Go “Hog Wild” this Holiday

What comes to mind when you hear someone say, “Fourth of July celebration”? My mind automatically thinks about boating at the lake (more like wishful thinking on my part!), potlucks with friends, campfires, and big fireworks that fill the night sky.

The Fourth of July is certainly a time for Americans to relax, unwind and celebrate all of the joys of summer. But, we would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to reflect upon our nation’s history and to remember those who preserve our freedoms. My heart goes out to all of my friends who have family members deployed this holiday. How selfless they are to put our country first!

Amanda, Rachel and Val. A sister picture at Rachel's deployment ceremony for Kosovo in November 2014.

Amanda, Rachel and Val. A sister picture taken at Rachel’s deployment ceremony for Kosovo in November 2014.

Did you know that 40% of our service men and women come from rural America, yet only 16% of the U.S. population lives in rural America?

Perhaps more “farm kids” volunteer to serve our great country because they were active in 4-H, pledging their hands to larger service for their community and their world. Perhaps they learned to recite the FFA creed, believing that it’s more honorable to serve the public interest than one’s own self-interest. Both youth organizations emphasize community service.

Posted from KFOR Multinational Battle Group-East

Posted from KFOR Multinational Battle Group-East

Perhaps nurturing livestock or caring for crops helps develop a worth ethic and compassion, so more rural residents feel compelled to enter the military.  After all, “if you grow up in rural America, you know you just can’t take from the land. You have to give something back.” — Keeping it Real through the Lens of Farm Girl

Whatever their reasons, we owe the men and women in uniform a great deal of thanks. Their service allows us to enjoy freedoms including “choice.” For the most part, we can farm the way we want. American farmers can choose the seeds they want to plant, and they can choose to farm with Big Red Power or take a ride in a Big Green Tractor.

This holiday weekend, as we picnic with family and friends, I’ll #thankafarmer for the many food choices available! I’m looking forward to preparing – and tasting – Sweet & Spicy Hog Wild Baked Beans. What can be more “all American” than a recipe that combines apple pie filling and pork? I’ve been intrigued by this recipe ever since Franklin County farmer Val Plagge told me about it.

Sweet and Spicy Hog Wild Baked Beans



  • 1/2 pound bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 28-ounce cans of Bush's Honey Baked Beans
  • 1 can apple pie filling (chop up the big chunks)
  • 1 pound crumbled cooked pork sausage
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper powder



  1. Cook the bacon; sauté onion and green pepper in bacon grease.
  2. In large pot, mix all ingredients together.
  3. Simmer on stovetop. If the beans are too spicy for your taste, use less cayenne pepper.
  4. This recipe makes a half gallon and feeds around 25 people.

COOK’S NOTE: This recipes makes a big batch, so freeze half for later if you’re not headed to a big potluck.

Other Potluck Pleasers:


Recipe & Photo by Val Plagge of Corn, Beans and Pigs blog