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Cooking with Crevolyn: Doscovering the best barbecue
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School is out and that means it is officially vacation season!

When our children were young, vacations usually meant a trip to the beach. But every few years, we would mix it up and head to locations such as Washington D.C., the Space Center and New York City.

One of our favorite family vacations was a trip to Arizona that included a stop in Williams to ride the Grand Canyon Railway up to the Canyon. The Canyon is an amazing sight and definitely worth the trip. I highly recommend everyone put that beautiful spot on their bucket list.

These days we don’t travel with the children as much, so our vacations somehow seem to be food themed. Last year, we planned an entire vacation around barbecue restaurants in Texas. We called it our Taste of Texas Tour or Triple T for short.

We flew into Dallas because one of Darrell’s “must see” stops before we hit the barbecue joints was the George W. Bush Presidential Library. He looked forward to it for months.  We pulled into the parking lot and walked up to the door only to find it was closed.

Do you remember the government shutdown? Yes, well, the government had closed the library.

He felt like Clark Griswold at the entrance of Wally World in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movie. Thankfully, he didn’t storm the gates like Clark did — the government probably wouldn’t have looked kindly on that — but he sure wasn’t happy.

However, after a few plates of Texas barbecue, he was much better.

We ate our way through Texas visiting Dallas, Austin and Houston along with several other cities. But our absolute best meal was at Salt Lick just outside of Austin in Driftwood. All of the meat is cooked on an open pit in the restaurant, which explains why you smell like you do when you leave.

It was delicious. The secret of Salt Lick’s success seems to be the oak wood they use for smoking along with basting the meat four times with sauce. Whatever the combination, it works. 

We like to stop for barbecue anytime we are traveling. A couple of our favorite restaurants in Georgia are Mike’s Trackside Barbeque in Blue Ridge and Southern Soul in St. Simons. Of course, you don’t have to travel far for some good barbecue restaurants; we have some great ones right here in Hall County. 

More often than not, great barbecue is accompanied by great sides. This BBQ Rotel Baked Beans recipe was inspired by one I found in the Wiley’s (no relation) Championship BBQ cookbook. Adding Rotel tomatoes to the baked beans gives it an interesting kick.

Wiley’s BBQ Restaurant is in Savannah and is on our short list to visit. After all, with a name like that, it should be great! 

BBQ Rotel baked beans

  • 4 slices bacon, halved
  • 1 small sweet onion, recommend Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can baked beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Fry bacon in a large skillet. Cook until almost crispy, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Leave about 1/4 cup bacon grease in skillet and sauté the onion until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat about 30 minutes.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and top with bacon.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until it starts to brown and bubble.

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at

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