“‘I’m glad I put beans to soak last night,’ said Ma. She lifted the lid of the bubbling kettle and quickly popped in a spoonful of soda. The boiling beans roared, foaming up, but did not quite run over. ‘There’s a little bit of salt pork to put in them too,’ Ma said. Now and then she spooned up a few beans and blew on them. When their skins split and curled, she drained the soda-water from the kettle and filled it again with water. She put in the bit of fat pork.”
Pa said it best, “there’s nothing like good hot bean soup on a cold day.” I couldn’t agree more with Pa on that one. Nothing beats a hot cup of soup or hearty hot food on a cold winter’s day. The Ingalls used comfort food like baked beans to keep them warm and full, and we do the same thing.
One thing that goes well with baked beans, and something Ma and Laura often made with a pan of baked beans, were Johnny-Cakes.
This particular baked beans recipe is from Barbara Walker’s excellent cookbook, The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories, and is very simple and only requires a few ingredients. When I initially looked at the list of ingredients, I wasn’t sure these baked beans would be pleasant, however with the added bacon and drizzle of molasses, I discovered that it is a delicious and hearty winter dish.
Ingredients Needed for Baked Beans
- 3 Cups of white beans
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into strips
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 1/2 cup of onions, diced
- additional molasses to sweeten as needed
Directions To Make Baked Beans
Step One – Soak white beans overnight to soften them.
Step Two – In the morning, rinse the beans. (Preheat the oven to 350)
Step Three – Place the beans in a pot with clean water and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Step Four – Stir in the baking soda, and allow beans to simmer until they are soft. Pour off the cloudy water and cover the beans with 5 cups of fresh water and return to simmer.
Step Five – Dab a small amount of oil into a cast iron skillet (or baking pan) and line the bottom of the pan with the strips of bacon.
Step Six – Pour the beans into the cast iron skillet (or baking pan) without the water.
Step Seven – Add the onions and stir them into the skillet/baking pan with the beans.
Step Eight – Drizzle 1/4 cup of molasses over the beans.
Step Nine – Cover the beans with water, or you can use bean broth from the simmering pot.
Step Ten – Bake at 350 degrees for 4 hours. Continue to add water, so the beans don’t dry out.
Serve warm with a drizzle of molasses to sweet as desired. I did add a bit more molasses to give a sweeter taste. This baked bean recipe is different from what we’re used to making, but a little molasses and bacon makes it enjoyable and a great hearty dish.
What are some of your favorite Little House on the Prairie inspired dishes? And if you give this baked bean recipe a try, leave me a comment and let me know. And for more Little House on the Prairie inspiration, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.
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