Across New England, and certainly throughout Maine, a tradition of baked bean suppers takes place in community institutions such as churches, granges, and firehouses…I can think of no better way to spend Christmas eve than eating beans in the nude while swapping conspiracy theories with my friends. So tonight we're throwing away the usual tux-and-tails formality of C&J to simply let the mirth ooze forth spontaneously like boogers of change conga-lining through the nasal passages of freedom. I'll be staggering between tables, dispensing rum balls and deliciously ill-informed opinions.
While Boston is known as bean-town, only in Maine can you ever really get to know beans. B&M (Burnham and Morrill) baked beans of Portland still bakes beans in huge iron pots in brick ovens before they can them for distribution around the country. The Kennebec Bean Company in North Vassalboro packages a range of Maine-grown beans under the "State of Maine" label and also sells many of them prepared to an old Maine lumber camp formula. They cook varieties of beans only known in Maine…
While many people in Maine cook their beans in a ceramic bean pot, the most unique cooking process for beans in Maine developed in the Maine logging camps. Pork and beans, baked in a bean hole, remains the logger's main dish. The slow, long cooking makes the bean very digestible as well as tender and delicious. In the logging camps, beans were served at every meal. The bean hole is a stone-lined pit in which a fire is built until a good bed of coals forms. A cast iron bean pot (holds about eleven pounds of dried beans) is lowered into the pit, covered over with dirt and allowed to cook, usually overnight. Several bean pits could keep beans cooking at all times.
Even if you celebrate a different holiday tomorrow---like, say, Jimmy Buffett's birthday or Cinco de Mayo---please join us. It's a pleasure hurtling through the icy-coldness of space on Cuckoo Rock with you. God bless us each and every one. And by God, of course, I mean the State Lottery Commission.
Sleigh bells ring in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Cheers and Jeers for Monday, December 24, 2012
By the Numbers:
Days 'til 2013: 8
Number of visits Santa has to deliver to complete his appointed rounds: 822.6 per second
Speed at which he has to travel: 5,083,000 mph
(Source: The internet)
Approximate number of Xmas trees planted for every one cut: 3
Percent of people surveyed in 2009 who said they wrap their gifts to others a day or two before Christmas: 27%
Real-life height of the young Rudolph figure used in the stop-motion animated TV holiday classic, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer": 4 inches
Shelf life of a store-bought Christmas fruitcake, if it's refrigerated: 3 years
Puppy Pic of the Day: Good Santa
DOUBLE CHEERS to people who work on Christmas. Police, fire, medical, electric, national security, rum distilleries...you know who you are. If you're not getting at least double pay and comp time, your employer gets one-way ticket to the nearest Young Republicans Convention (or is that just too cruel?).
Before everyone dives into the beans and potato salad, let's take a moment and remember the reason for the season. From the traditional text, we take you to Bethlehem, where the mother of a newborn babe receives a trio of special visitors:
And happy birthday to the Christmas Babies: Humphrey Bogart, Clara Barton, Sir Isaac Newton, Cab Calloway, Little Richard, Barbara Mandrell, Jimmy Buffett, Sissy Spacek, and Annie Lennox. And many blessings on your camels.
Okay. Let's eat.