Shortround’s Beans

Spence was a Captain in the US Army when he met “Shortround”. He was a First Lieutenant in Spence’s command in Viet Nam; they served during 1969.

Years later, Spence reached out and located him living in Georgia with his wife Pat and family. They enjoyed many years of renewed friendship and Spence made more than a few road trips to visit. Shortround and Pat were great hosts and amazing cooks.  This recipe is based loosely on what Spence called Shortround’s Beans. I make it in a crock pot and the aromas that emanate for the next 12 hours are divine.

Shortround’s Beans  serves 8-12

  • 3 cans of beans – rinsed & drained (any combo – pinto, kidney, butter beans, black beans, great northern, cannellinis)
  • 1 ham shank (you may substitute ham, cooked bacon or pancetta)
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet white onion
  • 1/4 c chopped green pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c chopped tomato
  • 1/4 c dry vermouth
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t coarse black pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 3 c boiling water (you could use veggie, chicken stock or V8 juice)

Take out your crock pot/slow cooker. Rinse and drain the beans, place in the bottom of the slow cooker, top with tomato paste, vermouth and chopped tomato. Next nestle the ham shank on top, followed by the garlic, green pepper and onion.  Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Pour boiling water over the top and set crock pot on high for one hour.  Drop the heat to low for the next 11 hours.

Stir periodically. After 12 hours (or so) cooking time, remove the ham shank and pull the meat, as you would pulled pork (use two forks to shred) and add the meat back into the beans. Discard the bones.

All this meat from one ham shank, simply fell off the bone.
All this meat from one ham shank, simply fell off the bone.

Set out your soup bowls and hot sauce- if you want a bit more kick!


Enjoy with fresh bread – this is comfort food at it’s best.

Chef’s Note: To make this vegan/vegetarian, simply omit the meat.

Kidney Bean Stew

I’m sharing a family recipe from my paternal Grandma.  A favorite of mine, it’s very simple and I’ve changed it only slightly over the years as it was damn near perfect to begin with.  I lost this Grandma just after my 12th birthday, before I’d ever cooked it or discovered my love of cooking.  If I had my best guess, this recipe was born out of the Great Depression when meat was expensive and stretching a dollar was critical.  All I know it that the crunch of the celery, the sweetness of the onion, the creaminess of the beans, the salty crispness of the bacon and the spice and heat of the pepper and pepper flakes makes this a delicious and treasured family recipe.


Serves 2-4


1 1/2 – 2 c chopped celery

1 1/2 – 2 c chopped sweet white onion

1 c dark red kidney beans – rinsed & drained

red pepper flakes – to taste

coarse ground black pepper – to taste

1 lb cooked, crispy bacon – reserve 2 T bacon drippings in the pan you’ll use to assemble this meal

Using a deep frying pan, start by cooking your bacon until crisp, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

With the reserved bacon drippings, saute your celery, onion, red pepper flakes and black pepper until the celery becomes brighter green and the onions are just starting to soften.


Add the kidney beans and stir together, until they are heated through.


After you dish up this mixture, crumble crisp bacon over the top and dig in!


For more of my family recipes (think comfort food) go to the RECIPE menu above but I’ll make it easy and link you to another favorite by clicking here:

Grandma’s Corn Beef Casserole

Grandma’s Corn Beef Casserole

I’ve mentioned in other blog entries that my love of cooking came in large part from my Mom and her side of the family.  However, my Grandma Nelson is responsible for several of my best-loved family recipes.  Though I lost her just before my 13th birthday, for the last 30 years I’ve lived in the home that she and Grandpa built when my Dad was a young boy.  I know she watches over me as I prepare meals she once cooked in this same kitchen. So nodding to my Dad’s side of the family on this wintry day, I wanted to share a favorite casserole recipe with my followers with hopes that you’ll try it and enjoy it as much as we do!

Ingredients for the casserole. (Not pictured here - the bread crumbs)
Ingredients for the casserole. (Not pictured here – the bread crumbs)

Corn Beef Casserole                                                                        serves 4-6

  • 8 oz egg noodles, cooked
  • 1 can corned beef – diced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar (I like sharp cheddar)
  • 3/4 cup onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2/3 of a soup can milk (I use 2%)
  • Bread crumbs for topping (plain, italian) or crumbled buttery crackers (like Ritz)

Saute the celery and onion in about 1-2 T butter until the onion is translucent but the celery is still bright green.

Yum! Celery and onion as they saute in butter.....
Yum! Celery and onion as they saute in butter…..

After cooking and draining the noodles, add the soups, milk, 1 c of cheese (reserving the other half cup for topping) and veggies together and stir to fold all ingredients together.  Top with remaining cheese and bread crumbs.

All assembled in my favorite oval casserole, I used plain breadcrumbs - about 1/2 cup.
All assembled in my favorite oval casserole, I used plain breadcrumbs – about 1/2 cup.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until it’s bubbling and slightly browned on top.    Allow it to set for 5 minutes before serving.

Ready, set, eat!
Ready, set, eat!