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When I hear the word calico, I think of Little House on the Prairie. The main character and author, Laura, gave great detail about the calico dresses she and her sister’s wore as they adventured over the prairies. Calico is a cheap cotton fabric originally made in India and imported to the US from England. Typically, it has a small repeating floral print.

Above photo is from – Source (click on the word, the link is way too long!)

Now people use calico for quilts. The small repeating pattern is an excellent edge fabric or as an offset for more bold prints. In my area, many old quilts are made of the calico fabric originally used for flour sacks. See below for example. This photo from Source.

Calico beans is a Rose family recipe originally from an uncle who lived in Kansas as a cowboy/cook. I suspect the same comes from the repeating colors/pattern of the beans. Maybe a stretch but it is good name that reflects the rustic, rural origins of these beans. The hearty meatiness of the beans make them a crowd-pleaser, especially the men in my life.

Calico Beans

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 lb diced bacon
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 lb pork-n-beans, drained
  • 1 lb kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lb white northern beans, drained

Brown ground beef, onion, and bacon in a skillet. Drain. In a deep oven safe pan, combine all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes covered. I used my Dutch oven for this. Browning the beef and bacon leaves behind little brown bits stuck to the pan that have fantastic taste. The liquids added later loosen them up and distributes them back into the mix. Plus only one dish means less washing later!