My sister’s husband is a talented architect.
The inside of their house – which he designed – is very cool.
The outside is lovely, too.
It was the perfect setting in which to celebrate my mom’s 87th birthday.
The architect and his dog, Lily.
Life feels special when there is beauty all around.
“Let me get a picture of the bi-racial couple,” I said. “Every family needs one.”
As usual with my family, the food was really good. Those are my beans on the right.
The architect liked them so my sister asked me to jot down the recipe.
As long as I’m jotting it for her, I’ll jot it for you, too:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Get out a big 14 inch cast iron skillet* and start warming it on medium low.
Open a package of bacon. I used this:
Use whatever thick cut bacon you have.
If you use what I used there will be 10 slices. You’ll only need 8 slices for the recipe, but cook them all.
You’ll understand why once they start to sizzle.
Cut them in half with your kitchen scissors and then cut them in half again.
Place 20 of the pieces in one layer in the skillet.
When the fat is pretty well rendered but the bacon is not too crispy, remove them from the skillet and put them on a paper towel lined plate.
Don’t bother draining the pan, just put the remaining 20 pieces right into the hot grease. When the fat is pretty well rendered, remove 12 pieces from the skillet and add them to the paper towel lined plate.
Leave the other 8 pieces in the skillet until they are as crisp as you like them.
While the bacon is slowly rendering, dice a medium onion and half a green pepper.
Remove the 8 crispy morsels from the pan and pour the bacon grease into a jar.
Now put 2 or 3 tablespoons of it back into the pan.
Saute the diced onion and green pepper in the bacon fat in the skillet until soft, about 5 minutes.
Use those 5 minutes to whisk together 3/4 cup bbq sauce**, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1.5 Tbsp. dijon mustard and 1/2 cup date sugar. (It’s just ground up dates.)
Open 3 (28 oz.) cans of plain old pork and beans.
Pop a piece of crispy bacon into your mouth.
Empty 2 of the cans into the skillet and stir.
Add the bbq sauce mixture and stir.
If it looks like your pan might overflow, drain the liquid from the remaining can of beans before dumping them in.
Stir. Carefully because your skillet will be full to the brim.
Bring mixture to a simmer.
Now arrange the 32 pieces of bacon – you should have eaten the other 8 by now – on top.
CAREFULLY, so you don’t slop any on your oven door, put the skillet in the oven.
Wipe that little bit of slop off your oven door. (I used six 15 oz. cans so my pan was full to the absolute top.) That’s why I’m recommending you use three 28 oz. cans.
Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours.
*If you don’t have a 14 inch skillet, use whatever size you have to cook the bacon and saute the veg. Add as many of the beans as will fit and bring to a simmer, then mix in everything else in a big bowl and transfer into a greased 13x9x2 pan.
Or cut the recipe in half. We have a big family.
When the beans come out of the oven finish them with a drizzle of reduced Maple balsamic vinegar, if you have some and IF you remember to do it, which I didn’t in my haste to get the beans to the party.
Serves about 18.
Mom’s Birthday Beans
8 thick slices of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 a green pepper, diced
3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans (I used Van Camps)
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used Simple Truth Organic Original)
1/2 cup date sugar (Now Foods)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
reduced Maple balsamic vinegar (optional) (I would have used Fustini’s had I remembered.)
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Fry bacon in a 14 inch cast-iron skillet.
Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels.
Add onions and peppers to drippings and sauté about 5 minutes.
Stir in beans and whisked together sauce and bring to a simmer.
Top with bacon
Bake 1.5 to 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.
**Tip: If, in making this recipe, you use the last of your bbq sauce, put the empty bottle on your kitchen scale, pour the 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of apple cider vinegar directly into the bottle, put the lid on and shake. Now add the vinegar to the sauce ingredients. That way you don’t waste anything.