I have a love hate relationship with Heinz ketchup. It all comes down to Heinz. Like many, I love ketchup because I grew up with it (after a certain age) and nothing tastes like Heinz. There is always a slight let down if I am at a restaurant and want ketchup and they bring out Hunt’s. It’s just not the same. Plus, being from Pittsburgh, I have a major soft spot in my heart for the actual company being the perfect American Dream story and all. Yet the hate is that I know their products are processed and have a slightly too prominent ingredient of sugar.
When I was four, I went to an all day preschool where the kids were served lunches of boxed chicken noodle soup with skinny noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with grape Smucker’s jam that jiggled on gummy white bread. My mom sent me everyday with a packed lunch, eager (and ambitious) to keep me on the vegetarian regiment she worked so hard for during the first four years of my life. It brings an entire new meaning to dedication. And while now I thank her for it, at the time while my friends were enjoying their lunches, I secretly wished that I too was eating the preschool lunch and didn’t have a watered-down apple juice from my lunchbox.
So to rebel, I would secretly make ketchup sandwiches. My mother was appalled and I’m surprised that I did not get into more trouble. It all came down to the sugar. It is the second ingredient after all. For a young kid whose only exposure to sugar was through a carob birthday cake or occasional slice of watermelon or apple, ketchup sandwiches were pretty much the same thing as dumping an entire cup of sugar into my mouth.
So you may be wondering what does actually have to do with baked beans? Well, Philip loves baked beans and he grew up eating, yes that’s right, Heinz baked beans. And what’s the third ingredient in them? Sugar. So when it came time to do a wintry, cozy, gooey homemade macaroni and cheese, baked beans were included as part of the meal and this year I told him that no, I would not be using Heinz. He pouted (literally, his bottom lip protruded) and I told him not to worry! I would be using a recipe, not just making something up in my head of what I thought baked beans should be.
Searching through Peter Berley’s book, which my mother gifted me last year and has become quite the companion in my kitchen, I found a recipe that adds a twist by adding ginger and soy sauce. The original recipe uses a pressure cooker and to be honest, I don’t have one. I feel like that will be a purchase I do when we move back to America someday (not sure why I feel this way), but I’m just not there yet. This recipe also does not originally call for tomatoes but I knew I couldn’t stray too much from a typical baked beans recipe to not scare Philip away too much. Plus if Philip had his way, I would add ketchup to the baked beans, so 1/2 a can of tomatoes or even the whole can is a nice addition. Mr. Berley’s book does not actually call these “ginger” baked beans but with the ingredients of ginger (which I amped up a little) and soy sauce and the carrots and celery, they definitely are not the Heinz baked beans he grew up with.
First time around was great and second time around was grand. Philip liked them and I now no longer have to pay for overpriced baked beans from Bon Marché. Ketchup on the other hand? I don’t think I will ever win that one and I’m not even sure I want to give it up completely. I’m not even sure I want to try. Especially since as I type this, I am watching Philip carry the bottle of Heinz into our dining room for his breaded cod. We can’t win them all.
Ginger Baked Beans, serves 4
inspired by The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, Peter Berley
400 grams/1 can of kidney beans
400 grams/1 can of white beans
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, cut in quarters (although if you’re like me and lazy you can just cut into halves)
1 celery rib, halved and cut in thin slices
3 cloves of garlic, diced
3 cm/1 inch piece of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
200-400 grams of canned tomatoes (using the entire can is personal preference)
1/4 cup/60 ml of maple syrup
3 tablespoons/45 ml of soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons/18 grams of dijon mustard
4 tablespoons/60 ml of olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Combine the olive oil, garlic and onion into a large saucepan or pot on medium heat. Cook for 5 mins or so, stirring to not burn anything.
2. Add the ginger, carrots and celery. Stir and cook for another 5-7 minutes until the carrots and celery are starting to cook down.
3. Add the beans, maple syrup, tamari, and mustard. Mix.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. You can prepare ahead of time and heat up later but might want to add a splash of water to keep them from being too dry.