As summer draws to a close, all of its pleasures seem a little sweeter because they are about to disappear. I always want to hurry up and squeeze a little more out of it simply because summer “over-gives” like no other season.
- That day on the boat was divine… we should have gone out on Lake travis again while the lake was full.
- The Texas peaches I bought at HEB were delicious this year… we should have driven to Fredericksburg (the source) and had a bowl of homemade peach ice cream at that place by the side of the road.
- And why didn’t I take the kids to Krause Springs?
Fall is edging in, the days are getting shorter, and yes, there are things I regret NOT doing this summer. But there are a couple of things I’m doing today to help lengthen summer’s glory this weekend.
I’ve been meaning to do both all summer, so this is my last hurrah; then I will let summer go.
1. I’m making Suzie’s Beans to bring to a potluck today.
2. I’m posting a #GoHEB pic on Instagram.
Here’s why these activities bring summer full circle.
Making Suzie’s bean recipe is critical because A. I’ve just been craving this dish like crazy, and B. I haven’t contributed to even one potluck anywhere yet this summer! That’s just not right.
The first reason stands on its own. I’ve been consuming more beans and nuts lately (and a little less meat), and this crock pot dish is over the top as a BBQ side. I always think of Suzie when flipping through my book of recipes from family and friends. Suzie is/was an old girlfriend of a single guy friend of the family’s. This guy always picks really great women to date, and brings them to parties etc., but after a few months the story always goes something like, “We needed some space away from each other.” I never ask details, but I usually wish I’d asked for the the girlfriend’s contact info so we could’ve stayed friends. (Admittedly, that might be awkward.)
All I have left from the Suzie Year is this bean recipe. She was quite famous in the neighborhood for bringing these to get-togethers, and I like remembering her good nature when I see this recipe in my book. I’m making this for the first time ever. Maybe someone will remember it. The recipe’s at the end of this post.
The second reason for making the beans is that, for all the running around this summer, I haven’t connected with the folks closest to me. By close I mean “proximity-close.”
Running a home business keeps me hopping, so even though I work from home, and have managed to get together with family and friends this summer, I’ve been missing many of my neighborly connections.
There’s something special about neighbor friends. I believe in blooming where you’re planted. When people say they don’t even know their neighbors, I’m a little shocked. In a very practical way, you need those people… don’t you? And the bonus is since you never know what you’re going to get, neighbors make life interesting!
We live in Spicewood, just west of Austin. Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” but in Spicewood it’s “We’re all here because we’re not all there.” Some highlights: Willie Nelson lives just up the road in Briarcliff. The golf course he built is a local legend, though not even close to being one of the best in the area. (“Get high and golf.”) Krause’s Springs has the coldest water, and the most beautiful swimming hole. Opie’s BBQ is pretty famous, too, although neighbor Chet’s brisket and sausage is far better.
Spicewood is a quirky place, though getting less so, as everyone from all over the world flocks to claim a little piece of the Hill Country as their home, too.
We met most of these neighbor friends back in the summer of 2001, splashing around in Bee Creek when Willie (my son, not the singer) was just 9 days old. Everyone was playing or lounging in the natural clefts of smooth rock as they sipped on cans of beer while water slipped over their bodies. Imagine Bee Creek as a natural spa designed by God and maintained by our neighborhood association, and you’ll get the picture.
My fondest memory from that day was nursing my newborn on a rock as the water rushed by, and not one of our new neighbor friends batted an eyelash. Good times. We get together with those same good folks every year at a BBQ potluck at the home of Chet and Clara, the best meat slingers in the hood. We’re heading over there in an hour or so. It will be nice to catch up.
The second thing I’m doing today to commemorate Summer 2015 is post a pic to Instagram with #GoHEB. It’s my way of thanking HEB for sending me a box of BBQ goodies earlier this summer.
About nine weeks ago I posted something on Instagram about prepping meat for the grill. The folks at HEB saw it and tweeted me to DM them my address so they could send me a surprise.
A few days later this box came in the mail with picnic supplies; condiments, french fried potato sticks, sweet hot spread for sandwiches, and aluminum foil.
Care packages from my favorite stores are always welcome (as if this happens every day), but the way this came about got me thinking about the use of hashtags in a brand’s marketing.
I didn’t even mention HEB in my Instagram post, but it got around on Twitter. Because I’m in Texas, HEB’s home state, their social media/marketing people must have identified me as a possible loyal customer.
If I weren’t a loyal customer before, I would be now.
Who doesn’t like getting goodies in the mail? How can you live in Texas and not shop at HEB? How could someone accept a gift and not post a picture with the hashtag they suggested: #GoHEB.
Smooth move, all you content marketers at HEB! Hashtags, especially with a gift attached, entice other people to share their content that’s relevant to your audience. Pictures sweeten the deal.
Not every business can afford to send gift boxes to potential champions of their brand, it’s true. But this social media marketing campaign by HEB certainly gets me excited about hashtag campaigns a small business person might easily develop.
- Request pictures of your product used in different ways.
- Discover locations of your customers.
- Ask for ideas (naming your next flavor) or recommendations (future course subjects), etc.
Well, here is it, finally, the pic I’m posting to my Instagram. I kept forgetting to post pics of the finished product over the summer — the actual burgers, briskets and fish I grill using HEB products — probably because I’m so excited to eat the stuff that it slips my mind. Today as I fixed Suzie’s Beans I remembered to stop and appreciate the labor of the folks who are responsible for making HEB my favorite grocery store. Here’s the pic…
…and now, for the recipe.
1/2 lb lean hamburger, ground beef, or ground turkey. (I used HEB’s grass fed, free range, natural beef.)
1/2 lb lean bacon (pork, beef, or turkey)
1 med to large yellow onion
1/2 cup BBQ sauce of choice
1/3 cup (or to taste) brown sugar
1/3 cup (or to taste) white sugar
1 31-oz can pork and beans
1 15-oz can red kidney beans
1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can navy beans
1 15-oz can butter beans
1 10-oz can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 tsp black pepper and/or garlic pepper
1 tsp (or to taste) chili powder
1 tsp (or to taste) paprika
1 tsp (or to taste) cumin
as many diced/sliced jalapenos you think you can handle
Brown meat and bacon. Drain well. Dice and sauté onion and jalapenos. Drain beans and Ro-Tel well. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish or crock pot. Bake in oven at 350° for 1 hour or heat in a crock pot on low setting for 2 – 3 hours. Makes 3 quarts; serves 12-15; may be used as a dip, side dish, or a main dish.
That’s it! lots of ingredients, but easy peasy.
Off to swim and party with the neighbors. (Thank God I’m not nursing a baby!) Don’t forget to use lots of hashtags — especially on Instagram!