Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bake Beans - Part Two - "Goddess"


Baked Beans

Part Two

"Goddess"



            It is probable, if an antiquarian, in New England, that thee has
            Walked by
            The old baked bean pot.
            “Did not happen to... no I did not”.
            Even notice it and you
            Are still land locked by the “Of course I do”
            Know what an old
            New England bean pot could be
            Should be
            And, of course, “is”?
            Princess.




            Didn’t your mother tell you?
            “Always put in more molasses with the mustard.”
            “Do not let the beans dry out.”
            “No dear; you never eat that.  Sit it aside with the spoon.”
            Fun With Food Maine says ‘pork belly’ and ‘fat back’.  That is salt pork today.
            “Suet”
            Is for the birds.



            If a Flicker is up side down on the bird feeder... is the bean pot up side down on the shelf in the summer kitchen?
            No... not the “MY” bean pot.  It is in the pantry.  I mean another... antiquarian... “THAT” bean pot; the “walked by”.  That is where I always find them:
            On a shelf.  By flashlight.  Up side down.
            “Did not happen to... no I did not”.
            Even notice it and you



            Are not I and I are a “you” that searches to
            Notice it and
            Time, in old New England, has stopped there.
            When I notice it (find it).
            The old bean pot.



            “Oh everyone now knows that is just stupid because no one at all ever uses a summer kitchen in addition to not even having a summer kitchen so all of the shelves are gone and so are all of the
            “Those were my grandmothers.”  Great grandmother’s?  Okay; great-great grandmother’s.  She turned them up... side... down... on the shelf after ‘washing them off’ (as opposed to “washing them”).  The little ones were for the children
            To take to school.
            “I didn’t know that.”
            “They ate baked beans at school?”



            What if they (the men) ate them (baked beans) at the edge of the field
            And the edge of the woods
            Every day:
            EVERY
            DAY.



            I look into the top of the jar (small ‘pint’ bean pot).  There is the ‘wedge’ of salt pork ‘set’ on top.  The pot is “warm” (hot).  Cupped in my glove hand I
            Eat with a (White) Pine chip “spoon” all of it (the baked beans)
            (The salt pork wedge)
            I toss the spoon in the fire
            And go back to work.
“Jed (Jediah), my youngest, brings dinner to us.  He eats with us too.”
            His bean pot is the same size as his father’s.  Just not quite as full.  Jediah packs the empty bean pots and takes them ‘back’.  They are washed off and ‘set’ up... side... down
            On the shelf
            In the summer kitchen
            Until tomorrow.





            One may make the beans in a bigger pot or... make the beans in the smallest pot.
            Depends on how many “Beans” you “Need”.  By looking at the pot... the beans are baked in... one may discern “HOW IT (that old bean pot) WAS USED”.
            I know; you don’t care
            And did not even know the old bean pots were
            There.
            Let alone... “used”.



            I didn’t develop my love, my adoration, my antiquarian fixation for “old” “USED” bean pots like I was making a home d├ęcor display to start a conversation with you about them.  No.  That never ever occurred to me because I was too long ago to long on my own wandering discernment that ‘Gee Wiz’ one may see a whole history program without commercials in the my flashlight beam upon the... turned up side down... old
            Bean pot.
            I have just never really been the same since then.  I find them.  I sell them: “Beauties”.  I always want them all... even though some of them are ‘not’ the ‘quite’ as:
            What?






            Well... I am most drawn to the old bean pots... and I am speaking... and have been speaking... of the ‘early’ ‘redware’ (earthenware ‘flower pot clay’), classic form New England bean pot... with the lead glaze on the inside.  Too.
            I don’t really ever explain this a lot to a lot of people (anyone).  Why?  They are just what they are; dandruff... people.  What I like my flashlight to find best is burnt black dripping old BAKED TO DEATH over and over... old bean pots.
            You want to have a real New England old CLASSIC bean pot?  Then find your flashlight hunting for that.  And you know it when you find it.  Goddess.  That bean pot is.  An old New England Goddess.




            The little perfect clean ones?  The children took them to school.  And back.  Each day... they were ‘washed off’ and ‘put away’.
            The little BAKED TO DEATH black ones?  Those were one man’s... one man... bean pot ...ever always baked to death everyday with just his ‘handful’ of beans baked
            Every day
            He did:
            That man did.  Himself.  Alone. 
Keep that in mind.
(Alone with your bean pot... in old New England).  Peter Rabbit (Part One); I still have his bean pot.  It just hasn’t sold.  I guess.









            Funny things happen on the way to the garage sale.  Porch sale.  A porch sale is different than a garage sale.  They may be MUCH more interesting.  To have a garage sale one must have a ...garage.  And let people ‘go in it’ ‘back there’.  A porch sale is a ‘old way’ (envision the House of Seven Gables) where... one of the houses ‘on the street’ at the ‘upper end’ ‘past the common’ would ‘haul’ items out on to their (front) porch and ‘sell them’; a ‘porch sale’.  It should be pretty obvious why a porch sale has better antiquarian prospects than a ‘garage sale’.  But it is, for this topic; old New England bean pots... a ‘long haul’ from the summer kitchen to the front porch to get the “that old thing”; great... great... grandmother’s “OLD BEAN POT” up there, out there and ‘sold’.  It is not like they stored the bean pot in the front hall.  Right?







            I don’t really expect an old New England redware bean pot to be in a front porch ...sale... or... even on the ...front porch.  So I go to this sale.  Anyway.  One morning:  “I STOPPED”.  It was a porch sale.  I went up (the front steps)  They had nothing.  I was leaving.  But.  Against the wall... back past the far window.  ‘Setting’ there.  Was a ‘big one’; a big (4 quart; a gallon?) old style classic New England redware bean pot... that had been repeatedly painted blue and green... over the last... century... where (and when) it was used for ‘decoration’ to ‘hold flowers’ (?)
            A five dollars later it was mine including the “THAT PAINT IS PEELING” conversation... thrown in for free.
            It’s a great old pot:  Huge.  Used forever.  Early.  Perfect.  And on that front porch for a century TOO.  I bet they painted and put that pot out there in the 1890’s.  Maybe even before.  Like I said; “Goddess”:
            An old New England Goddess.













Friday, October 23, 2015

Baked Beans - Part One - "Plague These Nuances"

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Baked Beans

Part One

"Plague These Nuances"



            “Isn’t it time”... Peter Rabbit said... “for her to be making her baked beans?”.  He said this without looking back at me; over his shoulder.  He was wearing his little blue jacket too.
            His jacket was made in Mexico many years ago (1940’s).  I’d made him show me its maker’s label... many years ago.  It said “Reliance” “Ensenada”.  Reliance is the maker company.  Ensenada is in Baja California.  Peter (Rabbit) acquired his blue jacket when he found it ‘left behind’ in a blueberry camp cabin... many years ago.  Someone had left it behind in the camp cabin and Peter Rabbit took it?  Yes.  He wore it ever after.
            Until he died.
            Many years ago





            Peter Rabbit is dead.
            His jacket still hangs in his cabin?
            Yes it does?
            No.  I sold it.
            They burned his cabin.  “Infested” they said.  I never found out:
            “Infested with what?”
            That’s what happens to men like Peter Rabbit.  “He didn’t even have any teeth”.




            He did have a rifle.  But that disappeared.  When I went into his cabin there was very little left... of the very little Peter Rabbit had.  His boots:  I sold those.  His bench.  He made that.  I sold that.  His pantry; an “Eskimo Rubbers” box (wooden packing crate) stood on end and divided into thirds by wooden shelves.  He made.  A cast iron frying pan.  A coffee kettle.  A folding knife.  Coffee cup.  Plate.  A framed photograph of a Moose up on Benton Brook taken just before he shot it.
            I sold all that.  Except the folding knife.  That disappeared.  You don’t even know where Benton Brook is, do you.
            It’s ‘up there’... ‘a piece’.




            When Peter (Rabbit) asked after the baked beans that my wife was, in fact, baking right then... I don’t think it was quite forty years ago.  Maybe it was only thirty-five.  Years ago.  You weren’t born yet.  But my wife was baking her beans that day.  Absolutely clear to me still.  He’d set himself up to ...set me up... to be just the exact only moment when HE knew SHE would with ME too BE... all gathered around.  It was three thirty in the afternoon of a middle fall “dark by six” afternoon leaving... Peter Rabbit a “strong hour” before we ate “supper”... of
            My wife’s baked-all-that-day... with molasses and salt pork...
            Baked beans.




            Yes it was just the sort of rascal-in-the-carrot-patch marked skill Peter Rabbit was well understood by I to be able to accomplish.  He had probably sniffed by the house earlier that day with, actually in fact, ‘his nose to the wind’.  Didn’t that just be what Peter Rabbit, wearing his little blue jacket, would be one to do? 
Of course it would be.
            And I could expect his well timed arrival to be, too... a venture of purpose.




            It was and barter was and he had his blue jacket on too.  That rascal.  “How did you purloin those?” I asked him and he offered no summary so after a few minutes I asked him again.  He’d already delegated “two dollars each for all” and assured me he’d “Paid one dollar each for all” and
            I didn’t really care where he got the damn things but I did care...
            Or is it denote... how well tied he bartered that “TOO”; there would be a “BOLD” (Peter Rabbit’s word) helping of “her beans” “with the (salt pork) wedge” “on top” “too”.  He, of the second ‘ask about where’ was better feeling and told as to how he’d helped close the Cheever’s cottage the day before and “these” “she “ “wanted out”.  That means they were probably actually already ‘out’; THROWN OUT.  All twelve of them.  But he swore they were a “dollar each for all”.
            Considering that Peter (Rabbit) would have only been paid HALF THAT by Cheever’s ($6.00) for his ‘help’; (they were notoriously tight), Peter (Rabbit) wearing his blue jacket would be hard pressed to get these twelve out of the carrot patch without using all of his ‘available funds’.  So “thrown out’ made ‘the sense’.
            Cheever’s cottage made sense too:  “They don’t know what they’re doing down there do they.”
            Peter (Rabbit) said nothing to that.  Peter ‘needed them’... even at their paltry six dollars.  He was a rascal but they were just plain wretched.
            If you ask me.  And I know you won’t.




            “Them’s SAMPLES.  You ever eat one?”
            “No.”
            “Sometime ago they were around.”
            “Right”.
            “Sometime ago them be what they give you out”.
            “I know.  Fairs.  Restaurant.  Beach bakes.  Lobster-corn-beans.”
            “Never often got me one.  Once.  Whole tray of FOUR.  Took three and HIDE those then stood off ate the one.”
            “Pretty much that.  They (the eater of the beans) always keep the jars”.
            “Too sweet I say and never burnt down.  Always FLAT (taste flat; each bean all the same).  I like that fire in the hole (opened top high hot bake finish).  UP TOP dig down in and that top BURNED too.  The bottom MUSH.  Not too sugar.  And the porky (salt pork wedge).  Didn’t you say she would?”
            She did.  We did.  He (Peter Rabbit) left his “jars” and “TOOK OFF” twenty-four dollars and a “small bucket would be okay” of “her beans” with the salt pork wedge “set” on top.  Thirty-five years ago.  At least.




            But it come back up to me yesterday.  “Didn’t she!” to quote old dead Peter Rabbit... still wearing his little blue jacket... out there somewhere.  It come back up “didn’t she” because of the jars.




            “Them damn jars”.  I sold them then to... whatever her name was.  That she was doing then; PAINTING the little bean pots SOMETHING.  She said.  I didn’t care and sold them all to her for THREE dollars each.  Not much of anything to that then.  She was at the end of the street up past the common.  Now her old damn house has been all done over by some FOOL.  She died.  Years ago now.  Benton Pond, at the head of Benton Brook is off limits too.  But no one died up there that I know of.
            Anyway.  Her kids are still around.  And one of ‘em has me down.  Yesterday.  There ain’t nothing; not a piece of art ever touch that soul.  So her damn living room is so fixed modern I said “Let’s go where you BAIL IT and TRY THAT”.  “Where’s that?” she says.  I say “Up the brook and into the POND”.  “There’s no POND” she says.  “OKAY GARAGE” I say.  Back of the garage we go.  That’s where all the damn fools keep their GOOD art anyway.  Right?




            So I pick the bones out there and sure I can tell that this is “MOM’S” old stuff but... she didn’t ever have a rifle so that couldn’t disappear.  Shotgun maybe?  “OK”.  I rummage them boxes for anything and that’s when I found the old POTS (“jars”).  I bought those right back for a dollar each.  “There we go.” I said.  “That’s FAIR and SQUARE”.  I knew right then what they were.  You know:  They are Peter Rabbit’s bean pots.  In a box in the back of her
            Friggen garage.




            Now these little bean pots are ‘one serving’ marked “Supplied By” “Burnham & Morrill, Portland, Maine”.  That’s B&M BEANS.  Their current selection of cans and jars of baked beans are in the grocery stores for sale right now.  The B&M bean factory is on your right as you leave Portland on Tukey Bridge when your going north to ... L.L. Beans.  These jars are old little give-away premiums; one serving .  They have always “been kept” and are often filled from a big bean pot and served by a hostess; one pot per place, as a “MAINE” dining treat.  That serving is generally well received, remembered, spoken of and ‘bake bean chat’ discussed.  It is a homemaker’s OWN “I MADE” BEANS that are served in the jars.  NO COMMERCIAL beans are used to ‘refill’ the jars.  “I MADE THEM” is the defining statement.  The little pots (“jars”) are washed and “saved for the next time.”  Obviously, there is an established ‘small money’ commercial market for the little jars.  “They sell”; one by one or, as in this case, a box of twelve.  The ‘in the know’ ‘know’ of this market.  No one else does.  But you do now.  You still don’t know where Benton Brook is so you’s WON’T be shooting a moose ‘up there’ this fall.  Or any fall.




            The “what is your recipe?” is “for beans” is a pretty simple.  Dump overnight-in-water soaked  beans, molasses, salt pork wedge and water-to-the-pot-top (a real bean pot) and “bake the beans” all day or ...all night (beans for breakfast) (I know; “you haven’t”) and... that’s it... except for separating the ‘wedge’ out to ...EAT and taking the lid off ‘at the end’ to ‘burn’ the top of the beans and... other peevish nuance (like ‘what kind of dried beans’) perfected in places like Benton Pond (at the head of Benton Brook).  Maine. Your not going to have to “plague” these nuances in your lifetime unless ‘you’s go to eating a powerful amount of beans’... in your lifetime.




            It’s best to just take what I’ve given you here and ‘make it fit’.  That includes buying commercial ‘made in Maine’ baked beans to just skip over all of this.  I never do that.  Peter Rabbit didn’t ever either.  And that man knew his beans.