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Tough Beans!

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My key turned in the lock as I slowly opened the door. Stepping inside, I waited to be greeted by the warm aroma of cooking beans. Mid-door, I stopped, puzzled. The smell was . . . odd. The room was filled with a mixture of something tart, burned, and in the beginning stages of rot! 

Panicking, I rushed to the desk where my Crock-Pot sat. Fingers curled around the handle, I lifted the lid and peered inside, expecting disaster. But the beans looked normal. 

Wait. They didn’t smell normal. 

This was my third time making beans. I knew what they were supposed to smell like. But it was my first time sprouting them beforehand. Instead of following the traditional eight-hour soak, rinse, then cook, I decided to let them soak, rinse, then sit for 8-10 hours before rinsing again, repeating twice. Doing so allowed the beans to sprout a tiny stem full of nutrition. 

The Internet said this was healthy—useable in salads, steamed, or in stir-fry. I trusted the Internet, but the Internet had lied

Tossing the beans seemed logical. But if I tossed them, I would have to find another option. I loved cooking to welcome in the Sabbath. I didn’t want to eat in the college cafeteria. 

I can still save these beans. Maybe if I add some oil and cook them a bit on the stove, they’ll be fine. 

As I unplugged my Crock-Pot, I realized I had no idea how they could be fixed. I picked up my phone and decided to have my boyfriend Eliezer come help me. He knew how to cook. If he couldn’t fix them, my beans were a lost cause. 


I paused, trying to figure out how to admit my cooking fiasco. “Uh . . . can you come by earlier than we planned to eat and help me fix my beans? I think something went wrong.”

“Sure,” he replied. “Be there in a minute.” 

Gathering my supplies, I headed downstairs to the kitchen area of the dorm. I pulled out my olive oil, salt, and pot. Outside of the room, the beans still reeked of failure. 

Eliezer walked in the kitchen, my beans’ only beacon of hope.

“What’s the problem?”

“Well,” I began. “I sprouted the beans like I was supposed to, but now they smell awful after cooking. I thought maybe if I fried them it might help the taste.” 

He paused, glancing toward the counter at the suspects in question. Registering the odd smell, his nose wrinkled. “Those are the beans?”

“Don’t judge. I was trying.”

He picked up my pot and set it on the stove, turning the heat to medium. After he poured the oil in, we waited a few moments before adding the beans.

Szzzzzzz. The beans sizzled, hitting the oil. After a minute, I took my fork and began smashing them, trying to destroy any evidence of disaster from their soft shells. 

Finally, it was time.

Eliezer brought a spoonful of the mashed beans to his mouth. As the taste registered, I saw his expression change from curiosity to disgust. He quickly spit them out into the trash can.

“Those taste like socks!” I tried not to laugh at his facial expression.

“They can’t be that bad,” I argued.

Grabbing a spoon, I lifted a heap of beans to my mouth. It took all I had to keep my lunch down. The sound of gagging filled the trash can, my ears, and the kitchen. They did taste like socks—old gym socks! 

“Maybe we can’t save them,” I admitted. 

“Even if we can, I’m not taste-testing the next experiment.”

All I wanted was to make a good batch of beans. I felt overwhelmed by sadness and defeat. My eyes watered as I moved to put the dishes in the sink. Why was I getting so flustered over my failed attempt? 

Eliezer must have noticed my mood change. 

“They’re just beans, Emily.” 

I glared at him. 

They felt like more than “just beans.” My determination to experiment resulted in failure. Not only were my beans wasted, but so was my time. What if all my other beans turned out like this? What if my Crock-Pot was ruined? What if I couldn’t cook?

Breathe. Don’t get ahead of yourself. 

Eliezer must have sensed my frustration. “Look, it’s OK. Just dump them out. We can find something else to eat. It’s kind of funny. They tasted like dirty socks.”

I started laughing. Hysterically. He was right. They were just beans. And there was no way we were going to eat them now. 

“I’m sorry,” I apologized. “I’m worrying over nothing.” 

Matthew 6:26, 27 popped into my head as I dumped the beans into the trash can, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (NIV)* Regardless of whether or not the beans were edible, I had other options for dinner. I thanked God for allowing me to learn from this fiasco, even if my room now smelled like a junior high locker room.

No worries. Next time I’ll ask for help before I trust the Internet on something I don’t know beans about. 



* Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Emily Wood wrote this when she was a marketing communications major at Union College, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and head copy editor for the college’s weekly newspaper, The Clocktower.



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