When my mother passed away I inherited boxes of cook books and trunks of magazines. Tucked within the pages of this vast “wasteland”, as some considered it to be, were recipes that were written in relative’s hand who were long forgotten. Tucked within pages and pages of books were recipe cards and clips of paper yellowed with time. I often wondered how good many of these recipes really were and now, through writing and recipe testing for my books, I can find out.

One of my cherished possessions if an old Dutch oven my grandmother had. Grandma “Silvey”, whom I met only once, live on a farm. I have never seen the homestead but my Dad said it is flat and you can see the “Canadian border meet the sky.”

I prepare Grandma Silvey’s Baked Beans recipe in a Dutch oven on my grill. I found that Grandma’s old recipe for baked beans just seems to taste better made in that old Dutch oven. Give this recipe a try and let us know what you think.

Even better, go through some of your families old cookbooks and see what cherished treasures you can find!


1 Tablespoon olive or cooking oil
1/2 pound maple-flavored slab bacon, diced
3/4 cup chopped Vidalia onions
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.5 ounces) northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) lima beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup Hunt’s ketchup
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
2 Tablespoons dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Kosher Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste


STEP ONE: Assemble all ingredients and cooking utensils.
STEP TWO: Preheat grill to 250° F.
STEP THREE: Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and bacon. Sauté until the fat is rendered and the bacon is slightly crispy.
STEP FOUR: Remove the bacon and reserve.
STEP FIVE: Add the onions and peppers; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
STEP SIX: Place the beans and reserved bacon in the pan. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning.
LAST STEP: Cover and bake for about 2 hours on the grill. Beans are done when they are thick and hot.


Native Americans are credited with creating baked bean recipes. The recipe featured maple syrup and bear fat. The beans were cooked in earthenware pots that were placed in pits and covered with hot rocks. It is believed the Pilgrims learned how to make baked beans from the Native Americans, although they began substituting molasses and pork fat for the maple syrup and bear fat. This dish was perfect for the Pilgrim household. Pilgrim women were not allowed to cook on Sunday, because of their religious beliefs, and the baked beans could be cooked the night before and kept warm until the next morning.

Michael Wright
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