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You gotta love those baked beans!

At this time of year, you can often find me sorting through my recipe collection more than I usually do. I ran across an old, hand-written recipe that has seen better days (not that it is the only one in such shape).

Many years ago, my sister invited me to the condo she had rented at Lake Tahoe. Up on the fireplace mantle was a collection of recipes that perhaps the owners left there or maybe some other renters did. I copied a few and have saved them all these years. The one I found the day of this writing was a recipe called “Easy Baked Beans.” That got me to thinking that for this week’s column it would be fun to share various recipes for baked beans.

I love the heartiness of baked beans and their delectable sweetness too, of course.

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was memorable and that you are all keeping warm and looking forward to more holidays this season. Remember to set aside some time for yourself, even if it is just taking a few moments to read the paper and sip a cup of your favorite hot beverage before getting involved in your busy day.

Easy baked beans One time I made this and mixed everything together, rather than layering ingredients. Worked fine, but I would recommend cooking the bacon at least halfway.

2 cans (16-oz. each) pork and beans 3/4 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon dry mustard 6 slices raw bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces 1/2 cup ketchup

  1. Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and dry mustard. In a casserole dish, place 1 can of beans. Sprinkle with half the sugar and mustard mixture.

  2. Top with the remaining can of beans, then additional sugar and mustard mixture. Top with bacon and ketchup.

  3. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours.

Baked beans Similar to the first recipe but with a few added touches and a hotter oven. It helps to spray the baking dish with cooking spray for easier clean up.

2 cans (16-oz. each) pork and beans 1 large onion, chopped 1 cup brown sugar 8 strips raw bacon, diced 1 tablespoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon liquid smoke 1 bottle (16-oz.) ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a large baking dish (9-by-13-inch works well), thoroughly mix all ingredients. 2. Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours. Add some water if necessary. Stir occasionally.

Baked navy beans This recipe calls for canned navy beans.

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into large pieces 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cans (15-oz. each) navy beans 1/3 cup ketchup 1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed 2 tablespoons dark molasses 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or more if you prefer) One or two dashes liquid smoke (be careful not to overdo) Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet with high edges, cook the bacon pieces until they start to crisp. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook until starting to caramelize.

  2. Add 1 can of navy beans, liquid included, to the skillet. Drain the remaining can of beans and add just the beans to the skillet. Add the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Mix thoroughly and cook a few minutes, adding salt and pepper, to taste.

  3. Transfer bean mixture to a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until mixture becomes thick and bubbly, about 1 hour.

Old-fashioned baked beans This is my favorite recipe. If you make the increased recipe, it makes a turkey roasting pan full and you can freeze some of the baked beans for future use.

1 pound (4 pounds) dry great northern or small white beans Enough boiling water to cover beans 1 quart (4 quarts) boiling water 1 1/2 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) salt 1 teaspoon (4 teaspoons) dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon (2 teaspoons) freshly ground black pepper Dash (1/2 teaspoon) cayenne or Tabasco sauce 1/2 cup (2 cups) chopped onion 1/4 cup (1 cup) molasses or honey 1/4 cup (1 cup) brown sugar 1/4 cup (1 cup) cider vinegar 1/4 pound (1 pound) salt pork, cubed

  1. Add beans to boiling water, boil 2 minutes, remove from heat and let soak 1 hour (or cold soak overnight) and drain.

  2. Preheat oven to 300. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix with beans. Stir in Tabasco, onion, molasses, brown sugar and vinegar.

  3. Pour half of the 6-cup mixture into a greased 1 1/2-to-2-quart ovenproof dish (use large roasting pan for the larger amount).

  4. Add half the diced salt pork in a layer, then the remaining bean mixture. Add a final layer of salt pork. Pour in the quart (or more if making large batch) of boiling water. It should be enough boiling water to reach the top of the beans. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 6 hours if to be served at once, or 5 hours if preparing for the freezer.

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