My mother has two copies of this cookbook by Meta Given, one well-kept edition which was discovered in a used bookstore and another well-used copy which has been in her kitchen for decades. The pages are stained with the ingredients that have been a part of our mealtimes since I can remember. It may not be the only cookbook she owns but there is something so comforting to any domestic chef to have a dog eared and tattered friend who's seen a thing or two sitting in the kitchen offering advice and instruction on feeding bodies and souls. I have a copy of that same book so for me it's also like having my mother working alongside me. I like that feeling.
So, today, there is Meta Given's Old Fashioned Baked Beans on the menu, with a few personal tweaks.
2 lbs. dried navy beans (I use pinto with satisfactory results)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
pinch black pepper
*I left out the salt pork from this recipe simply because I didn't have it
My method: Sort beans and place in large pot. Cover with 2 inches water. Bring to a boil on stove. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans, discarding liquid. Return to Dutch oven; add 4 qts. water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are almost tender. Drain and reserve liquid. Combine beans with the remaining ingredients. Transfer to two ungreased 2-1/2-qt. baking dishes or bean pots. Add 1-1/2 cups reserved cooking liquid to each casserole; stir to combine. Cover and bake at 325° for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until beans are as thick as desired, stirring occasionally. Add more of the reserved cooking liquid if needed. Yield: 16-18 servings.