Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Recreating One of My Favorite School Lunches on the Wood Cookstove

You would never have caught me saying that I loved school lunches when I was growing up.  The food that my mom, grandmothers, and aunts made at home was far superior to anything that was served to us at school.  There were a couple of meals, however, that I did really like.  One was maidrites (or sloppy joes or taverns--whatever you call them) and the other was beans and wieners.  I know, I know.  I suspect that most of the other kids thought what you're thinking because by the time I was in high school, we never had them anymore.

Beans and wieners were always served with a piece of delicious cornbread and a helping of canned pineapple.  This combination never changed, and that was fine with me.  These days, this is a meal that I make on one wood cookstove or another at least once a year using foods that I have canned on a wood cookstove.

In my previous post, I wrote about how to make homemade cornbread in a wood cookstove.  While that is baking, I use the heat of the stovetop to make my beans and wieners.  

In the picture below, you can see a home-canned jar of pork and beans processed on the Margin Gem last year that I wrote about in this post.  The half-pint jar is extra tomato sauce from when we canned Homemade Heinz Ketchup last summer.  You can read about that recipe at this post.  The jar on the right is a pint of home-canned pineapple.  I blogged about that here.  If you've ever had home-canned pineapple, you'll never want to buy a can of it in a grocery store again.  It is SO GOOD!  

Of course, the remaining item in the picture is the package of hot dogs.  I have to admit that, in my opinion anyway, the cheaper the hot dogs, the better the beans and wieners taste.  I don't even want to think about why.

For this batch of beans and wieners, I mixed the jar of beans and the jar of tomato sauce with a little extra brown sugar and a dash of dry mustard and cinnamon and the tiniest sprinkling of ground cloves.  These are the spices that go in the homemade ketchup recipe.  Under ordinary circumstances, I would have just added some homemade ketchup to the jar of beans.  However, the beans in that batch were extremely dry, so I knew I needed more liquid than normal, and the half-pint of tomato sauce fit the bill perfectly.

I sliced maybe four hot dogs into the mixture, stirred it all together, and took it out to the Hayes-Custer cookstove in the summer kitchen.

Since you have to have a pretty hot oven to bake the cornbread, cooking the beans and wieners directly over the firebox is not a good idea because they will almost certainly scorch.  Thus, I had them in the middle of the cooktop.  I stir them frequently until they have come to a boil and the hot dogs are heated through.

By the time the beans and wieners are cooked, the cornbread should be done.

Now at school, of course, this meal was served on putrid-green lunch trays with all the divided compartments to keep the foods from running together.  Those trays were a source of particular frustration to me on Beans and Wieners Day because I discovered early on that the cornbread and the beans and wieners are best eaten together.  I used to labor diligently to make sure that each forkful had a piece of cornbread and a dollop of beans and wieners on it.

Now that I'm grown up and can serve this the way I want, I pour the beans and wieners right on top of the slab of cornbread.  Delicious!  It's definitely my favorite way to eat cornbread since it's a lot less work to make sure that each forkful has some of both.  

The home-canned pineapple sends this meal over the top, and I don't know why I don't make it more often.