Friday, August 1, 2008

Pioneer Grub: Cowboy Beans and Buttermilk Cornbread

Around these parts, July marks a state holiday known as "Pioneer Day," to commemorate those strong and brave men and women who forged the trails to the West. In some of the bigger cities, you can march in parades, pull a handcart, and play pioneer games. Since I live in a small town, the festivities are limited, so we make our own frontier magic. Starting with the food-what else? A little research shows that the trailblazers had significant amounts of cornmeal and dried beans on the long trek. Fresh meat was generally scarce, as were raw fruits and vegetables, Doritos, and Haagen Daaz. Somehow they survived.

With that in mind, I created a Pioneer Day supper of savory and healthy pinto beans in a thick spicy broth, topped with hearty squares of sweet cornbread. I fudged a little by using a crockpot for the beans. What a time and energy saver! I don't think I'll ever make beans on the stove top again. Bake a pie for dessert (serve with that un pioneerish Haagen Daaz) and you've got a real Westward Ho dinner. Somehow, I find it ironic that this morning I'm driving East, back home after a week out West in California.... More to come on that later.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans:
Estimated Cost: $2.50
Notes: Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
3 cups dried pinto beans, washed
4 slices raw bacon, chopped, optional
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon, or substitute chicken or vegetable broth for cooking water
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained

Place beans in slow cooker and cover with water to within three inches of top. Add bacon, onion, garlic and bouillon. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, or until beans are fork tender. In the bowl of a blender, process tomatoes with juices. Add to beans; season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

For the cornbread recipe, click here. Omit the cheese, scallions, and jalapenos. Increase the sugar to 1/2 cup. Sprinkle the top of the cornbread with sugar before baking.

Coming Tomorrow:

Saturday Lunch:

BLTs On Crusty Rolls with Garlicky Avocado


Marie Rayner said...

You're singing the song of my heart with this one girl! This my kind of food! I do admire the pioneers. They don't really celebrate it much over here, but I wish they did!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

That looks so hearthy and delicious!

gigi said...

Ooo yum. I've been on a pinto bean kick lately. They are so full of protein and fiber.I'm not sure that the cheese and sour cream I put on top of them is all that good for me but I just can't help it. Be safe driving home.

Beth (jamandcream) said...

How could anyone live without doritoes! Poor souls!!Beans look fantastic - would definiely include the bacon for my meat loving hubby

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

Just pass me the hot sauce and the butter! Prudy, everything looks wonderful.

Anna M. said...

Mmmmm...looks yummy! I pretty much spent my entire Pioneer Day eating...from one event to another! =)

Aggie said...

I actually might be able to pull this all together in my crockpot - today! I love it! My husband will too!

Jenny said...

I'm all about cowboy grub. Healthy and satisfying! Have a great weekend!

Mary Ann said...

Oh, sweet cornbread, now that is how I like it. With a little honey, of course. The beans sound easy too. I love beans.

Anonymous said...

I've been wondering about doing beans in the crockpot! I'm so glad you posted this. I think I might just have everything on hand for the beans and the cornbread! Hurray!

Steph said...

Yum! Those beans are my favorite! Looks delish!

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

The cornbread looks so good with the beans. I have some buttermilk on the end date in the fridge. Maybe I'll also make your brownies!

Sara said...

Your pioneer dinner looks great!

Birdie said...

Beans and Cornbread!! OH BOY!

Love it!

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I pray you have safe travels.
This dinner reminds me of my youth. My dad loves pinto beans and cornbread. We had beans and cornbread about once a week. (Yeah- it was a stinky house.) I swore when I left home almost six years ago that I'd never eat beans again. It lasted about two years and I wanted beans and cornbread. I wanted to be home again. Thanks for the post. I'm headed to my parent's house tonight to check up on my mom (she had her biopsy yesterday).
Safe travels, my dear!
~The Cat's Pajamas

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Leslie said...

Another recipe that looks delicious!
I love cornbread. It reminds me of Mom. Hers always tasted like cake.
This recipe looks great,too. Buttermilk always seems to be the magic ingredient. It makes everything taste better.

Aggie said...

I made Cowboy Beans for dinner last night! They were delish! I had them again for lunch today!

I've never made dried beans in a crockpot before, it was so unbelievably easy. Thanks for teaching me something new!

Do you mind if I link to the recipe when I post about the flank steak I made with them?

Marilene said...

my whole family loved this! we had it with my parents and everyone loved it and actually ate the leftovers! thank you. i love finding great, cheaper meals on here!

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