Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Word to the Lima Bean.

 According to the Urban Dictionary, “Originally "word to the mother." is used by African- Americans as a salutation. It means "Give due respect to the motherland from which we came." Can be used in the same context as "Keep it real." or, also, can be used to literally express respect to the motherland and African-American customs and traditions.”  In a more generalized context, it means, “respect to your motherland and keep a hold of your roots”, which seems to actually apply to any world culture.

Look at the small melting pot which resides right here in the Four Corners region of the Southwest – Caucasian, Indigenous peoples, Hispanic, African-American, and even many from the South Pacific, and Asian nations.  While the Indigenous people can claim this land as the homeland of their ancestors, the rest came here via exploration, freed slaves, or those seeking freedom from a homeland which had become oppressive in some fashion.  With them, of course, came forth, not just their traditions, but their culinary culture as well.

April 20, 2023 is Lima Bean Respect Day; hey, I do not make this stuff up!  A much-maligned legume whose homeland is Peru, and named after the capital city of Lima.  The native people of Peru, the Moche, settled within the area around the 15th century, and drawings of the lima bean can be found on discovered pottery.  Its scientific name, ‘Phaseolus Lunatus’, translates to ‘half-moon,’ which refers to the bean’s shape.  Lima beans are rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients such as manganese, potassium, copper, iron and a few more body essentials.  However, they could be poisonous if too many are eaten raw.  Since the Moche believed the bean symbolized both war and eternal life, being poisoned would certainly be a war on the body, and send one to a celestial eternal life.

Since it has been established that trade did occur between the people of Meso-America, and North America, it is no surprise that the lima bean made its way up north.  With explorers coming from Spain, and, eventually the colonization of North America, foods of this homeland were introduced to recipes of Europe. 

According to culinary history, the word “succotash” is derived from the Narragansett Indian word “msickquatash” which means boiled corn kernels. This dish featured green corn kernels, beans and other vegetables, boiled together, and is a nourishing dish of native origin.  Of course, dependent on which area of the country involved, the beans and vegetables often differed, but corn was still a main ingredient.

Alright, who does not remember the cans of succotash sold in supermarkets?  It was basically a mixture of boiled lima beans and creamed corn; am I the only person who liked it?  Poured over roasted chicken, with a side of buttery mashed potatoes; oh yeah, that is what I am talking about!

Since the Utah pioneers interacted with the tribes of the area, learning about the cooking of beans with corn would not be a surprise.  In The Mormon Pioneer Cookbook, page 21, there is a recipe for succotash.  It is listed as a typical item during a typical pioneer dinner.




2 Tbsp. butter

2 cups cooked lima beans

2 cups whole kernel born

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 tsp. sugar

¾ cup light cream


Melt butter in a saucepan, stirring in remaining ingredients.  Heat 5 minutes over low heat.

Yield: 6 servings.


Now here is an example of another recipe that features several differences in ingredients; from Southwest Indian Cookbook, page 62.


Zuni Succotash


3 cups canned pinto beans, drained

1 and ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 and ½ cups fresh string beans, chopped

1 and ½ cups water

4 Tbsp. butter or shortening

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. shelled sunflower seeds, crushed


In a large heavy saucepan, place all the ingredients, except for the sunflower seeds, in water with 2 tablespoons butter.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add sunflower seeds and remaining butter and continue to simmer until mixture thickens.

Yields: 6 servings.

Maybe after all of this, there is still no way you would eat succotash, no matter what the recipes contained.  Here are two of my recipes which are definitely pleasing to the palette, and cooked separately.  At least try succotash though, to give it a fair judgment.


Baked Lima Beans


1 (40.5 oz.) can Lima beans (also called Butter beans)

1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, mild

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (16 oz.) bottle hickory smoked, brown sugar barbeque sauce

6-8 strips thick cut bacon, roughly chopped


Preheat oven at 350F. Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients; spoon into the casserole dish. Bake for 2 hours.

Serves 8.


Corn Nuggets


1 (14 ¼ oz.) can creamed style corn

1 (14 ¼ oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained

¾ cup cornmeal

¾ cup flour

2 egg whites

3 Tbsp. milk

¼ tsp. salt

Canola oil for frying


In a small bowl, mix together both cans of corn; line a jelly roll pan with wax paper; spoon tablespoons of mixture onto wax paper and freeze until firm (about 3 hours).

Fill a deep fryer to fill line, or a deep skillet to one inch, with oil; bring temperature up to 350F. While oil is heating, in a medium bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, egg whites, milk and salt thoroughly. Dip frozen corn into the batter and then deep fry, 4-5 at a time, until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain; serve as is or with assortment of sauces.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Options: before freezing, add to corn mixture, ¼ cup of crisp, crumbled bacon; petite diced bell peppers, chile peppers or onions; or a combination of ingredients.

Mary Cokenour