Saturday, January 1, 2011

New England Baked Beans - in the New Year :)

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! I hope that this new year brings you to a place where you always live with the true purpose we were created for - to glorify God. I know I have to work at it. Some days are better than others. This last year was one of the best - I learned to look to Him so much more for my happiness and peace and learned that people do not make us happy... in fact, they often make us unhappy - if we are expecting them to meet our needs or provide us with happiness and/or peace. What a huge lesson for me! I have learned to expect less from people and so much more from God. When my expectations are in Him alone, I can easily let go of the disappointments I tend to find in others, in myself, in the situations around me and realize more that HE is in control and all that was, is and ever will be is a part of HIS plan and not mine. I have so much to be thankful for from 2010, so many lessons learned, so many positive changes in my heart and life. I am joyful and hopeful and continually thankful. I hope your 2011 is your best year yet!

As I said yesterday, my mom was a "Maine-iac"...

She was from Maine and some of what she cooked was influenced by her beloved Yankee upbringing. My dad was from Vermont and we lived in New Hampshire, so I am a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, despite my southern locale. In the south, apparently it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years Day. I guess New England Baked Beans will have to do as I don't claim to be a "southern" cook... yet :) My mom made these almost every Saturday night. They would bake all day in the oven in her bean pot. The house smelled of onion, salt pork and molasses. Sometimes they would be served with hot dogs and sauerkraut or cole slaw, occasionally she would make brown bread in a coffee can. I haven't ever tried that. My coffee comes in bags and that wouldn't work so well for baking bread I would think. I don't know what else she would serve with it. I remember the beans with ketchup or mustard (my favorite) and then cold bean sandwiches on Sunday nights with lots of ketchup. I double soak my beans, but you could eliminate the second soaking step if you don't have time. Also, I use the ceramic insert to my crockpot that has a glass lid since I do not have a bean pot - although I would really really really like one in case someone doesn't use theirs :) So, tonight, in honor of my beautiful, wonderful mom (seen here - acting silly - at some family function - I can tell it was special because those are her good dishes and Fostoria glasses on the table) and the New Year, we have New England Baked Beans!!


2 lbs. navy, great northern or small white beans
1 lb. salt pork, rind only cut in 1-inch squares
1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. molasses
2 t. dry mustard
4 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 medium onion, peeled

Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by at least 2 inches. In the morning, drain the beans, discarding the soaking water, and rinse well. Place the beans in a large dutch oven with water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil with 2 t. baking soda. Boil for 2 minutes then turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour. This insures that the beans will be nice and soft after baking. Drain and rinse the beans. At this point you can preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Cut the salt pork in half. Put one half at the bottom of your tall casserole or bean pot. Add the beans and then nestle the whole onion down into the beans. Top with the remainder of the salt pork. In 2 cups of hot water dissolve the dry mustard and then stir in the remaining ingredients, stirring to dissolve everything. Poor on top and then add more hot water to cover just to the top of the beans. Cover and bake with pot on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees for at least 6 hours. Check every 30 minutes to an hour and add hot water just to the top of the beans. Keep a kettle of water simmering on the stove all day so that you have hot water to add to the beans. Don't add any water in the last hour of the cooking time. I check the beans during the last 2 hours for tenderness.

I hope you try this some time... trust me, they are much better than those in a can!

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