For nine years neighbors have gathered to compete in the “Torrey Pines Butt Kicking Chili Cook-off” Competition. But like so many traditions this one was nearing its end. During those nine years more than 100 chilis had been offered up in this friendly competition. It was time for a change. The group of neighbors wanted to keep the sense of camaraderie alive that they had nourished over the years so decided to have a pot-luck the next year and decide how to keep the group coming together each year.
The last winners of that competition were Virgil and Jeannette Green with their Easy peasy crockpot chili. They graciously offered to host a, “Good old Bar-B-Q and Pot Luck” this year. Virgil and Jeannette would be serving barbeque chicken, pork and ribs and the beverages with the rest of the group providing, “The rest of the vittals”.
We had been away when the invitation was sent and so, I called Jeannette and asked what she needed. I mentioned that I had thought about bringing baked beans and she said, “Perfect”.
I had not been in the kitchen for a while and thought that as long as I would be making the beans I would make a few of Randy’s favorites as well.
Early morning found me making his favorite Banana Bread . This recipe is very simple with only a few ingredients needed and is perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack or dessert later in the day. This recipe came from my 1989 copy of The Pillsbury Cookbook (The All-Purpose Companion for Today’s Cook).
Mid-day found me back in the kitchen baking Peanut Butter Cookies. This is one of Randy’s favorite cookies. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, Myrtle, back in the 70’s and it instantly became one of my family’s favorites. My daughters have carried on this tradition making batches of these old-time cookies for their children.
Finally, I had to start preparing the baked beans for the neighborhood get-together. I wanted to make something special so went searching on the Food Network. I looked over several recipes, all sounding wonderful, but in the end I chose a baked bean recipe by Dave Lieberman. The recipe sounded yummy, easy to prepare and, I thought, would be a wonderful compliment to any barbeque.
Baked Beans-Dave Lieberman
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
¾ cup ketchup
¾ cup tomato puree
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 twenty-eight ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Put a heavy-bottomed pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat renders and bacon begins to crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more. Stir in ketchup, tomato puree, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and cayenne and mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans until well coated, cover, and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove lid and continue baking until sauce thickens and the beans begin to brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at 15 minutes before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
The beans were wonderful. The cayenne pepper gave the beans just enough of a kick without being overpowering. I was tempted to add a little maple syrup but decided I wanted to taste the beans as is. They were delicious but next time I will add the maple syrup.
Hot out of the oven, Randy and I made our way to Virgil and Jeannette’s. The evening was perfect. The barbeque chicken, pulled pork and ribs Virgil and Jeannette provided came from the OakWood Smokehouse and Grill and were absolutely delicious. Other members of the group brought a delicious sausage dip, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, a beautiful green salad and a cake for dessert. The cake was in honor of Jeannette’s birthday.
The beans were a hit! There was no competition this year but all the cooks were winners. Everything was just delicious! What a joy it is to live in a neighborhood of good cooks!
We all enjoyed an evening of delicious food, fun music, a little dancing but most of all a friendship that has held fast over the last thirteen years. We discussed the future of the get-togethers and voted to have a soup contest next year.