With that in mind, yesterday I broke out the ingredients to last night's dinner with pride: dried beans, some kale, canned tomatoes, and some spices. My veggie chili was perfect for this crazy cold snap and made only better by the fact I could prepare it all ahead of time.
Brian came home early (a shocker!) and we were sitting down to dinner by 5:30. The chili was great and the flavors were fantastic, but my beans were undercooked. They crunched. I had never reconstituted dried beans before, but I followed the directions on the back by soaking them for a few hours. Maybe they didn't soak up enough juice in the chili? Beans are an enigma to me anyways, so I just kind of shrugged it off. Brian quietly crunched through his chili and we both smiled at each other from across the table. Chalk it up to yet another bad dinner by Kim.
(FYI: I used to be a great cook. Really. Once I made my own pasta noodles and stuff. But over the years, absent-mindedness combined with a child to watch has turned me into a disaster in the kitchen. On Monday night, I made the boys mac 'n' cheese they consumed like soup. Too much milk. At least Brian is *mostly* forgiving and patient.)
As we sat on the couch later that night, after Scotty had gone to bed, unaware of how bad his mother's cooking has become (he noshed on chicky nugs and apple sauce, not chili), I commented to Brian that our digestive systems are going to hate us for putting so much raw fiber in there. Still giggling, I Google'd "Uncooked beans" just to get an idea of what was to come. But in the search engine, right under "Uncooked beans," it expanded to say "Uncooked beans TOXIC." I gasped. And started reading.
"RED KIDNEY BEAN POISONING"
Red Kidney Bean Poisoning is an illness caused by a toxic agent, Phytohaemagglutnin (Kidney Bean Lectin). This toxic agent is found in many species of beans, but it is in highest concentration in red kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris).
I ran to the garbage and pulled out the bag from earlier in the day. Yup, red kidney beans. Crap!!
The syndrome is usually caused by the ingestion of raw, soaked kidney beans, either alone or in salads or casseroles. As few as four or five raw beans can trigger symptoms.
Oh my God! I just consumed like, 300 beans! And so did Brian!
Several outbreaks have been associated with "slow cookers" or crock pots, or in casseroles which had not reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy the glycoprotein lectin. It has been shown that heating to 80 degrees C. may potentiate the toxicity five-fold, so that these beans are more toxic than if eaten raw. In studies of casseroles cooked in slow cookers, internal temperatures often did not exceed 75 degrees C..
Okay, this is a positive. I did not use a slow cooker but I also didn't check my water temperature. It boiled - 212 degrees - but for how long? Was it enough time? And the toxins are worse if they are slightly cooked, not just raw? Gah!
Onset of symptoms varies from between 1 to 3 hours.
What time is it? Okay, it's nine o'clock. No symptoms yet. Wait, what was that? Did my tummy just turn over? Is that a toot or the beginnings of explosive diarrhea? Why did my colon just move?
Onset is usually marked by extreme nausea, followed by vomiting, which may be very severe. Diarrhea develops somewhat later (from one to a few hours), and some persons report abdominal pain. Some persons have been hospitalized, but recovery is usually rapid (3 - 4 h after onset of symptoms) and spontaneous.
Other websites pointed out that in certain cases, consumption of undercooked beans was, in fact, fatal.
I cannot even begin to describe what flashed through my brain in those several moments. Here's a taste:
Scotty...OMG Scotty...would he be well taken care of? He would be destroyed by our loss. Destroyed. This would ruin preschool for him. And his whole life. And the living trust and estate planning we did last year - was it enough? Do we have our affairs in order? But I'm too young to die! I don't even want to go to the hospital and pay out stupid co-pay! I just want to go to boot camp tomorrow like everything was fine. And what about Brian? Did I give him a toxic amount? He looks a little pale. What happens if one of us died and the other didn't? We've never talked about getting remarried or even dating. This can't be happening...maybe I should induce vomiting? My organs are going to start shutting down. Probably in the next few minutes.
::big, long, blank moment of nothingness::
I never even got to see Napa.
And then I'm pretty sure I had a panic attack.
Brian laughed (nicely) at my tears. He assured me we were going to survive. I was still trying to wrestle with the idea that a.) I'm dying and b.) I'm dying from such a random, stupid, preventable thing. How would I explain this to my mom? Who would explain this to my mom?? Would they do an autopsy? Check the trash? Interrogate the boy?
But then miraculously, the clock ticked past 9:30pm and neither of presented with even the mildest of symptoms. And I went to bed, to quiet my mind and pray fervently that I, in fact, did not just accidentally poison myself or my husband. With beans.
So yes, you guessed it. We're still here, all in one piece. I woke Brian up this morning to make sure he was still breathing before I went to boot camp. He grumbled at me but then I reminded him of the beans, he replied, "Oh. Oh yeah, I'm fine. Go to boot camp." Whew.
So please, dear readers, remember this crazy tale of woe. Undercooked beans are no one's friend. Death by Beans would be a terrible way to go.