Debra P.’s Homestead Beans
With the shorter and colder days of winter, our thoughts here out in the country turn to making sausage, preparing for deer camp, readying the barns for winter & finishing the fall harvest. One recipe that we like uses the last bits from the garden, allows us to use some of our food storage items and makes use of whatever meat leftovers we might have at hand.
This is a great item to practice using your cast iron dutch oven or any large heavy pot. You will use both the cooktop and the oven or bury it in the coals of your campfire or fireplace. The ingredients are a guide … use whatever you happen to have … the seasonings should be to your taste … we like it spicy. Serve with cornbread and your favorite beverage. I made it today for Sunday dinner and here are the ingredients I used:
½ pound of my Uncle Carl’s homemade pork sausage (spicy with red pepper flakes)
1 large onion from the garden diced
A handful of small carrots from the garden sliced then roughly chopped
1/3 of a green bell pepper … from the garden … had some bad bits I cut away and used the good parts
1 red bell pepper
1 small orange bell pepper
2 inches of a green zucchini chopped finely
2 inches of a yellow squash chopped finely
A few slices of hard salami roughly chopped
A couple of slices of crumbled bacon (left over from breakfast)
I heated my dutch oven on the top of the stove with a splash of olive oil (I keep mine in the deep freeze) … brown the sausage at medium heat and add the diced vegetables … stir it frequently to keep the vegetables turning so they all get a chance to be near the bottom of the dutch oven … you want the vegetables to soften. I like to add a small amount of liquid about 15 minutes in to help the vegetables to cook uniformly. Depending on your own taste you can use 1/3 cup water, or apple juice, or apple cider, or wine (cooking sherry).
When the vegetables have softened and cooked down (about 20-25 minutes) over medium heat I add:
½ cup of chicken stock … you can use a dissolved bouillon cube from your food storage or those little Knorr condensed stock thingies they sell at the store.
1 can of cooked pinto beans from my food storage … don’t bother to drain (you can use leftover beans that you cooked from dry … good way to add variety to dry beans)
1 can of black beans from my food storage don’t bother to drain (same as above … use leftover beans cooked from dry)
1 small can of corn drained (from my food storage pantry) … sometimes I’ll have some corn on the cob from the freezer and I’ll cut it off the cob and use that … and frozen store bought corn would work as well.
I like to add 1/4 cup of something sweet at this point also … you can use honey, barbeque sauce, molasses, homemade peach jam, … you get the point … use what you have available … today I used bottled barbeque sauce … if you like more of a “baked beans” taste … add more … I’m going for the spicy taste today.
Mix together and put the lid on the dutch oven … put in the oven at 350 degrees F for at least an hour … if you are working, doing chores, etc … you can put it on 275 and leave it cooking slow until you come back in for the noon meal 3-4 hours later.
Other ingredients I like to add if I have them on hand from the garden:
· Kale, spinach, swiss chard, or any other “green” … handful washed and roughly chopped
· Red Cabbage … about ½ cup shredded
· Green onions … ¼ – ½ cup finely chopped
· Cauliflower … ½ cup roughly chopped
· Hungarian or Yellow Banana peppers chopped
· A few pieces of Okra sliced thin
The key is to add flavor, but the beans are the star of this show … remember you are trying to use what you have at hand … especially to use up veggies that would otherwise go to waste.
When you are ready to serve, be careful with the dutch oven if you are not used to working with them … if you have small children, it’s best to leave it in the kitchen and transfer the beans to a serving dish. Enjoy!
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