Confession: I can be a little bit stubborn.
My mom tells me when I was just 9-months old I figured out a way to climb out of my crib. I wasn’t about to stay put when I could hear a party going on out in the family room. So, I climbed, then crawled, then surprised my mom when I made it to my destination using sheer determination.
Speaking of parties. I decided to stay home alone on Christmas Eve (despite many wonderful invitations from friends to join in their family parties, sometimes being alone recharges me.) I had plans to watch a movie, have some Mormon bubbly, and wrap myself in a blanket.
Also on my list: Make my friend Gina’s famous baked beans — my contribution for the Christmas celebration at my parents the next day.
I set the music to Christmas tunes, got out all the ingredients, and watched out the window as snow began to fall. As I snapped the can opener on the first of four cans of beans, and felt beneath my thumb…the gears bust apart. Noooooo…..
I tried, and tried, and TRIED, to get the can opener to work. No luck. I sent my son Hayden a text, “Do you have a can opener with any of your camp stuff?” He said to check his room for a leatherman. It seemed like a good option. I opened up a blade and used it as I stabbed the can, over and over again. It was the WORST OPTION! Have you ever tried to open a can without a can opener?? By stabbing it?? I started to get so mad at that stupid can! Why was it being so difficult?? How was I going to open FOUR CANS?? I sent Hayden a picture of my first attempt. He responded laughing. I wasn’t laughing. I was so mad! These cans were ruining my night!
I could have knocked on a neighbors door.
I could have called a friend.
I could have gone to the store.
I could have not made the beans.
But equal to my stubborn-ness, is my determination.
“I will open these cans by myself! I will make these beans! And my family WILL talk about them ALL CHRISTMAS DAY!!
Then I got out a hammer.
That didn’t work.
Then I tried prying and stabbing, a combined effort that gave me a tiny bit of hope, as I tried to get the beans to come out.
I was so mad.
My party-for-one was falling apart.
The harder I tried, the more frustrated I became.
With no options left, I googled survival methods for opening a can without said can opener.
Then went outside, turned the can upside down, and like a homeless woman, I ferociously dragged the can on the rough concrete over and over again in an effort to break the seal. **Silently praying none of my neighbors were watching me!** Snow that seemed so peaceful just an hour earlier, was covering me –head to wooly-sock-toe.
After several attempts, the lid just sort of came off. “YES!Yes! YES! Take that CAN!”
Two hours later…I finished making the beans.
I poured myself a glass of sparking cider…and cheers’d myself.
My stubborn, determined, self.
There was an easier way, this I know.
A better way, this too, I know.
But I learned 2 great lessons on Christmas Eve:
1- I need a new can opener. And a back-up one. Just in case.
2- Change is a choice. I’m not done changing. I can be less stubborn when it serves only to fuel frustration. I can do that. I can change.
To quote John Mayer and his song, Changing:
I am not done changing
Out on the run, changing
I may be old and I may be young
But I am not done changing
And yes, my family loved the beans, especially 8-year old Jessie. You will too, because they are delicious.
With or without a pound of stubborn.
GINA’S FAMOUS BAKED BEANS
2 green peppers, diced
2 onions, diced
1 lb. of bacon, fried very crisp and crumbled
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 (16 ounce) cans of pork and beans with a little of the juice drained off and the piece of pork fat removed
Fry the bacon until it is very crisp, drain and set aside. Pour off most of the bacon grease from the frying pan and saute the peppers and onions in the pan with a little of the bacon grease for 7 minutes. In a roaster or other large pan with a lid, mix the sauteed veggies, the crumbled bacon, the ketchup, the brown sugar, the Worcestershire sauce and the pork and beans. Stir well. Bake, covered, for at least 2 1/2 hours at 325 degrees, stirring occasionally.
1) They look kind of gross when you first mix everything together but once they are baked, they will look yummy!
2) I often make them the night before and keep them in the fridge. If you do that, you will need to cook them for a little longer because the 2 1/2 hours is from room temperature
3) They transport and warm up well in a crock pot, but it’s best to initially bake them in the oven.