Today is a special collaborative post between myself and a family friend, Paul Whitney. Paul is the son of Canadian Big Band Leader, Moxie Whitney. Moxie worked with many famous musicians between 1940 and 1960 including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Sonny & Cher. Currently, Paul and his wife Liz are making a documentary about Moxie’s life. To find out more about their project please visit moxiewhitney.com, and if you can, donate at IndieGoGo.com. Without further adieu, here’s Paul.
We all have memories, but many of mine are linked to food. While making a film about my father, Canadian Big Band Leader Moxie Whitney, I was confronted by so many memories. When it came to Moxie, music came first, family came next… but food and drink were never far behind! Here are some of my most entertaining ones!
In the winter of 1961 Moxie left Toronto with his wife, 7 kids, a 15-piece orchestra, (plus their families) and went to play at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. To us kids, that seemed normal. We played in the back yard with coconuts instead of footballs and swam in the ocean instead of the lake.
Although our mom did most of the cooking, on Sundays, Moxie Whitney was always our ‘celebrity chef’. One of his favorite recipes was Beans Hawaiian. It was one of his own recipes… in fact the only recipe he ever invented (…and as Martha Stewart says “That’s a good thing”).
Beans Hawaiian was made from three of Moxie’s favorite things. Beans, pineapple and wieners… Wait; there were four things, no work. Beans represented holidays for Moxie. He played at the finest hotels in the world; beans were never served, especially canned beans. Moxie loved them. Pineapple… well, we were in Hawaii and pineapples were the national fruit and man were they good! Then there were the wieners… this was Moxie’s favorite meat. Easy to prepare, a consistent texture… and they went with everything. What can I say? I was a kid and didn’t really appreciate my father’s sense of humor… We had Beans Hawaiian every Sunday.
Sunday was also family day and we always did something with Moxie. My favorite was the little ‘businesses’ he would suggest. I remember the day we decided to try a lemonade stand. It was always hot in Hawaii; we lived close to the beach. How could it fail? Well it could if you sold coconuts instead of lemonade. I don’t remember exactly whose idea the coconuts were, but I do remember who came up with the cure for the lack of sales… it was Moxie. “My Ty’s! You need to sell My Ty’s. That’s what everyone drinks in Hawaii!”
Although I was only six, I knew that he didn’t know how to spell Mai Tai but in spite of that, we sold them anyway… at 3 cents a glass. They sold like hotcakes… but that’s another recipe! In fact most of the neighborhood turned up. It was quite a party… most of them stuck around later to sample some of Moxie’s signature dish too!
Below is Kris’ adaptation of Moxie’s Beans Hawaiian. The recipe for Moxie’s “My Ty’s”… Pineapple juice and rum… lots of rum… garnish with a wiener. If you’d like to know more about our film or Moxie Whitney go to moxiewhitney.com… or go to IndieGoGo.com and help us Make MOXIE!
Thanks Paul! The following recipe is my version of Moxie’s “Beans Hawaiian”. Rather than relying on canned pork and beans, I used dried navy beans and made the recipe from scratch. This enabled me to create a uniquely Hawaiian gravy with fresh pineapple juice and teriyaki sauce. I also replaced the hot dogs for a generous helping of ham and bacon. I have to say, next to my grandma Crains’s baked beans, these are the best I’ve ever eaten. Thanks for the inspiration Moxie!
- 2 cups dried navy beans
- 1 ½ cups teriyaki sauce
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2/3 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tsp. fresly grated ginger
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, roughly chopped
- 16 oz ham steak, cubed
Soak dried navy beans overnight in a large pot. You want the water to be cold and about 2-3 inches above the beans. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Drain and rinse the beans. Place in a large pot and cover by 4-5 inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 – 1½ hours until the beans are tender but not bursting.
In the meantime, combine teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar and ginger in a medium bowl. Whisk until brown sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350
Reserving 2 cups of the boiled water, drain the beans.
In a large Dutch oven, sauté bacon for 3-4 minutes over medium high heat. With a slotted spoon remove bacon and set aside.
Add onions to the bacon fat and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and pineapple and sauté for an additional minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Place bacon back into the dutch oven and add the cubed ham steak, beans, reserved water, and prepared sauce. Stir well to combine.
Bake in the oven covered for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 and continue to cook for 6 hours, stirring halfway through.
After 6 hours, remove lid, increase heat to 350 and cook for an additional 1-2 hours stirring every twenty minutes until the sauce has thickened.