Thoughts On Growing your Own Beans

This is my fourth post on dried beans. The 2nd and 3rd posts were on various kinds of dried beans while this one will consist of some thoughts on growing your own beans for drying.

  • Depending of what you want to use the beans for and your tastes, you could plant and dry white beans (Baby Limas, Butter Beans, Great Northern Beans, Marrow Beans, Navy Beans, Pea Beans, Small White Beans), Red and pink beans (Red Kidney Beans, Light Red Kidney Beans, Cranberry Beans, Pinto Beans, Pink Beans, Small Red Beans), Peas (Black-Eyed Peas, Yellow-Eyed Peas, Chick Peas, Garbanzos, Ceci Peas, Spanish Peas, Split Peas, Whole Dried Peas), or flavored beans (Lentils, Black Beans, Turtle Beans, Soybeans). These were talked about in two previous posts.
  • You could let your green or yellow snap beans grow to maturity and dry them, if you don’t mind a variety of shapes and colors.
  • The beans from the scarlet runner, planted for its flowers, could be harvested and dried for a large, delicious bean that has red splash of color in it.
  • The easiest way to dry beans is to leave some of the beans on the vine until the pods begin to open and a few beans shell out. ¬†Insects may be a problem with this method along with an excessive amount of shell outs.
  • Another way of drying is to pull the plants and hang them to dry in an airy place. When the pods are brittle, place them in a burlap bag or leg of a panty hose and gently beat them with a blunt stick. Empty the container and separate the shelled beans from the chaff. Place the air-dried, threshed beans in the oven on warm for about an hour to kill all insects /larvae.
  • As your home dried beans are stored for a shorter time period than purchased beans have been, they will generally cook faster and will be less firm.
  • Store your beans in a an air tight container in a cool, dry, dark place. Be sure to use the older beans first when adding additional beans to the larder.
  • A lot of cook books will tell you that dried beans can be kept in storage for up to a year. Realistically, if your beans have been properly dried and stored, they should keep indefinitely without significant loss of quality.

Keep your fork


Pa Won’t Like It

Growing up in the good ‘ole days had its drawbacks. My Granddad, born in the late 1890’s on a small farm in Indiana, had this happen to him one Sunday morning.

On the way to church that morning, he accidentally tipped over his wagon. A neighboring farmer, also on his way to church, heard the commotion and pulled up nearby.

“Hey, hop in with us,” he said. “I’ll help you get the wagon up after church.”

“That’s mighty neighborly of you,” Granddad answered, “but I don’t think Pa would like me to.”

“Come on,” the neighbor insisted, “If you don’t hurry, we’ll be late for the service!”

“Well, okay,” Granddad finally agreed. “But Pa won’t like it.”

After church, Granddad thanked his neighbor for the help. “I’m glad we got to church on time,” he said, “but I know Pa is going to be real upset.”

“Oh, he’ll be fine,” the neighbor said with a smile. “By the way, where is he?”

“Under the wagon,” Granddad replied.”

Keep your fork

Potato Custard Pie

I know a lot of guys are like I am, a real ‘meat and potato’ kind of guy. Those fancy little finger type of sandwiches may be alright if that’s the only chow around, but give us some real food. If you can make a pie out of meat, why not make a pie of potatoes? Now you have no excuse not to. Here’s the recipe you’ll need for such a feat.

1 medium-size potato, washed, pared, quartered
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c milk
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
Pastry for a single crust

Cook potato in salted water until tender and then drain. Mash the potato thoroughly. Add the butter and sugar and stir to a creamy consistency. Allow the mixture to cool before adding the egg yolks which have been beaten, the milk, lemon peel and lemon juice; mix together well. Beat the egg whites until rounded peaks are formed. Fold these beaten whites into the potato mixture until blended. Turn the mixture into a pastry-lined 8-inch pie pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 15 minutes. Serve warm.

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House Plants For Your Health

In my many years of teaching agriculture, crop production was one of the subjects/topics I taught at not only the high school and post secondary levels but also in my Veteran’s Farm Management and Adult Farm Management classes. I could write the following two formulas from memory then as I can now.

  • C6H12O6 + 6O2 –> 6CO2+ 6H2O + ATP(energy)
  • 6CO2 + 6H2O in the presence of sunlight & chlorophyl –> C6H12O6 + 6O2

The 1st is the formula for respiration and the 2nd, the formula for photosynthesis. One of the things I mentioned while discussing respiration was that “back in the old days” they would take the flowers a patient received while in the hospital, out of the room at night. They were under the opinion that the CO2 (carbon dioxide) given off at night was enough to hinder the recuperation of the patients. They later realized that there was not enough CO2 given off, so they let the flowers stay beyond visiting hours! They were onto something though. Instead of looking at the negative side of plants and flowers, they should have been looking at the positive side of plants.

My folks had a small forest in their living room along with an air purifier. Needless to say, indoor air pollution wasn’t a problem in their home. That isn’t always the case. Building materials made from synthetic products, cleaning products, carpeting, upholstery, artificial scents, molds and various other toxins in the air in some homes may add to the lack of health and wellness of the family living there. Some everyday houseplants may play a big part in eliminating or lessening the problem. Here are 6 suggestions for your consideration.

  • Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) – We probably all have used an aloe plant for its burn-healing gel found in its leaves. The gel contains a combination of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe also helps to rid our homes of benzene which is found in some chemical cleaning products.
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifritzii) – Thriving indoors, this plant may grow to be over 10 feet tall. It is pet friendly which may be a plus to some people. It filters trichloroethylene and benzene from the air. It does not stand over watering.
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) – This is the plant often received as a gift. By reducing the level of spores in the home, it helps to keep mildew to a minimum. You will know when it needs watering, but be careful not to over water this plant. It does best in bright, indirect light. The blooms may contribute pollens or scents to the air, so be careful if allergies are a problem in your family.
  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) – Growing from 1 to 6 feet tall, this plant adds a vertical effect to the plants you have, while being low maintenance. It converts CO2 into O2 at night, so place this one in the bedroom. It requires little water, so if you are a ‘plant killer’, this plant is for you.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – As these plants need little care, they are a good choice for the novice plant grower. The spider plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight and only needs a weekly watering. They remove small amounts of formaldehyde and xylene from our homes.
  • Weeping Fig (Fiscus benjamina) – This plant prefers indirect sunlight and requires infrequent watering. In warmer weather or climates, the weeping fig can be moved outdoors if desired. It reduces pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde from the air in our homes. Consider this plant if you want an easy keeper.

Keep your fork

A Mother’s Advice

If your mother was anything like mine, she gave you advise on anything and everything. “Wear clean underwear in case you have a car wreck.” “Look both ways when you cross the railroad tracks.” “Eat your vegetables. Think of all the starving children in China.” These are but a few. She had many more.

Do you suppose their mothers may have said:

  • Abraham! Stop wandering around the country side and get home for supper.
  • Cain! Get off your brother! You’re going to kill him one day.
  • David! I told you to quit playing in the house with that sling! Go practice your harp. We’ve paid good money for your lessons.
  • Gideon! Have you been hiding in the wine-press again? Look at your clothes.
  • James and John! Please, no more burping contests at the dinner table. People are going to call you the Sons of Thunder.
  • Jesus! Be careful with those carpenter’s tools. You’ll put a nail through your finger someday.
  • Judas! Have you been in my purse again?
  • Noah! No, you can’t keep them! How many times must I tell you not to bring any more strays home?
  • Sampson! Get your hand out of that lion’s mouth. You don’t know where he’ been.
  • Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! How many times have I told you not to play with fire?

Keep your fork




















Curing Hams

I’ve made good use of my ‘homemade’ hot smoker and have just finished a cold smoker. I was talking to Catfish the other day and he was telling me he thought his dad cured his hams before he smoked them. After a little research as to how the Amish cured hams before smoking them, I came up with the following suggestions. We’ll have to adjust the ingredients to a more usable amount, but here’s my findings.

100 lbs ham
3 oz saltpeter
1 pt fine quality salt
1/2 lb brown sugar

Mix the saltpeter, salt and brown sugar thoroughly and rub over the hams and let stand for 24 hours. Then rub the hams with

2 pt fine salt
1/8 lb black pepper

After doing the above, let stand for 5 days and then rub the hams again with more fine salt. Set aside for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, hang the hams up and brush off the salt. Smoke the hams with your choice of a good wood for 10 days. At the end of the 10 days of smoking, rub the entire ham with red pepper. Wrap the hams carefully in brown paper. Place the wrapped hams in muslin bags and hang up with the hocks down. Hams prepared this way will keep indefinitely with the flavor and quality improving with time.

Keep your fork

Kinds of Dried Beans #2

This is the second post on the kinds of dried beans and the third overall on this subject.


  • Black-Eyed Peas & Yellow-Eyed Peas – Called peas in the South, both of these are actually beans. One (Black-Eyed Peas) has a black spot in the curve while the other(Yellow-Eyed Peas) has a yellow spot in the curve. Cooking faster than most other dried beans, they are also smoother rather than mealy in texture. You can interchange these two peas for each other but no other kinds of beans work. You can usually find one of these peas everywhere across the country.
  • Chick-Peas/Garbanzos/Ceci Peas/Spanish Peas – Call them what you want, they are one in the same bean. Carried in most grocery stores and natural food outlets, smaller stores will usually not have the dried beans, but usually carry the canned version. These beans are pale yellow, somewhat round, have wrinkled skins and are firm in texture. No other bean substitutes for them in a recipe.
  • Split Peas – Are truly peas and truly split. They come commonly as green in color but can also be yellow. You can freely substitute for each other if you don’t care about the difference in color.
  • Whole Dried Green Peas – Can usually be found in most grocery stores, but are not as popular as the split peas. You can make your own by harvesting and drying regular garden peas and ¬†letting the pods dry and then shelling them out.

Beans With Their Own Taste

  • Lentils – Brownish olive-drab in color, these beans are usually available across the country. Some natural food stores also carry red lentils that are orange in color. A whole lentil is about half the size of a split pea. Tasting somewhat alike, the lentil and red lentil have no other substitute. Most of today’s newer ¬†varieties do not require soaking as the older varieties needed.
  • Black Beans/Turtle Beans – Ranging in size between navy beans and kidney beans, you will find many varieties available. The skin of these beans are black in color, but are white underneath. These beans are more popular in South America than in North America because of their musky-spicy taste. They can be found in most grocery stores across the country.
  • Soybeans – Are the only bean that supplies complete protein without the addition of grain or dairy products. Soybeans are getting easier to find on grocery store shelves while common in natural food stores. If you are growing your own, you will need from 20 to 30 more days than common snap or wax beans for them to mature. If left to dry, these beans are round and tan in color. They can also be eaten green while in the pod.

Keep your fork