She isn't known for her cooking skills. She is adventurous, however, and I can remember her testing recipes on me and my dad -- and some were real doozies.
There was the New Year's Day Casserole -- the kind you make the night before, soaking bread in eggs and god knows what else and then bake it in the morning. That was a slimy mess and we were left with cold cereal for breakfast while watching the Rose Parade.
Then there was the time she wanted to make chili from scratch, starting with dried beans. For some reason, she skipped the part about soaking the beans, and put all of the ingredients together in a crock pot. I can remember the thing cooked for hours. She lifted off the lid and we each pulled out a spoonful to taste.
The beans were still a bit, shall we say, al dente.
Dad and I would not pursue this journey any further. Mother insisted that the chili was fine and just to prove it to us, she sat and ate a whole bowl of crunchy chili. The results were not good. She got sick. Real sick.
So sick, in fact, that the entire crock pot was dispatched from the kitchen. She told Dad to take it outside. I remember seeing the avocado green crock pot sitting on our lawn underneath the orange tree. Problem was, Mother could still see it too, so she sent Dad out to move it again. She couldn't even look at the pot. It sat in the backyard for days.
Mother had her successes as well, and this is one of them. It's a recipe that probably appears in every local community or church cookbook around America, but to me, they will always be Mother's Calico Beans. I make them every summer, and they may not be glamorous or cutting edge, but I think they taste damn good.
So please, make this once in awhile for the ones you love. Think of your own mother while you do it. And for my mother's sake, please use canned beans.
Mother's Calico Beans
1 pound hamburger
1/2 pound bacon
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 (16oz.) can pork and beans
1 (15oz.) can kidney beans
1 (15oz.) can lima beans
1/2 cup brown sugar
Brown hamburger and drain. Fry bacon until crisp and crumble. Fry onion until soft and add garlic, cooking until golden. Drain lima beans and kidney beans. Mix the hamburger, bacon, onions, garlic, all the beans and the remaining ingredients together. Pour into a casserole and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.