Jana had a problem with hard beans. I learned to cook beans from The Bean
 Book by British vegetarian cook. Rose Elliot (Fontana, 1979). Here are a
 few hints.
 Hint #1  - Soaking
 Rose advises that all pulses be washed and then soaked before cooking.
 There are two ways of soaking.
 1. The long cold soak (Soak for 4-8 hrs)
 2. The short hot soak. Bring beans to the boil in a saucepan of water. Boil
 for 2-3 minutes and soak for 45-60 minutes.
 Hint #2 - Rinsing
 Always rinse after soaking.  This improves their digestibility.
 Hint #3 -  Cooking times
 These vary for different types of beans. Here are the times for the most
 common types of beans.
 Black beans 1hr
 Kidney beans 1 hr
 Lima beans 45 minutes
 Broad beans 1 1/2 hrs
 Haricot beans 1 1/2 hrs
 Red split lentils (soaked) 15-20 minutes
 Soya beans  3-4 hrs
 Hint #4
 Do *not* add salt until the beans are cooked. This will mean they take
 forever to become soft.
 Hope this helps. If you need more help, feel free to email me privately. I
 would also recommend Rose’s  book to anyone who would like to learn how to
 cook beans easily. 
 For anyone who is a vegetarian for environmental reasons (I'm not), one
 interesting fact is that beans can provide ten times more protein from a
 piece of land than m**t. They are really cheap too, for student vegetarians
 like me.