Usually beans of this sort would involve some pork, but they don't need it, which is fortunate for our vegetarian selves. Sometimes I add some Bragg's Liquid Amino, which if F. knew about it, she'd definitely class as "fancy stuff." It just adds a little umami, though, and doesn't make things taste any less traditional, I promise. It is also fully optional.
The secret, crucial ingredient is jalepeño brine. It does a magical delicious something without disrupting the essential Big Pot of Plain Beans quality of the thing. Try it and see!
A BIG POT OF VEGETARIAN BEANS
12-16 oz. of Rio Zape beans or the pinto-type bean of your choice
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Bragg's (optional)
1/4 cup brine from jarred or canned jalepeños, or the same amount of juice from a jar of pepperoncini, or even kosher pickles
2 Tbsp. of jarred jalepeños, minced very very very fine (optional)
1. Soak the beans overnight.
2. Drain the beans and put them in a pot with fresh water, enough to cover them by at least an inch. Add the onion, garlic, oil, salt, and Bragg's, if using. Don't add the brine and peppers yet. Cover.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until tender -- this could be as little as half an hour, or as much as an hour and a half, depending on the size and freshness of your beans.
4. Add the brine and minced peppers. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Eat right away or reheat later. (I find that the latter results in something that is somehow even more tastier; I don't know why.)