Viv’s Baked Beans

Last week I described Vivian Howard’s book This Will Make It Taste Good and her Community Organizer, a melange of bell peppers, garlic, onions, red wine vinegar, and tomatoes cooked to a fare-thee-well, meant to be used as a sauce or a dip or a braising liquid. I used it for from-scratch baked beans last week. It worked.

I soaked a pound of navy beans overnight. Early the next afternoon, I discarded the water and boiled them in fresh water for about an hour. I mixed them in a casserole with a cup or two of Community Organizer, along with the remaining tomato sauce from the canned tomatoes I used. I intended to cook them for three hours at 300 degrees, but they took about an extra hour, with the temperature increased to 350 degrees at the end. I also added water intermittently.

The result was tasty. I won’t be making it again soon, because we eat baked beans only occasionally, and it was a lot of trouble. I’m glad to have prepared baked beans from scratch once in my life.

I’m sure that eventually you’ll be able to find the recipe for Community Organizer online, but I don’t feel right sharing a recipe from a brand-new cookbook, and, as I said last week, your library owns This Will Make It Taste Good and will lend it to you. We used the remaining tonight as spaghetti sauce. In the meantime, my friend Kathie sent this recipe for Heirloom Beans, which I relied on for reference in my baked beans project. It warns you, for example, that the beans are going to take awhile and that you’ll have to be adding water.

In the meantime, I see Vivian has a new online hustle. She’s offering all of her “flavor heroes” from the book, including Community Organizer, in small batches online. You can order them and compare them to your own attempts, or just order them and save yourself the trouble of cooking.

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2 Responses to Viv’s Baked Beans

  1. Kathy says:

    I agree! I enjoy cooking, but I also sometimes enjoy using short cuts. It’s a paradox. Today I made some zucchini bread. It would have been easy enough to buy some at the store, but I enjoyed making it. And my house smells good!

  2. Sarah Becker says:

    Sounds delicious!
    I was remarking to a friend yesterday that no matter how long it takes to prepare food, it takes only 15 minutes to eat it. Today we can buy hundreds of different flavor enhancers, from salsa to barbecue sauce to ground herbs and spices, that save us time in the kitchen.
    But you mention the crux of the matter: “to save yourself the trouble of cooking.” It depends on whether you consider cooking to be troublesome. I enjoy cooking, but I also enjoy using short cuts. One of my favorite meals is leftovers! Just zap it in the microwave. But some recipes really are worth the time and effort involved; the pumpkin bread in Joy of Cooking is definitely one of them.
    Thanks for giving us food for thought!

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