A Memorial Day Recipe

After what seemed to be a very long winter, Memorial Day is almost upon us.  Bring Summer ON!

For an purely American holiday, I have a recipe that comes from the book My Berlin Kitchen!  Luisa Weiss is the daughter of divorced parents, her father an American, her mother Italian, she was born in Berlin.  The book is her story: how she came to terms with who she really is…and what she wants to do in her life.  It’s a great read–the subtitle is “A Love Story (with Recipes)”–so how can you resist.

As I grew up, moving around from Berlin to Boston to Paris to New York, I discovered that cooking was the most reliable way to feel less alone. My pots and pans became my constant companions, worn wooden spoons and a dull sheen at the bottom of my cast-iron pots a testament to how much I’d turned to them to find the tastes of home in my roving kitchens. Cooking was crucial: It couldn’t shrink the Atlantic Ocean or lessen the six-hour time difference. But it made my world feel a little bit smaller.

It was in the kitchen that I could make the same tomato sauce with carrots and onions that my father always had in our sprawling Brookline apartment with the cluttered screened-in balcony and empty rooms, that I could grate bitter chocolate into a bowl of thin sour yogurt as my mother always had in Berlin when I still sat in a high chair, listening to the church bells peal on a Sunday morning as sun streamed through her kitchen window.. When I stewed red peppers and onions with a cut-up chicken, the vapors brought my beloved Italian grandmother back to life. And I learned to knead Joanie’s bread dough until I felt as strong and capable as she was.  I couldn’t will my beloved Berlin streets across the world or make the people I loved appear when I needed them, but by summoning the flavors of Berlin and the food of my loved ones, my kitchen became my sanctuary, the stove my anchor.

“Distance means nothing when your kitchen smells like home.”  From My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

There is a great, easy recipe in My Berlin Kitchen for Baked Beans!  No Kidding!  Just for your Memorial Day picnic!

By the way, Luisa Weiss is the author of the blog The Wednesday Chef.


Fake Baked Beans

An easy, not too sweet recipe for “baked” beans.

3 15 ounce cans pinto beans

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 and 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch smoked Spanish paprika, or to taste

salt to taste

Dump the canned beans into a pot along with their liquid.  Add the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, mustard powder, Tabasco sauce, pepper and smoked paprika and mix well.

Bring the beans to a simmer and let cook over low heat, covered, until the liquid has thickened, 30 to 45 minutes.  Season with salt if needed.

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