Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It has Bean One of Those Days

Yesterday and today were the kind of days Tanya lives for.  She is, to say the least, radiantly happy, which makes me happy.  She has been in her garden from morning to night and I've done the running around, shopping and cooking.   It has been +20C both days.  Shirt sleeve weather.  she has been putting out a few flowers that were started indoors but mostly cleaning up weeds and moving flowers from clumps to their own beds.  Photos to follow soon, I hope. 

The crocuses are done blooming, the daffodils have started, the hyacinth large and small are blooming and there are tulips coming up EVERYWHERE. She has 96 gladiola bulbs soaking in potassium permanganate solution to plant later this week.  She claims she has 150 bulbs so I don't know where the others are.

Lena came after work today and they planted all the peas, beets and onions. So along with lettuce, carrots and radish, planted previously, the garden is taking shape.  Tanya says she will plant white and pinto beans for me to dry. for pork and beans.  I guess she liked my first try at it here.

Tanya had been to the market on Sunday and brought me a kilogram of white beans, so I put them on to soak and Monday went and bought a kilogram of pork.  Not having a slow-cooker was a bit of a nuisance as I had to learn all over again how to cook them.  I boiled the beans for an hour till they were soft, browned the pork and threw them all into a huge pot and added the usual suspects including molasses, brought from Canada for that purpose (and for ginger cookies). 

The recipe I found on the internet said bake at 400F for 75 minutes.  That made no sense to me so I baked it for 2 hours at about 300F.  Delicious, if I do say so myself.  But the beans were slightly crunchy.  Now I know that cooking beans with sugar makes them hard again but I have no idea what to do about it.  Any has-bean cooks out there with experience please help.

The cat is absolutely at loose ends in this nice weather.  He wanders in and out of the house, meowing about something but what?  Tanya says he needs a wife.  I dunno.  This morning he went into the downstairs bedroom and was sleeping on the bed in the bright warm sun.  I had put a towel there but Tanya objected anyhow and booted him out.  He was mad and came up stairs to complain to me, meowing loudly at me as though I cared, then fell asleep on my foot.

He is always getting into trouble with Tanya who loves him anyhow but he isn't sure about that.  When we had several days of rain, he would come in muddy and get his feet wiped before proceeding.  One day Tanya went out to speak to a neighbour and Kuchma came in unnoticed, as she left.  He was mud to the hocks but sat in the entry and picked the mud out of his feet.  When Tanya returned there was this pile of lumps of mud on the front entry floor. Out he went.

Which is why I tread carefully around here too.


  1. Were you making bean soup or baked beans? With baked beans, I add my sugar at the beginning, plus sweet peppers and strips of bacon and remove them from the oven while there's still some "jiggle" to the sauce. The sauce thickens within an hour. If you over bake them, the beans will dry out and become hard.

  2. In the cat's defense it was very kind of him to remove the mud in the entry before tracking it all over the house. Much easier to clean up that way. I'm sure that's what the cat was thinking.

    I haven't had pork and beans forever. My Mom used to make them all the time but she used ham hocks and no molasses. I love molasses.

  3. Re: beans. When I was stationed in northern Maine many years ago, I got to attend a venerable feature of local life, the bean-hole dinner. This was a church event, but other groups, even whole towns had (have) them, I was told.

    Two or three days before the big event, a fairly large hole is dug in the ground. Kindling, soft and hard fire wood are dropped in. A large iron kettle is filled with water and the beans are soaked. Lots of beans. Eventually, a fire is started in the hole. The pot, suspended over the hole, is lowered into the hole. The fire is kept going. Over time, ingredients are added, the beans are stirred. This goes on for two or three days. Then, they're ready for the dinner.

    The bean hole was in the church parking lot. We ate in the church's social hall. Beans were the main andcourse, accompanied by homemade bread and rolls, coffee, tea or milk. There was homemade applesauce or coffee cake for dessert. It was terrific. Even though they'd been in a big kettle, the beans had a natual smokiness that was delicious.

    Maybe you should dig a hole and give it a try. I don't know if it would solve the texture problem, but it might.

  4. I grew up (Quebec) with bean hole dinners too - the best part of skating parties!

    I was going to explain the reason behind 40 years of successful bean baking (yup, been making them that long) but on second thought...I'll just mail you my recipe!

  5. Dana, I hear what you are saying. One hour in the oven is all I needed regardless of the temperature.
    CD, I agree that Kuchma was very thoughtful leaving his mud in the entry. I said as much to Tanya but the cat still got the boot. Of course it is all only temporary.
    SW - bean hole, corn hole...
    Zoe, I am waiting for the recipe. I know it will be good. And I'll take a loaf of rye bread too.


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