Ranch Style Beans

 "Beans, beans, the wonderful fruit! The more you eat them, the more ..................."  If your from the South you know how the jingle goes, I better move on and mind my manners, for now :)

1 lb dry pinto beans
5-6 cups cold water
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
4 oz. ham hocks (opt, but suggested)
1/4 tsp. liquid smoke
1 1/2 tsp.  chili powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, plus
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper (for spicier beans add another 1/2 Tsp)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
dash of cinnamon (yes, cinnamon. It's an ingredient in the canned RSB)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 -2 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder or 1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 can of tomato paste (I've use tomato sauce too) 

Wash beans and sort through them looking for any tiny pebbles or rocks that may have made it into the bag of beans, it does happen folks.  You'll  most certainly appreciate this tip the first time you chomp down and ccccrrraaackkk goes to the tooth and out comes the pebble. So, why take a chance on that? Just do it, sort away!

Now, fill your large pot with water, oh, I don't know how much, eye ball it. 5-6 cups to start off with should be fine. To soak or not to soak? Me, personally, I'ma' soaker. I like to soak my beans for several hours, overnight sometimes too. It cuts your cooking time down and that's how my momma did it, so, that's how I do it.

After your beans have soaked (or not), add all your other junk. Yup, dump it right in. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours (if you soaked), 5-6 hours for you non-soakers.

Very VERY important... check liquid level occasionally, no, really.  You will not love the results of a burnt bowl of beans, trust me! I say that with conviction! I have burnt a pot of beans, no bueno! But, it's all trial and error some times. That's how we learn, right? Right! Anyhow,  add more water as needed to keep the beans covered. Oh yeah, I almost forgot this part, be sure and always add boiling water to replenish the liquid, never add cold water. Why? Well, because cold water brings down the temperature of your beans, and, because I said so that's why :)

Cook until your beans are tender and the broth is as soupy or thick as you like.  I like mine soupy.
If cooked in a crock pot, you will need  an extra cup of water if you did not pre-soak and cook them on the low setting. It also may take a little longer than the 5 to 6 hours.
Don't forget about those leftover beans either...I tossed mine over some chili-cheese Frito's, topped with some cheese and onions (and a bit of mustard)..and viola! Lunch the next day.

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