Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beach Baked Beans

I am craving baked beans.  Probably because I've been low in fiber recently and my body is not in the mood for that.  Tastespotting had lots of recipes that I looked at, and settled on one for Boston Baked Beans.  I'm not even going to refer you to the blog because I ended up changing the recipe so much the blogger would never recognize it!  So I have changed the name to Beach Baked Beans (copyright Serenity Swamp).

I used the following ingredients:

  • 232 grams Jacob's Cattle beans (I logged these as Great Northern beans, because I can't find the nutritional information for Rancho Gordo beans, even though it might be on their website)
  • 4 slices of thick bacon, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
  • 114 grams sweet onion, chopped
  • 12 grams fresh garlic, chopped
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 t of fantastic chili peppers in a tube that I buy at Harris Teeter in the produce department
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 t hot/sweet mustard (from a Hickory Farms gift set Greg got for Christmas)
  • 1 t yellow mustard
  • 1/8 t Kosher salt, dash of black pepper
Soak the beans, drain and rinse them

Bring the soaked beans to a boil in a large pot filled with 8 cups of water.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beans are softened but fully intact, 45-60 minutes

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees

In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp

Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent

Add 3 cups of the hot bean liquid, honey, brown sugar, chili peppers, molasses, mustard, salt and pepper

Bring to a boil

Drain the beans and add to the bacon/onion mixture

Cover and put in the oven for 4-5 hours until the beans are completely soft and the liquid is thickened

Alrighty then.  One thing I changed from the blog recipe I copied was I decided to mention that you have to put the beans in with the bacon/onion mixture before you put everything in the oven, unlike the blogger, who said nothing about it (see Lynn?  It's not just you).

While the beans cooked, I made the rest of the recipe.  First, cook the bacon until crisp.

cooking the bacon

This, my friends, is my Aunt Betty's famous cast iron baked bean pot.  Aunt Betty was one of my grandfather's 11 siblings, and she was the last of them when she died just a few years ago.  Aunt Betty made the best baked beans anyone has ever eaten.  Every year at the family picnic at her house, we could count on them being there.  Not to mention her incredible macaroni and cheese.....    After she died, the family was asked if they would like anything of hers, as they were cleaning out the house in order to put it on the market.  My brilliant sister Robin asked for Aunt Betty's bean pot for me (wait a second while I cry - that just got me all choked up.  Thank you Robin - I love you).  Robin also gave me a copy of Aunt Betty's baked bean recipe.

Come to find out, it was canned beans that Aunt Betty doctored up quite a bit, and the instructions were very unclear as to how long you were supposed to cook them.  It could have been days; there was no way to tell.  I haven't made Aunt Betty's baked beans, but I have had her bean pot on the shelf in my new kitchen on top of the cabinets.  It looks so nice up there, along with some other cast iron items like my fried chicken dutch oven and an Asian style lantern. 

Shelf decor
Today since I was already using my regular bean dutch oven to simmer the beans, I asked Greg to get Aunt Betty's bean pot down from the shelf so I could start the other ingredients cooking in it.  I had to pry the lid off of it with a butter knife and was kind of afraid to open it, but when I did, there was nothing bad in there.  This pot is so nicely seasoned!

OK - back to Beach Baked Beans. Where was I.....  right.  When the bacon is crisp, add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.  Then put in 3 cups of the hot bean cooking liquid.  The recipe I found said to add 3 cups of water, but I had a whole lot of bean liquid so decided to use that instead of water.  Then put in all the other stuff.

Drain the beans

I drained the beans over a bowl so I could reserve the liquid in case I needed it.  It's a good thing I didn't need it, because right after I mixed the beans into the bacon and onions, I squeezed out my dish cloth right over the bean liquid bowl.  Oops.

Mix the beans into the bacon and onion mixture:

I think I have way too much liquid in here but time will tell.  I didn't use a whole pound of beans like the blog recipe did; I used the end of a bag of Jacob's Cattles I had opened a while back.  Oh well.  If it doesn't all soak up and get thick, I will remove the lid at the end and leave the beans in the oven for about 20 minutes that way.  Plus, we have honey wheat bread to go with dinner, so who really cares if they are too juicy.

Now put them in the oven for 4-5 hours.  After about 3 hours, start feeling happy because these smell so good!

They have been in the oven for almost 5 hours now, and the beans aren't quite done - very close.  I ate a bean and a tiny piece of bacon - these beans are going to be delicious!! 

There is still too much liquid in the pot so as soon as the timer goes off, I will take the lid off and put them back in the oven.  Greg will start the charcoal for the grill, and by the time the steaks are done the beans will be perfect.  That is my plan, anyway.

It's been 5 hours and I declare it time to take the lid off.  I'm getting hungry!  This is what they looked like when I took off the lid.

I wish you could smell them

nutrition facts

Yes, this will help my fiber immensely!

Well, the verdict is in.  After cooking the beans for another 1/2 an hour without the lid on, they were delicious.  A couple of things I would do differently next time: 
  • take the bacon out after it's cooked and only add it in when I add the beans
  • remove some of the bacon fat before I cook the onions
  • use an appropriate amount of liquid (or more beans in the first place - Greg said I should have doubled the recipe, they were that good!)
  • cook the beans a little longer before adding them to the recipe
Other than that these were freakin' awesome.  Slightly sweet, slightly spicy (slightly too firm beans).  I did not take a picture of the final product - it looked just a little darker and thicker than the picture above.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Yeah, it doesn't get much better than this.  A big spoonful of this salad over some spinach, or some brown rice or a nice grain, and you've got a whole meal!  I'm planning to eat it over nothing at first, then gradually add it into every meal until it's all gone.  It's that delicious.

I did not take pictures as I made this recipe but now I wish I had!  I pulled it together from various recipes I found online, including the vinaigrette.

Here's how I made it.


Black beans    230 grams (I used Rancho Gordo, and weighed the beans after I soaked them)
Corn   268 grams (I used Del Monte no sodium added canned corn, and weighed the corn after I drained all the liquid off)
Avocado   200 grams (one whole avocado)
Red onion  125 grams (1/2 a medium red onion)
Red pepper   203 grams (one whole red pepper plus a hunk I had leftover in the fridge)
Jalapeno  18 grams (one jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, chopped really fine)

For the vinaigrette:

Lime juice   40 grams (2 fresh limes)
Olive oil      51 grams (it looked right)
Kosher salt   1/2 t
Fresh garlic  4 grams (one clove, finely chopped)
cumin  1/2 t
honey 10 grams (one dip in my honey jar with the honey-dipping stick)
black pepper - a couple of grinds from the pepper mill

First I made the vinaigrette.  Then I chopped the avocado, and put it into the vinaigrette and stirred it around.  Next I chopped the onion and added it to the avocado in the vinaigrette.

Technically, first I cooked the beans, but I did that yesterday.  Just beans and water, nothing else.  I wanted them to be plain and soak up some of the vinaigrette.  After the beans were drained and cooled yesterday, they went into the fridge to wait until today.

I put the beans in a great big bowl, then drained the corn and added that.  I chopped the red pepper and jalapeno and threw that in, then dumped in the vinaigrette with avocado and onion, and stirred it all together.  Then I took a picture, and put the salad in the fridge.  After I finish writing this I'm going to eat a big ol' bowl of this for lunch!  I think it's going to taste even better tomorrow.

Check out the awesome stats!!  Even with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the sodium is really low in this dish.  Cooking your own beans is worth the time it takes.

nutrition facts