Mexican Beans & Refried Beans

Here's my version for beans cooked in the crockpot, and how to use the leftovers as refried beans. Of course, you can cook them on the stovetop too, just simmer pre-soaked beans for a couple of hours until tender. This is just a basic bean recipe - if you are cooking beans with tomatoes, vinegar or sugar in them, don't add them until the beans are completely cooked as they prevent the beans from cooking.

1. Sort and wash the beans. Soak overnight if cooking on stovetop or with pressure cooker, to make beans more digestable, and cook quicker. If using a crockpot, you don't really have to soak them. If soaking, rinse and use fresh water for cooking.

Tip: if you're worried about beans causing digestive discomfort and gas, add to the soaking water one of the following - 3 Tblspns fresh chopped green chilies or 1 tsp fennel seeds; and add garlic and cumin to the cooking water.

2. Place in crockpot and cook on low overnight, or for about 9 hrs, until very tender:
- 5 1/2 cups (2 lbs) dry pinto or black beans
- about 3 - 3 1/2 litres (quarts) water, as needed
- garlic powder
- ground cumin
Drain most of liquid off beans, and reserve. (Leave a little in so they're not dry, or if you want a bean soup, leave it all in.)

3. Chop onions, garlic & chilli on speed 6 for 4 seconds, then saute in Thermomix with oil & butter (or ghee) for 5 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 1:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter (or ghee)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- chopped fresh chilies, to taste (optional)

4. Add to beans in crockpot and leave to cook a little longer:
- Sauteed garlic & onion (& chillies if using)
- 1 Tblspn cayenne pepper or 3 Tblspns chili powder (if not using fresh chilies)
- 4 tspns ground cumin seed
- 2 tspns dried oregano
- 2 tspns sea salt, to taste

Variation: you can also add 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup honey, although not if using for refried beans.

5. Serving idea: serve beans on brown rice, topped with:
- red onion rings
- minced fresh parsley
- wedges of boiled eggs
- smoked paprika

6. To make Refried Beans, drain beans, mash roughly in Thermomix (speed 3), adding some reserved liquid until they reach desired consistency. Serve in burritos or tostadas, or as a side dish, topped with some grated cheese and salad if desired.