As I thought about what to write this week, I kept remembering words I penned some years ago.  They started out as a devotional and later ended up in “Cooks’ Corner” in July of 2009.  I don’t make it a practice to repeat the story part of this column; however, I am going to make an exception this week because I felt that what I said then bears repeating today.

“July Fourth is known as Independence Day in the United States of America. On this holiday we celebrate our freedom as a nation.  Anything patriotic is the theme of the day.  Even in our churches, we sing songs like “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  One of the freedoms that we cherish is the freedom to worship God.  There is no state church nor any government imposed religion.   We are a blessed people indeed!

 “Our nation was founded by men who depended on the Lord to show them the way.  George Washington, who is known as the father of our country, was a great man of prayer.  Many of the other founding fathers were known for their dedication to God.  They knew that the strength of our nation rested upon the cornerstone of faith.  Down through the years, many have fought hard to keep our country free so that we can retain the liberty that we all hold dear.  I am so very grateful to all those men and women, both past and present, who put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we cherish.

 “Although July Fourth is celebrated as Independence Day, we should celebrate each day we live as an “in dependence” day.  We depend on God to provide everything that we need, and He blesses abundantly time and again by providing more than we can ask or imagine.  No day passes that we do not rely on His loving care and guidance.  Even if the United States were to lose its freedom as a nation, God would still be there to provide for us.  Thankfully, although there are those who would change it, we still have “In God we trust” as our national motto.”

As we take this day to celebrate the birth of our nation, let’s take the time to thank God for all the blessings He has poured out on our country.  Part of His goodness to us is an abundant food supply, and I am here with ideas on how to prepare some of it.  July is both National Hot Dog Month and National Baked Bean Month; here are some recipes that include one or the other or both!


Grilled Stuffed Franks

3/4 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

8 frankfurters

6 small green onions, chopped

8 slices bacon

8 hot dog buns

Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and onion powder; stir well.  Slice frankfurters lengthwise to make a pocket.  Brush inside each pocket with sauce; sprinkle with onion.  Wrap each frankfurter with bacon, securing with wooden picks.  Cook frankfurters over hot coals 10 to 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp, turning often and basting with remaining sauce.  Serve in hot dog buns.  Yield: 8 servings


Five-Bean Bake

8 bacon slices, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 (16-ounce) can pork and beans, undrained, pork removed

1 (15.25-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used red beans)

1 (15.5-ounce) can butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup cider vinegar

Cook chopped bacon slices in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp; remove bacon, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Add diced onion, and sauté in hot drippings 5 minutes or until tender.

Combine bacon, onion, pork and beans, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, ketchup, brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, and cider vinegar in a lightly greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour; uncover and bake 30 more minutes.



1 pound hotdogs

4 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1-1/2 tablespoons dried minced onion

Slice hotdogs into rounds.  Set aside.

Drain any liquid from beans, reserving sauce.  Remove pork and discard.  Place beans (with about half of their sauce) and remaining ingredients into a large bowl; mix well.  Add hotdogs and stir in gently.  Pour into a glass baking dish.  Bake at 350˚ for one hour.


Barbecue Beans (Sara’s version)

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can red beans, rinsed and drained

1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash seasoning blend, Southwest Chipotle flavor

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1-1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup molasses (I use sorghum)

2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1/8 cup real bacon bits (or crumbled bacon)

Place beans in large bowl.  Mix remaining ingredients and pour over beans, toss until beans are covered in sauce.  Choose from one of the following cooking options:

Option 1: Pour beans into greased baking dish and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until hot and bubbly.

Option 2: Pour beans into large pot; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 45 minutes.

Option 3: Pour beans into crock pot and cook for several hours on low.


Barbeque Green Beans

6 slices bacon, diced

3/4 cup sweet onion, chopped

2 (16-ounce) bags frozen French-style green beans, thawed*

1 cup catsup

1 cup brown sugar (do not pack)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Cook onion and diced bacon together in a skillet over medium heat until bacon is crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon into an ungreased baking dish.  Add green beans.  Mix brown sugar and catsup in a bowl and fold into green beans.  Bake, covered, for 3 hours.

Alternate method:  Cook bacon and onion as directed.  Place in crockpot.  Add green beans.  Mix brown sugar and catsup in a bowl and fold into green beans.  Cook on HIGH for 4 hours.

*May use 4 (16-ounce) cans green beans, drained.