Saturday, May 14, 2011

getting back to the my roots

I have to attend a work party with Mark tonight. 

The only thing saving from my social anxiety is that it is a potluck, and I have to cook. 

Between waking up with Miss F at 6:00am, keeping her quiet to allow Mark some sleep, and this party at 4:00pm, I have to go to my own work for a Maypole dance with the children and families.  I some how must clean up after 50+ families and make it back to my house to swoosh away to this dinner thing at Mark's colleagues house.  It should be interested. 

I may require  a time machine. I said all that to say this, I need some kind of make ahead dish  to take, since there is no way in HELL that I will take the easy way out and bring bread, as Mark suggested. 

Are you kidding?

So I made baked beans and a root vegetable puree with  garlicky, buttered breadcrumbs on top. 

I like baked beans and they go along with the southern themed pig roast that the host is doing. 

In my family there are always baked beans at every holiday and gathering. 

It seems normal to us, however, I learned that it is not normal to everyone, as my father's girlfriend said at Thanksgiving "I couldn't imagine baked beans at a holiday." , but we take our baked beans very seriously, soaking and boiling, seasoning and baking to a gooey goodness, that says FESTIVE in our family. 

It may all stem from coming from poor folks to begin with.  My grandfather told me, "I was grown before I knew there was anything but beans to eat."
Growing up there were indeed a pot of usually humble brown beans on my grandparents table most evenings, and baked beans on Sunday. 

If my grandmother was feeling lazy, there might be a can of pork and beans, cold, with cottage cheese for dinner, with homemade pickled beets and white bread with butter.  That was always the combination, there was little variation to that particular meal.  Cousins were know to fight over the last pickled beet, they were that good, floating around in the half pint (why always a half pint? why not a quart, a gallon, for god sake?) jar, with their long beet tails and one lone clove.

There were also navy beans, cooked with celery and diced carrot, butter beans with cornbread, and split peas.  Never black beans, or black eyed peas and rarely red beans.  Pinto beans, yes, once in a great while, with molasses poured on at the table.

My grandmother made baked beans in a 9X11 stainless steel baking pan.  My mother always makes them in a souffle dish.  My aunt Ruth favors making them ahead and serving them cold in a Pyrex mixing bowl, that is orange with a rooster design on the side. 

Updated Baked beans for the lazy and shiftless
1 can great northern beans
1can garbanzo beans
1 can small red beans
mostly all drained, but a little juice wont hurt anything
1 small onion diced finely
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 or 2 Tablespoons coarse prepared mustard
1/2 cup Bre Rabbit molasses
1/2 cup or a little less dark brown sugar
1 T white vinegar
a little shake of cayenne
microwave until hot and bubbly and thickened
serve with liberally buttered cornbread and for god's sake do not put honey on it! Honey is for sissies!

Root vegetable puree
1 big yam
1sweet potato
1 or 2 rutabagas (I used two because I happen to like them a lot)
several small turnips (the big ones will be tough, avoid them)
2 cloves of garlic
Peel, dice, boil everything together until very tender
season with salt, pepper, ginger powder
the juice of two oranges and a good swig of lime juice too
mash with a lot of butter or olive oil if you happen to be vegan, ad some of the broth from when you boiled, it it looks too dry, and not creamy enough.
moisten bread crumbs with enough oil or butter to make them sticky, put your mash in a baking dish, and strew your crumbs on top, bake until the crumbs are brown.

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