Tag Archives: traditional

Stephen King + beans & franks.

Lately I’ve been on a Stephen King mini-obsession & devouring one book after another. I have read his novels in the past & used to own a ton of hardcovers; my introduction to King began with a tattered copy of Pet Semetary that I was lucky enough to find at a flea market when I was about 13 years old…it literally terrified the crap out of me & still sends shivers up my spine to this day. It is one of my favorite books of all time. King is typically classified as a horror genre author, and yes, most of the novels I’ve read do have that scary/horror/creepy element to them, however they are well-rounded stories & not just horror. I think there is probably a big slice of readers out there who are missing out on an excellent author simply because he is classified as “horror” & those people don’t like scary stories/don’t want to be scared. That’s how I am…I don’t particularly care for out-and-out horror or sci-fi books usually but I discovered that King is so much more when I just gave some of his other novels a chance after Pet Semetary. In other words, more people should try them…they’d probably end up liking them. I personally really enjoy his writing style, language, character creations, plots, etc.

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This is exactly what my much loved, tattered copy looks like, minus the creases & blemishes. This book will send shivers up your spine!

One of the things I like about his writing is how he includes minute, everyday details, such as what a character had for dinner. It makes the story more realistic & also gives me inspiration for the kitchen! I’m currently reading Salem’s Lot, one of his classics. In the chapter I was just in, he tells you that the characters are having traditional “beans and franks” for dinner, and gives you clues about the ingredients and the process (and I quote: “It was Thursday night, and the meal was traditional–beans and franks. Bill Norton grilled the franks on the outdoor grill, and Ann had had her kidney beans simmering in molasses since nine that morning.”, chapter 5), which is uber-helpful when you’re like me & go scouring the internet for some old-timey similar sounding recipe. Many of the recipes I found said to use navy beans but I wanted to do it Stephen King’s way. I also have a great interest in trying “classic” recipes from other areas, and from the way it sounds, this is a traditional New England-area dinner/meal; and King should know since that’s his home territory & also the place setting for a majority of his books.

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This is the version I'm reading via ebook, one of my most favorite inventions ever.

So, after searching and searching I finally found a recipe that I’m going to try. It’s the one I felt was closest to how King described it & the website claims it’s old. I haven’t made it yet so I can’t reveal any results or opinions on the recipe process or outcome, but I figured one more blog/link to this traditional dish couldn’t hurt & possibly would make it easier for others to find…others like myself, who enjoy going off on food whims suggested by horror novels (despite my speech earlier about King being much more than a horror-genre author, Salem’s Lot is a “scary story”). I’m not sure what sides to have with this–and Mr. King provided no suggestions!–but some sort of toast and/or rolls sounds good…that way you can sop up any juices. Of course veggies are always good, or fruit, or even salad.

I found the recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s site…I enjoy her recipes, have made a few before, and I also really like how she explains everything in detail accompanied with photos. The only thing I’d tweak is the fact that she uses navy beans; I’m planning on using kidney beans, simply because that’s what King described & I’m trying to maintain “authenticity”. Personally, I think either bean would be okay & it comes down to your preference as well as what you have on hand (again, for me, kidney beans win because I’ve already got them)…either or. I would retype the recipe & make my blog look all efficient and thorough and nice…but alas, I’m lazy & let’s face it: her blog looks 20x better than mine ever could, so I’ll just link it. You can find a (undoubtedly good) recipe for Traditional New England Beans & Franks here. If you make ’em, stop back but here & lemme know how they turned out & what you thought! Like all bloggers–well-known or unknown–I love feedback and comments.

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Note: this photo is *not* from the Pioneer Woman's site, I just liked it & decided to use it.

And after you try the recipe, try some Stephen King too…I highly recommend any of these:

*Pet Semetary (!!!)
*The Shining (!!!)
*Carrie
*Misery
*Dolores Claiborne
*Cujo (!!)
*Green Mile series
*IT (!!)
*Needful Things
*Rose Madder

The (!!!) indicate my favorite-favorites; also, many of these have been made into movies or mini-series so if you’re not a big reader there is always that option, just remember that most movies don’t include every last detail from the book & may not be quite as good. Just saying. I can, however, guarantee that The Shining and Pet Semetary are excellent books AND movies. And of course the list of his works is about triple the size of my list above, so you’re bound to find something you like. Just try it.

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The great Stephen King...I've always thought he looks like my Dad, haha...and he does.
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Alert: it’s apparently still winter. (So bring on the vegetable soup!)

Unbeknownst to me, it is still winter. I was fooled into thinking spring had finally sprung when we had those glorious few days of warm, sunny, breezy weather. I broke out my flip-flops (well, not really…I never really packed them away but no, I didn’t walk through snow in them-what kind of dummy do you think I am?) & the kids ran free without jackets. It was a wonderful time, full of laughter and smiles and hopes for a plethora of sunshiny days ahead.

And now this.

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Admittedly, not the best snow picture ever. 2 things you should know about this photo: #1 It was not taken at night (unfortunately the camera fairy still hasn’t blessed me with a dslr); #2 There is a lot more snow than depicted. Not mountains, or even enough to coat the roads, but it’s flurrying hardcore (which is actually pretty if also unwanted).

Of course the kiddos were out today-news I relished at 6 a.m. when I realized I didn’t have to get up but somehow that news loses it’s charm halfway through the day & after 45 “Can I….?”.

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This latest snow assault puts me in the mood for something warm & filling for dinner. I’m hoping (if I can get C to go get the stuff) to turn to a family classic, my Mom’s Vegetable Soup. It holds a special place in my heart not only because it came from my momma, but also because it was the first thing I made C & I when we first started out; and because my sister asked me for the recipe, which makes me feel useful, traditional & generally warm-n-fuzzy. The list of great things about this recipe is not short:
*it’s cheap
*it’s easy
*it’s super versatile
*it’s freezable
*it’s comforting
*it’s semi-healthy
*it’s tasty
*it appeals to different taste buds
I could keep going but you’re probably bored to tears. This soup can be whatever you want it to be, really. You can use whatever vegetables you like, whatever meat you prefer; you can make it more tomato-y or more beefy tasting; you can make it overloaded with veggies or just a few. It’s totally customizable for those who are looking to start their own traditional family soup recipe.

Judy’s Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 lg (or 2 small) bag frozen mixed vegetables (sometimes labeled as “soup mix”)
1 small onion, sliced or diced
2-4 beef bouillon cubes (depending on your taste…I like a lot)
1 can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Water, as needed

1) In a medium skillet cook the ground beef over med-high heat. While beef is cooking, in a large pot add vegetables, tomatoes, seasonings & water (the amount of water you use will determine how much soup you end up with). Drain grease from meat well.

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Cooked, crumbled ground beef.

2) Add meat to soup pot; add salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste; put a lid on it & let it cook (aka turn fabulous) on low for one or two hours.
While cooking you can taste-test & add flavors accordingly. Since soup has so much water sometimes you have to add more seasonings than you’d normally use. Also, since it’s so versatile, you can add whatever would taste good to you:
Beef stock.
A ham bone.
Beans…cannellini (spelling?) or kidney or whatever!
You could use a different type of meat, like beef stew or cut up strip steak.
More tomatoes.
More vegetables.
Whatever…you…want.

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All together. Kinda gross now but not for long!

When it’s done melding flavors, serve piping hot with peanut butter crackers or sandwiches. Mmm-mmm good!!

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Dip that sandwich in & you're in 7th heaven!

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PS…sorry for posting a pic of my ice foot after a pic of that deiciousness-in-a-bowl…I took it specifically for the blog & felt bad leaving it out. 😉

PPS…this is one of those recipes that’s even better the next day! If you believe in leftovers, that is.

PPPS….feel free to add some pasta (elbow, ziti, the ABC pasta if you’re lucky enough to find it, whatever’s in the cabinet), just wait until the soup is hot/completely reheated so you don’t overcook the pasta & then it turns to mush. You may have to add some extra water also, depending on how much your pasta sucks up.

PPPPS….this apparently also makes good chow for pugs & mixed breed cats! Our 3 cats & 1 pug thoroughly enjoyed the remaining soup after we had leftovers with it. So, you’re welcome for that little tip.

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This princess currently has a furry belly full of warm, yummy, vegetable soup!