Crock Pot Cooking: Mum’s Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans

One of my earliest memories about food is my mother’s vegetarian baked beans. She had this great ceramic pot that would come piping hot out of the oven with the most delicious creamy, brown beans. To this day, I’m convinced this is the only way to make bean — soak em’ and slow cook em’. Indeed, beans are simple, and many might think them even boring or bland. But simmer them slowly with onions, spices, brown sugar, and molasses and those humble beans will absorb every ounce of flavour to become rich and hearty. Sadly, I do not know what became of Mum’s bean pot but I do have a Crock-Pot, which I often use, especially during the winter months. There’s no warmer welcome than coming home to a house filled with savoury aromas and your dinner, ready to eat. The technique of cooking food for several hours over low heat (a cooking method that tenderizes tough, inexpensive cuts of meat) has been used for centuries. Either over a fire, buried in coals or in the oven, ceramic and cast iron pots were the original slow cookers.

The ingredients lined up.

The ingredients lined up.

The electric crock pot was invented in the 1970s by Irving Naxon, and allowed families to prepare inexpensive, convenient, and home cooked meals without having to slave over the stove for hours at a time. Toss your ingredients in the pot in the morning, put the lid on, plug it in, and return home to a fully cooked meal — it’s pretty much that simple. Crock pot cooking continues to be a great way to save time and still serve a hot, nutritious dinner. The one-pot cooking method is simple, mess free, and cost effective.

Soaking the beans.

Soaking the beans.

With a little practice and creativity, you can make all kinds of delicious Crock pot meals. Everything from meats to casseroles to soups, stews, and even desserts is possible in your slow cooker. Here are 50 vegetarian (yes, vegetarian!) crock pot recipes. Not all slow cooker recipes need to have meat to be delicious, nutritious, and filling. Try whipping together one of these tasty recipes and I promise you won’t miss the meat, at least for one night!

50 recipes

In the early 1970’s my Mum and Auntie used to head over to Woodward’s Food Floor in Vancouver for the latest Bea Wright recipes and cooking tips. According to Auntie, the ladies in the kitchen were always willing to give a few suggestions and to pass along new recipes. “We used to go and ask them all kinds of questions about cooking. Those ladies were always so sweet and helpful. We got married so young we didn’t even know how to cook!” Below is a modified version of Mum’s baked beans from Bea Wright’s Pork’n’Beans recipe. She just took out the pork and threw in some carrots!

Boston baked beans

Mum’s Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans (I forgot the carrots)

Prep time: 10 min Cook time: 8 hours

  • 1 lb Dried beans (navy beans, Great Northern, pinto etc)
  • 1 Medium onion sauteed
  • 1/3 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup molasses
  • 1/4 Cup ketchup or tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp dried mustard (I used dijon mustard)
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Rinse and sort dried beans then place them in the slow cooker covered with water, and a good pinch of salt, and let soak over night. In the morning, drain the beans then add back to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. Saute your onions and add them to the pot. Add 2 ½ cups fresh water and cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours Check for seasoning before serving Notes The beans can be made up to two days in advance and kept in the fridge. Serve with hot corn bread and coleslaw. Omit Worcestershire sauce to make the recipe vegan.

Mum & Auntie’s Corn Bread (recipe from Diet for a Small Planet)

  • 1 Cup cornmeal
  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour (or gluten free flour)
  • 2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1 Cup buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1/4 Cup honey

Stir together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then stir the liquid ingredients together in a separate bowl and then pour them into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to combine the ingredients thoroughly (less mixing will make a more tender bread). Pour the batter into an oiled pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. The top will spring back when the bread is done, and a tester fork should come out clean, although it may be somewhat wet (re: there shouldn’t be any uncooked batter on it, but it may be wetter than you would normally expect).

Written By:

Holly Brooke is a true B.C. gal. Having lived on the west coast most of her life, except for several years in the Kootenay's where she canoed and fished and lived in a tipi, she's very much at home outdoors and in the kitchen. ...

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