Pinto Beans, Three Ways

It doesn't take much to please me. Give me a big, steaming bowl of charra beans, borracho beans or even plain, porky pinto beans and I will be delighted.
Beans were a big part of my diet growing up. At least once a week, we’d have beans for supper, either in the guise of bean salad or in big bowls served with a side of cornbread or tortillas. Sometimes it would be black beans and sometimes it would be navy beans but our core staple was pinto beans. As my mom says, “Pinto beans are close to a perfect food.”
Mom would soak them overnight and slow cook them all day with garlic, onions, spices and her secret ingredient—jalapeno juice. She’d add pork if it was available, but it was the jalapeno juice that gave her beans their fantastic flavor.

When I was little, I figured that we ate beans all the time because we were poor. But when our economic situation turned for the better we continued to eat beans. Why? Because we just enjoyed eating them so much.

I wasn’t alone in loving these beans; I had a friend who claimed them as her favorite food as well and she was known for being a picky eater, especially when it came to eating at our house. See, my mom was a health-food nut who had a reputation of being quite liberal with the wheat germ. And (it seemed) that not a dish was prepared without the addition of the cardboard-flavored sawdust stuff. (I have to admit, however, I actually enjoy wheat germ now that I'm more sophisticated, but that will just be our secret.)

I hated it—but since she was my mom, unless I wanted to starve I had to eat everything she gave me. My particular friend, however, had the luxury of not eating one of mom’s wheat-germ concoctions. Without fail, she refused to touch just about everything my mom offered.

Except for mom’s pinto beans.
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