My Listâ„¢ and the "best ever" baked beans


(Disclaimer: I wrote this back in the summer of 2016, but it got lost. I've found it again and after changing a few things to make it current, I'm going to go ahead and post it now, given that apparently, there's no bad time for baked beans. At least for those who like them.)

Is it just me, or can people be kind of condescending about food you don’t like?

“Oh, you don’t eat X? That’s just because you haven’t had my X.” *drops a spoonful on your plate, taking up valuable real estate for food you’ll actually eat*

“Oh, come on, you’re a grown up! My kids love X!” *cut away to children feeding mystery goop to the dog*

I’m not a picky eater, but I do have my List™. My List™ includes the foods that for reasons of flavor or texture (usually the latter), I will not eat. Not just “don’t like,” but will. not. put. in. my. mouth. Here is that list off the top of my head:

• Beans (baked, refried, with ham, in salads, etc. Includes lentils, but not green beans.)
• American potato salads, of any kind (German potato salad served hot with bacon and candied onions and all of that slowcooked together is heartily welcomed, but not out of a can)
• Creamy cole slaw (vinegar-based is A-OK)
• Meat salads (ham/tuna/chicken/egg salads either on lettuce or bread)
• Canned tuna (smell included)
• Hard boiled egg yolks (includes deviled eggs; whites are fine)
• Grapefruit (juice included)
• Olives (black or green)
• Swiss cheese (unless it's in a Reuban sandwich)
• Sweet and sour/bread and butter pickles/relish (why would you do that to an innocent cucumber?)
• The majority of pasta salads
• Coconut
• Peas (unless they’re heavily mixed with something)
• Grits (I don't care what you put in it)
• Sausage gravy, even on biscuits (white gravy in general, really)
• Broccoli salad
• Seven-layer salad
• Avocado in any form (Except Vanessa Felix’s guacamole. She is truly magical. I have the recipe she gave out during a cooking class when she was still holding them at Salem Apothecary, but have never been able to replicate what it’s like when she makes it.)
• I’m sure there’s other things, but they’re not coming to mind.

So really, that’s just a lot of picnic/barbecue side dishes. I’ll take a bowl of un-dressing-ed salad before I’ll eat cole slaw because slimy, oversaturated cabbage is just entirely unappealing. I have been more eager to eat chocolate-covered insects than I have been eager to eat potato salad. I get sideways looks from parents trying to get their little darlings to eat something other than a hot dog and chips at get-togethers when Darling points her little finger toward the almost-27-year-old woman with a burger and chips on her plate because there was nothing else there she could eat without gagging and the person in charge of the fruit salad is late.

However, if you notice the photo above and the first thing on my list, you’ll see that they are the same. I figured I can’t just make the things I like because there’s lots of things other people like and want recipes for. Don’t say I never did anything for you. I'm sacrificing myself here.

My dad makes baked beans and they are the only ones I’ll eat. Granted, when I say "eat," I mean I eat the chunks of ground sausage he throws in there (sorry, Dad) with any beans that stick to the sausage, but still. I’m extremely picky with beans and that basically translates into “will not consume.” The gag reflex trigger is simply not worth the calories.

Not only does this recipe have ground beef for texture (thank goodness because otherwise, I’d have had to ask other people how this tasted because no way was I putting it in my mouth), but it’s topped with bacon, the gateway drug of food. I like onions and peppers, especially cooked, but it’s the bacon and beef that gave me the courage to actually eat this.

Also, thank goodness for potlucks. Because I could cut this recipe down to a single serving and still have more than I’d eat and it’s just not worth all that math. This is nothing against the recipe itself — the flavor was fine. Really good, in fact, I’m sure, if you liked beans. That venn diagram just doesn’t include me, or if it does, I’m in a little dot all by myself in the corner, far away from the giant, bean-loving circle taking up most of the diagram.

Like in my summer days as a kid/teen, when my dad was making beans, I got this pan of beans to the event and when I went through the buffet line, I picked out some of the bigger chunks of beef and added just enough beans to disguise the fact I was picking out the good stuff.

This recipe is billed as *The Best Baked Beans*, which, again is debatable because I don’t have a great point of reference. The blog, *The Girl Who Ate Everything*, from whence this recipe was pinned (take a look at that, English teachers! No ending preposition!), sources the recipe to The Food Network, but she’s apparently made some changes, including adding a pound and a half of ground beef.

In a large saucepan, brown the ground beef. Halfway through the browning, add a small, finely chopped onion and a finely chopped bell pepper and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft. Add to this two 16-ounce cans of pork and beans. I’m guessing you’re supposed to drain them because the pictures on her blog look much less soupy than mine did. I feel that’s something that should have been mentioned clearly in her directions so, if that step was considered a given, let’s not make fun of this baked bean virgin, huh?

Next, mix some barbecue sauce, ketchup, spicy brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce (WUHR-shest-er — you’re welcome), soy sauce and brown sugar. Stir it up and dump that in the pot as well and stir, letting it simmer for about five minutes.
Take this and pour it into a prepared casserole dish and sprinkle chopped, cooked bacon (like salty, meat sprinkles) over the top. Cover this with aluminum foil and bake for around 45 minutes before removing the foil and baking for another 10 minutes or so.

And you’re finished. Enjoy this yourself or make your friends and family eat it for you. I’m calling this a win.


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