Recipes evoke memories from the past

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Baked from scratch, homemade Boston baked beans hit the spot on a cold winter's day.


My grandmother was a collector of recipes. Into a notebook she would paste hundreds of recipes that she had gleaned from magazines, as well as boxes filled with handwritten recipes covering countless index cards containing favorite dishes passed on by friends and relatives and so on. Unfortunately for us, she never bothered to write down her own recipes, thinking they were "nothing special" and just something she "threw together" at the last minute.

The recipes that she especially like were marked with stars on the top. One star was usually a one and done affair while a three star recipe was deemed a keeper. Here are a few of her three star recipes that remind me of the hearty meals she had waiting on the table at the old farm house after us grandkids were done playing out in the snow. Enjoy.

Old-fashioned Baked Beans

You can either soak beans overnight, or use grandma's last minute technique.

1 lb. (2 c.) dry white beans Navy beans or Great Northern beans

1 med onion chopped

1/3 c. dark molasses

1/3 c. dark brown sugar

3 to 4 T. Dijon mustard

1 T. tomato paste

1/8 t. ground cloves

1/4 t. salt

¼ t. pepper

3 c. water

½ lb salt pork (or thick cut bacon) cut into ½ in to 1 in pieces

Place beans in a large pot or Dutch oven, covering them with about 2 inches of water. Soak overnight. Don't have all night? use this quick method: In a large, heavy pot, combine the beans and enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the beans sit for 1 hour. 

After soaking beans, drain and rinse. Return to pot. Add onions,molasses, brown sugar, mustard, tomato paste, ground cloves, and salt pork or bacon. Add water, salt and pepper. Return beans to a boil.

Cover pan and transfer to oven (preheated to 300 degrees) or crock pot (on low setting). Bake beans in oven for 4 hours or slow cooker for 8 hours until beans are tender. Be sure to check every hour to see if pan/pot is dry. Add more water as needed ½ c. at a time. Add additional salt to taste if needed.

esty barbecue spareribs are complemented with side dishes of hearty baked beans and fresh cole slaw.

Oven BBQ Spareribs

This may seem like a lot of meat, but it didn't last long with hungry kids sitting around the table.

6 lbs. beef spareribs

1/2 c. chopped onion

1/4 c. vinegar

2. c. boiling water

1/8 t. pepper

1 t. chili powder

1 c. catsup

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 t. Tabasco sauce

Place spareribs in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with chopped onion. Combing remaining ingredients and pour over spareribs. Bake at 350 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Makes 6 to 8 generous servings.

Homemade cole slaw

We always thought grandma had Colonel Sanders recipe.

3 lbs. grated cabbage

1 c. chopped onion

1 c. chopped carrots


1 c. Miracle Whip Dressing

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. tarragon vinegar

3 t. salt

Mix all dressing ingredients. Let stand until sugar dissolves. Add vegetables and mix. 

Made with molasses, brown sugar and oats, this brown bread goes well with any meal.

Grandpa's Brown Bread

The darker the molasses, the better the bread grandpa always told us.

1 1/2 c. boiling water

1 c. old-fashioned oats

2 T. Crisco

2 t. salt

1 pkg. active dry yeast

3/4 c. warm water (110° to 115°)

1/2 t. white sugar

1/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/4 c. dark molasses

5 c. flour

In a bowl, combine boiling water, oats, Crisco and salt. Cool til warm to the touch (110-115 degrees). In a separate mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Sprinkle with sugar. Add warm oat mixture, brown sugar, molasses and 3 c. flour; mix well. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Divide in half; shaping into loaves. Place in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks. Brush with butter. Yield: 2 loaves.