If bread is the staff of life
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If bread is the staff of life then beans are the foundation that holds it in place. Every culture on Earth has its revered bean that holds first place in the legends of the survival of the tribe or civilization.
The bean is celebrated in story and song. Two favorites of mine come from Broadway musicals. ‘Why did the kids put beans in their ears?’ is a lament sung by two fathers who cannot understand why their children go out and do what they were told not to do from the longest running Broadway musical, “The Fantastics.”
The rollicking and rolling ‘Hand Me Down a Can of Beans,’ sung by Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood in the movie version of “Paint Your Wagon” is a delight guaranteed to tickle your funny bone and lift your spirits.
Winter is the time to pull out the baked beans, though they’re great at picnics and family reunions. Hoppin’ John made with black-eyed peas is a traditional holiday feast for New Years.
I picked up and counted the bean offerings from a family owned establishment that has been in business for 116 years and counted their offerings. Thirty-one species of the various varieties are offered for the home gardener. Their names are the stuff of legend and folklore.
This recipe is a very old one. I have no idea what kind of bean is referred to but suspect any dried bean will do.
Baked Beans with Vermont Maple Syrup
1 quart soldier or large pea bean + 1 tablespoon soda water
Soak soldier or large pea beans overnight. Rinse off and add more water. Add soda. Boil up good. Drain and cover with water and cook until skins crack when blown on. Drain. Make syrup of: 2 cups maple syrup, 2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1 teaspoon dry mustard.
Slice 1 onion in bottom of bean pot. Alternate a layer of beans with syrup on top. Add enough water to fill pot. Slice 1/4 pound salt pork with rind up and put on top of beans. Cover and bake in oven for 6-8 hours at 300 degrees.