How to: Baked Beans from Scratch

 

While isolating during the Coronavirus Pandemic, I stayed with my sister.  I presumed she had good survival food in the form of baked beans.  I was wrong.  Instead, she had pinto beans.  I knew with this all hope was not lost.

A Makeshift Recipe:

I poured contents from the can in the pot, added a pad of butter, three generous squirts of barbecue sauce, a scoop of bacon fat, chopped red onion and two squirts of maple syrup.   Then the beans were slowly cooked on a low flame for 30 minutes.  It turned out well but ideally I’d bake it. – Crystal Johnson, Multi Cultural Cooking Network Editor

Let’s check out a more formal preparation for making the beans.

History of Baked Beans

Baked beans is a dish traditionally containing white beans which are parboiled and then baked at a low temperature for a lengthy period of time in some sort of sauce. This is the usual preparation of the dish in the United States when not using canned beans. In the United Kingdom the dish is sometimes baked, but usually stewed in a sauce. Canned baked beans are not baked, but are cooked through a steam process.[3]

Baked beans has its origins in Native American cuisine, and the dish is made from beans indigenous to the Americas. The dish was adopted and adapted by English colonists in New England in the 17th century and, through the aid of published 19th century cookbooks, the dish spread to other regions of the United States and into Canada. Today in the New England region of the United States a variety of indigenous legumes are still used when preparing this dish in restaurants or in the home, such as Jacob’s Cattle, Soldier Beans, Yellow-Eyed Beans, and Navy Beans (also known as Native Beans).[4]

Originally baked beans were sweetened with maple syrup by Native Americans, a tradition some recipes still follow, but some English colonists modified the sweetening agent to brown sugar beginning in the 17th century. In the 18th century the convention of using American-made molasses as a sweetening agent became increasingly popular in order to avoid British taxes on sugar. American Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city’s being nicknamed “Beantown”.[5] Today baked beans is commonly served throughout the United States alongside barbecue food of various kinds and at picnics. Beans in a brown sugar, sugar, or corn syrup sauce (sometimes with and sometimes without a tomato base) are widely available throughout the USA.

The Neely’s Creamed Collard Greens

Creamed collard greens

A few years I got the opportunity to interview Patrick and Gina Neely of the Food Network and we talked about a variety of things.  Among the recipes mentioned, was creamed collard greens.  I tried this recipe and it has been a winner for me. It puts a spin on the classic African American preparation of collards and gives a robust earthy taste to what would be the typical creamed spinach.

Ingredients

4 bunches collard greens, tough stems and ribs removed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large shallots, minced
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Click for Directions

See MCCN Editor’s Interview with the Neely’s. 

Hush Puppies Recipe

Hushpuppies (Cornbread Balls) are a savory, starch-based food made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked in small ball or sphere hush puppiesshapes, or occasionally oblong or ring shapes. Hushpuppies are frequently served as a side dish.

Hushpuppies are a food with strong ties to the American South, although they are available in many areas of America on the menus of deep fried fish restaurants. The name “hushpuppies” is often attributed to hunters, fishermen or other cooks who would fry some basic cornmeal mixture (possibly that they had been bread-coating or battering their own food with) and feed it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook-outs or fish-fries. Also, runaway slaves would feed them to the guard dogs of their owners in order to “hush the puppies”.

 

Recipe from Chitterlings.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup plain flour (flour is what gave it the
  • lighter taste and you can experiment with the
  • amount you use if you want)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can also use plain milk in
  • a pinch, but nothing compares to buttermilk)
  • 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt. I use Lowreys but just
  • about any brand will work as you are just looking
  • for something to spice things up a little
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper blend (again, the idea
  • is to spice things up a little).
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 cup bacon grease. This is another big key to the flavor. In a pinch you can use other types of cooking oil, but bacon is my favorite.

You also need some type of cooking oil to deep fry
these in such as Crisco oil although peanut oil
and some of the lower fat oils work well too.

Directions

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add your
eggs, oil, and buttermilk. Stir it all up until
the flavors are thoroughly blended.

Turn your cooker on medium-high heat. When it’s
hot you can drop your hush puppies in using a
table spoon. Allow them to brown on all sides.
They should begin floating when done, but if they
don’t, don’t overcook them.

Southern Collard Greens Recipe

Collards greens for major holidays seems to be a tradition among people in the Southern U.S. and African Americans.  Over the course of years, I have been exposed to various forms of preparation and tried my own hand at different ways to prepare collards.  Ironically, even when collard greena are prepared people tend to mix them with mustard greens or kale which broadens the flavor spectrum.  Traditionally, ham hocks are used in the cooking process but now more people opt for various was to flavor the greens including smoked turkey neck, turkey butts, or chicken stock.  Here is a recipe from the chitterling website.- Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

– 5 Pounds of Collard Greens

-2 Ham hocks (Don’t add for Vegetarian style)

After boiling ham hocks separately until tender- Take the collard greens and separate the leaves (if fresh) . Now rinse each leaf individually under cold running water. After you rinse the collard greens thoroughly, stack several leaves on top of each other. Roll these leaves together. Then slice the leaves into thin strips using a cutting board and large knife. Rolling them together speeds up the process as you are slicking through several leaves at once.

Next, add your collard greens to the pot. Since this is a lot of collards, you will need to add them until the pot is full. Then allow them to wilt as they cook – then add more. Add you salt, cover and cook for thirty minutes on medium heat. Stir every few minutes to distribute the smoked meat taste evenly. Taste to confirm they are the tenderness you prefer.

*The chitterling website is full of southern and soul food cuisine recipes

Touched by a Culinary Angel with a Cajun Twist

Lozina “Lo-La” Stephens, owner of Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food

East Austin, Texas is the proud home of the Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food. The charming purple restaurant, unforgettably covered in alligators, is the brainchild of Lozina “Lo-La” Stephens. According to Stephens, after having a series of God-influenced dreams depicting the minute and major details of her eatery, she created the Nubian Queen.

An experienced cook, Lola learned the ropes of food preparation while “…sitting on a rice sack…” in her mother’s kitchen. The culinary diva expresses her love of cooking by working in the kitchen with love, Jesus, and olive oil. “Cooking,” she declares, “is the best way to a person’s heart.”

There are no guests, patrons, or customers at the Nubian Queen. Stephens affectionately refers to her clients as angels. These angels help the Nubian Queen stay open and fulfill Lozina’s God-appointed duty of aiding the homeless.

Every Sunday “The Queen” is closed. Although the doors are closed to paying angels, the restaurant welcomes the homeless in every Sunday for a meal. In the backyard of “The Nubian Queen,” Lola distributes her culinary blessings to the less fortunate.

With tasty menu items ranging from crawfish etouffe to burgers and fries, Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food will continue to be a blessing to all of Stephen’s angels-paying or not.

For more information on of Lozina “Lo-La” Stephens, check out her website at http://nubianqueenlolas.com/.

Checkout her short film at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2eahbfufg4.

Article  by Catrina A. Sally