Baked Beans · Fun · Hearth Cooking · Lyme Disease · Pork

Some Images from Hearth Cooking Day

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I soaked the beans overnight.  This time I used a mixture of pinto, black, and navy. 

But first things first – we need fire.

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Bill showed Alex how to clean out the ashes, and how to build the fire.  We didn’t use a grate today – Bill built the fire on the hearth floor, off to one side.  He let Alex help, and I heard a loud “Alex drop the match!” but since there were no screams of pain I stayed put at the computer.

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Here’s our baby fire.  We had to get the whole inside of the fireplace nice and toasty, and also create nice hot coals to maintain the heat once we put the food in.

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I put the beans on to boil. 

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And eventually I forgot about them because we were sorting through all the cast iron pans we have and deciding which ones we’re going to hang by the fire and which ones to keep in the cupboard.

I didn’t used to be so easily distracted.

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I scooped off the foam and turned the heat down a bit, though, and things were fine.

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We’ve got a good fire and a good base of coals here.  We had some undersized winter squashes that Bill decided to cook first, and you can also see an oven thermometer between the first two squash.  (In case you’re looking at that first one and wondering if they’re really squash or if we’re stupid and they’re really gourds, they’re squash.  Kind of hybrids, actually, that appeared this summer.  Last year we grew butternut and black futsu.  This year, we’ve got some interesting blends of the two varieties, and that one in front is an example.)

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Here’s a better view.  The temp there is about 225 or so. 

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Okay, here are the parboiled beans, ready to go.

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Some pork trimmings…

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A mixture of brown sugar, molasses, mustard powder, salt and pepper, and hot water.

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And here’s everything in the pot – onion, pork, beans, and liquid to the top.

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Ready to go…

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But first – I had to remove the cooked squashes.  Very crispy on the outside, but perfectly soft inside.

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Bill decided to move some coals from the right side over to the left to help heat the other side of the space.

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Now – just a reminder – we’ve never done this before, so I’m sure we’re making plenty of mistakes.  Bear with us – we like to learn by doing.

Now, back to the show…

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Here’s Scratchy, lounging on his red and cat hair chair.

And here’s Scratchy a bit later, and closer to the fire.

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I don’t know why he looks startled.  I think it’s his natural state at times.

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Okay!  Time to add the meat.

Bill got 3 racks of ribs from our friend Tommy (his American name) at the Asian market we frequent.  We also got the pork trimmings from him, plus cans of coconut milk (the good kind), more meat, lemongrass, ginger…just because we were running out. 

I don’t even know what sort of rub Bill put on the ribs – doesn’t matter, it’s always good.

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Oh, and see the frothy blob on top of the bean pot?  Well – lesson learned – they boil quite rapidly (I typed “rabidly” first – that might be more appropriate, considering all the frothing) in this small, enclosed space.  I’ve had to replenish the water several times now.

Anyway, that’s how things have been looking.  Every now and then we turn the bean pot.  And Bill rotates and rearranged the stacked ribs.

Meanwhile, in the other room…

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Julia’s been practicing guitar. 

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She has become so focused this year, it’s incredible. 

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And she actually asks to practice now.  Even if Bill’s not around to practice with her.

Seven’s a magical age.

Anway, back to the fire.

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It’s not looking all that different now…fire, meat, beans, fire.  A bit of ash, the glow of hot coals.

All the fire alarms have gone off, too. 

It’s a good time here today.

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Oh – and all this has rekindled (pardon the pun) my desire to make a braided rug.  Now that we’re planning to do all this cooking on the hearth, we need a rug in front of it, I think.

So I’ve dug out all the denim strips I cut a year ago, stitched them into great long lengths, and I’m ready to braid.

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That’s it for now!     

For the follow up post, go here!

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