Friday, April 10, 2020


Just before all the isolation began, K and I were interviewed by a nutritionist as part of a check-up. She was quite impressed that we rarely have any prepared foods, tending instead to use fresh ingredients where possible, and cooking our own meals from scratch. She even asked for the treacle flapjack recipe! Perhaps that will be another post, but today, at the risk of having a blog of mine evolve into a food blog, I want to share a recipe we have for a favourite side dish that can be a stand-alone meal - Baked Beans. 

Growing up, we both enjoyed brown beans. They came from a can with Heinz written on it. If I'd known then what I know now ... ah well. I do know now and making my own pot of baked beans is so easy, and the meal so tasty - why spend so much money for something that is a really cheap and delicious meal? 

South of the border these are known as Boston Baked Beans. I suppose that comes from one of the major ingredients; molasses. Molasses is a derivative of sugar cane (imported through the port of Boston at one time) and a by-product from the production of rum. It is a sweetener, but could replaced by, oh say, maple syrup ... hmm ... At any rate, I am using an original recipe with some very small changes that I've found work to improve the flavour and texture. More experiments will follow, since there is great pleasure to be found in attempting the perfection of a recipe! 

The main ingredient is the humble bean - a pulse as the food folk like to say. In this case, we need white pea beans, sometimes called navy beans. Canada is a major grower of legumes of all sorts, and a pilgrimage to Hensall, Ontario might be in order ... it is the white bean capital of Canada

Making baked beans all begins by washing the dried beans in cold water; then, in a pot with lots of water, boiling the beans to soften them. After they have boiled for 30 minutes in the morning, I let them sit all day and overnight. In the original recipe I have, the beans are soaked for a day, then boiled just before mixing them with the other ingredients. I have found that boiling twice actually softens the beans better, and you must soften them before baking - they don't get any more tender in the oven. 

The beans alone are bitter, and otherwise tasteless, so some peppy ingredients are now added to give them the characteristic flavour of baked beans. Here is the recipe I've been using and massaging for a while now. 

So here is the pot, water drained off and set aside. The tasty ingredients have been added, and once mixed will be poured into the dutch oven, on top of the onion slices, ready for the reserved water and bacon to be added. 

I expect you could leave the bacon off, if that was your choice, but it does add to the comfort-food aspect that baked beans evokes. 

You can see the bowl of reserved liquid. As the beans bake all day the smell tells you that some of that liquid is escaping.

Don't let your beans get dried out as they cook. The sauce is a wonderful part of this meal.

If the reserved cooking liquid gets used up, plain water will do nicely.

For more on the history of baked beans, I recommend this article by The Old Foodie, where we learn that baked beans are part of that classic - the full English breakfast! I also love the idea that when the French came to North America, they adapted their cassoulet recipes to match the available ingredients. Mmm, ... cassoulet! I think there is a recipe here somewhere ...

What is better than cooking wonderful food? 

Eating wonderful food. 

Peameal Bacon (Canadian bacon for my friends from the south), and Baked Beans! 


  1. As a Bostonian, I approve of this blog post - and baked beans, of course! (I'm sending this recipe to my sister - she'll love it.) Happy Easter to you and Miss K!

    == Cass

    1. I hope your nephew and sister enjoy it as we do! Hopefully you will get to try it soon. Happy Easter Miss C!

      xx Deanna

  2. Now that I saw that kitchen on video I know why you like to cook so much...yum! :)