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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Baked Beans #LitHappens #FoodieReads

This year our online #LitHappens book club is reading (historical) fiction from different regions around the countty. So far, we have read Sold on a Monday from the North Atlantic; Hang the Moon for the Mid Atlantic; and Moloka'i for Hawaii. This month Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures chose An Untamed Land for North Central.

On the Page

An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling follows the Bjorklunds from their ocean crossing from Norway to New York, then their overland from New York to the Dakotas where they plan to homestead. Brothers Roald and Carl - and their respective wives Ingeborg and Kaaren - come to America for a better life. Since they don't really detail how their lives were in Norway, I am not sure if this ended up being the golden land of opportunity that they had envisioned.

Their lives were a constant struggle and I won't ruin the story, but I will say that a certain part brought tears to my eyes!

There was a surprising amount of food on these pages. I was tempted to try a Norwegian comfort food - Rømmegrøt - but as Jake isn't eating flour these days, I figured I would save this for when the boys are home. "He squared his broad shoulders and took in a deep breath of air redolent with the precious cinnamon Bridget had used in the römmegrot, a flour and cream pudding, she’d made as a special treat" (pg. 11).

There was also a Norwegian Christmas bread: "'And we will have julekake with our coffee.' Ingeborg had hoarded the cardamon, the spice that made the fruited bread taste so different from everyday loaves. She had made the bread, ignoring the twinges of guilt over using the precious sugar for such a luxury. Next year, they would have a real Christmas" (pg. 259).

The Bjorklunds made snow candy as I did one Spring break when we were in the mountains. But what sent me to the kitchen was this passage...

Ingeborg set bread to rising and rinsed the beans she’d been soaking to make baked beans. After adding the molasses, onion, and chunks of salt pork, she placed the bubbling pan in the oven.

Baked beans are so easy to make and filling. This is my version.

I started with dry beans. Click for a how-to: here. You can do this the night before and keep in the fridge till you're ready to use them. If you are using pre-cooked beans, I think I had about 4-5 cups. Also, I like adding espresso or coffee to my baked beans for added flavor. If you don't drink coffee, skip it and substitute apple juice or stock. And there are two pork items in the dish: bacon and pork sausages!


  • 1 pound dry beans, soaked and prepared (or 4 to 5 cups cooked beans)

  • 5 strips thick bacon

  • 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced into coins

  • 2 apples, peeled and sliced

  • 1/4 cup organic ketchup

  • 2 Tablespoon mustard

  • 2 Tablespoons unsulphured molasses

  • 1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee

  • 1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 2 to 3 links cooked pork sausages, sliced into thick coins


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large, thick-bottomed pan, cook the bacon and sliced leeks until the fat has been rendered but the bacon is not crispy. Add the apples and beans.

Stir in everything else until well-combined. Place in a baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, for 90 minutes. Uncover and stir in the cooked sausages. Cover again and return to the oven for an additional 30 to 45 minutes.

That's a wrap for my April offering for #LitHappens. Next month Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm has us headed to New England as we dive in to North Woods by Daniel Mason. Stay tuned!

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Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
Apr 17

There was a ton of food inspiration in the book. Your beans look amazing.

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