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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Crock Pot Ham and White Beans

So this was the scene outside outside my house yesterday afternoon. It may not look like much snow, but for East Tennessee it is.

See, the problem with snow in Tennessee is that it frequently comes on quickly and unexpectedly so we have little time to prepare for it. When it started snowing Tuesday morning Aaron was already at work. The weather report showed snow flurries and maybe a dusting in our area and our roads were not treated. I woke up very late (almost 11:00) and by that time the roads in my neighborhood were slick and completely covered with snow.
Aaron said it took him an hour to drive the 8 miles from work back to the house. Between the slippery roads, hills (though they're small they're significant when the road is slick), and other cars either driving unbearably slow or sliding right off the road or into other cars. People in Tennessee just don't know how to drive in the snow because we have very little practice.

Lucky for us our whole family was home by noon. Of course my parents called to check up on us, make sure we had heat and water and that we weren't planning on leaving the house. We called Aaron's parents to check on them and make sure his nieces and nephews got home from school safely. Then we hunkered down in the house and watched it snow from inside our warm living room. Tuesday afternoon we let Bailey go out for a few minutes to play in the snow. It's the first measurable snow we've had since she was born. Every other snow the past two years has been insignificant, melting within a few hours or so. She seemed to enjoy it for a few minutes, but when her hands, wet from the snow, started getting too cold she demanded to be taken back in for hot chocolate.

I was very glad to see our menu for the week included a nice hot pot of beans (or crock pot), a southern meal that has gotten my family through many a cold winter day. This was a new recipe for me. I've been cooking beans for use in other recipes, but I've never sat down and eaten a bowl of nothing but beans. I know Nana and Grandpa, Yaya, and Aaron's parents are all capable of enjoying a bowl of pinto beans. Aaron's dad likes them with chow chow and a slice of raw onion... and corn bread (which is a must with beans), but I've never wanted a bowl of beans as a meal.

Until now!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and I'm not sure if it was the description or the picture that drew me to it, but I just knew I had to try it. It didn't sound like the bland pinto beans I remember from my childhood. (That's not to say that Yaya made bland beans I just seem to remember them being bland. They were probably delicious and I was just too young to understand.) The saltiness of the ham and the creaminess of the beans are a wonderful treat on a cold night. Because the beans are cooked in the crock pot there is very little work involved. This is a meal that I would love to come home to after a long day at work, especially if I worked out in the cold.

The original recipe calls for a ham bone which I'm told you can get from the Honey Baked Ham store year round. She says if you don't have a ham bone you can use ham shanks or hocks, but I felt like being lazy so I bought an 8 oz package of diced ham at the grocery store.

Crock Pot Ham and White Beans

Source: Plain Chicken

1 lb white beans (great northern beans) sorted and rinsed
8-16 oz diced ham (could use a ham bone, ham hocks, or ham shanks as well)
6 cups water
2 tsp onion powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

*It is important to sort your beans prior to cooking because dry beans sometimes contain pebbles which could be harmful if chewed or swallowed.

Combine all ingredients in your crock pot and stir.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

This is what it looked like after about 3 hours.

When it's dinner time just serve up a big bowl of the beans.

Add a salad to get your vegetables in and your mandatory corn bread (I like corn muffins) and you have a delicious southern meal.

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