Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Beans

EVEN IN SUMMER, a savory bowl of beans can be perfect, especially at the end of a day of outdoor activities.

When I was a girl, growing up in Alabama, my family would take trips to the nearby panhandle of Florida with the sugary white sands and beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Some of my favorite memories are of the times my Mother, her Mother, my brothers and I would stay for a week at the White Sands Motel in Laguna Beach. It was an old fashioned motel, right on the beach, which had rooms and apartments. In order to make the family vacation more affordable, we always had an apartment. We could eat our meals there rather than eating out three times a day.

Mama made some of our food at home before we left, her famous homemade rolls, a fabulous orange date nut cake, and more. Each morning, we ate toasted rolls with fresh fruit (oh the memory of that fragrant, juicy, and flavorful cantaloupe) with a glass of milk, then hit the beach completely slathered with sunscreen.

Later in the morning, Mama would herd us all back inside to avoid the high sun. We would eat sandwiches for lunch, play cards, take naps, do our shopping. After 2 o'clock, we could go back to the beach, once again smeared with sunscreen.

At the end of the day, as we entered our little apartment by the sea, it would seem so dark after spending the afternoon in the glaring snow white sand. Also cold, with its air conditioning. We would shower, get out of our swimsuits for the first time all day, and Mama would serve a simple and warm supper.

These beans, which are based entirely on pantry items, can come together quickly on the stove top after a day of hiking. They can be cooked all day in the crock pot, they can be cooked over a campfire, or they can be baked in the oven.  They make a great addition to a barbecue, They also taste great leftover and cold.

The recipe is entirely flexible. Start with ground beef if you like, or start with bacon. I made mine vegetarian. Use any beans you like. This is how I made it this time. . .

Summer Beans
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can baked beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can large white lima beans
1 can green beans
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. grainy mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onions and bell pepper, cooking until tender. Stir in minced garlic, continuing to stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Rinse and drain the beans as needed and add to the pot. Stir in the tomato soup, barbecue sauce, molasses, mustard, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour, until the sauce is thickened.

Serve with cornbread and salad.


  1. What is that delicious looking fried thing next to the beans?

    1. Lynn, the fried thing is a hushpuppy. Thank you for asking--I have been thinking of blogging about them.

  2. I have to show this to my husband, it is right up his alley to play around with and get dinner in the crockpot.

    1. Melynda, we had been having a spate of rainy and chilly days so warm beans really hit the spot. Thank you for your comment, Rocquie

  3. When I was a kid we often went to the Jersey coast for vacation. I had forgotten how dark the interior of a building could seem after spending all day outside! Anyway, great dish. I love beans! These look exceptionally good -- thanks.

    1. John, I started thinking about that darkness because the opposite was happening. A storm was brewing and it became very dark outside. My entire family loves beans and this is typical for one of our beach suppers. Thank you for your comment, Rocquie