Crockpot Pinto Beans (And this Coach’s Wife’s Back to School Woes)Posted: August 28, 2013
“It’s so stupid. It’s laundry…why are we fighting about laundry and yard work? I mean seriously, let’s just wear dirty clothes and hire a lawn man. It’s not worth it.”
Last week was not good. It was a long, hard, hanging on by a thread in every way possible kind of way of week. The kind of week that drives you to a tearful angry clash over laundry … and yard work … because everything feels overwhelming … and because, as I told my mom in a pity party email, “I suck at everything this week–mothering, marriage, career.”
This is what the transition to football widow looks like in our home every year. It’s a big ugly awful transition from having our husband/daddy home 24-7 to him working seven days a week….long late hours several of those days. I dread it with every fiber in me…and then it somehow is even worse than I anticipated it would be. Jared assures me it gets better, I’m telling myself I always adjust and survive. I’m hoping that’s true again…though I’ve never had a toddler, a book deadline, and a new book release all in one football season. At least I won’t suffer of boredom like I did back in our newlywed days….that’s for sure.
Aside from the real possibilities of wearing dirty clothes and hiring a lawn man, I need a better vision for this season. So I’m working on this. Not a plan so much as a shift in attitude, in focus, a survivors guide of sorts. I’m jotting down some sanity savers for the school year. It’s Wednesday afternoon and so far, I have yet to melt down this week. Maybe they are working.
- Pray. Often. Quietly. Out loud. Whenever I think I need Jared. Because really, I probably actually need Jesus.
- Go Away. I’m going to try and getaway for a writing weekend once a month. I’m calling in Grandparents and friends and getting away to do my bulk of writing in short intense weekend spurts, because that’s how my mind works best.
- Wake Up Early. I am NOT a morning person, but now that I have a toddler who, bless his adorable heart, drains every ounce of energy from me by his 8:00pm bedtime, I’m no longer a night person either. So I’m trying to wake up early to be with God, my thoughts, and my writing…and coffee, probably lots of coffee. I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling on this one!
- Plan/shop for meals every two weeks. I will go major grocery shopping every other Sunday night while Jared is home with Jackson, so I know what is for dinner every night….and I can do the big shopping alone (the only way I enjoy this chore).
- Double and freeze meals as often as I cook (when possible). I’ve been cooking big and filling up my freezer this week and it feels so good to have pizza, falafel, bean burritos, pinto beans, cupcakes, extra chopped veggies and fruits, and Jackson’s morning oatmeal all ready when I need something quick.
- Apply to start a home group. This seems kind of counter intuitive…but our current group meets on Thursday nights and we can’t make it because of football and bedtimes, so we are going to try and start one every other Sunday afternoon, because we need people to invest in, because we don’t want to get lost in our little world that revolves around ourselves and football.
- Stay involved in MOPS, because these women are my girls…they are in the trenches of motherhood with me and they understand me and will pray for me when I ask them to and make me laugh when I think I’m going to fall apart. I stepped down from my steering team role, which was sad and hard, but the right choice. And now, for this season, I will let MOPS do what it does best, minister to my often overwhelmed mother heart…and equip me to be a better mom. Better Moms Make a Better World.
- Dig in the dirt. I’m going to devote time to dig in the dirt with Jackson, to go on slow picking up sticks and rocks along the way walks, build things with him on his workbench…without looking at my phone or quickly checking to see what email just popped in my inbox. Focused time with him, so his cup will be full when I do need to focus on something else.
- Savor nap time. I have a child that sleeps during the day. That’s awesome. It will end at some point…and until it does…oh I will savor that time, from the sweet snuggles while we read and rock to the quiet time to write, reflect, and decompress from busy mornings while he’s sleeping.
- Declare evenings stress-free. At about 5:00pm, my ability to handle stress goes way down. I might just declare a daily dance party in the kitchen at 5:00 to signal that the day is over and the stress free night has begun. Think I can convince a two-year old to go along with this?
I talked with some other coach’s wives at a coach’s cookout this week. One reminded me that the season is not very long, really just three to four months. Another whose husband was in the military before this gave me a little perspective about what it really feels like for your husband to be away while you’re raising young kids. Any other wisdom from coach’s wives, writer mamas, work-at-home moms? What are you doing to try and stay sane this fall?
As part of my meal plan last week, which believe it or not, made the week go WAAAAAY smoother than it could have gone, I made a huge pot of crockpot pinto beans. We ate them with Mushroom & Spinach Mole Enchiladas one night and Roasted Butternut Squash Mole Enchiladas another night. (I will share this recipe next time I make them. Let me just tell you, they were fantastic and I will be making them again…but I did not have the energy for the extra food blogging steps this time. Sorry!) Then I made several bean burritos to freeze for back up meals or quick lunches, and still I froze some extra pintos to reheat for future meals. I always forget how long the crockpot actually takes…they call it a slow cooker for a reason, but it’s worth the wait. Just plan ahead!
Crockpot Pinto Beans
Makes 5-6 quarts
2 pounds dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed and soaked*
2 onions, quartered
6 cloves, garlic (gently smashed and peels removed)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
approx 10 cups water
2-4 teaspoons salt
Equipment: 6-quart or larger crockpot (halve recipe for smaller crockpots), strainer
*Cover beans with lots of water. Let sit overnight at room temperature and rinse or follow package instructions for the quick soak method.
Put soaked beans in your crockpot. Pour water over the top until they are covered about an inch (to your thumb knuckle).
Add onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir.
Cover crockpot. Put on high. (My crockpot doesn’t seem to get very hot, even on high, so I cooked mine on high the whole time.) If you notice the liquid bubbling, lower your crockpot to medium. (If you do this in the morning before work, put it on high while you are getting ready, then lower it to medium or low while you are at work. Crank it back up when you get home if they aren’t done.)
Cook for five hours, or until the beans are cooked through. Add two teaspoons of salt, tilt lid to let some of the liquid evaporate, and cook for one more hour. Add more salt if needed. I used four teaspoons in ours.
You can eat them just like this or make refried beans.
Scoop beans, onions & garlic with a slotted spoon into a food processor, process until desired consistency, adding cooking liquid as needed. If you plan on freezing or reheating, add a little extra liquid because they thicken each time you reheat them. (You can also do this in a big pan on medium low heat with a little oil and just mash them until they are the desired consistency.)
To freeze refried beans: Put cooled leftovers into glass jars or ziptop bags and freeze.
Defrost overnight in the fridge (or in a bowl of luke warm water), pour into a pan and heat on the stove top to desired temperature or consistency.
Scoop beans into a warm tortilla. Fold into a burrito with seam side down on a cookie sheet. Repeat. Freeze on the cookie sheet. Wrap each frozen burrito in saran wrap or sandwich baggies. To reheat, remove from plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel, reheat in microwave for 60 seconds on each side until heated through (2-3 minutes).