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    Grandma Wetzler’s Baked Beans


    So my friend Lizzy from That Skinny Chick Can Bake (if you haven’t read her blog or don’t follow her on Facebook, what are you waiting for, go on, do it!) and I were lamenting about our husbands and their love of baked beans. Sigh. Really? Baked beans?

    A grilled hot dog and a little scoop of baked beans and I am really done. Lizzy likes them even less.

    My idea of making baked beans is popping open a can of Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans and doctoring them up – a little ketchup, maple syrup, some crisp bacon, perhaps mustard. But from scratch? Do people really do that? And How?

    So the solution? Let’s pick a recipe and make it together, we can compare notes, miseries, etc., We would be giving our husband’s a favorite BBQ treat and being very virtuous by making them from scratch.  We just needed to find the recipe. 

    Off to the bookshelf I went. I grabbed the Thrill of the Grill and there was the solution – Grandma Wetzler’s Baked Beans.  The recipe had most of the ingredients I used to doctor my beans up, how bad or difficult can it be? And it’s a recipe from a Grandma, it has to be good. Right?

    • 1/2 lb bacon, diced
    • 1 yellow onion, diced small
    • 1 gallon water
    • 1/2 C molasses
    • 1/2 C brown sugar
    • 1/4 C maple syrup
    • 2 C ketchup
    • 2 T yellow mustard
    • 1 1/4 lbs navy beans (soaked in water to cover overnight)
    • S&P to taste

    NOTE: I did this through and through. Left beans soaking in a covered bowl over night. Would it have been simpler to open a can of beans? YES! If I were to do this again, would I do that? HELL YEAH!

    In a large pot, sauté the bacon over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the diced onions and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

    Add the water, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, maple syrup, and mustard, and bring to a boil.

    NOTE: There are times I am very much like my mother and only read every other word in a recipe. I missed that bring to a boil step.

    Add the beans, bring back up to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and cook 4 to 5 hours until the beans are soft, adding water from time to time if necessary and stirring often to prevent burning. Season with salt and pepper to taste. These beans will keep, covered and refrigerated, about 1 week.

    NOTE: To serve, I added a little crisp bacon to the top. I am of the belief that it is impossible to have too much bacon!

    Okay, now this is where this wonderful, loving gesture takes a turn for the worst nightmare.  I used my sturdy Lodge 5 Qt. pot. These beans were to be for another night. So while I was making these, I was outside cooking dinner. I came in and checked the beans, gave them a stir. I diligently had a timer with me.  Not quite sure what happened, perhaps one too many Coronas, but on one trip in the house I smelled something burning!

    Oh, no, OH NO, ohnoohnoohnoohno! Heavy sigh.

    Without moving everything around too much, I scooped up the top layer of beans. Fortunately they didn’t taste burnt. But below this was a thick layer of burnt, blackened, stuck on, goo. How was I going to get this MESS off the pot!

    I scraped out what I could – that’s the beauty of cast iron, with the exception of soap, there’s little you can do to destroy it!

    First, cover mess with water and boil, scrape while it’s boiling. Some came off, but there was still at least an inch of burned yuck there!

    Thank goodness for foodie friends. My friend Linda at How to Cook a Wolf saved me – of course after asking me repeatedly what was wrong with me making them from scratch when I could easily doctor …. yes, yes, yes, yes….

    She says … pour baking soda in the pot, add water, boil for a while, turn it off and let it sit.

    Linda, I am indebted to you. It was like a miracle elixir! One couple of small little spots didn’t come up, and I used my mother’s trick of a wet Bounce drier sheet, and I was finally able to scrape it all off. I did need to reseason the pot. And I will NEVER, EVER make baked beans from scratch again!

    Yes, they were delicious. But I can throw away a can, I can’t throw away my pot!


    16 Responses

    1. Wow, what a great save. I’m with you. When my wife announced we’d be making baked beans from scratch, I asked why. She just took over and made the recipe up and it was so wonderful that we will make them again, but not often. It’s a long process. Bushes have gotten so expensive though, when we want baked beans we’ll do it from scratch. I’ll have to remember the baking soda trick, ahem for when my wife, yeah that’s who, burns a pan.:)

      • I may do it from scratch again as well, but with canned beans and then bake them in the oven. The baking soda trick and the dryer sheet trick also work on baking dishes. Just put wither one in the pot, pan, dish, etc with the mess, cover with the hottest water possible and then let sit over night. The mess is gone in the morning. My mom swears by the softner sheet method, I don’t use them so I haven’t tried it yet.

    2. I’m laughing at your adventures, Annie!!! The misreading, the multitasking, the burning…I can relate to each of these!! I don’t think I’ll ever be a baked beans fan, but starting with canned beans seems to be the easier way to make “homemade.” You were certainly a trooper, though…and thank goodness Linda came to the rescue 🙂 Happy Father’s Day to Tom!!!! xoxo

    3. Good for you for trying this. Your beans do look tasty, even if you didn’t care for them. And, I love Lizzy’s blog!

    4. You are welcome about the burned pot save…but of course i have burned pots myself or I would not know that trick….lol…it happens to all of us at one time or another. Next time after the baking soda boil and sit…scrub the pan out with kosher salt and some canola or any veggie oil…that might even save you from having to re-season.

      I think the recipe looks good…the only thing I would change would be to bake it in a low oven instead of cooking it on top of the stove…I bet it would be wonderful and no chance of burning….next time maybe. 🙂

      • Oh, and I did do the scrub with salt! The poor little pot went through a lot. THe least I could do was give it an oil bath!

    5. Oh Annie! I totally feel your pain. At least you were able to salvage some beans for your hubby. I had no idea that a wet dryer sheet could be used to scrape up burned bits! I usually have a warehouse club sized jug of white vinegar to soak up caked on messes until I face them a couple of hours later.

    6. I’m glad you were able to save your pot! And I totally agree, grabbing a can of baked beans and sprucing them up is the way to go. 🙂

      • From now on! LOL But it’s another dish I have never made before but have been curious about. Another thing to cross off my list!

    7. I have a big bag of navy beans waiting to be used for a recipe like this – These beans look SO delicious, Andrea! Great job on this recipe and thanks for sharing. As a new Texan, I’ll be needing to learn how to make baked beans and your recipe would be a good start! 🙂

    8. What a great post…because you told the truth. Sometimes it’s just like that. I have never heard of these great pot cleaning ideas. I will have to store those gems away. I don’t think I will be making my beans from scratch any time soon. Yours do look great though.

      • Thanks, Geni! We learn from our failures – and this was a failure! I think my husband was being kind when he said he liked them! Use Lizzy’s almost from scratch method. Makes SO much more sense!

    9. These sound perfect. Love the crisp bacon on top!

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