Boston Baked Beans!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Thursday, 29 March 2018

I’ve been wanting a bean pot for quite some time now, as you can tell from previous blogs. So the other day, a big box came in the mail, left handily on my porch steps by the mailman.

I brought it upstairs, sure it was Christmas in March. Hey! We’ve had so much snow this month, it might as well be December. That might explain why I still have some ornaments hanging on the door of my china closet. Yeah…

Anyways, I gleefully tore into the box, and guess what was in it? My very own Hull bean pot, complete with intact lid. Yay! I immediately planned to fulfill my fantasy of becoming a colonial New England woman. Well, all except the no running water bit. Ha!

I put half a bag of white beans to soak Saturday morning, after consulting a couple of cookbooks. Now, mind you, I’ve made baked beans before, and it’s not for the impatient at heart, as I so often am. In the past, they’ve always turned out a bit too hard.

I changed the water over the beans a couple of times, then boiled them for a bit. Then, I chopped up a medium-sized onion, putting half of it in a layer in the bottom of the bean pot. Next thing, I drained the beans, reserving the juice in a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup.

Into the pot went the beans! Then I poured in some molasses, without even measuring, and sprinkled in some dark brown sugar I had left over from cookies. Lastly, I mixed in the other half of the chopped onion and poured in as much of the reserved bean juice as the pot would hold.

Before putting the bean pot into the oven, I put it on a cookie sheet. I had three reasons:

First, it made it easier to transport the pot into and out of the oven. I envisioned the pot would be a bit slippery, especially after it got hot.

Second, there’s nothing worse than burned-on spills on the bottom of your oven. The cookie sheet would catch any overflow.

Third, the only way the pot would fit into my small oven was if it was on the bottom rack, and it can get too hot down there. Just ask my dinner guests, we’ve burned a batch of homemade stuffing and also some beautiful bread, by putting it on that bottom rack. I figured the cookie sheet would disperse some of the heat.

So, onto a cookie sheet and into the oven the bean pot went, on low heat, Saturday evening, and I let them bake a long time. Yum, they smelled so good! I tasted a few spoonfuls, and they were coming along nicely.

Now, the goal, as a would-be colonial New Englander, is to arrive home from church to a house that smells wonderful, and a pot of beans that’s piping hot.

I will admit, I went against the rules and turned them off before going to church on Sunday morning, because sometimes my arrival time back home can be a bit…unpredictable. I knew I had a lot of photocopying to do after church, and sometimes there are impromptu meetings.

I felt paranoid about burning them, or exploding my brand-new bean pot. If Imagunna ruin a recipe, I’d rather it be at the very beginning, and not at the end.

So, when we finally arrived back home Sunday afternoon, I turned the oven back on and warmed them up. Oh, and I added in some chopped up bits of bacon. A colonial woman would have used salt pork.

Thing 2 wouldn’t touch ’em (“Mom! You know I’m not a fan of beans!”), but I’m just glad he’s been eating the rice dishes I’ve made lately, and quite happily so. One thing at a time, I guess.

I ladled a very healthy dose of Boston Baked Beans into my favorite Hull Pottery bowl. They tasted delicious, and were nice and soft, just the right consistency, with a thick, rich sauce, chock-full of onions and bacon bits. Mmmmm!

And later that evening, the sister missionaries from my church came over, to try some of them. We ate them with spaghetti squash, the first time I’ve ever had it. I liked it!

So happy with my first attempt at making beans the old fashioned way, in a bean pot. Wouldn’t a pot of these taste great at a summer BBQ, next to some hot dogs and hamburgers and a big bowl of Lori’s Cashew Cauliflower Salad?

And I’m sure summer is just around the corner. The snow is starting to melt, and last night Thing 2 noticed it was still light out at 7 pm…