Believe it or not it is quite easy to make really good homemade baked beans. The recipe that follows is derived from various recipes, including one from my mother’s first cookbook, The United Lutheran Ladies Aid Coobook, which she purchased in 1947. This is family cooking at its best. I have also drawn from thestonecup.com.blog, and an early edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. The step by step recipe which has evolved is a good and fresh take on the classic baked bean.
1 lb. Navy Beans
1/2 lb. Bacon (try to get some nice thick bacon from the butcher)
1 cup Diced yellow onion
2 Tbs. Molasses
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 Sprigs Rosemary (fresh)
1 tsp Salt
Dash of Pepper
Ok, everyone has no doubt heard how hard it is to get the beans ready. Right? Here is the deal, just before you go to bed the night before you want to have baked beans, simply put the beans in a big pot, cover them with water, and go to bed. Simple.
Next morning drain the water from the beans, and rinse them a little more. Discard any nasty looking beans you might find.
Place the beans into an oven safe baking dish or dutch oven (must have cover) cover them with water and let them sit.
Dice the onion (store in refrigerator)
Cut the raw bacon into 1/2 inch strips (store in refrigerator)
Place the dutch oven with beans on the burner, turn the heat to Low and let them slowly cook for 20 minutes. Do not let the beans boil – yet. Next add 1 tsp of baking soda and bring the beans up to a slow boil. This will take a few minutes. Once there is a boil, drain the water from beans and immediately run fresh cold water over the beans to cool them (blanch).
Preheat the oven to 325 to 350 degrees depending upon your oven.
Place the cool beans back into the cool dutch oven, add 4 cups of water and all the other ingredients, stir, cover, and place in the pre-heated oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Remove the cover on the dutch oven for the last 30 minutes of baking.
It is that easy. And there is only 1 pot to clean!
(If you are going to make a bigger batch, then for each pound more of beans add 2 cups of water and increase the amount of remaining ingredients in equal parts).
There are some purchases that bring a real sense of immediate joy. One that I have always loved was sod grass. Sod grass has magical powers.
Years ago the rear yard at my home could best be described as natural ground cover. No, I was not years ahead of my neighborhood peers who were squandering water to have the perfect lawn. Truth was, I just had not gotten around to that whole lawn thing yet.
But, as time passed I tired of gazing out at my field of weeds. It was time for a grass yard. But, how would I go about the chore of creating a lawn? I researched the issue, and found that I could go old school and apply grass seed by hand, go hi-tech and spray a mixture of grass seed, fertilizer, and adherant onto the soil, or use sod. I concluded that with seed or spray much of my effort would end up feeding a bunch of old crows. Also, the thought of standing around with a water hose waiting for signs of some grass to break through the soil brought back unnecessary geeky memories of waiting for my first facial hair to bloom into a skinny little sort of mustache.
So I went with sod. I went to the sod “store” and told them the size of my yard and they told me how much sod I would need and how much money they would need. They also thought that first preparing the yard with fresh black soil would be helpful.
So, one Friday night I had a truck load of black dirt, and pallots of sod delivered. I would be ready to hit it at the break of dawn, or there about, on Saturday morning.
I suppose I should have cultivated the natural ground cover, but instead I simply mowed the weeds and wild grass , and then used a wheelbarrow to create little piles of black dirt all around the yard. Next, I covered the stubby “natural” ground cover (think weeds) with black dirt. The process of learning to operate a wheelbarrow and actually spreading the black dirt took up the morning, and well into the afternoon. When completed the rear yard was nicely covered with brand new soil. My yard was already looking better, as I had transformed it from weeds to clean dirt. But, I pushed on as I figured that the new clean and clever look would likely not age well.
It was time to start unrolling sod. My energy came back as the dark dirt landscape began to take on the color and texture of beautiful new green grass. Row after row of sod was unrolled and eventually the yard was covered in fresh smelling grass.
Next, it was time to spray the grass with water to start the process of it rooting into the black dirt. Once that was accomplished, it was time to grab a beer and sit on my deck as I surveyed my perfect lawn. What a great feeling, from weeds to lush green grass in one day! That is my idea instant gratification.
Nothing I bought since the sod project ever quite compared to the joy of an instant lawn, until last weekend.
Our neighbor asked us to help her place a stone top on her new patio dining table. Everything looked so nice on her patio, it inspired Sue and me to get a couple things we had been thinking about for our deck.
One thing we wanted was a fireplace to warm the deck and provide us the means to teach our son the art of cooking s’mores over an open flame. We could not use a wood fireplace due to overhangs, so we purchased a propane model.
Now at home, with a very large and imposing box ready to be opened, we started unboxing the firepit. I had feared it could take days to put everything together, but then the box was open and there were virtually no parts to assemble! I connected the propane tank, and installed a battery for the fire starter, and boom baby we had a firepit on the deck.
And then it hit me, that wonderful feeling of instant gratification as the three of us ended the day cooking s’mores on our deck fire pit.
While enjoying your baked beans, why not talk about things that have given you that unexpected special feeling.
Good Eating and Table Talk,