Travel & Adventure & Boston Baked Beans

How great to be back in Boston for the Boston Travel & Adventure Show. I met so many people ready to hit the road, and THANK YOU to my new friends from the show who are now exploring culinary travel here.

susie norris, a baker's passport, boston, boston travel & adventure show, culinary travel, recipes, cookbooks, baking, cakes, pastryI spoke with many of you about my years in Boston as a college student and junior advertising exec. Here’s the story:


I realize that regional foods we come to know stay with us – a little like passport stamps in that we travel with their imprint. Acquiring them (eating on the road) is a much better experience than facing those dudes in the bullet-proof cages at customs! I’m reminded of my travels as I glance through A BAKER’S PASSPORT and find it full of recipes I learned about in my Boston years like Cranberry Bread, Parker House Rolls, and of course, Boston Cream Pie. Did you know it is not a pie but actually a cake? And the Omni Parker House Hotel (same location as the original! Wow!) has done a fine job of updating it and also keeping it classic. 

Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston Cream Pie, Susie Norris, recipes, cakes, pies, cookbooks, A Baker's Passport courtesy of Omni Parker House Hotel-merci![/caption]


oysters, cookbooks, oyster recipes, baking, savory, food writing, susie norris

Still a believer in oysters & champagne. photo by




oysters, oysters rockefeller, scalloped oysters, recipes, cookbooks, savory, susie norris

Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, snow evening, Boston, MA – Thanks to Steve Dunwell for beautiful photo


oysters, oysters rockefeller, scalloped oysters, cookbooks, recipes, oyster recipes, susie norris

faneuil hall marketplace

I found the recipe I developed over 30 years ago when I lived amongst a big selection of cookbooks advising me on New England cuisine, and this one for BOSTON BAKED BEANS holds up pretty well. Here it is, and it’s in the new book along with Cranberry and Pecan Loaf and New England Turkey Dinner.

Susie Norris, Slow Food USA Food For Change, A Baker's Passport, cookbooks, recipes, vegetarian, culinary travel

  • Boston Baked Beans

I never saw a bean field near Beantown in the seven years I lived in Boston, so how did it get its nickname? Sources tell me Native Americans cultivated white beans, which the pilgrims and puritans eventually combined with maple and molasses, the local sweeteners. Later, baked beans were traditionally cooked overnight on Saturdays so, on Sundays, the beans were still hot, allowing people to indulge in a hot meal and still comply with Sabbath or Blue Law rules which forbade the work of cooking. Brown bread and baked beans became the delicious Sunday standard. My version has a few modern flavor additions but is close to what the colonists baked in traditional ceramic bean pots. Adapt this recipe for your slow cooker, as you can set it up on your way to work, and it will be done when you return home. Note that the beans need a long soak before cooking. For a non-vegetarian approach, add 5 or 6 thick bacon slices as the beans bake. Double this recipe for a big batch.

Equipment: large pot or Dutch oven,

Time: 5-6 hours, including bean soak

Yield: 6-8 servings

Level: Easy

2 cups (16 ounces/1 pound) dried white beans (such as navy or cannellini; pintos work, too)

6 cups (48 ounces) cold water

1/4 cup (2 ounces) molasses

¼ cup (2 ounces) maple syrup or barley malt syrup

2 tablespoons½ cup (4 ounces) brown sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup chopped tomatoes (about 4, peeled and seeded)

3 medium onions, peeled and sliced

½ cup (4 ounces) ketchup

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt

2-3 shakes hot sauce, or more to taste

Cover the beans with water in a large pot or Dutch oven and soak for two hours or overnight. Once the beans are hydrated, preheat the oven to 300°F and pour all the water out of the pot. Add the fresh cold water and turn the heat to medium, and allow the beans to boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low, and let the beans cook until tender (about an hour). Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid into a separate bowl and, being careful to leave another 2 cups of liquid in the pot with the beans, strain out the rest of the cooking liquid. Combine all the remaining ingredients and then add to the beanpot. Bake for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve hot with Boston Brown Bread or Parker House Rolls.


Lots more vegetarian recipes, too, in A BAKER’S PASSPORT


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