We never complained! We had them most often simply with cornbread. But more often than not, she'd add a big skillet full of fried potatoes and onions for the side dish.
Sometimes Mama would add a chunk of ham, or bone, to flavor the beans. And sometimes, when money was tight, it was simply a bouillion cube! But pinto beans were always a tasty dinner in our home, that was completely welcomed.
What most folks never knew, was that when the beans were dished up and placed in a big bowl on our dining table, a goodly portion had already been removed from the pot before hand and consumed. The culprit?
Mama simply could never get through a pot of beans cooking without "stealing a few". You've got to understand... these weren't beans that were opened from a can and simply heated up! No sirree! These were beans that had been bought in a bag, dry. They were culled over for bad beans and stones. They were rinsed. Soaked overnight. Drained and rinsed again. And finally set on the stove on a low setting and watched closely, from about 4 a.m. [Mama's early morning work!], until dinner time around 6 in the evening! The scent of these beans cooking all day wafted into every nook and cranny of the house! There wasn't a corner you could run to that the scent had not permeated.
Finally, about 3 in the afternoon, Mama would sneak into the kitchen, as though she didn't want anyone to know what she was about, and she would scoop out a goodly portion of the beans with a slotted spoon, plunk them onto two slices of bread, and devour them in a matter of seconds. Then she would go on about her regular business until time to set the table for dinner. Once I asked her why she sneaked into the kitchen to do this... she said she didn't want anyone to know she didn't have any self-control when it came to beans! [You'd have to know my Mama's self-control to understand that statement's oddity! Mama was the original female "Stonewall"!]
I don't have any pictures of Mama and her sneaking bean sandwiches... but I managed to find a picture of a bean sandwich on the Internet...
...[via here ]
In 1995 Mama suffered a brain aneurysm, and no longer is able to cook for herself. So, I thought I'd never get to see anyone stealing bean sandwiches again. But in 1998, I married a "good ol' boy" from south-Texas, and guess what he does when I'm cooking pinto beans???
You got it! He likes to sneak in, about mid-afternoon, open up my crock-pot and using a slotted spoon, he makes himself a bean sandwich. Funny how things seem to come full circle, isn't it?
Even more funny? I most often join him in making a pinto bean sandwich!
Have you ever eaten a pinto bean sandwich? If not, would you try one?