Been practicing cooking dried beans almost every weekend for a couple of months now. The crockpot method is the easiest. Just wash and inspect the beans, no soak. I use sodium free chicken stock instead of water. Don't add salt until the beans are tender. I sometimes add a lot of stuff (good use for leftover Q) and sometimes very little. Onions and garlic are in the pot at the start. After that I just do what I feel like. They are always started on friday night so the beans are cooked by saturday morning and they go in the pit with whatever else is cooking. Smoke flavoring the beans is what I'm after, not using liquid smoke. Pintos have become my favorite because I always make too much and turning the excess beans into refried beans for burritos is easy. I've got a son that lives on burritos.