Thursday, June 30, 2011
Calico Beans And Friendship
Many, many years ago, before I was even married (34 years to be exact) I worked in an office environment. I was a young girl at the time, right out of high school and had no game plan for my future. None. It was my mom that used to try and force me out of the house to find a job and go to work. "The job's aren't going to come to you" she used to tell me. Little did she know, this one actually would.
Turns out that a sister of a friend of mine at the time had actually called my home asking if I would be interested in coming to work in this particular office. I was, I did, and it changed my life forever. Mom and I still laugh about that to this day :)
It was here in "the job that came knocking at my door", that I met my husband of 30 years this November, Mark. Not only did I meet him, I met my wonderful BFF Pam and her then boyfriend, John (now also married 30 years this September) and Ken who was the best man at our wedding and a valued friend to this day. (I honestly had no plans to tell this part of my story, here on a post for baked beans, but now it all seems to be somewhat relevant, and I'll explain that a bit later on.)
The part in my story I was *trying* to work towards, was in meeting my good friend Mary in that particular office. She was a good bit older than me at the time and a wife and mother of two young daughters. Our desks sat next to each other and we would talk and laugh throughout the day. She had such a great sense of humor and was warm and friendly to me and always made me feel valued and special. Mary attended our wedding and even made our first born son's "binky" that he treasured for many, many years as a baby.
It was Mary that shared her recipe for baked beans with me and every time I make them, I think fondly of her. She has since passed away and yet I hold her dear in my heart for many different reasons, but mostly for this wonderful and hearty baked beans dish that brings her immediately back into my life. Thank you Mary. I miss you to this day and am blessed to have had you in my life for that short period of time. Your recipe may have changed a bit over the years, but your memory hasn't :)
1 pound bacon, cut into 1" strips
1 pound ground beef
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 15 oz. can butter beans, drained
1 - 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 - 15 oz. can light kidney beans, drained
1 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 - 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
1 - 28 oz. can pork and beans, with their liquid
1 cup ketsup
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 table spoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons smoked cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Cook and crisp the bacon in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Remove the bacon to drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and brown the ground beef in the same pot.
Meanwhile, chop the red onion and mince the garlic. When the beef is 50% browned, add the onion and garlic to the pot and continue browning the beef until completely cooked. Add the bacon and stir to combine.
Drain all the cans of beans (except the pork and beans) and add them to the beef and bacon mixture. Stir well to combine and add the remainder of ingredients. Mix well and simmer on low heat until completely heated through.
Cover and transfer the pot (making sure it's oven proof) into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.
Grab your spoon and dig in. These beans are a little bit sweet, a little bit smokey and a whole lot of hearty. They can, and have been over the years, a meal in themselves. However, I'll be serving them as a side dish this coming weekend as we celebrate the 4th of July in our own backyard with our long time friends Pam, John and Ken. See? I told you I'd get back to them... Life is good!
Until we eat again,