Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Five Bean Barbecue Bake

The Stein family traditionally turns to this dish for those big family gatherings in summer, but we recently made it on a cold drizzly October weekend and it’s really good comfort food.


I’m not even sure I met cousin Barb at the gathering with which I most closely associate my introduction to this dish, but I’m posting this as a thank you for her generous donation to my recent Walk to End Alzheimer’s event.

I was newly married into the Stein family when a reunion was hosted at the folks’ Washougal house on a 4th of July weekend. As always, we were there and pitching in. It rained buckets the day of the gathering and instead of overflowing onto the deck and into the yard, we set up rows of tables in the garage and Mike grilled burger after burger with the grill tucked under the eaves.


We doubled this recipe at least: ten cans of beans (well, not really – we always used Mike’s own home canned green beans, so one of these was a quart jar) and all the other ingredients went into LaVerne’s vast cooking pot, so huge that James carved her this spoon for cooking in it.


Five Bean Barbecue Bake

Drain one can each:
Green beans, Yellow beans, Kidney beans, Lima beans (baby limas are best).
Open but don’t drain one can pork and beans.
Brown then dice six slices bacon, and sauté one chopped onion in the drippings. Drain off fat.

Combine above ingredients and add 1/2 cup ketchup , 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 – 1/2 cups brown sugar, and 1/4 pound diced cheddar cheese. Place in casserole, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake 350°F for one hour.


Because of the richness of this dish, it really is a side and not a main offering. Our advice is to save it for that crowd. It was a really big commitment for just the two of us.

We found that if you pack the brown sugar as usual for measuring, it can make the beans very sweet.

When this dish was created, canned baby limas were a thing. For quite some time they were not available and we doubled the green beans. Now they are available frozen, but yellow wax beans are very tough to find. Substitute your favorite beans if you can’t find the ones suggested here.

Do not use shredded cheese. The cheddar gets chewy and wonderful in the cubes, and is an important aspect of this dish.

I remember feeling that I must really be a true part of the Stein family that weekend, cooking a favorite recipe for an army of folks, sharing laughter and good food in spite of the miserable weather.

Cousin Barb, do you remember this long-ago party?


Side Dishes, Uncategorized

Fresno Potato Casserole- and Some News About Mom

Below is a post I started some months ago – maybe it’s even a year now.  Much has changed in the year since I cooked with LaVerne in her own kitchen. A year ago this month, we moved her into our home. Three months ago, we moved her into a memory care facility. She has settled well there, enjoying her routine and her friends and activities. She feels safe and loved and cared for. We could not ask for better! When we visit, our beloved Mother is still in there, but it is only her essence that remains, and we lose more parts of her with each visit.  

The original intent of this blog was to cook through the traditional Stein family recipes we’ve all loved from Mom’s kitchen over the years. Here is the last post I was writing as things began to spiral farther down the path we have been following. I couldn’t bear to post it then without some editorial comment, but I couldn’t bear to share the immensity of what we were going through.  Dementia and Alzheimer’s one of those diseases, are terrible robbers of loved ones. These diseases burden caregivers and bank accounts. They steal years and moments from all those connected with a loved one suffering from a disease of the brain resulting in memory loss. Inspired by my friend Kevan, whose wife is nearing the end of her journey down this cruel road, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and work to raise funds for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s (our walk is October 1st this year).  As a thank you to each person who donates, I have promised to post a new recipe or poem here on the blog – to share our story and to spread the word. Here is my fundraising page.  If you donate, I’ll add a post for you, too. Here’s last year’s recipe, as thank you to Kevan.

LaVerne is now becoming less and less able to function in the kitchen on her own, and re-visiting her recipes with her is real joy for both of us, so that is what we’re doing.

Finding and recreating these beloved recipes is so gratifying, but it’s also had another delightful result. As we poke through Mom’s favorite cookbooks, sift through recipe boxes, and wander together through our memories, we are finding new recipes in old books. Sometimes they look so good we just have to try them.

The first of these deviations was Chocolate Zucchini Cake, which is getting rave reviews from all over. This time, it’s a creamy, flavorful potato recipe, again from Sunset’s Favorite Recipes II Cookbook. Fresno Potato Casserole caught LaVerne’s eye one evening as we were deciding what to make for dinner, and we just kept going back to it. It was clear that we had to make it when we found all the ingredients in the larder.Here is a rare photo of my mother-in-law LaVerne in action. It’s not been common for anyone to catch her at work in the kitchen, though she’s spent about sixty years in charge of one.

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You’ll have to take my word for it that the dish itself was lovely. We were too busy enjoying making and eating it to capture any pictures except this one of LaVerne slicing the potatoes.

Fresno Potato Casserole

2-1/2 to 3 pounds thin-skinned potatoes

4 strips bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled

4 green onions, thinly sliced (including tops)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 pint (1 cup) sour cream

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup seasoned croutons, purchased or homemade (page 25), slightly crushed

3 T butter or margarine, melted

Pour water into a 3-qt pan to a depth of 1 inch. Add potatoes, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender when pierce (about 25 minutes). Drain well, peel and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Arrange half the slices in a greased shallow 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Top with half the bacon and half the onions. In a small bowl, combine milk and sour cream; spread half the milk mixture over onions, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Repeat layers. Sprinkle croutons on top and drizzle with butter.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Side Dishes, Vegetables

Green Beans

This is how green beans were always prepared at the Stein house. It’s another dish I learned by helping LaVerne in the kitchen. There was never a written recipe, so it’s recorded how we’ve remembered it. Of course, these were usually beans out of Dad’s garden, and there were lots and lots of those. The recipe applied to their canned quart jars of beans as well as the fresh ones, though, and the cooking time was adjusted to account for the form of the produce used.

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Green Beans

1 pound of fresh green beans, washed and snapped

1/2 medium onion, diced

3-4 slices of bacon, diced

Water to cover beans

Dice and then saute 3-4 slices of bacon. Drain if needed, leaving enough fat to saute the onions. Cook these two ingredients together until the onions begin to soften.

Add washed and snapped green beans and saute until the beans begin to change color to bright green. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with about an inch of liquid and bring to a boil.

Turn down and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 20 minutes for fresh mature beans. Cooking time will vary depending on size of beans.


We use enough bacon to impart flavor to the beans but not so much that they’re greasy. The bacon we used this time turned out to be very lean and we didn’t drain it. I added no salt to this recipe, but I’m thinking some was added during cooking. LaVerne’s salt box comes to mind.

The Stein green bean recipe did not depend on measured amounts of vegetable, but whatever came out of the garden, so adjust your quantities of onion and bacon to taste. This method works well with frozen green beans, too.

If the home-canned beans were used, the juice from the jar was the only liquid.

What is your favorite three-ingredient recipe?