When it comes to pot-luck in Catfish Country (and let me just say that there is a lot of "pot-luck" here), the cooks have special recipes they like to prepare over and over, especially when the group’s food “critics” rave about their dishes!
Fran Pearce has just such a recipe.
Fran is a down-home, keep-it-simple kind of cook, and while her Sweet ‘N Sour Beans has a lot of ingredients, it’s one of those put-it-in-the-crockpot-and-forget-about-it dishes that busy folks love...which makes it perfect for Fran.
When she’s not keeping records for the family catfish business, this fifth-generation farm girl is likely working on community projects. Her community, which stretches from Browns 30 miles east to Selma, is her hobby. She’s active in the Black Belt Action Commission, Arts Revive and her church.
I happened to find her one day last week over at Selma’s Ceramics Arts Center, where she was helping plan the Arts Revive booths for Riverfront Market Day. “I’m not an artist, but I appreciate very much what arts bring— life and fun to the whole community!” she says.
As a member of the Black Belt task force, she’s had the opportunity to travel around the region. “It’s really fun seeing what art is doing to revive these counties. We are a gold mine!” she adds, mentioning cultural sites such as the Gees Bend Quilters, Marion’s antiques alley and Selma’s historic homes. She sometimes takes her grandchildren along, such as a recent trip to Gees Bend to watch the quilters, then to cross the Alabama River on the Gees Bend Ferry.
Meanwhile, she and husband David’s two sons are raising their children on the farm, too…making them the sixth and seventh generations to live there. It's a life that keeps them working outdoors and puts them a long way from school and church and big-city malls. But then, they awaken to morning mists that rise above the water and retire in the reflection of magnificent sunsets. Now that's a culture apart!
Here's Fran's recipe:
Sweet & Sour Beans
8 bacon strips cooked & drained
2 medium onions diced
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup vinegar
1 can (28 oz) baked beans undrained
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans rinsed & drained
1 can (15 ½) pinto beans rinsed & drained
1 can (15 oz) lima beans rinsed & drained
1 can (15 ½ oz) black-eyed peas rinsed & drained
Pour all of the beans into a crockpot. Sauté onions until tender. Add brown sugar, salt, mustard, garlic powder, & vinegar to the sautéed onions. Bring to a boil. Pour over beans. Cook on high 3 to 4 hours. Makes 15 to 20 generous servings.