Friday, June 3, 2011

It Amounted to a Hill of Beans

In reading the Baconista's post on Memorial Day Baked Beans, I wrote a rather snarky comment back about my husband.

My husband, since I have known him, has created much ado about his mother’s baked beans recipe. They called them “funeral beans” because apparently everyone in their family (and all around Minnesota, actually) brought this type of bean casserole type thing to funerals. Other events, too, but they were just known as “funeral beans.”

There’s really nothing less appetizing to me than sugary beans right up until you put “funeral” in front of them. I’m about as interested in sampling those as I am attending an open-casket wake, which is to say not at all.

But my husband has had something of a rough year and so this year when he once again brought up the funeral beans, I agreed we should get the recipe.

Then I came down with what is known around these parts as “The Baby Plague,” which any mother with a child in daycare or school will know all too well.

For those not familiar, The Baby Plague is when your child brings home some sort of Rhesius Monkey Transplant bubonic nonsense every other kid has at school.

One of us ALWAYS fall victim to The Baby Plague…typically whoever it would be most inopportune for. My roommate’s experience with The Baby Plague came when she was about to take the bar exam. My husband’s came right before a week-long trip for work. And mine came right before our week-long baby-less vacation. And apparently the universe thought it would be my turn again.

This has little to do with anything other than that I was in no condition to make funeral beans for Memorial Day. Or anything.

So he gets the recipe and sets to work, and his mother calls repeatedly to second-guess the recipe, until she goes to Target and assures him the measurements are right. And I am delirious and trying to keep the toddler entertained while simultaneously coughing so hard I throw up, and so I’m just not overly interested in the whole endeavor.

So the beans are made and he seems happy and Wee ‘Burb ingests, oh, approximately 100 pounds of beans.

And this is when I sort of become alert because I’m thinking “oh the hell that will be this diaper” and already touching my nose for the universal sign of “not it” when I kind of giggle.

Because my husband was distracted by my threats of divorce if he thought for ONE SECOND I was changing the diaper when HE was the one who made this child eat BEANS for Pete’s sake, he did not notice my chuckle. .

The super secret mystery Funeral Beans recipe? Was basically a couple cans of Bush’s baked beans, some hamburger, and a buttload of sugar.

Now some of you who enjoy the kind of comical banter I enjoy with my husband are waiting now for the punchline of what I said and how I got him to confess that this mystery was kind of a letdown.

I said nothing.

And here’s why.

Growing up, my mom baked twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. We savored EVERY treat that woman made because we knew once the holidays were over, so were the cookies and bars and peanut butter balls. And most important to me growing up: The Jello Pudding Pie.

You guys, I still salivate like a Pavlovian dog at a dinner bell when I see the box of Jello.

I thought my mother did something magic with that box, you see, because we’d had the jiggly fruit Jello and ain’t no pie coming from THAT! And because she made it but twice a year, I was sure there was some magic in that old black box she found.

So cut to YEEEEARS later when I am going over to Scott’s sister’s house for one of the first times, possibly the first. You need to know before I tell the rest of this that his sister is like super insane gourmet girl. We should just call them The Foodie Family and we should just all bow to their superior food knowledge and culinary skills.

I thought: I will wow them, I will make my mom’s super famous delicious Jello Pudding Pie.

But it was last minute and I was racing through the aisles trying to figure out what I would need so I could call my mom and get the recipe on the fly. And Scott, he was so good, he was so quiet. And finally he could take no more and he showed me the back of the box, where the recipe for Jello Pudding Pie was.

But…surely that couldn’t be my Mom’s Jello Pudding Pie. Because…well, no, because this had approximately 3 steps and required ingredients everyone has at home.

I think you guys can guess how this ended. I went to his sister’s house with a Jello Pudding Pie of SHAME and they were nice enough not to mock me incessantly, and Scott married me anyway, and his sister is the sister I never had…

And this is why I could not put the fun in “funeral beans.”

Where were you when you first demystified a super secret family recipe? It reminds me of the episode of Friends where Phoebe discovers the cookies she grew up were not from Nestlay Toolhauz, but rather Nestle Tollhouse.


Sparkling said...

I can't believe someone else has blooged about beans too! You must read my post. BUt those are genuine homemade beans, no cans of beans there. One of the rare things my mother makes totally from SCRATCH. A swear word.

I can't think of any recipes demystified right off the top of my head, I think I always knew my mother was a big food cheater and gourmet is another swear word in her house. Did anyone's mother make the famous pie we all had circa 1980 which was cool whip, yogurt in whichever flavor you chose and perhaps some jello to bind it together (which I really don't think was in there, but it sounds like it goes in) You "whip" it all up, put it in a graham cracker crust and freeze it? That's how gourmet we were, growing up.

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

I can't think of any demystified family recipes either, but I'm definitely going to start doing that trick of checking the back of boxes for recipes that will make me look like Julia Child.

Logical Libby said...

And pudding pie probably won't make diapers toxic.

We have funeral potatoes here. Potatoes with cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and potato chips on top. Some people use cornflakes, but they are communists and should not be trusted.

Rach (DonutsMama) said...

This post had me cracking up!! Love the Jello pie story. Oh my. I don't think we have any super secret family recipes that I was shocked about. But now I'm curious. Hmmm...will have to talk to mom further...

LambAround said...

100 pounds of beans + diapers? Ummm...yeah, your hubby is a silly fellow ;)
Sugary beans don't sound like anything I'd like to try, but if you can believe it, I've never had a Jello pie. My mom never bought Jello. I'm too impatient and always just go with quick, easy pudding.

Brooke said...

First I LOVE that episode of friends. And second many of the best "recipes" are the ones that come from the family of semi-homemade stuff. Why? Because if it takes me only a few steps and common ingredients than it is going to be good...good to eat and good for my sanity. In fact, usually people are lucky I show up with something sort of homemade and not just completely store-bought. That's how I roll in the kitchen/potluck area...

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

I had to laugh a lot at this bc I make funeral beans too...canned beans and brown sugar and indesciminate amts of mustard and katchup and some honey for good measure. My fil asks for my specials beans and I'm all..ok sure...special beans. Hub made a pudding pie the othere day w cook & serve pudding bc his mom said the instant just won't do...and he ended up effing it up. And instant would have been fiinnnneee.

The Sweetest said...

Well, I was fortunate enough to come from a family of good cooks (on my MOTHER'S side, that is, and don't even get me started on the in-laws *no, really, I'm not that hungry*), so no recipes to be disappointed with. But if you ever want to try some decent baked beans, I've got a recipe for you ;)

Hungrigyrl said...

I am laughing at both the funeral beans recipe and also the jello pie. I haven't demystified many family recipes, mostly because I don't make them! I have gone rogue and make a completely different kind of food than my family. They cook more ethnic type food. Way too much work goes into the stuff they make! p.s. I loved the Nestle Tollhouse and Friends nod. That was one of my all time fave shows.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lord. I just die. Especially with all of the communicating and Wee 'Burb just snarfing them and all of that mayhem.

Our secret family brownie recipe is box of Aldi brownie mix, mixed with an entire bag of chocolate chips. Bake. Spread with the can of chocolate frosting. Fin. They're UNHOLY. I have never had brownies so good anywhere. It's offensive really.

Kristy said...

Great story! My mom used to hard boil eggs and slice them on top of store-bought potato salad to make it look like she made it from scratch. My grandma was a stickler about HOME MADE potato salad.

Life with Kaishon said...

My Daddy loves baked beans like that : )

Anonymous said...

So funny!

here from #commenthour, by the way