Grandma Kelly’s World Famous Baked Beans….

I about died. Talk about intestinal fortitude. My sister Kate told me this family story from my cousin Eileen, it was all about Grandma Kelly’s Baked Bean Pot. 


Years ago, my Grandmother routinely made her Mother’s baked beans recipe in a huge Cast Iron pot she had inherited from her. She and my Great Uncle Dawson Kelly would trade the big old pot back and forth as needed for various and sundry family get togethers. Years later my Aunt Marge had asked Dawson  (her father-in law) if she  could borrow the pot for an upcoming picnic she was going to make the baked beans for. So, she borrows the pot and makes the beans and afterwards scrubs and scrubs and scrubs but can’t get the black stuff off the bottom of the pan. So she finally returns it to Dawson and explains she tried everything save Drano to get it out but it was stuck solid.

  Dawson suggested next time she borrow the pot to go ahead and try using the Drano, but just make sure to wash and rinse it really well after. It was the only thing that ever worked for him when cleaning the pot. I was stunned. I remember these beans, they were wonderful, my Grandmothers pride and joy was making a dish that everybody loved and this was only one of them. And while I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of using this I couldn’t help but wonder how much Drano I had imbibed over the course of many a family party.

But in my research for this piece, sure enough I found you can use it and in ages ago they did use lye to clean cast iron. So, as scary as it seems,( using lye ) they may not have had the option of just buying new so they chose to restore that pan this way. But years ago it was a fairly common practice it turns out. I looked up “using lye to clean cast iron” and this came up ;

About mid page you’ll find that you can use it, as long as you thoroughly wash and rinse and reseason your Cast Iron Cookware.

But I’ve got to tell you, intestinal fortitude we don’t got in this group. We may have nerves of steel, inspired intuitive powers, the ability to jolly people into getting along with each other ( we’re used to crowd control with these large families) terrific and sustaining humor, and a veritable host of other strengths, but when it comes to tummy and intestinal track troubles this crowd can be counted among the “10 miles of bad road”crowd”. Again, another Kateism…that girl makes me laugh. You know, every family is going to have its soft spot health wise. But I’ve got to tell you I’m so glad ours came with the likes of somebody like our Kate who looks at it and calls it what it is and just makes me laugh…”10 miles of bad road”… and all! 

Paving streets with bricks

Photographs courtesy of Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University, “Yesterday’s Lakewood Collection ( Caption; Street in Lakewood being paved with bricks)

and Google source: Life Archives

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