Instead of a vision of sugarplums, how about a simple, inexpensive and wonderful meal that lasts for days. I set myself the challenge of making a pot of vegetarian beans that taste as good as ones cooked with a ham hock.
First I made a rich vegetable stock: two whole ears of corn (chopped), turnip, rutabaga, golden beet, red pepper, carrot, onion, celery, herbs, simmered about two hours and strained. I rinsed the beans (I used black beans), brought them to a boil, and drained them. (Someone told me this reduces their gas-producing quality.) Then I cooked the beans in the stock with chopped early girl tomatoes, shallots, onions, garlic, and a chipotle pepper for about 40 minutes in the pressure cooker. After they were soft, I added cumin, chiles, cilantro, lime, salt.
These may be the most flavorful beans I ever made. We ate them with rice and chile verde, with eggs, and by themselves. Yum!