Nov 7, 2010

United Nations Baked Beans in Honour of Hillary C.

I feel like a fraud writing about baked beans and winter comfort food after the change in weather this afternoon.  But I feel I have no choice, I've been eaten my slow cooker baked beans for breakfast and lunch today.  Dinner would have been pushing it, I'm having green tea ice cream and some muesli (consecutively and not in combination).

It's been a glorious afternoon here.

There are beautiful flowers to be found in the gardens I pass on my way to various commitments.  I like weekends because I really do have time to stop and admire the flowers.  No roses to be sniffed, unfortunately.

The sun finally making an appearance after days of dark skies, cloud and rain.  It was the kind of change in weather that made me feel brave enough to test drive a car (I have a phobia of driving other people's cars).  After all these years of convincing myself that GPS and parking cameras would make me a better road user, I found them both quite overwhelming to be honest.  Good sized cup holders and the ability to upload your iPod play lists to the car's hard drive were the most memorable and desired features of the cars seen so far.

The baked beans, they're going to be written about today.  They have some origins in the US not to mention being a budget friendly pantry staple in many an Australian household.  Hillary Clinton is visiting us in Melbourne at the moment (she called Mr Rudd 'Prime Minister' and he did not correct her) to discuss peace keeping missions in the Asia Pacific region as well as to have more general discussion about the Australia American Alliance.  I suspect key issues such as the recent increase in exports of Kindles, jeans, OPI nail polish and Tory Burch ballet flats to Australia may be excluded from the agenda owing to time constraints.  I have hopes that the curious practice of stocking GAP's Australian stores with winter stock in the lead up to the Australian summer will be covered and rectified.

The baked beans ended up being a United Nations type of recipe.  I adapted two recipes, one from and this one from into one global union of ingredients from around the world.

Starting with Canadian maple syrup, French mustard and Italian canned tomatoes.  Australian tomato paste and barbecue sauce.

It was touch and go with regard to the meat component of the dish.  Bacon hocks are considered a winter ingredient here.  Butchers seem stricter about seasonal stock than clothing retailers so there were no bacon hocks to be found this weekend.

Improvisation was called for.  I ended up using a hickory smoked deboned ham portion from Coles and 2 bacon stock cubes (from Indonesia).

Pretty pricy at $14 but the ham was delicious, relatively low fat and 100% Australian owned.
'Get Him to the Greek' was hilarious.  I highly recommend it.  It is firmly in the 'gross out' spectrum of adult comedy but was also very clever about it.  Rose Byrne was a great surprise as Jacqui Q, Russell Brand's characters long term girlfriend.  Sean Coombs really was as funny in his role as the record company manager as the reviews suggested.  My favourite scenes involved the video clips and 'live footage' from talk shows.  The lyrics to the songs were pretty explicit and crude yet the video clips were very MTV.  Is there any point in having sanitized lyrics on music video programs when the images are so raunchy?

So as a salute to Aldous Snow and his use of alcohol in a manner that others would use water, I added some marsala from the stash of cooking alcohol on the top of the kitchen cabinets.

Slow cooker baked beans are the best breakfast for a wintry morning.  I put pre soaked lima beans (husks removed) in the slow cooker.  Then topped them with 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, onion garlic, the marsala, pepper, bacon stock cubes, the ham and a chopped fresh tomato.

Give it all a good stir and cook on low for 8 hours or so.

The next morning, wake up to the warm scent of baked beans cooking in your kitchen.

Stir in 1/2 cup of ketchup and 2 tablespoons of mustard.  If you too are feeling that Asian influences are needed, then add a slug of soya sauce at this point.  Take out the ham pieces and dice.  Return to the slow cooker and cook for a further hour or so.

They were seriously good - I eat them topped with chopped spring onions and a good dusting of cracked pepper.  I was very relieved that the smoked ham worked so well.  Even better than the time I made baked beans with bacon hocks.

A really easy recipe.  It freezes well.  You'll never eat canned baked beans again  Unless you need baked beans for a baked potato or with an omelet or you like the idea of eating something cold straight out the can whilst wearing a checked shirt.  In those cases, beans mean Heinz.

Have a lovely evening.  I'm eagerly checking my inbox for news about my Oprah ticket request.  It's a quiet night without Offspring.


  1. Love the idea of the baked beans - they sound amazing! I bought some really lovely smoked bacon in a whole piece at the North Sydney Farmers markets a few weeks ago and have been adding it to things with great success - boeuf bourguignon was the latest. A good smokey bacon makes everything taste wonderful!

  2. Dinner sounds yummy.
    I like the ribbon background too...

  3. Num num num. How delicious :) xx

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