basics

slow cooker refried beans

This is one of the easiest recipes ever.  I love the slow cooker for that reason.  Just throw a bunch of stuff in and overnight (or while you're at work) it cooks!  I love these refried beans because I use my immersion blender to make them nice and smooth once they're done cooking.  That's just because I like them really smooth.  If you like them a little chunkier, you can just use a potato masher to get the half smashed-half full bean texture.

Refried pinto beans
1 lb dried pinto beans
1 diced shallot
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne better
7 cups water or stock
ham bones
1 bay leaf

Throw everything into your slow cooker.  Cook on high for 6-8 hours or low for 10-12 hours.  When the beans re done cooking, remove the ham bones and bay leaf.  Use a masher or an immersion blender and mash (or blend) to your desired consistency!

how to cut leeks

Like most other plants in the onion family, a good portion of the leek plant grows underground in sandy soil  This means that you'll usually encounter a lot of dirt when you cut into leeks.  But a little dirt never hurt anyone!

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Cut the leek in half lengthwise

Turn it 90 degrees and cut horizontally, moving toward the root

After cutting to the desired size, fill a bowl with cold water and dump the leeks in, let it sit for a minute or two.

Take the leeks out with a slotted spoon, or with your hands.  Don't drain the water with the leeks still in the bowl because all of the gross dirt settled at the bottom will just pour over the leeks.  Dry them with paper towel and use in your fave recipe!

how to dice a shallot

Ever confused a shallot for a red onion?  I have.  I thought they were the same thing for a while. Shallots are the onion's milder, slightly peppery cousin.  Its flavor doesn't punch you in the face, it subtly mingles with the flavors of whatever you add it to.  

Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be an ode to the perfectly understated flavor of the shallot, it's a guide to dicing a shallot.  Shall we begin?

chop the shallot in half lengthwise, through the root

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chop off the end opposite the root, this is usually the thinner, pointier end

after you take a second to marvel at my ability to do this with one hand, peel off the outer skin 

cut thin vertical strips, close to the root, but not through the root

cut horizontally

you did it!  now throw these into something delicious!