Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baked Barbecue Lima Beans

I love baked beans, and for years I've been trying to replicate the baked lima beans that my family used to get at a local farm market near Pennsylvania's Amish country. I mostly loved the sauce because the beans were always too hard for my taste. Now I know why they were always hard; you must cook the dried beans until they are tender to your liking because once you add tomato-based sauce to the beans they won't get any more tender no matter how long you cook them. Not sure why, but they just won't. I'm sure Alton Brown knows and maybe you can Google one of his shows and find out. In the meantime, you can take my word for it.

Here's my latest attempt and my family thinks it's a winner!

Start with a pound of dried lima beans. Pour them out on the counter and check for any foreign debris (often you will find a pebble or two) or blemished beans and discard those. Scrape the beans into a colander and rinse well, then put them into a pot and cover with at least 4 inches of water. They will swell as they absorb the water. Set the pot in a cool spot over night.
In the morning, drain and rinse the beans again, then continue on with my recipe.

Baked Barbecue Lima Beans

Serves 6

1 lb. dried lima beans
8 oz. bacon, chopped and cooked crisp (reserve 2 T. bacon fat in pan)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can tomato soup (14 1/2 ounce)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Pick over, wash, rinse dried beans and soak as described above. Place beans back into stockpot and cover with water. Salt water heavily (about 1 T.) Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to medium low and simmer for 1 hour or until just tender. As beans cook, skim the frothy buildup from the surface of the water and discard.

Remove from heat and pour cooked beans into a colander. Rinse with cold water and pour beans into a large bowl. Add cooked bacon to beans.

In same skillet as the one you cooked the bacon, heat reserved bacon fat over medium-high heat and sauté peppers and onions until tender. Add these to the beans and bacon.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Gently fold sauce mixture into the bean mixture until incorporated. Pour into a greased 3-quart baking dish. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 1 hour. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 2 & Two Eggs!

Our little Carolina Wren added another egg to her nest today! Look at the photo below and you'll see the picnic basket that I used for a planter on the front porch, and if you look very closely, you can even see the nest containing the two little eggs. This is exciting!

Chef Debbie

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Carolina Wren Nest

While we were at the lake last weekend, a Carolina Wren built her nest in a picnic basket planter on my front porch, and today we found her first egg! Will keep you posted on future egg-laying!

Chef Debbie

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Yummy Thing to do with Squash

Squash is really coming on strong now in my garden and we are loving experimenting. Even Bob's gotten into the swing of things in the kitchen, with his Southern Fried Squash. He tosses sliced squash and Vidalia onions with corn meal and fries it in a tiny bit of canola oil in a heavy skillet. That is how his Aunt Margie always cooked it and she was famous for her fried squash.

I was laid up for a couple of days with a sinus infection and that's all the time it takes for patty pan squash to go from quarter-size to dinner plate size. Patty Pan squash is the pretty white saucer-shaped squash in the photo below.

One of my favorite ways to prepare squash when it gets a bit big is to slice it, dredge it in bread crumbs, and fry it. It makes a bit of a mess in the kitchen, but it's really worth the effort.

Breaded Fried Squash

Serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry your crowd is!)

2 Medium size zucchini, yellow, or patty pan squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup plain flour
2 eggs, beaten with 1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste
Canola oil for frying

Put the flour, egg mixture, and bread crumbs in each of three shallow bowls. Lay out the sliced squash and salt it lightly.

Fill heavy skillet with 1 inch of canola oil. Heat over medium-high heat to frying temp. (See note below about frying temperature.)

Dredge each side of each slice of squash in flour just to dust, then in beaten egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Place in the oil as you go and repeat until you have the pan filled in a single layer with the squash. Fry until golden on one side then turn and fry on the other. Drain on a rack-covered baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you fry the rest. Salt lightly before serving.

Note: One easy way to tell when the oil is the right temperature for frying is something that I learned years ago from "Sarah's Secrets," a show that was on the Food Network when the Food Network was worth watching. If you stick the handle end of a wooden spoon straight down into the oil, when it is the right temperature for frying the oil will bubble up all around the wood. Works every time and is spot-on!

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Breathe...another great post by Leo Babauta

If you haven't subscribed to Zen Habits yet, you are missing some great posts by blogger Leo Babauta. This is one of my favorites and so worth sharing that I'm reposting it (with permission) here today. Enjoy and BREATHE.


Posted: 05 Jul 2009 12:27 PM PDT

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Breathing can transform your life.

If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.

If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.

If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.

If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will help bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.

If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.

If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it for longer.

If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.

So breathe. And enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.

Tip: Put the word “Breathe” as a screensaver or desktop pic, or put it up as a note on your wall or fridge or on your desk. Then do it every time you see the word.

Chef Debbie