Meal in a Kettle

Meaty Baked Beans (North Carolina Cassoulet)

January 17, 2017

Born and raised in London and cooking by the time he was 14, chef Tom Condron of The Liberty  in Charlotte, N.C., has worked under eight Michelin-starred chefs. That gives these “meaty baked beans” a pedigree–they’re really a North Carolina cassoulet. Put the kettle on early in the morning on a rainy day to start the ham stock and by suppertime, you’ll have this rich, meaty stew ready. Continue Reading…

On The Side

Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread

December 30, 2016

Despite the unfortunate  Phaseolus vulgaris moniker—the American Common Bean category includes bunches of beloved, native-to-the-Americas beans: navy, red kidney, pinto, great northern, marrow, & yellow eye, plus garden variety edible-pod beans (string, stringless and snap.) It’s not clear which of these the New England colonists first stewed in a pot, but we do know baked navy beans started with Native Americans. The Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroiquois wrapped navy beans in deerskins—or put them in earthenware pots, along with venison, bear fat and maple syrup and then baked the lot in hot-stone-lined pits. Puritans eschewed the deerskins, but took to bean-pot cookery because the long, slow cook times meant housewives could prepare the beans a day ahead, and in so doing, stick to Puritanical no-cooking-on-Sabbath rules.

Continue Reading…

Bread Box

Date Nut Bread Baked in a Can

December 29, 2016

Because the result is so moist, baking and/or steaming bread in cans is an old-fashioned tradition people still ask about. Initially, two readers–Sandra S. and Mary S.– requested this recipe they remembered seeing in the ChicagoTribune 47 years ago, and more requests have showed up since. We’ve adapted the recipe to include instructions from an earlier, 1953 recipe that suggests covering the tops of the cans with a greased baking sheet. Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Gingerbread Cookies

December 23, 2016

My boys love gingerbread–the dark rich flavor of the cookie, and, the poses they can bend and flex the classic-cookie-guys arms and legs before baking. Lately, I’ve been baking gingerbread forests for the gingerbread boys to wander in, too. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

December 18, 2016

Enhanced with curry, dried mushrooms and bacon, this beef-barley soup from long-gone Helen’s Olde Lantern in Blue Island, IL, was requested by reader John S. He remembered it having a lot more bacon : ) You can always add more. Continue Reading…

Love From the Lunchroom

Potato Turbate

December 14, 2016

Since I ran the recipe for this Pinellas County, FL school cafeteria lunchroom favorite, I’ve heard from more than a dozen readers who fondly remember the dish. Susant T., who attended Starkey Elementary in Pinellas County, FL, in the early 1960s, asked for it first, so Susan: know that you have a lot of grateful cohorts who appreciate your request. Cafeteria-hot-dish-wise, potato turbate is basically a stripped-down version of shepherds pie Continue Reading…

Meaty Mainstays

Kirk Douglas’ Favorite Meatloaf

December 9, 2016

Before there was Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and more movies,) there was Kirk Douglas, a 1940s matinee idol with the deep cleft in his chin some of my boys have, but dislike. (They call it a “butt chin”…) If it weren’t for Ant Man, in which Michael had a nice role, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which Noah considers “epic” for its crude special effects (first sci-fi shot in Cinemascope), my kids would be unfamiliar with either of these actors. But back in the ’70s, Kirk was still, very much, a familiar film legend. Which is where this meatloaf comes in… Continue Reading…

Vintage Veg

Sunchokes Two Ways: Soup & Smashed Potato

December 9, 2016

Earthy, sexy, silky, sunchokes beguile. To me, they’re like truffles in their scent and ability to make you crave just a little bit more. Peeled, simmered and pureed, these unlovely-looking little lumps transform into a beautifully aromatic soup. Or simmered and smashed with spinach, potato and garlic they make a delicious, original side. Continue Reading…

Breakfast Buns

Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

December 9, 2016

In a typical day, Shelby McCreedy might deal with, oh, money laundering, public indecency, intoxication, and some kind of theft. A special agent for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation,  McCreedy “deals with bad guys all day.” But at home? “I’m like Betty Crocker—with a gun,” she jokes. Continue Reading…