The column I wrote about Nature’s Second Most Complete Food a few weeks ago generated so many appreciative comments, additional recipes, variations, and funny responses that this sequel is deserved.
You farm guys who are reading this and thinking to yourselves that this is your wife’s territory, admit you like the cookies and do more in the kitchen than wash dishes and barbeque the meat on the grill. It’s okay if you bake stuff and don’t tell your coffee-shop and drinking buddies.
I know a lot of farm men who enjoy baking and cooking as much as running tractors, wrestling with livestock and other manly tasks. Men can be darn good chefs as well as farmers and cowboys.
The oatmeal raisin cookie recipe Marilyn acquired from my mother traces back to a 1940s’ Wallaces Farmer recipe called Pride of Iowa Cookies, according to a letter Betty wrote me. Betty was a third grade student of my mother’s when Mom taught school before my older brother came along, followed by me and two younger brothers.
While my childhood behavior forever terminated Mom’s professional teaching aspirations, I developed a great liking for her cookies and I asked Marilyn to beg Mom for the recipe after we married. It wasn’t a wasted effort for Marilyn or me.
Some readers wrote to say they add nuts, chocolate chips, or coconut to the mixture besides raisins. I approve.
A South Dakota reader said she substituted canola oil instead of shortening or butter because of canola’s heart-healthy properties, and the outcome was just as yummy. Another reader said half of her raisins were chocolate-covered; her son claimed they were the best cookies ever.
An Iowa woman suggested her beans can be nature’s second most complete food by adding a half teaspoon of ginger for every two cups of dry beans before cooking them to deter their natural propensity to create undesirable olfactory and social issues. I appreciate the thought but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like “Dad’s beans” as well with a ginger taste.
“Dad’s beans” is what my children have appreciatively taken to calling my recipe for baked beans. Marilyn and our kids have happily put up with, well–actually added to, the repercussions of indulging on Dad’s beans.
You might want the recipe for Dad’s beans. It’s not propriety information, but I warn you the recipe is never the same twice. I throw in whatever is in the refrigerator, freezer or we have in the pantry that I think might taste good together.
Using fresh or frozen home-grown peppers of all kinds (especially jalapenos), garlic, onions, basil, home-canned tomatoes, and wild game meat of some kind, as well as smoked ham with a ham bone is preferable. A couple carrots, and lots of spices help achieve a desirable outcome.
I soak the beans of all types (kidney, navy, black, pinto, lima and even the seeds of dried green beans that were not harvested early enough to can) overnight and pour off most of the remaining water after the beans are soft, which disposes some–but not all–of their methane power.
I always add at least three bay leaves, smoked paprika, chili powder, ground chipotles, ground home-grown or boughten coriander and sea salt to the batch when I mix everything and cover it with an inch of water in the pot.
Preferably cook everything in a big cast iron pot with a lid in the oven at 350 degrees F or your smoker–with no lid for a smoky taste–for 5-6 hours, but check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid to keep them from burning and sample them toward the end of the cooking process when they smell really good. The tasting part is essential, so you can determine if the ingredients are soft and add whatever seems to be missing in terms of spices.
Usually a dose of cayenne, a bit of cumin or coriander, a touch of garlic salt, or more jalapenos cures whatever your “Dad’s beans” lack. Cook another hour or so; then dig in and plan to spend the night by yourself or with a very indulgent spouse. Now back to the oatmeal raisin cookies.
A South Dakota lady wrote to say her version of oatmeal raisin cookies is very similar to the Pride of Iowa recipe that Mom passed along to Marilyn. Her cookies and those baked by her children all took blue ribbons at their county fair for years. What more can I say except “Congratulations.”
The original recipe is available online by looking for “Pride of Iowa Oatmeal Raisin Cookies” or check your newspaper for the column about Nature’s Second Most Complete Food a few weeks ago. Send me your feedback and advice about the cookies and Dad’s beans.
Happy Thanksgiving, especially to the guys who are preparing the turkey, baking oatmeal raisin cookies or making Dad’s beans.