water dissipates to the point that there are dry re-fries,(beans mashed and fried in oil)they will not go badeither. I have also heard that about floating beans, but I don’tbelieve it to be true, I never remove them. Third, you can bring them to a boil, and them turn them off for and hour to overnight to decrease the cooking time, or you can continued to cook them until they are tender for basic beans or to use in a recipe. hope that clarified things besos, A


  2. Abby – I love beans as well! I think I use beans in our meals at least 5 times a week! They are the perfect food for vegetarians with vegan leanings! I admit I use canned beans, but only certified organic in lined cans. I know, I need to bite the bullet and start making my own as all serious cooks seem to. What is your fave bean? I LOVE chickpeas and can eat them straight from the can! 🙂

    • Chickpeas are the only bean I prefer from the can, I can eat them like potato chips. My Favs are brown lentils, so fast! and tasty, and canellini or canary for thier creaminess. We mosly eat black beans here though because they are cheap and readily avaliable. Don’t think serious, that makes it no fun, think easy, cheap and less garbage!

      • Yes! Much less waste. Even though I am a dilligent recycler it is still a guiltly pleasure to buy in the can. Do you have a fave brown lentil recipe? I haven’t used them very much but I would love to try.

      • my fav lentil recipe is lentils with red salsa
        boil lentils in water for about 20 mins add salt
        top with red salsa, I make salsa fresca, tomato, onion, garlic, serano, cilantro and parsely, but and red salsa will do vsvevg

  3. Pingback: Three | VSVEVG (very simple very easy very good)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s