With bulk cooking, enjoy the unique flavors of your locale.

My Story: Bulk Cooking Southwestern Style

contributed by Ann

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If you live near a potato farm, as we do, you can buy potatoes during harvest time at a reasonable price. I buy them in 100-pound bags and split the potatoes with our grown children. We do the same with locally grown chili peppers and pinto beans. Each of us has the amount we can use and the cost is very low compared to the local markets.

The chili peppers are already hand roasted when we buy them and we put them in the freezer in resealable bags (whole chilies, without removing stems, skins nor seeds). To cook, we take them out of the freezer and run cold water over them and the skins slide off. Then they are ready for any dish you wish to make. If you want a milder flavor, remove the seeds before freezing.

We divide the beans into gallon-sized resealable bags for easier storage in the cupboards. It takes two to three cups of dry pinto beans to make a large slow cooker of beans. We add ham for flavor.

I scrub the potatoes, wrap them in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees. When I bake 24 of the number two potatoes at a time, it takes about two hours. When they are cool, I put them in the freezer. I use them as I would any frozen potato. I brown them in olive oil for a side dish or I put them in stews, omelets, or soups.

The advantage to doing your own cooking from scratch is you can control the amount of salt, fat, other additives that go into your food.

Beans can be frozen after they are cooked. Simply put them in a freezer container and freeze. When ready to use, take the beans out of the freezer, thaw, heat and serve.

Try adding a bit of green chili peppers to homemade chicken noodle soup. It adds a special tang to any dish. When using chili peppers in a dish, be aware that it can be very hot to the uninitiated tongue. Experiment with small amounts before using larger amounts.

Having these western staples on hand in the freezer can make cooking time a lot shorter on a busy day.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@Stretcher.com

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