When we got home I looked up beans in Appalachia and discovered that in West Virginia they make something called soup beans, which are plain pinto beans cooked with fatback or other porky pieces, served with cornbread. Fatback is not going to happen in my vegetarian kitchen, but I managed to make some beans that filled the void we felt after a thousand miles of laminated menus.
Mushroom Beans with Ramps
1 cup pinto beans, soaked overnight, drained
1 small onion
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup dried mushrooms
chopped red onion
Meanwhile, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and let stand until the mushrooms are softened. Drain the mushrooms, reserving liquid. Sometimes dried mushrooms are a little gritty, so wash well until running water, then pat dry with paper towels and chop fine. Add to the beans. Strain the soaking liquid (I use a paper coffee filter) and add to the beans.
When the beans are about tender, add a splash of cider vinegar and liquid smoke to taste. Correct seasoning.
Wash the ramps well. Trim the roots, then thinly slice the bulbs and stems. Stack the leaves and slice fine. Saute the bulbs and stems in a little butter. When they're transparent, add the leaves and stir until wilted. Add the ramps to the beans when you're ready to serve.