VeganMoFo #8: Boston Baked Beans
Baked beans for dinner on saturday nights is a long standing New England tradition for a few hundred years. The story goes that the religious settlers of this area strictly observed the sabbath and would not cook on sundays so the need for a precooked meal started on saturday was necessary. I don't know how this transitioned into eating beans on saturday nights..that part of the story is fuzzy! There are also stories that this was a common dish in many New England logging camps..a fire pit was created in the ground and the beans would cook in it for up to two days.
My family has had baked beans almost every saturday night since way before I was even born. Usually with hamburgers although when I was a little kid it was hot dogs. It would be easy for me to continue the tradition as there are many vegan options for baked beans and hot dogs but that's just a little too predictable for me! Instead I like to eat baked beans whenever I get the craving. Sometimes even for breakfast. Despite my love of the bean, I rarely make them myself. After locating a recipe for Boston Baked Beans, I found that it's easily veganized by substituting the traditional salt pork with just a dash or two of liquid smoke.
This is my absolute favorite picture of my mom and Grandpa..it's from our June of '08 trip to Germany. Grandpa's second trip to Europe..the first time was 1945, the year mom was born!
My grandpa has always been the family expert on baked beans. He used to make his own beans many Saturdays in his own bean pot. Grandpa was just about to turn 92 in the picture above..he's now 93 as of June!
Grandpa recently sold his house which was also the family summer camp..lots of stuff full of memories had to find new homes. I was lucky enough to be the beneficiary of his bean pot! If you are looking for canned baked beans, Grandpa recommends Bush's Baked Beans. Although he doesn't buy the vegetarian ones, I can vouch that they (the veggie ones) are really good.
Below: Grandpa's Beanpot, now in my kitchen
Bush's recipe is a bit more tomato-ish than I remember traditional Boston Baked Beans being..so the following recipe is less tomato-ish and more molasses tasting. I played around with the ingredients and ended up using more ketchup than it called for to get the taste that I wanted. You can also feel free to experiment with the type of beans that you use..I used much larger beans..it all works out just fine! For interesting facts and stories about baked beans, check this out. Or visit the Bean Bible!
Boston Baked Beans
3 lbs. navy beans
6 qts. water
2 tbsp. brown sugar (I substituted agave and it worked just fine)
1 tbsp. bottled mustard (or from a jar)
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cupped onion
A few dashes of liquid smoke to taste
1 bay leaf
Soak the beans overnight or for 8-10 hours. In a large soup pot or crock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer an hour til the skins break and the beans are tender. Drain off the water and set it aside. Put beans and bay leaf in a bean pot or suitable oven-proof cooking container. In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients and three cups of reserved bean liquid. Add mixture to beans. Cover and bake in a 300 degree F oven for about four hours. Stir occassionally. Add more reserve bean water if needed to keep beans from getting too dry.
Unrelated to bean but I wanted to share: I recently went to an art fair in New Hampshire and saw some of the nicest animal paintings I've ever seen. How could these paintings not convert a person to veganism immediately?! The artist's blog is here..check out those soulful sheep eyes. I love them!