Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor Day Beans

Labor Day Beans
Dorcas Annette Walker

Outside my window the birch trees lining the driveway already have yellow leaves floating down on every wind laying a carpet of gold across the lawn. I’ve noticed the poplar trees have turned as well due to the dryness, although if we soon don’t get a good rain the autumn colors this year will be muted instead of flaming across the mountain peaks. Even with hot days the nights have grown cooler and in every breeze stirring up the dust I feel fall in the air just around the corner. I love to hang out the wash this time of the year watching lines full of clothes puff out in every gust quickly drying almost as soon as it is hung up while feeling the wind ruffle through my hair. Soon gentle breezes will turn into blustery autumn weather and the temperature will plunge downward, but for now the sun still warms the earth with its fervent heat. Meanwhile I decided to do up a batch of my Labor Day Beans for this holiday weekend.

This summer has been a study in weather contrast gardening wise. We had frosts and freezing temperatures into May causing me to scurry around and cover up my bean and tomato plants. Then up until this month every time we turned around we had stormy weather with heavy rain showers between soaring temperatures near 100 degrees- what I call jungle weather. After nearing being froze my poor crops were then alternately drowned and scorched. Needless to say I’ve had better harvest from my gardens in past years. Despite unpredictable weather patterns, I was excited to reap wax (yellow beans) and black beans for the first time. I still have lima beans climbing around my tall sunflowers. With increasing prices, I may venture next year into growing kidney and butter beans. Either way I’m “beans” about gardening and trying out new vegetation.

My Labor Day Beans is a colorful hearty autumn dish that can be served year round hot or cold. Filled with protein the Labor Day Beans are a nutritious addition to any meal and can also be fixed in a Crockpot or baked in the oven. Chunks of hamburger with multicolored beans simmered in a lip-smacking sauce tastes great when paired with corn muffins or used on a cookout. Other beans such as black, pinto, or white can be added or substituted as well for variety. Preparation time for my Labor Day Beans is around forty-five minutes and this recipe serves ten.

Labor Day Beans

1 lb hamburger
1 tb dried onion or small onion chopped
garlic, regular salt, & pepper
1(27.5 oz) can pork’n beans
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can lima beans
1 (15 oz) can butter beans
1 c ketchup
½ c bacon bits
¼ c br sugar
¼ c dark syrup
1 tsp mustard

Brown hamburger and onion adding salts and pepper to taste in a large skillet. Dump the contents of all the beans into the pan. Mix in the ketchup, bacon bits, brown sugar, syrup, and mustard. Bring to a boil and let simmer for thirty minutes. Serve hot!

Weekly tip: Saving the starchy liquid bean juice and adding it in when cooking makes the sauce thicker, more favorable, and gives extra body to your finished dish!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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