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Bean-hole beans!
December 29, 2012 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Bean-hole beans!
Robert Campbell of Glenburn, Maine, has been baking beans in a bean hole for nearly forty years. “Even when I don’t need the beans,” he says, “When Friday night comes it’s just an urge comes over me to start that fire and start baking bean-hole beans.”
posted by moonmilk (47 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice find....

I'm bakin' beans tomorrow....
posted by HuronBob at 9:07 AM on December 29, 2012


The jokes are gonna write themselves on this one. Beans beans the musical fruit
posted by spicynuts at 9:08 AM on December 29, 2012


I, a half-life long vegetarian, had never heard of this, but "Who Needs an Oven? Just Bury Your Beans" was just in the NYTimes.

Also, this recipe (apologies for the length, but NYTimes...)
Bean-Hole Baked Beans

TOTAL TIME
About 10 hours, mostly unattended, plus soaking time. (About 3 hours plus soaking time for oven method.)

Ingredients

2 pounds dried beans of your choice (soldier, pea, Jacob’s Cattle, great northern, yellow eye, etc.)
3 onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 pound salt pork, sliced into pieces about 2 inches by 1/2 inch

Preparation

1. Soak beans overnight in water to cover or quick-soak: Put beans in a large pot, add water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

2. If you don’t already have a bean hole, dig a hole about half again as large as whatever pot you plan to cook the beans in. (The key is that there be 6 inches between the top of the hole and the top of the pot.) Build a fire in the hole using about 10 pieces of cord wood. When the fire is burning well, add 10 softball-size rocks, then continue to burn until the wood is reduced to embers. You should have a bed of embers 2 to 3 inches deep.

3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans and put them into a 6-quart Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot along with all remaining ingredients except the salt pork. Stir well to combine. Lay the salt pork slices on top of the beans, then add water to cover by about an inch. Bring just to a simmer over medium-high heat.

4. Carefully remove the rocks from the bean hole. Put the pot into the hole on top of the embers, cover it with a triple layer of heavy-duty foil, then put the rocks back into the hole around and on top of the pot. Fill in the hole with dirt, covering the pot. Come back 8 hours later, remove the pot from the hole and serve the beans.

YIELD
12 servings

NOTE
OVEN METHOD: Follow Steps 1 and 3 above, then transfer the pot to a 350-degree oven and bake until the beans are tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Check beans every half-hour or so after the first hour, adding water as needed if all the water has been absorbed.
posted by nevercalm at 9:13 AM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dutch ovens were wonderful for this, when I was in Scouts. Fairly frequently, we'd bury two or three ovens with various goodies in the morning, head off to do whatever we wanted to do that day, and then come back, dig them up, and luxuriate in chili or baked beans or apple cobbler.

Best things ever for camping -- do the setup in the morning when you have lots of energy, and then when you come back after a long day, everything's ready. And the ovens are fairly easy to clean... because it's low heat, the food doesn't really get baked on too badly, so the overall effort is relatively minimal, and the results are outstanding.

I haven't actually tried any of those old recipes that way, but I suspect a standard crockpot is just about as good, and you probably have one already. Plugging one of those in is MUCH easier than digging a hole and starting a fire.
posted by Malor at 9:30 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


“Even when I don’t need the beans,” he says, “When Friday night comes it’s just an urge comes over me to start that fire and start baking bean-hole beans.”

Oh deary me. As a medic I'm perhaps looking at an initial diagnosis of OCD: Obsessive Cooking Disorder. At least he's not progressed yet to the tertiary stage - very nasty that, involves involuntary lighting of farts in inappropriate settings (supermarket lines, church services) and finally appearing on stage playing selections from Puccini through the arsehole under the francophone pseudonym Les Bean And His Magic Flute.
posted by gallus at 9:37 AM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is such a part of our local culture that I never thought to write a FPP about it. We even had festivals in my neck of the woods.
posted by Knappster at 9:40 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something, something, over-thinking a bean-hole.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:43 AM on December 29, 2012


I predict that in 2013 backyard bean holes obtain a certain cachet of suburban sophistication that is currently held by backyard pizza ovens.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:44 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


appearing on stage playing selections from Puccini through the arsehole

Ya can tell a toorist on account a they don't know ta soak them beans fust. Must be an awful lot of tootling down New York way, ayuh.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:47 AM on December 29, 2012


Yay! Now. instead of Bean Plating, MeFi users can engage in Bean Holing!
posted by KingEdRa at 10:14 AM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Maine relatives confirm this is a real Maine thing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:17 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shut your beanhole, KingEdRa!

I wish I had some Maine relatives, because I really want to try some bean hole beans now.
posted by moonmilk at 10:20 AM on December 29, 2012


Technically that is a ground hole or dirt hole as the hole is not actually made of beans.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:23 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


By that criterion, isn't it an air hole? ...until you put beans in it!
posted by moonmilk at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


A lobsterman one time offered to show me his bean hole for $20. Turns out he wasn't a lobsterman at all but a South Portland hooker. She made some really good beans though.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can you cook corn this way?
posted by TedW at 10:36 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy: "Ya can tell a toorist on account a they don't know ta soak them beans fust. Must be an awful lot of tootling down New York way, ayuh."

Try doing that accent impression for a lobsterman on the Stonington dock without getting punched. You'd better wear your good running shoes.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:46 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Technically that is a ground hole or dirt hole as the hole is not actually made of beans.

You shut your pie hole.
posted by Aquaman at 10:47 AM on December 29, 2012


It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hole of beans in this crazy world.
posted by moonmilk at 10:54 AM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mmm. Saturday evening baked beans and cut-up hot dogs accompanied by brown bread and/or corn bread. Baked Indian pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert!
posted by ericb at 10:55 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


ericb, can I come over for dinner?
posted by moonmilk at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you cook corn this way?

Yes ... as part of the New England tradition of a 'lobster bake,' burying lobsters, clams, mussels, unshucked corn and red potatoes in a sand pit on the beach.
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm working on the assumption that the beans made in the traditional bean hole manner taste much better and a lot less sweet than the over-sugared ones sold in can in the US (vs. the more tomato based once sold in the UK).
posted by arcticseal at 11:07 AM on December 29, 2012


Can you cook corn this way?

No, corn can only be prepared in a corn hole.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:07 AM on December 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


Sure. Bring the beer.
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


These aspects of local folklife are really neat. I really want to make a beanhole now. I tried smoking smelts last year, but I got the setup wrong and they ended up tasting terrible.

What's sad is how much of this isn't really a tradition anymore, as the old Maine has disappeared. People have been forced off the land and into double-wide trailers, Wal-Mart has basically taken everything over, and the only source of income is tourism. We end up performing our folklife, clambakes, etc for the gawping tourists instead of it just being our regular lives.

And to expand on the accent mockery - nobody but the utmost shopping-bag-toting asshole from away walking down Main Street in Bar Harbor would make fun of the Maine accent. You just don't do that.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:13 AM on December 29, 2012


I honestly don't understand - why is the Maine accent so sacrosanct, while other regional accents (Boston, New York, upper Midwest, Southern, just to name a very few) are frequently parodied without causing outrage? I mean, sure, mocking people to their face is rude, but that's true anywhere; but that pretty much goes without saying, I'd have thought.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:33 AM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I honestly don't understand - why is the Maine accent so sacrosanct, while other regional accents (Boston, New York, upper Midwest, Southern, just to name a very few) are frequently parodied without causing outrage?

That reminds me of this guy who hated Fargo because it made fun of the Minnesota accent. Touchy! The fact that we were in NY at the time did not pierce his irony armor. This same guy insisted that much of what the rest of the people consider to be part of the mid-west (like, say, Ohio) was not actually the mid-west, because it wasn't far West enough; apparently, this is common knowledge in the Dakotas, from whence he hailed. Pedants can be so charming.
posted by Edgewise at 11:42 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making fun of people's accents is provincial, no matter what accent it is.

Making fun of a Maine accent is especially nasty because of all the baggage involved - Mainers have been treated like crap by (comparatively) wealthy people from away for a long time, and it's something I've had to deal with myself. Sanford Phippen wrote about tourists in his family hotel treating him like the black kid who didn't come in through the kitchen door.

So yeah, I'd really prefer we not make fun of Maine accents.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:47 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making fun of a Maine accent is especially nasty because of all the baggage involved

Right, because there's no baggage inherent in people make fun of other accents.

I'm not suggesting it's okay to mock the Maine accent. I'm just pointing out that I don't understand what you seem to be saying, that that's significantly worse than, say, putting on a Southern accent to signify an inbred yokel, or a SoCal accent to imply a pot-smoking slacker. They all strike me as equally petty. On top of that, Slap*Happy's post struck me as more derogatory to "tourists" than to Mainers anyway...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:34 PM on December 29, 2012


Interesting recipe ! Can't wait to try one.
posted by Jim Young at 12:39 PM on December 29, 2012


Part of the problem of people making fun of the Maine accent that no one seems to be able get it right.

SNL got some flack for their attempt a few weeks ago, which I think is what led to this awesomely surreal sketch.

As dunkadunc mentions, Phip's book is worth a read.

The accent is now seen in some ways as a cultural commodity.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 12:39 PM on December 29, 2012


On top of that, Slap*Happy's post struck me as more derogatory to "tourists" than to Mainers anyway...

I was going to reply at greater length to dunkadunc, but after some thought, I think this statement does a good job of characterizing my feelings about the topic. To me, whether or not an imitated accent is insulting has more to do with the intent behind the impression rather than the fact of the impression itself, its historical baggage (seriously, doesn't everything have some sort of historical baggage?) or its accuracy. In the case of impressions of Southerners being put in service of a stereotype of moronic inbred hicks, for instance, that's a far more toxic thing than Slap*Happy's gentle-if-exaggerated parody. In my neck of the woods, there are literally dozens of accents chock-a-block, and we're quite used to all kinds of crappy impressions in the service of a joke. Most of the time, this is quite innocuous, and we roll with it. I think that a blanket prohibition is overly sensitive and verging into joylessness.
posted by Edgewise at 12:54 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you would like to do old-school baked beans without digging a hole in the ground, a 1930s recipe is here.
posted by JanetLand at 1:21 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, where I am the ground is frozen but all of a sudden I really want to make some proper baked beans.

Why do I suspect that when native americans made beans, they didn't use maple syrup, but rather maple sap which then cooked down as the beans were cooking?
posted by dunkadunc at 2:09 PM on December 29, 2012


Actually, that wouldn't make much sense in terms of when bean season / tapping season are.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:49 PM on December 29, 2012


Dried beans, though?
posted by moonmilk at 2:55 PM on December 29, 2012


http://www.cheffrankonline.com/dindex.php?do=clambake
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 3:22 PM on December 29, 2012


Obligatory
posted by davejay at 4:13 PM on December 29, 2012


Wait, in the winter? Isn't the ground frozen solid til md-may?
posted by sammyo at 4:40 PM on December 29, 2012


Maybe somehow the holes are reusable.
posted by snofoam at 8:05 PM on December 29, 2012


Well, remember, sammyo, you do presumably have wood to make a fire. Build one on the site of your planned hole, leave it burn a good long while, scrape it aside, dig until you run into the frozen layer, dump the coals back on, restock the fire, and so on. Might take a day to get a good large hole dug, but not that much actual effort.
posted by Malor at 8:41 PM on December 29, 2012


Making fun of a Maine accent is especially nasty because of all the baggage involved.

No-one was being made fun of.

Also, step off. In a world where this is on the television everyday and this won an Academy award, it's the Mainiacs who are sensitive about how their local New England accent is percieved by out-of-towners?

Get real.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:32 PM on December 29, 2012


I love beanhole beans!
Sadly,I now live in a place where I can't make them.
However,I can enjoy leftover beans,bacon and cornbread for Sunday breakfast!
posted by pentagoet at 8:25 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also,many Mainers play up the accent because they like to mess with people's heads.
posted by pentagoet at 8:27 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


ah, memories growing up and spending summers in rural-ish maine (ie anywhere BUT the coast -- that's where the rich massholes go) and every little town having "beanhole suppers", usually the VFD or a church sponsoring it at the community hall.
posted by k5.user at 9:00 AM on December 31, 2012


So what do they do in manholes in Maine?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:10 AM on December 31, 2012


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