I've tried cooking with dry beans a bunch of times. They usually come out barely edible- sort of mealy feeling and not fully cooked, despite hours of soaking and cooking.
Earlier this year I saw this post on Cathy's blog http://growingcurious.typepad.com/growing_curious/2008/04/cathys-no-soak.html. I made some black beans and used them for soup shortly afterwards. And omg! It works- perfect beans.
I made some more beans this weekend, some lovely garbanzos. Delicious. I used them in a stew from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.
This morning I picked up a bag of great northern beans at the store, love those and can't wait to make something with them. I was talking about cooking with my friend Maria yesterday. She asked why was I making beans from scratch, since good canned beans are so readily available. I wasn't really sure, except that I love a good cooking challenge, and it drove me bonkers that my previous efforts were inedible!
In other food news, Sam has been on a new food streak. Mind you, he hasn't really loved most of what he has tried, but hey, he's trying! He tried spinach and got a bite or two down by holding his nose. We just made it plain, but I bet he would like it made another way. We'll try again. He tried a grape. He didn't care for the skin; his sister helpfully asked if we could peel them for him. Um, no thanks. He tried a radish in school. He ate some sweet potato, and did enjoy that. Hooray! A week ago I bought an artichoke, at his request. I made it last night, and he ate a few leaves dipped in honey mustard dressing. He says he'd eat it again if we make it.
I think both of my kids eat pretty well, but Sam is definitely persnickety. But, hey, so was I.