Still in Search of the Secret Recipe

by | Aug 8, 2017

Four years ago, I wrote about finding the “secret recipe” for doing great philanthropy. I answered the question often asked, “How can I be sure my gift is effective and used for my intended purpose?” It is so easy to assume there is a secret to it all because the answer is not simple. It seems few feel they accomplish effective giving, so surely there’s a secret recipe.

Of course, there is no secret to doing it right. There is only the tried and true method of doing it repeatedly until you get it right for you. To support my claim, I offer the following story as proof.

In that same blog, I mentioned I was in pursuit of the pinto bean recipe from one of my favorite hamburger joints, Jucy’s Hamburgers.  Following the No Secret Recipe blog in June 2013 and running right up until July 20 of this year a discussion occurred online about that pinto bean recipe. Several determined cooks offered their ideas and versions, and a recipe began to develop in the comment section of the blog.

Secrets are by nature and definition not meant to be known or seen by others. Over the years I’ve continued asking various employees at Jucy’s Hamburgers what’s in the beans. The answers have provided clues, but not enough for me recreate the taste on my own stove. I’ve begun to suspect there is a spice packet going into their pot and so the employees really can’t provide specifics. So, it certainly feels like a secret, but is it really?

It’s like watching a friend make gifts to organizations they care about, hearing them brag about the organization, and then wondering what they know that you don’t.

There is no secret, but your interests and intentions will make-up your spice packet.

Here’s the reality; every donor wants and needs something different. Each of us has different requirements for giving based on our experiences, our giving pockets and the difference we hope to make. Some like information delivered in certain ways and certain amounts. Others want to see pictures and still others want to read narrative reports. Some of us only give based on recommendations from friends, peers, and family we trust or people we admire.

To figure out how you can be “your” best donor you will have to experiment and test your giving recipe. It is what works for you. It reflects the way you like to give and the kinds of organizations you like or who are providing you the kind of information you like.

Plain and simple, it’s the some like it hot, some like it spicy, some like it, well, whatever you want to substitute.

That bean recipe from Jucy’s Hamburgers that’s been evolving over the last four years is a fitting example of some like it hot, some like it spicy, and on it goes. B. W. Gentry posted the most recent version of the recipe which he calls his final entry. I’ve provided it below for anyone who wants to give it a try.

I made the recipe last weekend, and I can tell you that for my taste it’s rather warm. OK, for me it’s hot. But, the flavor of those pinto beans I’ve been on the hunt for is present; the recipe seems very close.  So, like any good cook, I plan to go to work tailoring it to my liking.

Do the same thing with your recipe for giving. Give, test (like tasting for the right flavor), give again (the work of getting it just right), reflect (taste again) and then start all over. Giving should be an enjoyable experience. It’s your job to make it so.

Jucy’s Pinto Bean Recipe by B.W. Gentry
(Per 1 Pound of Beans)

  • One pound of dried pinto beans
  • 1/4 lb. Bacon Ends (chopped to small pieces) fried. Add along with drippings.
  • 1 large Jalapeno cut in long strips or slices (can add 1 more if you “Like it HOT”)
  • 1/2 large Onion
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 3 tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Fiesta Pinto Bean Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Cajun Seasoning

Start by adding water to about 1 to 2 inches above the beans. Add more water if needed during the cooking process (not excessive).

I’m putting the bacon & drippings in when I start the beans. Bring beans to a hard boil, then reduce heat. Then add chili powder, pinto bean seasoning, black pepper, garlic powder, jalapeno’s, and onion. When the beans are about half or little more done, add the remaining “dry” ingredients (brown sugar, Cajun seasoning).

OPTIONAL: 1/3 lb. Ground Beef (to your liking) For those that would like to add ground meat to their beans.

Let me know if you want to discuss the recipe or how to whip up the best giving recipe for you.


  1. Ann

    Enjoy your wisdom and humor !

  2. Gail

    I always enjoy a blog that closes with a recipe.

  3. Karen

    Tastes GREAT!

  4. B.W. Gentry

    Once again, I’ve altered the recipe and feel I’m close to conquering it. I’ve changed the quantities of ingredients and eliminated one. It might not be perfect, but it’s pretty close.
    1 lb Pinto Beans
    2 Slices of Bacon cut-fried-include the drippings
    1 tblspn Salt
    1 tspn Coarse Grind Pepper
    4 tblspn Fiesta Pinto Bean Seasoning
    3 tblspn Chili Powder
    1 tblspn Garlic Powder
    1/2 small onion chopped
    1 small jalapeno sliced with seeds
    1/3 cup dark brown sugar
    1 tblspn molassas

    I bring the beans to a boil in a slow cooker/crockpot. Once boiling/simmering, I added the dry ingredients. After about 1 hour of simmering, I added the fried bacon & drippings. Monitor the water level several times only adding enough to cover the beans slightly. Once the beans start to be slightly tender but not done, I add the brown sugar, onion, jalapeno, and molasses. Reduce the heat to slow cook until done to your liking. I prefer them not over-done or mushy. I then let them rest, then warm up to eat a little later, but can be eaten immediately if you prefer.

    • B.W. Gentry

      And of course, Jucy’s is not going to confess that anything is the correct recipe because they want you to keep coming back and buy the beans. LOL

      • Randy

        Jucy’s beans are free; they don’t sell them.


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