My Blog

November 4, 2015

Elderly Mothers and the Beans

Our elderly seem to have trouble with food – whether choosing what to eat or eating at all. Mom has started worrying about getting fat. As a hospice nurse friend told me, getting fat is not something Mom needs to worry about at 96 years of age. Eating all that toasted Italian bread lathered in butter and topped with home-made strawberry jam is perfectly all right but convincing Mom of that is another thing entirely.

Thick slices of Italian bread, buttered and broiled with homemade jam.

Thick slices of Italian bread, buttered and broiled with homemade jam.

However, when I put the tasty treat in front of her, worries of weight disappear and she gobbles it right up. Who wouldn’t?

Her favorite comfort food, as I have now discovered, are pinto beans. When she feels stressed or worried, she will haul out the pressure cooker and put on the beans.  A very wise friend from Austin (I seem to be blessed with a number of these) just informed me that pinto beans are a wonderful source of all sorts of nutrients. So I guess it’s a good thing that Mom likes her pinto beans.  He offered a website for nutrition data that I will use to help Mom’s eating. Help yourself, it’s free.

Just before I left Mom alone day-before-yesterday, (she was obviously feeling stressed), I helped her set up the pressure cooker to make her pinto beans. Carefully following Mom’s instructions, I soaked the beans overnight in the pressure cooker with a diced onion and salt. The next morning she told me to add brown sugar and more water and put it on to cook. I sealed the pressure cooker and put it on the stove.

Massive quantities of burned beans

Massive quantities of burned beans


Busy packing and running last minute errands, I didn’t go back and check on the beans thinking Mom would take care of them. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking. The scent of burning beans must have pried her from the pages of Jack Reacher and brought her staggering in from the bedroom. But it’s always too late when that unmistakable scent comes wafting in.

I smelled it too when I returned from my errands ready to depart. When I bemoaned the burned beans, she went into instant guilt mode. She immediately assured me that they weren’t burned, that they were fine. Have you ever eaten a pot of burned anything that tasted fine? Actually, I suppose the top ones are salvageable with enough slathering of Pace picante sauce—thank you, San Antonio. She’ll eat them anyway. I wonder, does burning harm the nutrients? The nutrition site doesn’t mention charcoaled beans.

I left her working on cleaning out the pressure cooker and removing the burned beans. I’m certain a hammer and steel chisel should do the trick. Comet and a scrubbie will also work but it will take until next December to remove the evidence of blackened bean husks in the pot. It will give her something to do and keep her busy exercising while I’m gone. Of course, most of her pots bear some evidence of burning. It’s a family tradition, after all.

And Pauline is coming with wine, so everything should be fine. Wine goes with everything, doesn’t it? Even burned beans.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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