Tag Archives: comfort food

Ham and Beans

Today, dear friends, we weep.    I have used up, in many delicious and satisfying ways, the glorious 14+ lb. Christmas Ham I bought for Holiday 2012.  Yes, I bought more than fourteen pounds of pure heaven cured pork for just the two of us on Christmas day.  Still, a 14+ pounder?  Yus.  Why?  Leftovers; 5 meals using every single bit of that gigantic hunk of pig ambrosia.  And now it is gone.   And,It.Was.Good.

Did I mention that Mr. Man’s friend since high school is the cop that always pulls inside store duty on Christmas Eve?  I didn’t?  Oh.  Yes, thanks to Mr. Man and his amazing network of friends, I get the hunney-bake-hook-up with a discount that would make all of you weep and gnash your teeth.  Makes my holly-day as I’m trying desperately to hold in my “Squeeee” while still inside the store.

Ham & Beans is just about the easiest thing in the EN-TIRE world to make and it is soooo good and I am surprised at how many folks just don’t know it.  Please.  Do not let yourself to be one of these unfortunates any longer.

Now for the ham in the beans you can use just about any old ham type thing you can find, so never ever throw away a ham-bone from a whole ham. You can freeze the dang thing for close to six months and still use it just fine. In the absence of a particularly fine ham-bone  get some nice meaty ham hocks at the grocery. Now it’s my very own opinion, but having the bone in there makes the richest broth. Now if you’re really in a pinch or just don’t want to fool with fishing out the bones & the fat, then use as much diced ham as you want, but you won’t get the same flavor, just sayin’. It’s all personal preference but I make them like my Grandma from Kentucky (say it “CANE-TUCK-EE) made ’em.

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Now that you have some prime pork available, get a 1 lb. bag of either navy beans or great northern beans. Both are nice white beans, navy beans are little, great northern beans are big and I figure that’s why they’re called great northern beans instead of lesser northern beans, although I’m pretty sure they’re isn’t anything called a lesser bean.

Now, you can fool with the beans over night, soaking and rinsing and I’ve done that many times, but for my purpose this day, I decided to use the slow cooker because I decided I needed to eat this during the week.

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I thoroughly rinsed and picked the beans over, put them in the pot first, laid that choice pork on top and added the following:

1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, chopped or mince
1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (or pepper to taste if you don’t want a little kick to it)
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 cups of water

Stick a lid on it, turn it on low and head out the door for work.

When you get home, you’ll want to pick out the bones and the larger pieces of fat and I do this using tongs but a slotted spoon will work fine to scoop out the shrapnel. Most of the meat should be gone off the bones, floating in your beans, but some might be clinging, so give it a hand & scrape it back into the pot. The meat chunks should break up easily with the back of your spoon.

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You don’t have to serve this immediately.  Pop the lid back on and keep it at low or set your cooker on the ‘warm’ setting if you have it.  It makes an awful lot and my own self, personally, I think it’s one of those things that’s even better the 2nd time as leftovers. Heated up beans with ketchup! Yum!

Oh, & just so you know the baking soda in beans does three things; 1) Makes the broth a bit creamier; 2) keeps the beans from splitting and; 3) reduces the gas making factor of the beans.

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Ham and beans makes me wish I was in the North East right now getting whomped by snow!  Not much better when it comes to winter fare; leisurely sopping it up while watching Old Man Winter deliver one of his occasional TKO’s.   Stay warm, stay safe and stay fed!

That’s enough.

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Meatballs and Murder

Aaah, the meatball.  That all purpose comfort food staple generally associated with Italian cuisine but versatile enough to morph into almost any ethnic version of itself.  Who hasn’t grabbed a few from the slow cooker at a potluck with them swimming in Barbecue sauce or found joy in taking them to the islands; Hawaiian style over rice.  Making a brown gravy, slopping in some sour cream and they become a fabulous Swedish import; the Volvo of weeknight menus at the family table.

A pound of lean ground beef, an egg and about a half a package of saltines, neatly pulverized with my hand blender, all mushed up.  I don’t season the meat because I always sauce up my meatballs and the sauce is always the star of the show!  Form a half a dozen balls, place in an 8 x 8 baking dish, cover with foil and bake it at 375° for about 30 minutes, or to the nearest “Wheel of Fortune” commercial break after 30 minutes are up.

Every night I assemble dinner with the six o’clock news as background and watch the “Wheel” while it’s all perking away.  I love word puzzles and I have discovered that word games are about the only thing Mr. Man will play at parties.  As a matter of fact, last Saturday we were at a party and Catch Phrase (the hand held electronic version) got whipped out.  Keep in mind, that no one is ever fully sober when we start playing games.  Ever.  Which insures that no matter what we play, hilarity will ensue.   Although we had not played it before, Mr. Man and I played quite well and there was only one clue that Mr. Man was unable to get a guess on from anyone; Penitentiary.  It was a lot of fun and I’d definitely play again.

So back to the meatballs.  Have you ever had them with mashed potatoes?  Yes?  No?  Well, until Mr. Man, I had never heard of it.  Meatballs and mashed potatoes was a childhood favorite of his and about a year into our courtship, he asked me to make them and my immediate thought for the sauce was ‘onion gravy’, thinking that WOULD be good.

No.  He wanted them with red sauce.  He does not like Italian food, at all, so I found this quite perplexing.  Ohhh-kaaaay.  Skeptically,  I did as he asked and it was freaking good and got slapped on the ‘winter comfort food’ list and considering how it’s not been above freezing here for a week, that’s what got served last night.

Because I am all about my two best peeps, lazy and easy, after the original 30 minutes are up on the meatballs, I pour about a half a jar of sauce on them, turn them and then put the foil back on and return them to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  The fewer pans to clean, the better, mostly because the dishwasher we have is me.

Every time we sit down to Meatballs and mashed, Mr. Man says “Steve Cannaday”.  Why?, you may ask.  Because it was in grade school that Steve Cannaday’s mother served Mr. Man meatballs and mashed potatoes for the first time.   Buddies since Kindergarten, they lost touch after Steve murdered his wife, Melissa.  Stabbed her to death for reasons not known to Mr. Man.  No one heard from Steve after he got sent up, not one word has ever trickled through the grapevine of what happened to him.  Is he still alive?  Did he ever get out?  What?  Nothing.

As usual, the serving of Meatballs and mashed last night caused us to go over the same story of Steve and wondering what happened and as I was clearing the dishes I said to Mr. Man, “Oh!  Next time we play Catchphrase, all you have to do is say “Meatballs” and I will say “Penitentiary”.  Won’t that freak everyone out?!?!?

Carry on.