Baked beans were not my favorite Saturday night, or any night for that matter, supper. They’re as traditional as lobster bakes on the beach, clam chowder and moose tenderloin but that didn’t mean anything to me. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe, as you should do to make it suit your tastes, and now I love baked beans. Protein and iron rich, filling and satisfying, healthy fat from homegrown pork, and great for leftovers. What’s not to love!
Well…what’s not to love…”homemade” using baked beans from a can. I have nothing against them, some are delicious, but clearly they’re not homemade no matter what you do to them. It’s like melting butter, adding a little salt, pouring it into a bowl, and saying you made butter.
Bean Pot or Slow Cooker
You can bake the beans in a traditional bean pot or your slow cooker. If the weather is bitterly cold I use the bean pot and keep the oven on to warm the kitchen. However, it’s easier to keep an eye on the beans using a slow cooker with a glass top so you can make sure they don’t dry out.
Warmed up baked beans for breakfast will hold you well to lunch time if you’re busy outdoors. They’re great in chili and refried beans.
Saturday night in New England. Supper time. Baked beans, red hot dogs, brown bread, homemade bread or biscuits. Life is good. Baked beans are a winter tradition because they take hours to bake in the oven and add warmth to the house. There aroma of baking beans and bread or biscuits will make your stomach rumble even if you aren’t hungry.
We started with a basic recipe on a bag of dried yellow eye beans and worked with it until we were happy with the results. Steve makes better baked beans than I. It took me a while to figure out that I need to taste the broth before I add it to the beans.
Yellow eye are our favorite. I didn’t like baked beans growing up but Steve loved my Grampy’s recipe. Grampy used yellow eye beans so that’s what we use now. Don’t skimp on adding broth later on. Make up extra ahead of time. If you don’t use it all you’re out is some molasses. If you have chickens, give it to them!
This recipe makes a huge batch. It works just as well if you make half and use a smaller bean pot. The beans reheat well and are a great side with breakfast and lunch. You can also use a slow cooker / crock pot.
A steaming bowl of fish chowder, a thick slice of homemade bread slathered with good butter, and a big spoon. That’s all I need to make a meal that leaves me wanting more even after I’m stuffed to the gills (you see what I did there?). Chowder isn’t just for seafood. You can use fresh water fish, and it’s especially good if you’re using fish you’ve just caught while ice fishing. I stick with white fish and skip any that are oily. If you’d prefer to use ocean fish I suggest haddock, cod or pollock. Good fresh-water choices are cusk, yellow and white perch, and bass.
Our “kids” are grown so Christmas morning is quiet at our house. This year Steve is working “weekend duty” at work so he’ll be out to morning meeting and make sure everything’s alright. While he’s gone I’ll make our breakfast. We traditionally have a hot breakfast, not too big, that holds us over until we have dinner in the early afternoon. This year I’m making a favorite, sausage and cheese breakfast frittata. I’ll give you a couple of ideas to make this a brunch frittata or even a breakfast-for-supper fritta, too.
It’s easy to change up the breakfast frittata. Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Fresh or granulated garlic changes the flavor slightly. When using fresh mushrooms, saute them first to remove excess moisture. Add leftover vegetables such as asparagus (there’s never leftover asparagus at my house) or broccoli.
For a buffet, remove the breakfast frittata from the oven in time to let it cool for five to ten minutes, then slice. Or, serve it cold. This dish travels well for potlucks because it can be served hot or cold. I’ve learned that when served cold, guests are more likely to add this to their plates if the pieces are small. Instead of cutting the frittata into eight pieces, try 12 or even 16.
Pigs love cleaning up the ground in an apple orchard. It seems fitting to simmer and serve pork and apple cider together. This is one of my favorite autumn meals, and it carries easily into winter. Busy with a day of hunting, stacking firewood, raking leaves, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or shoveling the driveway after a storm? Whatever it is that’s keeping you busy on these chilly days, Apple Cider Pulled Pork is the answer to “What’s for dinner?” It takes about 30 minutes total to prepare and then takes care of itself the rest of the day.
Vinegar in pulled pork doesn’t sound quite right but don’t skip this ingredient. It will help break down the pork so that it shreds well.
You can change up the recipe by adding shredded carrots, chives or green onions, or chunks of apple in the last hour of simmering.
A toasted sourdough roll is a great way to serve this pulled pork. The sauce isn’t as thick as a barbecue sauce so it needs a sturdy bread, or you’ll probably want to drain some of the cider before serving. Or, keep the cider sauce and eat this sandwich with a fork.
Sauerkraut, baked beans or coleslaw are great sides with apple cider pulled pork. Gundy, my co-host at On The Fire, didn’t have a slice of bread in the house. He cooked a fast-cooking rice in the unthicked sauce and serve the apple cider pulled pork over the rice. I can’t wait to try this!
Working full time, running a homestead that produces most of our food, hunting season and home renovations make for exhausting days. Having a simple one-pot meal like Chicken Brown Rice that requires very little preparation time is a life saver some days.
This recipe works well with chicken, grouse, turkey, woodcock and other upland game birds. I used to make this with duck but have decided I like duck prepared in other ways much better. If you use duck be sure to add it at the very end of the cooking time so that it doesn’t over cook. Duck should be rare or at the most, medium-rare.
Start with a 12″ pan that’s 3″ tall and oven safe. You’ll begin cooking on the stove top and then transfer the pan to the oven. Chicken Brown Rice starts simmer and ends with baking.
Carrots are my favorite vegetable to use in Chicken Brown Rice but others work just as well. Turnip or rutabaga are great root veggies you can use but I suggest avoiding beets because the discoloration of the rice is unappealing. If you choose a softer vegetable such as winter squash you need to cut them into large pieces so they don’t over cook. Brussels sprouts work well but broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are too soft even in large pieces.