Baby tomatoes

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Canning Cookbook- Granny's Four Bean Salad

One thing I have learned since moving to the country is that food trends rarely make their way out here. You will never see a food truck in a small Iowa town, and probably not find butter poached anything in a small town diner. What you will find are the kinds of foods I have always called Church Cookbook Foods. That vinegar coleslaw. Broccoli salad with bacon and raisins. Seven layer salad. Chicken and noodles. Salisbury steak. Rhubarb everything.

Some of my favorite cookbooks are those "church cookbook" type books. They aren't all churches anymore. Lots of organizations put together a cookbook to celebrate a milestone year, or celebrate their history. I love collecting these gems. Reading over them years down the road is a trip down memory lane. My late mother in law made foods like those. She made seven layer salad all the time. She baked every rhubarb dessert you can imagine. She made lots of things with jello.

I can't tell you how many of these recipes ended up on the table at picnics, reunions, barbeques over the years. Pastel colored Tupperware from the 60s was the serving bowl of choice for moms and grandmothers back in my childhood. My dad worked for a small company and their office picnic was always a potluck. The boss bought the chicken or the burgers and dog, and everyone brought a side dish.  Big plastic bowls of potato salad, macaroni salad, plates of brownies and cake squares, baked beans- you name it- always lined the wooden picnic tables. 

My dad was a Baked Beans Connoisseur. I've talked about his interest in cooking, calling him the 70s version of a foodie. He bought a Rival Crockpot as soon as they hit the market and I remember him tinkering with baked beans recipes to get just that perfect sweet and spicy, gooey slow cooked bean. My grandmother was the Bean Salad Queen. I remember her great big house in Minnesota, and sitting down to dinner at the table loaded with- you guessed it- church cookbook foods, including Perfection Salad with a dollop of Spin Blend salad dressing, pea salad, always something with Cool Whip and fruit and Four Bean Salad.

Four Bean Salad is one of those great recipes that lends itself well to home canning- the dressing has plenty of vinegar to make canning the vegetables safe, much like a pickled product. The green and wax beans are cooked briefly before being tossed with the kidney and garbanzo beans, chopped onions, bell pepper and crunchy celery. The sweet and sour dressing is just like Gramma's, and just like those old church cookbooks.

Sadly, on Recipe Making Day I was unable to get garbanzo beans at my little grocery store. Darn it, I should have planned ahead. So we're actually making Three Bean Salad with double the kidney beans (4 15oz cans, drained and rinsed), but it will still be delicious.

Granny's Four Bean Salad
adapted from Ball's recipe

5 cups sliced green beans (cut into 1 inch pieces)
5 cups sliced wax beans (cut into 1 inch pieces)
2 cups cooked kidney beans (canned is fine, rinse and drain)
2 cups garbanzo beans (canned is fine, rinse and drain)
2-3 ribs celery, sliced on the bias
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds (mix of brown and yellow)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Prepare a hot water bath canner and jars.

In a large saucepan combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot.

So colorful- even before the green and wax beans are added
In a large stockpot place the green and wax beans and celery. Cover with water and bring to boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain and toss with remaining vegetables. Pack the vegetables into hot canning jars. 

Ladle the hot pickling liquid over. Remove air bubbles, fix lids and rims and place in water bath canner. Process pints for 15 minutes.

This is a handy salad to have on the shelf. Chill, pop open a jar and serve. Easy peasy. I love having foods like this around so when I need a last minute dish, say a last minute office potluck, or friends drop in when we're getting ready to throw some dogs on the grill, one more dish added to the meal can really stretch things, and I don't have to worry about having nothing to share or serve.

This recipe has been tested for safety by Ball. 

One further word about home canned foods- if you do decide to bring any home canned food to a potluck, you should let people know it was made with home canned foods, as some people are very worried about food safety and don't eat foods canned by others. Don't be offended- they are just being proactive. I'm never offended.

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