Friday 4 September 2009

Spring Beans

In my last post earlier this week, I shared some of the sights of my spring garden. The following day I went for a long walk with Sylvia and it was such a gorgeous sunny day that I took some photos to further celebrate the arrival of spring.

Green buds were sprouting on winter branches:

The sky was blue and the blossoms were a delicate pink:

In fact, there was a profusion of blossoms:

We spied red geraniums in this garden looking lovely against the backdrop of a lacy cast iron verandah:

The jasmine was flowering. We had jasmine in the first house E and I lived in when we first moved to Melbourne. I find the smell so evocative and wish I could share it with you:

Some lucky folk had far more lemons on their tree than me:

And some lavendar bushes were far more advanced than mine - and far more enticing to the bees:

So what spring dish did I make for dinner? Gulp! Slow baked beans. It is the transitional time of year when I look forward to fresh spring dishes but am also sad about the missed opportunities for winter dishes. I had seen Jules of Stone Soup making these baked beans recently and wanted to try it before the weather was too warm. The sky might have been blue yesterday but then the heavens opened in the afternoon and we had fierce thunderstorms.

I have loved baked beans in a tin since I was a kid. More recently I have enjoyed 'home made' baked beans in cafes for brunch. Jules baked her beans overnight for 7-8 hours instead of soaking them. I was not so brave or organised. I had planned to potter about the house and bake them while I was home - I worry too much about leaving the oven on overnight. But it was so sunny that I was out longer than I intended. So I ended up turning up the oven for the last part of cooking. It strikes me that I could do it next time but baking the beans for a few hours in the evening and finishing them off the next night - especially when I am back at work.

I love the idea of smoky dark molasses baked beans but the beans I am used to aren't at all like that. I found these beans a bit intense and would decrease the flavourings a bit next time. So I have adjusted the recipe for the molasses, smoked paprika and mustard, which I think could be a bit less. I also think I needed a bit more seasoning. I have been a bit confused about not salting the beans when cooking from dried. I had worried that they might have tough skins if I cooked them in stock but these beans were nice and soft. So next time I would be a bit more generous with stock and soy sauce, if needed. I also needed more liquid and will remember the celery next time.

So I will make some adjustments next time but I did enjoy having my own baked beans without having to soak the beans. I served it as I might serve it for brunch one day by frying up some toast, mushrooms, zucchini and spinach. I think some fried potatoes, avocado and tattie scones would also go nicely with this.

I am sending these baked beans to Sia of Monsoon Spice for My Legume Love Affair which is founded by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

Smoky baked beans

Adapted from Stone Soup
serves 6

500g (1lb) dried beans, cannellini or navy
2 onions, peeled & diced
4 sticks celery, diced (I didn’t use)
2 carrots, diced
4-6 cloves garlic
2 x 400g (14oz) cans tomatoes, chopped
2½ cup water (or stock)
500ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1-3 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
1-3 tsp yellow mustard powder
1-3 tsp smoked paprika

Place all ingredients in a large casserole dish stir to combine. Check flavourings and seasonings and then adjust to taste. Cover with a lid or foil and place in cold oven. Turn on oven at 140 C and bake til beans are soft and sauce has thickened. Jules suggested 7-8 hours without looking at it. I baked for 2½ hours, turned off the oven for 2½ hours, returned oven to 140 C when I got home and baked for
1½ hours, checked the water, added more and turned up oven to 180 C for 1½ hours. I stirred mine about every hour.

On the Stereo:
Platinumum Collection: Genesis


  1. The photos are so beautiful, Johanna! And that baked bean, oh my. Home-made stuff is the best!

  2. i love baked beans. we are doing slow cooked beans right now to use as sloppy joes.

  3. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who likes to cook wintry dishes during the spring and summer! :-) Baked beans are delicious all year round, I think! :-) Especially your lovely molasses version... I make baked beans at home quite frequently, so I am VERY excited about trying your beautiful recipe!

    Your spring-time photos are soooo beautiful... As summer comes to a close here, it is so exciting and comforting to hear about spring across the globe! :-)

  4. It looks gorgeous where you are - so bright and colourful! I love baked beans too, and was also inspired by how much tastier they are than from a can. We generally eat them like a stew but I like the brunch plan!

  5. Mmm I love baked beans. Serving them with zucchinis, mushrooms and spinach sounds delicious.

  6. Thanks Anh - I agree that home made stuff is the best - although I have a sneaking fondness for the tinned beans

    Thanks Maybelle's Mom - I never think to do sloppy joes - I should do

    Thanks Astra - I too can eat baked beans at any time of year - but I don't think I would fancy having my oven on for hours in the midst of summer (I guess that is when the stove top version is preferred)

    Thanks Lysy - it is such joy to see bright blue sunny sky as spring arrives - we had the beans with roast potatoes last night and they were great

    Thanks Ashley - I love beans in a vegie brunch at any time of day :-)

  7. I love baked beans and these look like such a wonderful recipe! The flowers are astonishing. I could *almost* smell them! :)


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