Every summer, picnic tables are piled with juicy hot dogs, smoky hamburgers, and home-style baked beans. And come Memorial Day, when it comes to the perfect complement to any picnic, there is no one who knows baked beans better than Cindy McNabb.
McNabb, whose husband, Brent, owns McNabb’s Service and Repairs on Hamilton Boulevard, has been making “Mrs. McNabb’s Baked Beans” for friends and family for 30 years. “Whenever we have a picnic, I always make them,” she says. “Eventually, people started saying, ‘Why don’t you try and sell them?’”
So last year, McNabb contacted the Department of Agriculture. “No one really knew what to do, because no one had ever called about selling baked beans before,” she says. “I was sort of giving up, and then the one person I talked to was like, ‘You don’t understand – no one has called for baked beans before. Keep doing it.’ So I pushed through.”
McNabb now sells her baked beans year-round in one-pound containers ($3.99) and four-pound trays ($14). For the first time next Thursday, she’ll be selling her beans at the Macungie Farmer’s Market. But currently, most of her customers purchase them at the service station.
“I have one man that comes in faithfully every two weeks and buys everything I have,” she says. “Sometimes if I only have three [containers], he’ll say ‘well how many do you have at home?’ and my husband will drive home and get the ones there.”
The famed recipe was given to her by her husband’s mother and has been in the family for about 100 years. After soaking lima beans overnight, she mixes them with a special blend of brown sugar, mustard, ketchup, maple syrup, and bacon, and then cooks them.
The end result is perfectly cooked beans drenched in so much sweet-and-slightly-tangy sauce, a recent visitor had to trade in her fork for a spoon.
“I’m toying with the idea of hot sauce,” McNabb says. “Maybe this summer I’ll work on trying a second variety.”