Originally Posted by Cooking Goddess
Actually, Chef Sara Moulton says you don't have to measure the rice and water, just fill a 2-qt pot with water, bring to a boil and dump a cup of rice into it, and boil for 15-17 minutes or until rice is tender. Then you dump it like you would had you cooked pasta.
This is the traditional European way of cooking rice. I do it this way most of the time because it's easier. There's no measuring and you can take the pot off the stove at the exact moment of doneness, rather than waiting until the water has all been absorbed (at which point it may actually be overdone).
Back to the bean question. Soaking isn't mandatory, but it does help ensure that the beans soften completely through when they are cooked. If I'm planning ahead, I always soak them overnight. However, there have been times I've felt like making beans at the last minute and have cooked them without soaking. If you don't mind a little bit of firmness in the texture, it works fine.
I've heard the stories about soaking helping to reduce gas. I can vouch for the fact that it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of difference. At least not for me. Beans, like many other nutritious foods, simply have a tendency to induce gas. Is that so bad, though? I would think that it's when your body stops
producing gas you should worry.