Homemade Baked Beans – May 25, 2020

In addition to the potato salad, I also decided to make a batch of homemade baked beans. This was another two day process, but I think it was worth it.

I started with one pound of dry northern beans. I let those soak for about 8 hours, until they nearly doubled in size. I drained the water and then put them in a spaghetti pot (with strainer). I cooked them on medium high until they came to a boil, and then continued to let them boil for about one hour, stirring occasionally. I turned the heat down to a medium to medium-low, and let them continue to cook for another hour, until the beans were tender. I kept testing the beans, since I didn’t want them to get to a completely mushy stage. When the beans were done and cooled, I put them in a container and refrigerated them overnight. I saved and refrigerated the leftover water as well.

I cooked up 6 pieces of bacon at 350 for 12 minutes, and then let them cool. They were not completely cooked, but they were a little more than halfway done. Not crispy or crunchy at all. I let them completely cool and refrigerated those as well.

This morning, it was time to bake the beans. I preheated the oven to 325 degrees. I put the beans and 1 cup of the leftover water in a big bowl. I chopped up one onion, one shallot, and 3 cloves of garlic, and then added those to the bowl. I cut up the bacon into bite-sized pieces and added them. I mixed in 3 tablespoons of molasses, 3 tablespoons of mustard, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. I added some more of the water, to make sure the beans didn’t dry out too quickly.

I cooked the beans for about 4 hours total. I stirred it after the first hour, and then every 20-30 minutes thereafter. I didn’t want to have any clumps stuck to the bottom of the dish, so frequent stirring was key. I really liked the color that these had.

I really enjoyed the flavor of these baked beans. The texture of the beans was just right. Nice and soft, but not so soft that it turns to much when you put a fork in it. The bacon was really soft, but still had a nice, smoky flavor. The vinegar, liquid smoke, and molasses brought in an extra couple of layers of flavor that reminded me of childhood days. It may be a lot easier to open up a can of beans and heat them on the stove, but when you put in some good time and effort and the results are this good, it makes it an even more satisfying meal. Definitely a great way to continue to remain positive for the day.

Homemade Potato Salad – May 25, 2020

Since this is Memorial Day Weekend, I thought about the traditional meals – hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, and so on. I decided on making some potato salad. I made this on Sunday because I wanted to give time for the flavors to come together.

The first thing I did was cook up some bacon. I wanted it extra crispy, so I cooked it for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, flipped them over, and cooked them for another 10 minutes. Once they were cooled, they were easy to break apart.

The next step was boiling the potatoes. I decided to go for a potato medley, since I thought that would give some nice colors. I chopped them up into bite-sized pieces and boiled them until they were tender, about 20 minutes. It’s important to keep testing the texture, since they can go from not cooked enough to mush if you aren’t paying attention. My goal was to have these firm enough to bite through the exterior, but with an interior that was smooth and creamy.

I usually enjoy adding some celery to my potato salad, but I saw these carrots and thought they would fit in well with the potato medley.

I put a little bit of the bacon grease on the bottom of a pan, chopped up the carrots, and let them cook for a few minutes. Although raw carrots are fine, I wanted to add a little flavor and soften them up just a bit. I do the same thing when I am adding celery, so this was business as usual for me. After a few minutes, I added in about 1/4 cup of water and let that continue to cook for a couple of more minutes. The goal was to have the carrots slightly cooked and have them absorb some of the bacon flavor, but not be completely cooked and soft.

After all the veggies are done cooking, they have to get completely cool. I let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then let them get to room temperature. I added in the chopped bacon and three hard boiled eggs.

Next, I added the dry ingredients and mixed them all in. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon of celery salt.

It was now time to add the wet ingredients. I added 1 tablespoon of honey mustard and approximately 1/4 cup of mayo. I didn’t want to completely overdo it with the mayo, but wanted to make sure everything held together well. I took a couple of bites and it tasted really good.

After letting it sit overnight, I finally had some more today. The flavors really did come together well. Some people might add in pickle relish, or maybe just pickle juice. I think the combination of the wet and dry ingredients pleased my palate enough that it didn’t need much else. I really enjoyed the small bites of carrots. This was a fun and colorful potato salad, and definitely kept me in a positive frame of mind on this Memorial Day.